Storyville! The Romance and Tragedy of Boxing.

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Will have a look around for you and post anything of interest but I was reading a book lent to me a few months back about Mike McTigue 'A bloody canvas'.

There was lots about Battling Siki in it because of the fight between them and because he came to Ireland during a time of obvious political upheaval.I found the book decent as almost any boxing book where I can read quotes from newspapers etc.

Battling Siki figures prominently in the book and he had some character in the face of the racism he endured have a look online to see if it may help in what you are looking for.
Okay thanks for the book title... I just found some articles on Battling Siki I will share here once I have sifted through them. As for the 1980's Errol Christies Biography was mostly about the era of the 1980's a fascinating read.
 
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Smokin Bert Cooper was a personal favourite of mine back in the 1980's thrilling fighter he was originally mentored by Joe Frazier, and had a similar style to boot... Looking back a fight between Smokin Bert and Mike Tyson was on my Wish List in the late 1980's but unfortunately his career like the majority of that generation was ruined by drugs in particular Crack Cocaine which seemed like an epidemic to strike the Heavyweight division an entire generation of American heavyweights were destroyed by the Crack Cocaine.



Smokin’ Bert Cooper: “I Wasn’t at My Best”



Bert Cooper’s career was a combination of triumph and letdowns, accomplishments and disappointments. As much as he was able to achieve, we are all left to wonder, what could have been?



Bert Cooper has always been a walking contradiction. When he wins a fight, he is thrilled with his performance. After he loses, he consistently chooses to assess blame on others.

When discussing Cooper’s TKO loss in round two to Riddick Bowe, he offered an explanation regarding his performance. “I was too messed up. There was a problem transferring money. I wasn’t getting my money. I wasn’t focused,” said Cooper.

Conversely, after winning the NABF heavyweight title from Orlin Norris by eight round TKO, Cooper’s tone and demeanor changed drastically. Norris had to retire due to a knee injury with Cooper leading on the scorecards. “He (Norris) was cocky. He thought he was going to get me out in the first round. I showed him. I beat him fair and square,” said Cooper.

When not dealing with drugs, alcohol and other personal issues, Cooper was a warrior. He could display an aggressive, hard-hitting style, while at the same time using head movement and a powerful right hand and left hook that could hurt anyone. Cooper was able to secure wins over undefeated cruiserweight and Olympic gold medalist Henry Tillman, future WBO cruiserweight titlist Tyrone Booze, a vicious knockout of undefeated heavyweight Willie de Wit, undefeated cruiserweight Andre McCall, future WBA cruiserweight and NABF heavyweight champion Orlin Norris, and future NABF heavyweight champion Joe Hipp. He also engaged in several wars including knocking down Michael Moorer twice and leading on the judges’ scorecards before being stopped in the fifth. Cooper scored an official knockdown of undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in the third round and had a 15-20 second window where he was a punch or two away from winning it all as he had Holyfield reeling. Holyfield rebounded scoring a seventh round TKO win.

Cooper was recognized for his career accomplishments by being inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014. On the national stage, Cooper won the NABF cruiserweight title and defended it successfully five times and also won the NABF heavyweight title.

Growing up in Sharon Hill, PA, Cooper never was focused on school and quickly moved to the sport of boxing, “I wasn’t educated. School wasn’t for me. When I was 16, my Mom took me out of school. Two weeks later, I was in the Upper Darby Gym training,’ continued Cooper. “I wanted to learn before I went to Joe Frazier’s Gym. I didn’t know how to hit a speed bag. In 1982, I went to Joe Frazier’s Gym.”

Soon enough, Cooper showed up at Joe Frazier’s Gym and was invited back by his idol. “Joe Frazier took me under his wing and gave me the name Smokin’. When I went there, I showed up with no socks, no boots. I was only 17. Joe saw he had something special. Joe told me I was a bad dude. He saw that I could bang,” muses Cooper.

Cooper never had the support of his immediate family to enter the sport of boxing. In fact, his father was dead set against it. During his career, after a split decision victory in defense of his NABF cruiserweight title against Tyrone Booze, Cooper recalls, “My Dad watched that fight. He said you should have lost.”

Cooper, who rooted for Frazier against Muhammad Ali as a kid, proudly shows me the Smoke tattoo on his neck as an ode to the nickname penned by Joe Frazier. Cooper had access to sparring with some top-level talent at Frazier’s Gym as a teenager. “I sparred with Pinklon Thomas when I was 17. They gave me $36,” as Cooper laughs telling the story.

Frazier quickly moved Cooper into fighting amateur fights. He had 10 in total before turning professional. Cooper quickly heard something from Frazier that would be a precursor of things to come in his pro career. “In my last fight (as an amateur) I lost the fight because I ran out of gas. Joe told me you’ve got to be in shape. I thought I could use by punching power. I wasn’t running (training),” admitted Cooper.

Cooper’s first professional fight was a knockout in the first round against Dennis Caldwell. He remembers the transition to the professional ranks well. “He (Caldwell) was a heavyweight then. I was now getting paid. Once I hit him, he went back. It felt good. He felt what I had. He felt what I got. I felt good in the ring,’ said Cooper.

Cooper said at this point in his career that he loved the sport. Transitioning to the professional ranks, Joe was anxious to move Cooper’s career forward. “I started rolling. I liked hitting. I tried not to get hit. continues Cooper. “Joe told me you’ve gotta run. I thought I could use my punching power, but I wasn’t running.”

When the topic of Marvis Frazier arises, Cooper had some choice words to offer. “Marvis was jealous of me (of all the attention from Joe). I knocked Marvis down. He didn’t like that,” said Cooper.

Problems began to emerge with the relationship between Cooper and Joe Frazier. Cooper stated that Frazier changed the way he treated him over time. “When I fought Carlos Hernandez, I won the fight (By eight round TKO). After the fight, Joe yanked the mouthpiece out of my mouth. It bloodied my gums. I was 18.” Cooper acknowledges, “He didn’t treat me well because I wasn’t in shape. I used to smoke cigarettes back then, so I wasn’t in shape.”

By the time Cooper fought Carl “The Truth” Williams in a nationally televised bout on HBO, the relationship had deteriorated. Cooper challenged Frazier’s training methods and the philosophical differences became too great. “He gave me no respect. He had me fighting that Joe Frazier style. He (Williams) was too big for me. It wasn’t me. He gave me no respect,” said Cooper.

Frazier, in the past, disputed these accounts by saying that the split was largely due to Cooper’s drug use. In fact, leading up to the Williams fight, Frazier separated Cooper from distractions including his friends. Cooper acknowledges that the company he kept during his career wasn’t helpful. “They gave me beer, drugs,” said Cooper.

Cooper’s management changed hands and he was next managed by Lenny Shaw. This ended up being a pattern in Cooper’s career, as he would often change managers, promoters, and trainers.

One of the lowlights of Cooper’s career was when he fought George Foreman. The official result is a win by TKO in round two for Foreman as Cooper failed to answer the bell for round three. Officials with the Arizona Boxing Commission held up Cooper’s purse of $17,500. Cooper showed no signs of injury and tested positive for cocaine.

Cooper’s version of events are that someone (he wasn’t sure of who) was out to get him. “Before I fought Foreman I was set-up with two girls. I was told I was supposed to get $17.500. I got $2,500. I then got a lawyer (to fight for my money) and he charged me $5,000 and he didn’t do nothing,” claims Cooper.

When discussing the heavyweight title fight against Evander Holyfield, Cooper first addresses what happened inside the ring, “I was the first fighter to knock Holyfield down. I was close.” Cooper is more focused on his claims of what happened outside of the ring after the fight. “Dan Duva robbed me. My take was supposed to be $650,000. He (Duva-Holyfield’s promoter) split it up with Rick Parker (former Cooper promoter). I only took $191,000. He robbed me.”

Cooper doesn’t hesitate to describe who had the best chin of the fighters he went up against. It was Ray Mercer by a long shot. During their 12-Round war, which Mercer won by unanimous decision, both fighters sustained injuries. “Ray Mercer…you hit him in the jaw and it would go crack. He wouldn’t go anywhere. I broke his jaw.” Cooper continues, “He was in a lot of pain. His jaw was wired shot. My eye was all stitched up.”

Cooper felt that the best combination in his arsenal was the right hand, followed up by the left hook. Cooper is very clear about the highlights of his career. “When I dropped Holyfield. I was one punch away. When I beat Willie de Wit in Canada. I knocked him down four times in two rounds. I was 21 years old, “said Cooper.

In his post-fight boxing career, Cooper is thankful for his health. “I had ups and downs. I thank the Lord for keeping me. I’ll get it right,” said Cooper.

Bert Cooper’s career was littered with excuses for why things went wrong, choosing to do wrong instead of right, and the unfulfilled promise of a career that could have been so much more. Cooper’s response to how he would like to be remembered is most telling. “Bert Cooper wasn’t at his best. The majority of my career I wasn’t at my best,” admitted Cooper.

http://www.boxinginsider.com/

Strangley out of all the fights Cooper had...The following fight of his has become a cult classic on youtube with Millions of views... His opponent was some guy from England called Savage who claimed he was the Bare Knuckle champion of England and undefeated in 40 odd bare knuckle fights all won by Knock Out, Savage a great self-publicist even managed to get a couple of articles written about him in Boxing News even challenging Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis to fight him on the same night.
Unfotunatley for him Smokin Bert Cooper was a graduate of both the Brutal street fights and Infamous and Brutal Gym wars in Philadelphia the fight was easy as taking candy from a baby..but hilarious nonetheless, I think Bert could have beaten a Dozen Joe Savages at the same time.

 
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The Bizzare Story of Tysons alleged Brother and former Heavyweight Journey man Cliff Couser.

Like Mike,



Cliff Couser fooled 'em all -- and maybe himself, too. Harry b*nson for ESPN
15 Mar, 2013
  • Tom FriendESPN Senior Writer
This story appeared in ESPN The Magazine's June 14, 1999, issue.
HE SHARES HIS FACE with another man, a man who is vulgar and infamous and fresh out of prison. He shares this face straight down to the gold tooth, and it delights him and it haunts him. He walks the Las Vegas strip, where tourists recognize him for who he isn't, and so he gives them another man's lisp and they say, It's him, it's him. And he knows they are fools for snapping their Polaroids and for chasing him through casinos, except these same fools amuse him. He goes to the Mirage Hotel sometimes because he knows he can toy with the Asian tourists who loiter there, and they queue up for autographs the minute he shows his face, his wonderful, terrible face. But it's white men, too, white men in Bermuda shorts and blue, knee-high socks. They show up offering him free advice and free meals, and one even showed up with a cell phone, saying, "Please speak to my ill father." And so he took that phone and did the lisp and told the ill father to get better soon. And at moments like that, he is floored. At moments like that, he feels this false sense of himself, or, rather, of his face, and suddenly he is horrified. Suddenly he is thinking, They think I'm him, but don't they know he's been sitting in jail? How can I be him? How can I be Mike Tyson?


He is by himself now, and he scares himself. He looks in the mirror and it's Mike Tyson in there. He grunts and tugs on his lips, and now he's the one who feels like the fool. He scans the Yellow Pages for a shrink because he wants to tell someone his sordid story, tell someone what it's like to have Evander Holyfield approach you and say, "Mike, is that you?" Hell no, he ain't Mike, but he figures there must be something to this, must be a reason why he and Mike Tyson have the same eyes and the same jawline and the same legs and the same lousy temper. The way he's heard it -- from his own mother -- he and Tyson have the same daddy, and to him, that explains this whole fiasco. He'd like to ask the daddy about it but that daddy is dead, and so he has to either take his mother's word for it or get this Tyson to take a blood test.

Of course, the latter means tracking Tyson down and that hasn't exactly been a breeze. It's had him camping out at prisons, barbershops and prize fights. It's had him contemplating crimes and coloring his hair. It's had him popping lithium and now has him on Zoloft, the same antidepressant that was prescribed for Tyson after he tried biting you-know-who's ear off.

But now it is eight years into his journey and he still hasn't had much more than a sniff of Tyson. He is, by all accounts, a desperate 29-year-old man. It has become his life's work to barge his way into Tyson's life, and to walk the streets that Tyson's walked, and to sign the autographs that Tyson's signed. If that qualifies as a manhunt, so be it. This is what happens when someone is the carbon copy of a former heavyweight champ of the world, and this is what happens when that someone has nothing else to believe in except hearsay.

This mother of his, Ada Richardson, pulled him aside when he was 20 -- after people had been calling him Little Tyson for years -- and told him Tyson was his flesh and blood. Problem was, she could not document it, and still can't, not with a photograph or a birth certificate or a diary or even an eyewitness. But she delivered this bombshell anyway, and her impressionable son bought it. Maybe it was all true or maybe it was simply her scheme to extract money from Tyson, but to her son it was fact all the way. He believed her because hed never had a daddy and because now she was inventing him one.

So she sat him down and told him his daddy had been this pimp named Jimmy Kirkpatrick (alias James or Michael Kirkpatrick), and that he'd bailed on them. She'd named him Cliff Couser, after the cabbie who rushed her to the hospital the night he was born. She told him she'd been a poor woman from Mississippi, and that she'd met his daddy in New York, and that his daddy looked just like Tyson and just like him.

She told him it was time to go locate Tyson and to let him know he had a long lost half-brother. She told him it was his birthright to do so. She told him that maybe he and Tyson could help each other, and then she started bawling, bawling hard. "It was one those bad cries," Couser remembers. "I figured I better go meet this Tyson guy. I figured, I'm on a mission."

And thus began the stalking of Mike Tyson. Cliff Couser simply heard a story, looked in the mirror, saw Tyson -- and has never seen his own self since.

Of course, imagine how Tyson feels, the real Tyson, the one who was set free on May 24, the one who's had a hard enough time living his own life, the one who didn't need his double greeting him at the prison door. "I bet his bodyguards were looking for me the day he got out," Couser says. "I bet they thought I was gonna be waiting outside that jail in Maryland like a male dog waiting for a female dog in heat."

So this is what's waiting for Mike Tyson on the other side: a faux Tyson? And it is a nightmare for Tyson because all he wants to see is his own wife and his own kids and no wanna-bes. It is a nightmare because it opens old wounds. Yes, Tyson's father was named Jimmy Kirkpatrick, and, yes, he's often heard that Kirkpatrick may have sired at least 16 children. So, yes, Tyson probably has a lot of half-brothers out there, but that does not mean he has to embrace every one of them. For years, people have tugged on Tyson's sleeve, asking for handouts, asking into his inner circle, and that is why he has repeatedly said he trusts no one, blood or no blood.

So Tyson has not been a willing participant in this sad chase, which began in Indiana, circa 1992, when Tyson was doing time for rape. It was there that Couser showed up for the first time, asking everyone and anyone at the prison to take him to Tyson. He says their jaws dropped the moment they noticed his resemblance--like they' d seen a ghost, Couser says -- but still no one dared maneuver him inside. He says he begged for help from Don King, who was standing by the prison door with Muslims and bodyguards, but that an effusive King simply urged him to try another day. And so his odyssey was officially on. He retreated to the car he was living in and began composing notes to Tyson asking into the boxer's life. "That's all I'd do, write," Couser says. "I'd write, 'I'd love to meet you, Mike. We're supposed to have the same father. My mom sent me here. We're supposed to be brothers.'"

He says he concocted 50 notes in all, dropping each one with King or a bodyguard, but he was never invited into the prison and, after three weeks, returned to his home in St. Louis, depressed. His football coaches at Soldan High had nicknamed him Mike -- I mean, everyone who came in contact with him thought he looked like Tyson, head coach Arthur Davis says -- and Couser had hoped to inform them that it was no coincidence. Instead, he slipped back into an ornery way of life, gang-banging and stealing cars. He says he even considered committing a more serious crime and turning himself in, just so he could be sent to prison with Tyson. It was an illogical thought and he talked himself out of it. He decided there might be another way to go: boxing.

He began studying Tyson's fights and mimicking Tyson's voice and lisp, and he entered a Golden Gloves tournament wearing the familiar black trunks and no socks. "Tyson was locked up, so I decided I'd fight for him," Couser says, but he was unpolished and went 2–5 in his first seven amateur fights. He turned pro because there were bills to pay, and soon he heard what he'd been dying to hear: Tyson was getting out.

Couser packed and moved to Las Vegas because this was where Tyson would be setting up shop, and he thought he could keep tabs on him there. He roamed from gym to gym, looking for Tyson and looking for someone to train him. eventually he stumbled into the regal Eddie Futch, a stroke of luck considering Futch had trained six heavyweight champions, including Joe Frazier. Futch saw enough raw power in Couser that he agreed to tutor him. "I noticed he looked like Tyson", Futch says. "It was so obvious, you couldn't miss it. And he could punch good and he learned fairly well, and I thought maybe he could be a good fighter. But he wouldn't obey the rules. He wouldn't take care of himself. He'd be out all night or come into the gym late or wouldn't show up on time to spar. I couldn't tolerate it, so I dumped him.

"After I dumped him, and he found out I wasn't kidding, he wanted me to take him back. But I wasn't gonna waste my time twice. I mean, I've made six heavyweight champions, and if a guy can't take advantage of that experience, what do you think he is? An idiot."

Read the rest of the Story here.....http://www.espn.co.uk/boxing/story/_/page/Mag15likemike/cliff-couser-believes-mike-tyson-half-brother-espn-magazine-archives
 
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Just one article from the life of the "Hawk" who alongside Leon Spinks and Johnny Tapia had one of the craziest boxing life stories going. Would probably need a separate thread to do justice for each one of these guys.


Pryor Restraint.

As AARON PRYOR, EX-BOXING CHAMPION AND EX-ADDICT, FIGHTS TO STAY CLEAN, HIS LIFE IS AGAIN FULL OF PROMISE

By John Ed Bradley


it's a lovely day for a road trip, even in a beat-up '86 Oldsmobile like the one Aaron Pryor drives.

Something about the engine isn't right. It stalls every few minutes, just up and stops. And that isn't the only problem. Somebody threw a brick through the back window, and now the cold air comes in, making a racket. Also, the car is littered with trash. A half-eaten chicken potpie lies on the floor in front, and a forest of cigarette butts crowds the ashtray.

"Phenomical," Pryor seems to be saying, but you really have to concentrate to hear him, since there's so much noise from the wind. "I've had a phenomical...just a phenomical life."

Pryor means phenomenal, of course, but phenomical should be a word, if only to describe what he's been through. A little more than 10 years ago he was a world champion boxer, king of his junior welterweight (140-pound) division. But since then he has lost everything. He lost millions of dollars. He lost a mansion and a few other homes. He lost friends and family, including a couple of wives. He lost who can count how many cars. He lost his trophies and his title belt. He lost what might be called a reputation. Worse yet, he almost lost his life. And there is the wonder, the most phenomical thing of all: that Aaron Pryor is still alive today.

"My memory...," he is saying, having to raise his voice to be heard, "it's shy sometimes. It doesn't like to look back."

Pryor is driving south from Cincinnati, his hometown, to the city of Erlanger in northern Kentucky, where he and one of the young professional fighters he trains are scheduled to attend a press conference. Pryor's companion today is a super middleweight named Ravea Springs, and in a few days Springs will be fighting at a place called Peel's Palace, which most people in the area know as a rent-a-hall for wedding receptions and high school proms. Springs is wearing sweats, but Pryor is all done up in a double-breasted suit, a fancy necktie and nice shiny shoes. The way he looks, he should be in a limo or a big European sedan, anything but an ancient clunker like this one.

Pryor got dressed up this morning because, as a former champ, he has a certain image to maintain, and also because he hopes to impress the reporters who might be curious to learn about his phenomical return from the dead.

Only two years ago, in 1992, Pryor was a homeless crack-cocaine addict living on the streets of Cincinnati. He was so depressed and filled with self-loathing that he considered killing himself. He held a gun to his head. He raised a knife over his belly, praying for the courage to thrust it in. Pryor would go days without food or sleep. If you'd taken a city bus through certain areas of Cincinnati, you might have seen him there, standing on a street corner with his hand out. And if you'd visited certain crack houses, you might have spotted him lying on the floor with his face in the grime. His skin was a deathly color. And it wasn't out of the ordinary to find him staring at the sky, carrying on his own private conversation with God. Pryor weighed about 100 pounds then, but this is only an estimate, since he didn't care enough about himself ever to step on a scale.

Today he's back to his old self, or at least to a close approximation of the original. He's living proof, as he will tell you, that the Lord answers prayers, works miracles and does what no 12-step recovery program comes close to doing.

In fact, Pryor has been feeling so good about himself that he's considering a return to the ring. Although he is now 39 years old, about half blind in his left eye and nearly 40 pounds heavier than he was in his heyday, Pryor says he has been getting feelers from Roberto Duràn's camp about a fight. It would be a slow dance by a pair of washed-up old men, but the notion excites Pryor. Duràn's people have talked to Pryor's people—well, they've talked to Pryor since he really doesn't have any people but himself these days.

"I need the money," Pryor says. "I could probably make about half a million. With half a million I could take care of some things. I could fix the car. I could get a new starter or whatever it is. I could put a new back window in."

"Not to be asking about your personal business," Springs says, slumping down low in the seat, "but is it true you made five million when you were fighting?"


"Nah, it wasn't that much," Pryor says.

"It was millions, though, right?"

Pryor doesn't answer except with a nod. For his two title fights with Alexis Argüello in the early 1980s, Pryor earned more than $3 million, money he was bound by contract to split with his manager, Buddy LaRosa. "After Buddy took his half," Pryor says, "the government took half. Then after that my wife at the time had to have her half. After everybody got their half, I didn't have half of nothin'."

Still, that was infinitely more than he earns today. Before taxes, Pryor makes' $350 a week giving boxing lessons to kids and training a handful of pros in the early stages of their careers, including Springs, who is 11-1 (with 11 knockouts) as he heads for Kentucky. You know what you can't buy on $350 a week? You can't even buy the work a car like Pryor's needs to keep from falling apart.

"Don't miss the turn," Springs tells him.

"Whuh?"

"Up there."

Pryor makes the turn just in time and rolls without power to the end of the exit ramp. The engine has stalled again, but luckily their destination is within reach. Pryor cranks the ignition seven, eight. nine times before the engine turns over with a roar. "Oh, thank you, Jesus," he mutters, then takes off as the wind drowns out whatever else he has to say.

Earlier this fall, Pryor had a dream that scared him more than any dream he'd ever had. Two years had passed since he last used drugs, but in the dream he could clearly see a crack pipe in his hand, and his lips parting to take it. The picture was so vivid that he almost let out a scream. He sat upright in bed, his heart beating in his throat, his breath a painful burden.

Alone with only the late-night sounds of the city to soothe him, Pryor grew cold with fear and regret. He told himself that he was not among the dead, as he was in the dream. He told himself that life was new again, that he was new again. He waited for sleep, and when it did not come, he began to pray. "God," he said, "why did I just dream that?"

Time passed. Then God, without actually saying anything, gave Pryor an answer: "It was just a dream."

"Please, God," Pryor said. "Take that dream away."

"But, Aaron," God told him, "it was just a dream."

Dream or not, it felt too close for comfort, and Pryor would recall the experience weeks later and wonder at its significance. "Why did I dream that?" he would ask a man he had met only days before. And when the man could not provide an acceptable answer, Pryor would remember and say out loud, "Well, anyway, it was just a dream, right?"

Pryor lives in a small apartment not far from some of the neighborhoods where he used to score drugs. He shares the place with his girlfriend, Frankie Wagner, herself a former cocaine addict. The rooms are small and cozy and crowded with memorabilia from Pryor's days as a fighter: posters, pictures, fight cards. It was Frankie who put the collection together since Aaron, always on the go, always too busy, bothered to save nothing from his past.

"When I first met Aaron," Frankie says, "all he really had was himself. Sometimes it breaks my heart, because there aren't any markers to help Aaron remember when he was a little boy. Nothing like pictures of holidays and summer vacation. Nothing from school. Nothing his family kept. The earliest picture I could find came from when he was around 13 or 14 years old. And he was already fighting by then."

Aaron met Frankie during drug rehab, shortly before he went to prison in 1991. It was his third experiment with a hospital recovery program, and it did him about as much good as his first two visits. Except for a drug problem, about the only thing Aaron and Frankie had in common was their small stature. Frankie was white and from the suburbs. Aaron was black and inner city, a product of Cincinnati's tough Over the Rhine neighborhood.

"My name is Aaron Pryor," he told her by way of introduction. "Maybe you heard of me."

"Huh?"

"I used to be a boxer."


"Yeah, right," she said with a wild snort of laughter. The only boxers she knew about were Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, and they were both big guys, thick with muscle, strong. She stood eye-to-eye with Pryor, and she was little.

He wrote her letters from the pen, where he'd been sentenced to six months on a drug conviction. She called it "jail mail" because each message was colored by everything Pryor was experiencing behind bars, including regret and loneliness. He was making big promises, too, telling her he was through with crack, while all along, he later admitted, a voice in his head was saying, Well, maybe one more try, champ. Just one more try.

Read The Rest Of the Article Here....http://www.si.com/vault/1995/02/13/133270/pryor-restraint-as-aaron-pryor-ex-boxing-champion-and-ex-addict-fights-to-stay-clean-his-life-is-again-full-of-promise
 
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One of the biggest fights in the History of New York was Holmes vs Cooney, so I just thought I would include an article on Victor Valle a legendary coach and trainer of Cooney who expressed his disappoint in Cooney.

Note; It was discovered years later that Cooney suffered from Anxiety attacks.

SPORTS OF THE TIMES; WAITING FOR GERRY COONEY
By Dave Anderson
Published: September 16, 1982

I n the late afternoon, the shadows fall across Eighth Avenue as the boxers hurry along the sidewalk on West 30th Street toward Gleason's Gym, where they train. For six years, Gerry Cooney, in his tweed cap and running suit, walked along that sidewalk and turned into the gym, where the trainer Victor Valle developed him into a contender. But ever since Victor Valle ducked through the ropes and wrapped his arms around Gerry Cooney, wobbling and dazed, in the 13th round of the heavyweight championship fight with Larry Holmes last June 11 at Las Vegas, Nev., the boxer has not returned to the gym.

''I haven't even heard from him since right after the fight,'' Victor Valle was saying now. ''I'm very surprised. I'm very hurt.'' Victor Valle, once a featherweight but now silver-haired and chunky, was in the little second-floor room where his fighters dress. On the door, Gerry Cooney's name has top billing. Taped against one of the narrow gray lockers is a photo of the heavyweight, now 26 years old, who had been unbeaten in 25 fights, with 22 knockouts.

''That's his locker,'' Victor Valle said. ''He should be here. I wanted him here 10 days after the fight.'' In recent weeks, Victor Valle has heard what many boxing people are saying: That Gerry Cooney won't fight again, that he's having too much fun partying as a celebrity, that he has taken his share of his $10 million and run.

''I wish he'd stop playing around and get himself in the gym,'' his trainer said. ''He's got to take advantage of his youth. If not, make a declaration that he's not fighting anymore.''

U p on the dusty wall were showcards from two of Gerry Cooney's earlier fights - his ''KO 4'' of Jimmy Young in Atlantic City in 1980, his ''KO 2'' of Tom Prater at the Felt Forum in 1979.

''The first time Gerry called me after the fight, he told me he was very sorry he let me down,'' said the trainer. ''I told him to forget it. You got to learn how to accept things. The second call, he told me, 'Victor, I'm going to fight again,' and I told him, 'Then get back in the gym and let's get going.' I haven't heard from him since.''

Asked if he had phoned the fighter, Victor Valle nodded. ''When you call, he's never there. He knows I called him, because I call his mother. He's always out. He's in California now, I think. I'm hurt, because he hasn't been true to me. He lets me hang in the cold. I never neglected him in any way. But now he won't tell me anything. Let's tell the truth. I want the truth.

''We never had no arguments. Lots of things have been written in some papers that I was going to be replaced. No such thing. We'll never break up as trainer and fighter. Never.

''But he's got to be more devoted to boxing. He stayed away from the gym after he knocked out Ken Norton too. He stayed away a couple months. But after Larry Holmes, he should've been back in the gym right away. I wanted to kill the idea of him maybe thinking he's a loser. I wanted to correct the things he done wrong.''

Victor Valle wouldn't elaborate on Gerry Cooney's mistakes, saying: ''Not listening to what we told him, not doing what we planned, that's all I'm going to say. I can't give it away, because he'll fight Larry Holmes again some day. But that wasn't Gerry Cooney that night. I never saw him so cool as for Larry Holmes; he wasn't worried. But when the bell rang, he didn't do what we told him to do.

''I can't understand why he didn't follow instructions. That puzzles me. Listening to me, that's what got him to the top. In the 12th round, I told him, 'You got to go and rough this guy,' and he said, 'I know.' But he never did.

''That's why he should be back in the gym now. It's like a student has to be in school; not 75 percent attendance, not 85 percent attendance, but close to 100 percent attendance. In order to win the championship, a boxer's got to work at the job. Gerry has to learn that. But if he hasn't the love for boxing anymore, I'd advise him to quit.''

Victor Valle stared at two pairs of boxing gloves across the room. ''If he'd come into the gym right away, I wouldn't have worked him too hard,'' he said. ''Four days a week, that's all. He would've had three days to fool around. But he'd be keeping his body in condition. And he'd be doing road work. You got to breathe that air. But a fighter is not a statue. If you think you can fool around with fighting and not get hurt, boxing gets the best of you every time.

''The way it is now, I'm a little disgusted with him. We did a lot of hard work for six years to let it go just like that. I'm not thinking about the money. I never did. I was born poor, and I'll go with nothing. He had money before, too. I don't think the money changed him. He was never a starving fighter. When he fought, he had money. And he'd make even more money if he comes back and wins the title.''

B ut before Gerry Cooney is ready to challenge Larry Holmes again, Victor Valle suggested, he needs at least two fights. ''Trevor Berbick, he'd be good,'' the trainer said. ''Greg Page, this new kid Pinklon Thomas, maybe Gerrie Coetzee, they'd be good. Gerry is made to be a champion, but he's fighting against himself. Take what happened as experience, don't take it as a defeat. Joe Louis, he got knocked out by Schmeling, but he came back. He was back in the gym with his trainer Jack Blackburn, right away.''

Joe Louis was knocked out by Max Schmeling on June 19, 1936, but two months later, on Aug. 18, he knocked out Jack Sharkey. ''The more Gerry waits, the more his muscles are getting soft,'' Victor Valle said. ''For the public and himself, he should make a declaration. Either he's going to fight again, or he's going to quit. Make a declaration.''

He had changed into a blue T-shirt and green sweatpants to work with his other fighters in the ring downstairs. ''Why isn't he here?'' he said now. ''I used to come through that front door downstairs, and he'd be already dressed in his trunks, waiting for me. I'd see him and yell, 'That's my man!' That's how much he loved it then. That's why he got to where he did. But now he should make a declaration.''

Illustrations: photo of Victor Vale and Gerry Cooney

Source: New York Times.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
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@Trail I said I would post something on Wilfred Benitez for you...!So here goes


Glory a dim memory

Once the youngest fighter to win 3 world titles, Wilfred Benitez struggles with boxer's dementia and lives in poverty with his mother
December 20, 2007|By Ray Quintanilla, Tribune staff reporter

CAROLINA, Puerto Rico — He relies on his mother to get out of bed each morning. Once on his feet, he finds balance along a wall and plods carefully into the living room.

Clara Benitez stands a few feet away, watching carefully, like a parent teaching a child to take his first steps. Her 49-year-old son is nearly blind. He moves as if his feet weigh 100 pounds each. The ringing in his ears makes it nearly impossible for him to hear, and his battle against confusion seems to get worse every day.


"Where am I?" he asks in garbled Spanish before plopping down in front of a blaring television one morning at home in an impoverished neighborhood. "What have you done with my mother? What is my name?"

This is Wilfred Benitez, once the youngest professional fighter to win three boxing world titles. During his heyday he was a source of inspiration and pride for Latinos around the world. Nowhere is his popularity greater than on this Caribbean island, where the son of the late Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente calls him "an iconic sports figure."

But boxer's dementia, a condition brought on by too many powerful blows to the head, has robbed Benitez of nearly everything. The fighter once known as "El Radar" is unable to care for himself. He and his mother occupy a two-bedroom concrete house in a depressed section of Carolina, a community about 10 miles outside San Juan.With mounting financial problems and no one but an elderly parent to care for him, he is in danger of becoming homeless once his mother has gone.

The former fighter receives a combined $1,100 a month in public assistance from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the town of Carolina. His mother says it's barely enough to cover the cost of utilities, housing and food for them on this pricey island. The Wilfred Benitez Foundation, started a few years ago, has generated no more than a few hundred dollars a year from sales of fight memorabilia, she adds.

Days after Benitez's mother turned 81 in October, she acknowledged being haunted by some painful questions: "Who is going to care for Wilfred when I pass on?" she laments, her eyes welling up as she glances at her son sitting quietly on a sofa, the way he did as a little boy.

"Will my son end up on the streets? It worries me every day," she adds.

The family has tried to keep its financial difficulties private for much of the last decade. But it's getting more difficult to hide, the former fighter's mother says. Their home has plumbing problems they cannot afford to repair. They have endured days with no water or electricity because of unpaid utility bills.

The fighter's mother said she isn't sure how much money he earned over 62 professional fights in his 17-year career, but "several million" sounds right. What she does know, she added, is that her late husband, Gregorio, who managed their son and kept his financial records, squandered much of those winnings purchasing racehorses. The fighter's father died in 1996. What was left of the prize money dried up about five years ago -- and with it, his 24-hour nursing care, his mother adds. He was diagnosed with diabetes about three years ago.

Selling the roof for food

Earlier this year, Clara Benitez sold a section of their home's metal roof to a scrap dealer for $200 -- money they used for food.

"About all we have left is each other," she says, reflecting on her son's stellar career, which ended in 1990. Neither her son's former wife nor his daughter visits the former champion.

"He would have been better off without boxing," she says. "Wilfred was a loving person, but his illness has made him so distant, like it's not really him sitting on the sofa anymore. He can't do anything on his own."

The Benitez family -- eight children in all -- left New York City for Puerto Rico in the mid-1970s. They bought a small home in Carolina, and before Benitez was shaving, he was spending hours in the local gym honing his skills.

His two older brothers, Frankie and Gregory, also were boxers, though neither reached their youngest sibling's popularity or fame.

By age 15, Wilfred Benitez was ranked among the world's top fighters.

Two years later, in 1976, Benitez became the youngest fighter to win a world title by battering Antonio "Kid Pambele" Cervantes for 15 rounds in a packed San Juan outdoor stadium -- an upset fight fans still talk about in local bars and social clubs. Indeed, when he fought Kid Pambele, he entered the ring with the weight of the island on his shoulders.

During 17 years in the ring, much of it as a welterweight, Benitez earned 53 wins, 31 by knockout. He remains one of the few boxers ever to win three boxing world titles, accomplishments that sparked parades in San Juan.

But his bouts against a handful of the world's best fighters left Benitez with early signs of brain damage, his mother says.

In 1979, Benitez and Sugar Ray Leonard traded blows for nearly 15 rounds before Leonard won by knockout in a battle some rank among boxing's greatest.

Read The Rest of the Article Here..... http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-12-20/features/0712180293_1_clara-benitez-fighter-mother/2
 
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Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
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@Trail I said I would post something on Wilfred Benitez for you...!So here goes


Glory a dim memory

Once the youngest fighter to win 3 world titles, Wilfred Benitez struggles with boxer's dementia and lives in poverty with his mother
December 20, 2007|By Ray Quintanilla, Tribune staff reporter

CAROLINA, Puerto Rico — He relies on his mother to get out of bed each morning. Once on his feet, he finds balance along a wall and plods carefully into the living room.

Clara Benitez stands a few feet away, watching carefully, like a parent teaching a child to take his first steps. Her 49-year-old son is nearly blind. He moves as if his feet weigh 100 pounds each. The ringing in his ears makes it nearly impossible for him to hear, and his battle against confusion seems to get worse every day.


"Where am I?" he asks in garbled Spanish before plopping down in front of a blaring television one morning at home in an impoverished neighborhood. "What have you done with my mother? What is my name?"

This is Wilfred Benitez, once the youngest professional fighter to win three boxing world titles. During his heyday he was a source of inspiration and pride for Latinos around the world. Nowhere is his popularity greater than on this Caribbean island, where the son of the late Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente calls him "an iconic sports figure."

But boxer's dementia, a condition brought on by too many powerful blows to the head, has robbed Benitez of nearly everything. The fighter once known as "El Radar" is unable to care for himself. He and his mother occupy a two-bedroom concrete house in a depressed section of Carolina, a community about 10 miles outside San Juan.With mounting financial problems and no one but an elderly parent to care for him, he is in danger of becoming homeless once his mother has gone.

The former fighter receives a combined $1,100 a month in public assistance from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the town of Carolina. His mother says it's barely enough to cover the cost of utilities, housing and food for them on this pricey island. The Wilfred Benitez Foundation, started a few years ago, has generated no more than a few hundred dollars a year from sales of fight memorabilia, she adds.

Days after Benitez's mother turned 81 in October, she acknowledged being haunted by some painful questions: "Who is going to care for Wilfred when I pass on?" she laments, her eyes welling up as she glances at her son sitting quietly on a sofa, the way he did as a little boy.

"Will my son end up on the streets? It worries me every day," she adds.

The family has tried to keep its financial difficulties private for much of the last decade. But it's getting more difficult to hide, the former fighter's mother says. Their home has plumbing problems they cannot afford to repair. They have endured days with no water or electricity because of unpaid utility bills.

The fighter's mother said she isn't sure how much money he earned over 62 professional fights in his 17-year career, but "several million" sounds right. What she does know, she added, is that her late husband, Gregorio, who managed their son and kept his financial records, squandered much of those winnings purchasing racehorses. The fighter's father died in 1996. What was left of the prize money dried up about five years ago -- and with it, his 24-hour nursing care, his mother adds. He was diagnosed with diabetes about three years ago.

Selling the roof for food

Earlier this year, Clara Benitez sold a section of their home's metal roof to a scrap dealer for $200 -- money they used for food.

"About all we have left is each other," she says, reflecting on her son's stellar career, which ended in 1990. Neither her son's former wife nor his daughter visits the former champion.

"He would have been better off without boxing," she says. "Wilfred was a loving person, but his illness has made him so distant, like it's not really him sitting on the sofa anymore. He can't do anything on his own."

The Benitez family -- eight children in all -- left New York City for Puerto Rico in the mid-1970s. They bought a small home in Carolina, and before Benitez was shaving, he was spending hours in the local gym honing his skills.

His two older brothers, Frankie and Gregory, also were boxers, though neither reached their youngest sibling's popularity or fame.

By age 15, Wilfred Benitez was ranked among the world's top fighters.

Two years later, in 1976, Benitez became the youngest fighter to win a world title by battering Antonio "Kid Pambele" Cervantes for 15 rounds in a packed San Juan outdoor stadium -- an upset fight fans still talk about in local bars and social clubs. Indeed, when he fought Kid Pambele, he entered the ring with the weight of the island on his shoulders.

During 17 years in the ring, much of it as a welterweight, Benitez earned 53 wins, 31 by knockout. He remains one of the few boxers ever to win three boxing world titles, accomplishments that sparked parades in San Juan.

But his bouts against a handful of the world's best fighters left Benitez with early signs of brain damage, his mother says.

In 1979, Benitez and Sugar Ray Leonard traded blows for nearly 15 rounds before Leonard won by knockout in a battle some rank among boxing's greatest.

Read The Rest of the Article Here..... http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-12-20/features/0712180293_1_clara-benitez-fighter-mother/2
Just about to start reading. Thank you.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Devon Alexander has a very interesting back story so I thought I would include it here... He grew up in a neighbourhood dominated by the rivalry between the Crips and The Bloods street gangs ... 9 of the guys he trained with at the gym got murdered in gang shootings
another 10 ended up in jail...He was one of the few survivors.




Devon Alexander: Rising star, going far


Boxer Devon Alexander trains in the mountains outside Las Vegas. Alexander will face Andriy Kotelnik Aug. 6 in a light welterweight bout. (Photo by Isaac Brekken for the Post-Dispatch)

LAS VEGAS • In the scorching haze of another early morning sunrise in the tranquil Nevada desert, a blazing ball of sunshine peeks up spectacularly over the eastern horizon. Rare is the visitor to this modern American Sodom who actually gets to witness this sort of breathtaking scene, because quite frankly this is definitely not a "get up early" kind of town.

So as the long, white SUV grinds its way through the city — zipping by the groggy "going home late" night crawlers staggering their way down the Strip, past the gaudy glass pyramids, exploding fountains and the blaring marquees that beckon you to "the World's Largest Topless Showcase!!!" — Devon Alexander is that rare soul who actually does take the time to soak in this marvelous setting.

It is a little past 6:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday and Alexander, the 23-year-old unified junior welterweight champion of the world, is on his way to work. He sits in the back seat of the SUV as it rolls up the long, winding asphalt ribbon that leads slowly toward Spring Mountain National Park. As he peers out the tinted glass window, the shimmering towers of Sin City have faded in the distance; in front of him, dramatic Mount Charleston looms larger through the front windshield. For Alexander (20-0 record, including 13 KOs), going to work means a grueling four-mile run in 90-degree heat up the eastern face of that mountain, assaulting a road that goes up a frighteningly steep incline from 6,000 feet above sea level at the base to 8,000 feet near the summit.


As the SUV approaches the mountain, there are already at least 15 or 20 runners on the two-lane highway, a steady stream of brightly clothed joggers on a casual journey from the luxury resort and spa that rests at the base of the mountain.

"Yeah, but do you notice that they're all running away from the mountain?" Alexander says with a devilish grin. "I'm about to go face The Monster. And you know what? This mountain ain't no joke."

He has faced this mountain three times a week for seven consecutive weeks in preparation to defend his WBC and IBF world junior welterweight boxing titles next Saturday night on national television (HBO) against former WBA champ Andriy Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KOs) on promoter Don King's "Gateway to Greatness" card at Scottrade Center. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning — long before that brilliant desert sunrise — he hears a violent pounding on his bedroom door, as trainer/manager Kevin Cunningham bangs on the door and shouts "GET UP!"

Cunningham does not have to ask him twice.

Alexander — the kid who against all odds survived the mean streets of North St. Louis to become the improbable champion of the world — is up and at 'em. The daily routine never wavers and Alexander never looks for the easy way out. You discover this quickly as you observe his rigorous daily regimen. Every afternoon when he arrives at the gym, Alexander has plenty of company. There are training partners and sparring partners and any number of young boxers who stand near the lip of the ring to carefully observe the champ doing his thing.

But on these early-morning trips when Alexander must face "The Monster," the crowd seems to thin quickly. No volunteers. No running partners. No grinning sycophants.

When someone asks him if this bothers him, if he wishes the workload weren't so intimidating, if the journey weren't so lonely, the 140-pound ball of tightly wound muscles grins with obvious pride.

"Nope, not at all," he says. "I love it because I know it's going to pay off in the long run. I don't sweat it. This is what I do. You gotta like it. I've been doing it since I was 7. I was born to fight, I think. Everyone has a gift, and I believe my gift is boxing. I have skills. Everyone can't do this. As you can see, it's rough and rugged. You have to have the heart. You have to have the determination. You have to have the discipline. You have to have all of that because everybody can't get in there and train like this. They think they can. But that's until they find out that there is pain. Why cheat yourself? If we're going to do this, then do it. There are no shortcuts. If you take shortcuts now, it will show in the ring. This is a one-man sport. So whatever you ain't doing — whatever you ain't supposed to be doing — it will show in the ring.

"This stuff is hard," he says without hesitation. "You have to be willing to sacrifice. Look, today I don't feel good. You think I want to run up that mountain? I don't. But I'm willing to get up and face that Monster. You have to be willing to go."

Cunningham, the man who knows Alexander best, who has seen him grow from that eager kid who tagged along behind his older brother Vaughn and found his way into a gym in his rugged Hyde Park neighborhood, smiles proudly when he hears the kid whom they now call "Alexander The Great" speak. The 45-year-old former St. Louis narcotics detective who now serves as the champ's trainer and manager says, "Lots of people say they want to be in this position. They all say they want to be the champ. But very few actually want to pay the price to get here."

Devon Alexander has been paying the price for nearly 16 years, ever since the day he was a skinny little 7-year-old who walked into a dilapidated old police station turned into a makeshift boxing gym, one of 29 other neighborhood kids trained by Cunningham, a good Samaritan cop who was trying to save these boys from the gang violence and drugs that were ravaging their streets.

"Now he's the only one left," says Cunningham, his voice dripping with a depressing sadness. "Thirty boys started, nine of them are now dead, and I think eight to 10 are in prison."

What happened to the rest, he was asked.

Cunningham shakes his head sadly.

"Lost 'em to the streets," he says. "They're all in the streets."

As he talks, Cunningham is behind the wheel of the SUV, slowly following behind Alexander up the mountain. If you are into metaphors, this journey up Mount Charleston is as good as any to describe the young boxer's dramatic life and times. Alexander was all by himself on that mountain, methodically attacking this imposing task with his head down, his arms pumping and his well-muscled legs churning at the same unwavering pace. He was focused and determined to complete the task.

Would it have been nice to have someone running by his side as he attacked the mountain? Absolutely. But there's a big difference between nice and necessary.

The truth is, attacking this beast pales in comparison to the far more imposing beast he's already conquered: growing up in a neighborhood where if the gangs don't get you, the drugs will.

Read the rest of the article here......http://www.stltoday.com/sports/other/devon-alexander-rising-star-going-far/article_2a0d18da-5f38-5671-8006-b5365962459c.html
 
Reactions: Trail

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,763
Devon Alexander has a very interesting back story so I thought I would include it here... He grew up in a neighbourhood dominated by the rivalry between the Crips and The Bloods street gangs ... 9 of the guys he trained with at the gym got murdered in gang shootings
another 10 ended up in jail...He was one of the few survivors.




Devon Alexander: Rising star, going far


Boxer Devon Alexander trains in the mountains outside Las Vegas. Alexander will face Andriy Kotelnik Aug. 6 in a light welterweight bout. (Photo by Isaac Brekken for the Post-Dispatch)

LAS VEGAS • In the scorching haze of another early morning sunrise in the tranquil Nevada desert, a blazing ball of sunshine peeks up spectacularly over the eastern horizon. Rare is the visitor to this modern American Sodom who actually gets to witness this sort of breathtaking scene, because quite frankly this is definitely not a "get up early" kind of town.

So as the long, white SUV grinds its way through the city — zipping by the groggy "going home late" night crawlers staggering their way down the Strip, past the gaudy glass pyramids, exploding fountains and the blaring marquees that beckon you to "the World's Largest Topless Showcase!!!" — Devon Alexander is that rare soul who actually does take the time to soak in this marvelous setting.

It is a little past 6:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday and Alexander, the 23-year-old unified junior welterweight champion of the world, is on his way to work. He sits in the back seat of the SUV as it rolls up the long, winding asphalt ribbon that leads slowly toward Spring Mountain National Park. As he peers out the tinted glass window, the shimmering towers of Sin City have faded in the distance; in front of him, dramatic Mount Charleston looms larger through the front windshield. For Alexander (20-0 record, including 13 KOs), going to work means a grueling four-mile run in 90-degree heat up the eastern face of that mountain, assaulting a road that goes up a frighteningly steep incline from 6,000 feet above sea level at the base to 8,000 feet near the summit.


As the SUV approaches the mountain, there are already at least 15 or 20 runners on the two-lane highway, a steady stream of brightly clothed joggers on a casual journey from the luxury resort and spa that rests at the base of the mountain.

"Yeah, but do you notice that they're all running away from the mountain?" Alexander says with a devilish grin. "I'm about to go face The Monster. And you know what? This mountain ain't no joke."

He has faced this mountain three times a week for seven consecutive weeks in preparation to defend his WBC and IBF world junior welterweight boxing titles next Saturday night on national television (HBO) against former WBA champ Andriy Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KOs) on promoter Don King's "Gateway to Greatness" card at Scottrade Center. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning — long before that brilliant desert sunrise — he hears a violent pounding on his bedroom door, as trainer/manager Kevin Cunningham bangs on the door and shouts "GET UP!"

Cunningham does not have to ask him twice.

Alexander — the kid who against all odds survived the mean streets of North St. Louis to become the improbable champion of the world — is up and at 'em. The daily routine never wavers and Alexander never looks for the easy way out. You discover this quickly as you observe his rigorous daily regimen. Every afternoon when he arrives at the gym, Alexander has plenty of company. There are training partners and sparring partners and any number of young boxers who stand near the lip of the ring to carefully observe the champ doing his thing.

But on these early-morning trips when Alexander must face "The Monster," the crowd seems to thin quickly. No volunteers. No running partners. No grinning sycophants.

When someone asks him if this bothers him, if he wishes the workload weren't so intimidating, if the journey weren't so lonely, the 140-pound ball of tightly wound muscles grins with obvious pride.

"Nope, not at all," he says. "I love it because I know it's going to pay off in the long run. I don't sweat it. This is what I do. You gotta like it. I've been doing it since I was 7. I was born to fight, I think. Everyone has a gift, and I believe my gift is boxing. I have skills. Everyone can't do this. As you can see, it's rough and rugged. You have to have the heart. You have to have the determination. You have to have the discipline. You have to have all of that because everybody can't get in there and train like this. They think they can. But that's until they find out that there is pain. Why cheat yourself? If we're going to do this, then do it. There are no shortcuts. If you take shortcuts now, it will show in the ring. This is a one-man sport. So whatever you ain't doing — whatever you ain't supposed to be doing — it will show in the ring.

"This stuff is hard," he says without hesitation. "You have to be willing to sacrifice. Look, today I don't feel good. You think I want to run up that mountain? I don't. But I'm willing to get up and face that Monster. You have to be willing to go."

Cunningham, the man who knows Alexander best, who has seen him grow from that eager kid who tagged along behind his older brother Vaughn and found his way into a gym in his rugged Hyde Park neighborhood, smiles proudly when he hears the kid whom they now call "Alexander The Great" speak. The 45-year-old former St. Louis narcotics detective who now serves as the champ's trainer and manager says, "Lots of people say they want to be in this position. They all say they want to be the champ. But very few actually want to pay the price to get here."

Devon Alexander has been paying the price for nearly 16 years, ever since the day he was a skinny little 7-year-old who walked into a dilapidated old police station turned into a makeshift boxing gym, one of 29 other neighborhood kids trained by Cunningham, a good Samaritan cop who was trying to save these boys from the gang violence and drugs that were ravaging their streets.

"Now he's the only one left," says Cunningham, his voice dripping with a depressing sadness. "Thirty boys started, nine of them are now dead, and I think eight to 10 are in prison."

What happened to the rest, he was asked.

Cunningham shakes his head sadly.

"Lost 'em to the streets," he says. "They're all in the streets."

As he talks, Cunningham is behind the wheel of the SUV, slowly following behind Alexander up the mountain. If you are into metaphors, this journey up Mount Charleston is as good as any to describe the young boxer's dramatic life and times. Alexander was all by himself on that mountain, methodically attacking this imposing task with his head down, his arms pumping and his well-muscled legs churning at the same unwavering pace. He was focused and determined to complete the task.

Would it have been nice to have someone running by his side as he attacked the mountain? Absolutely. But there's a big difference between nice and necessary.

The truth is, attacking this beast pales in comparison to the far more imposing beast he's already conquered: growing up in a neighborhood where if the gangs don't get you, the drugs will.

Read the rest of the article here......http://www.stltoday.com/sports/other/devon-alexander-rising-star-going-far/article_2a0d18da-5f38-5671-8006-b5365962459c.html
This morning's reading material. Thank you once again.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
In a Champion’s Corner, a Real Coach Who Inspired One on ‘The Wire’


By FINN COHEN FEB. 24, 2017

Photo

Calvin Ford, right, working out with a fellow coach, Rodney C. Hunt, at Upton Boxing Center in Baltimore. Ford, the model for the character Cutty in “The Wire,” coaches Gervonta Davis, a junior lightweight champion. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times


BALTIMORE — The FedEx package containing the junior lightweight championship belt, intended for Gervonta Davis, arrived at the gym too early in the day.

Davis often trains late into the night, running the streets of Baltimore, and sleeps until midday. So it was his coach Calvin Ford — he sleeps much less, sometimes just an hour a night — who found the attempted-delivery note when he got to Upton Boxing Center, a gym in one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods.

Ford, along with Kenny Ellis, another of Davis’s coaches, runs the training sessions at Upton five nights a week, showing young people the angles of the trade and keeping them off the same streets that Davis makes his training ground.

The coaches have been involved with fighting, in one way or another, for most of their lives. Ellis, 49, is a bearded former amateur boxer who has coached at Upton since 2005. And Ford, 52, was once a violent lieutenant in the Boardley-Burrows drug organization, which controlled parts of West Baltimore in the 1980s.
Photo

Clockwise from top left: Davis in West Baltimore; Ford at his gym; Kenny Ellis, another of Davis’s coaches; and Garrin Davis, the boxer’s father. CreditPhotographs by Matt Roth for The New York Times
“If I had to shoot you, I’d shoot you,” Ford said. “If I had to stab you, I’d stab you. If I had to beat you up with my hands, I’d beat you up with my hands.”

In 1988, Ford was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy. He served 10 years in a federal prison, where he learned to box. He started coaching after he was released, eventually cultivating a national amateur champion.

That attracted the attention of Ed Burns, a police detective who had investigated Ford — and who became one of the creators of the HBO series “The Wire.” He used Ford as a model for the character known as Cutty, an ex-con who opened a gym after realizing that the streets he returned to had grown harder than he could handle.

Today, Ford is a soft-spoken man who wears track suits and reading glasses secured by a bejeweled chain, a jarringly endearing detail for someone who teaches others how to inflict pain efficiently. And he is a father figure to dozens of children who have been coming to him for nearly two decades for lessons that reach far beyond a three-minute round. Davis, his first world champion, and the youngest living professional titleholder, has been called the future of boxing by no less an authority than Floyd Mayweather Jr.

When Davis, 22, entered the gym a few hours later to find a heavily taped cardboard box on the reception desk, it was Ford who handed him the scissors.

Inside was a deep-red belt with a large gold logo of the International Boxing Federation, earned with a seventh-round knockout of José Pedraza, who was heavily favored, in Brooklyn on Jan. 14.

“Strap me up,” Davis said through a stifled grin.

Ford, wearing a beanie with #STRAPSEASON printed on the front, put the belt on the 5-foot-6, 130-pound Davis. The new champion posed for a picture under banners that included Angelo Ward, who trained here before he was shot to death in 2012, and a scowling version of Davis’s younger self, draped in belts and medals a decade ago.

Now, with a new belt over his shoulder, Davis glowed.

“I might walk up and down the avenue,” he said, gesturing to the street outside.

Photo

Davis in the third round of his title fight with José Pedraza. CreditFrank Franklin II/Associated Press
Photo

Davis’s championship belt. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Ford with McKinley Fulton, 17, at Upton Boxing Center. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Mean Streets
Last year, 318 people were killed in Baltimore, the second-highest homicide total for the city on record; 2015 was worse. So far this year, the city is averaging nearly a murder a day.

Ford and Ellis know children who were — and still are — linked to those troubling statistics. Children, forced to fend for themselves after the killing of a parent, slipping into the current of incarceration. Young men with no prospects other than the easiest one available — the economy of addiction.

Davis, whose mother struggled with drug abuse during his youth and whose father spent time in prison for selling drugs, is one of the fortunate ones. Others have not been so lucky.

“Kids fall out of school because they saw the kid that they hang with get gunned down in the street,” Ellis said. After witnessing a murder, “you got to go to school the next day!” he added. “How can you do a test? How can you pass?”

The kids who come through the gym’s doors at least have a chance to learn how to cope with the hopelessness outside, where, Ellis said, violence claims “a body every day.”

“Sometimes you hear gunshots, you look around the gym, like, ‘We got some in here that ain’t getting shot,’” he said.

Upton is not far from where Freddie Gray was arrested in 2015, leading to the ride in a police van that left him with a spinal cord injury that killed him a week later. The drugstore that was looted and burned during the riots after his funeral is six blocks away.

The neighborhood has the largest percentage of returning criminal offenders in the state, said Nick Mosby, a former mayoral candidate and City Council member who is now a state legislator.

“Any barometer of success of a community, unfortunately in that ZIP code, will typically tilt towards a very unhealthy community,” said Mosby, whose wife, Marilyn, was the state’s attorney who prosecuted the Baltimore police officers charged in Gray’s death. (None were convicted.) “Poverty level, education level, unemployment rate, health disparities, you name it.”

Mosby said the children here were facing adult issues. “At the age of 7, 8, 9, 10, they’re taking care of themselves, they’re taking care of younger siblings, they’re going out, figuring out what they’re going to eat every day.”

Photo

Training at Upton. Children in the neighborhood face adult issues. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

A neighborhood a few blocks from Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Cuttino Oliver, 13, and Candice Carter, 17, sparring at the gym. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Upton, where it costs $65 a year to train, is a refuge.

The city funds the gym, though for many years Ford helped out of his own pocket — including paying for trips to out-of-town competitions.

“You don’t know how many cars I ran through,” Ford said, laughing.

Such sacrifice has helped generate good will in the community. Upton stands apart.

“You notice when you walked up on the corners, you ain’t see nobody standin’ on my corners,” Ford said. “They ain’t gonna have that nonsense around us. That show you that the people — city, street people — cares about what we are doing.”

Even with Davis’s success, and the national attention it has brought to Upton, the loss of previous fighters — those who the coaches said decided to “go left” and give in to the streets — weighs heavy.

Ray Davis, a fighter Ellis trained as a teenager, is in jail after ending up on his own when his father was shot at a corner store. Ronald Gibbs, a 17-year-old nationally ranked amateur, was stabbed in the heart in 2012 in a dispute defending his sister. That same year, Ward, the fighter under whose banner Gervonta Davis had his picture taken, was shot nine times. He was two fights into his professional career.

“Every day, his friends would come here and wait for him to finish training so they could run the streets,” Ellis said of Ward. “I said, ‘Man, you can’t have one foot in the streets and one foot in the gym. It’s not gonna work.’”

The day that Ward was killed, Ellis said, he was in his car when he received the text. “And where he got killed was like three minutes from where I was driving, so I drove around there. And they had the yellow tape around him.”

History of Fighting
After locking his belt in its case, Gervonta (pronounced Jer-VON-tay) Davis drove a few blocks northwest and stood in front of the home he once shared with his mother and grandmother, a bitter wind tunnel of a block dotted with abandoned rowhouses. Garbage spilled into an alley framed by a rowhouse with no roof. An open Bible lay on a stoop, its pages fluttering.

Davis pointed out a cactus a few doors down. He used to touch it every day as he walked to and from the elementary school at the end of the block, a child’s personal challenge to himself ahead of a career of stinging hands.

When he was 7, Davis and one of his older brothers moved in with his grandmother, after bouncing between a group home and their uncle’s house. Being new to West Baltimore, the boys were quickly forced to defend themselves.


Photo

Nieem Somerville, 10, working out at Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

The boxing center is in one of Baltimore’s most blighted neighborhoods. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Davis with his I.B.F. championship belt. “He made a lot of sacrifices,” his father said.CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Davis’s mother, Kenya Brown, said school officials who had contacted her about his frequent fighting had told her that he was “a menace to society,” but she insisted he was not an instigator. After her brother took Davis to Upton, and he took to the sport, “people really started trying him more,” she said.

“He was light-skinned, always been short,” said Brown, 43. “He had to get staples because somebody hit him in the head.”

At his gym, Ford has a policy: If one of his fighters disrespects a teacher or starts a fight at school, the fighter has to spar with everyone in the gym that night. For Davis, it was less a stick and more a carrot.

“He loved it,” Ford said. “I used to have to bring guys from different cities come down here that was bigger than him, just to punish him, and then he was beatin’ them up.”

Davis’s father, Garrin, said Upton allowed his son to avoid the lure of the streets that ensnared so many others. But it took work.

“He made a lot of sacrifices,” said Garrin Davis, who got clean after his last stint in prison. “A lot of the friends that he had, because he made the choice to come here, he didn’t end up where they at.”

Rewards Earned
Gervonta Davis’s defensive instincts in the ring, and his calm demeanor, hew to the style of Mayweather, who has taken on the dual role of Davis’s promoter and mentor. He is undefeated in 17 professional fights. All but one of his victories was by knockout.

His success presents new challenges: the thorny world of professional boxing, and the rigors of grooming and marketing himself as a pay-per-view star. And then there are the myriad voices in his ear. Between rounds at the Pedraza fight in January, Davis had information coming at him from the coaches in his corner and from Mayweather, who was vociferously dispensing advice from ringside.

“I’ve been navigating him for years,” Ford said, ”so he’s always gonna hear my voice. But Floyd’s been to that land I haven’t been to. So he have to listen to him.”

With those challenges, however, comes opportunity. Davis’s aptitude for boxing is inexorably linked to his troubled background: There is not much in the ring that can hurt him more than the tentacles of his city’s drug trade already have. And that gives him an authenticity that rings true for his community.


Photo

A speed bag at Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Jeremiah Williams, 7, during a workout at the gym. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
“His whole stance, his whole posture, his whole demeanor is Baltimore,” said Mosby, who has taken Davis to schools and juvenile prisons for outreach talks. “And these kids recognize that. Young folks will get behind an individual like Gervonta, more so than any policy that we’re able to create, more so than any other public service announcement, any other potential opportunity.”

When Davis won his title in Brooklyn in January, Ford and Mosby said, a surprisingly large contingent in the crowd seemed to have made the trip to support him.

“You couldn’t have told me we weren’t in Baltimore,” Mosby said.

The enthusiasm from the city for one of its own is not lost on Davis. He and Ford want his next fight to be in Baltimore; it would the first title bout here for a world champion from the city.

Davis has chosen to remain in Baltimore, rather than uproot himself to Las Vegas to be in Mayweather’s immediate circle. By staying, he believes, he can honor the people who helped raise him — Ford and Ellis.

“More than myself, they deserve the belt,” Davis said. “They go through a lot. You got to look at it. The people before me, the boxers that they lost. People that they put their blood, sweat and tears into. And the fighters that ‘go left,’ it’s not right for Calvin and Kenny.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/sports/gervonta-davis-baltimore.html
 
Last edited:

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,763
In a Champion’s Corner, a Real Coach Who Inspired One on ‘The Wire’


By FINN COHEN FEB. 24, 2017

Photo

Calvin Ford, right, working out with a fellow coach, Rodney C. Hunt, at Upton Boxing Center in Baltimore. Ford, the model for the character Cutty in “The Wire,” coaches Gervonta Davis, a junior lightweight champion. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times


BALTIMORE — The FedEx package containing the junior lightweight championship belt, intended for Gervonta Davis, arrived at the gym too early in the day.

Davis often trains late into the night, running the streets of Baltimore, and sleeps until midday. So it was his coach Calvin Ford — he sleeps much less, sometimes just an hour a night — who found the attempted-delivery note when he got to Upton Boxing Center, a gym in one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods.

Ford, along with Kenny Ellis, another of Davis’s coaches, runs the training sessions at Upton five nights a week, showing young people the angles of the trade and keeping them off the same streets that Davis makes his training ground.

The coaches have been involved with fighting, in one way or another, for most of their lives. Ellis, 49, is a bearded former amateur boxer who has coached at Upton since 2005. And Ford, 52, was once a violent lieutenant in the Boardley-Burrows drug organization, which controlled parts of West Baltimore in the 1980s.
Photo

Clockwise from top left: Davis in West Baltimore; Ford at his gym; Kenny Ellis, another of Davis’s coaches; and Garrin Davis, the boxer’s father. CreditPhotographs by Matt Roth for The New York Times
“If I had to shoot you, I’d shoot you,” Ford said. “If I had to stab you, I’d stab you. If I had to beat you up with my hands, I’d beat you up with my hands.”

In 1988, Ford was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy. He served 10 years in a federal prison, where he learned to box. He started coaching after he was released, eventually cultivating a national amateur champion.

That attracted the attention of Ed Burns, a police detective who had investigated Ford — and who became one of the creators of the HBO series “The Wire.” He used Ford as a model for the character known as Cutty, an ex-con who opened a gym after realizing that the streets he returned to had grown harder than he could handle.

Today, Ford is a soft-spoken man who wears track suits and reading glasses secured by a bejeweled chain, a jarringly endearing detail for someone who teaches others how to inflict pain efficiently. And he is a father figure to dozens of children who have been coming to him for nearly two decades for lessons that reach far beyond a three-minute round. Davis, his first world champion, and the youngest living professional titleholder, has been called the future of boxing by no less an authority than Floyd Mayweather Jr.

When Davis, 22, entered the gym a few hours later to find a heavily taped cardboard box on the reception desk, it was Ford who handed him the scissors.

Inside was a deep-red belt with a large gold logo of the International Boxing Federation, earned with a seventh-round knockout of José Pedraza, who was heavily favored, in Brooklyn on Jan. 14.

“Strap me up,” Davis said through a stifled grin.

Ford, wearing a beanie with #STRAPSEASON printed on the front, put the belt on the 5-foot-6, 130-pound Davis. The new champion posed for a picture under banners that included Angelo Ward, who trained here before he was shot to death in 2012, and a scowling version of Davis’s younger self, draped in belts and medals a decade ago.

Now, with a new belt over his shoulder, Davis glowed.

“I might walk up and down the avenue,” he said, gesturing to the street outside.

Photo

Davis in the third round of his title fight with José Pedraza. CreditFrank Franklin II/Associated Press
Photo

Davis’s championship belt. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Ford with McKinley Fulton, 17, at Upton Boxing Center. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Mean Streets
Last year, 318 people were killed in Baltimore, the second-highest homicide total for the city on record; 2015 was worse. So far this year, the city is averaging nearly a murder a day.

Ford and Ellis know children who were — and still are — linked to those troubling statistics. Children, forced to fend for themselves after the killing of a parent, slipping into the current of incarceration. Young men with no prospects other than the easiest one available — the economy of addiction.

Davis, whose mother struggled with drug abuse during his youth and whose father spent time in prison for selling drugs, is one of the fortunate ones. Others have not been so lucky.

“Kids fall out of school because they saw the kid that they hang with get gunned down in the street,” Ellis said. After witnessing a murder, “you got to go to school the next day!” he added. “How can you do a test? How can you pass?”

The kids who come through the gym’s doors at least have a chance to learn how to cope with the hopelessness outside, where, Ellis said, violence claims “a body every day.”

“Sometimes you hear gunshots, you look around the gym, like, ‘We got some in here that ain’t getting shot,’” he said.

Upton is not far from where Freddie Gray was arrested in 2015, leading to the ride in a police van that left him with a spinal cord injury that killed him a week later. The drugstore that was looted and burned during the riots after his funeral is six blocks away.

The neighborhood has the largest percentage of returning criminal offenders in the state, said Nick Mosby, a former mayoral candidate and City Council member who is now a state legislator.

“Any barometer of success of a community, unfortunately in that ZIP code, will typically tilt towards a very unhealthy community,” said Mosby, whose wife, Marilyn, was the state’s attorney who prosecuted the Baltimore police officers charged in Gray’s death. (None were convicted.) “Poverty level, education level, unemployment rate, health disparities, you name it.”

Mosby said the children here were facing adult issues. “At the age of 7, 8, 9, 10, they’re taking care of themselves, they’re taking care of younger siblings, they’re going out, figuring out what they’re going to eat every day.”

Photo

Training at Upton. Children in the neighborhood face adult issues. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

A neighborhood a few blocks from Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Cuttino Oliver, 13, and Candice Carter, 17, sparring at the gym. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Upton, where it costs $65 a year to train, is a refuge.

The city funds the gym, though for many years Ford helped out of his own pocket — including paying for trips to out-of-town competitions.

“You don’t know how many cars I ran through,” Ford said, laughing.

Such sacrifice has helped generate good will in the community. Upton stands apart.

“You notice when you walked up on the corners, you ain’t see nobody standin’ on my corners,” Ford said. “They ain’t gonna have that nonsense around us. That show you that the people — city, street people — cares about what we are doing.”

Even with Davis’s success, and the national attention it has brought to Upton, the loss of previous fighters — those who the coaches said decided to “go left” and give in to the streets — weighs heavy.

Ray Davis, a fighter Ellis trained as a teenager, is in jail after ending up on his own when his father was shot at a corner store. Ronald Gibbs, a 17-year-old nationally ranked amateur, was stabbed in the heart in 2012 in a dispute defending his sister. That same year, Ward, the fighter under whose banner Gervonta Davis had his picture taken, was shot nine times. He was two fights into his professional career.

“Every day, his friends would come here and wait for him to finish training so they could run the streets,” Ellis said of Ward. “I said, ‘Man, you can’t have one foot in the streets and one foot in the gym. It’s not gonna work.’”

The day that Ward was killed, Ellis said, he was in his car when he received the text. “And where he got killed was like three minutes from where I was driving, so I drove around there. And they had the yellow tape around him.”

History of Fighting
After locking his belt in its case, Gervonta (pronounced Jer-VON-tay) Davis drove a few blocks northwest and stood in front of the home he once shared with his mother and grandmother, a bitter wind tunnel of a block dotted with abandoned rowhouses. Garbage spilled into an alley framed by a rowhouse with no roof. An open Bible lay on a stoop, its pages fluttering.

Davis pointed out a cactus a few doors down. He used to touch it every day as he walked to and from the elementary school at the end of the block, a child’s personal challenge to himself ahead of a career of stinging hands.

When he was 7, Davis and one of his older brothers moved in with his grandmother, after bouncing between a group home and their uncle’s house. Being new to West Baltimore, the boys were quickly forced to defend themselves.


Photo

Nieem Somerville, 10, working out at Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

The boxing center is in one of Baltimore’s most blighted neighborhoods. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Davis with his I.B.F. championship belt. “He made a lot of sacrifices,” his father said.CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Davis’s mother, Kenya Brown, said school officials who had contacted her about his frequent fighting had told her that he was “a menace to society,” but she insisted he was not an instigator. After her brother took Davis to Upton, and he took to the sport, “people really started trying him more,” she said.

“He was light-skinned, always been short,” said Brown, 43. “He had to get staples because somebody hit him in the head.”

At his gym, Ford has a policy: If one of his fighters disrespects a teacher or starts a fight at school, the fighter has to spar with everyone in the gym that night. For Davis, it was less a stick and more a carrot.

“He loved it,” Ford said. “I used to have to bring guys from different cities come down here that was bigger than him, just to punish him, and then he was beatin’ them up.”

Davis’s father, Garrin, said Upton allowed his son to avoid the lure of the streets that ensnared so many others. But it took work.

“He made a lot of sacrifices,” said Garrin Davis, who got clean after his last stint in prison. “A lot of the friends that he had, because he made the choice to come here, he didn’t end up where they at.”

Rewards Earned
Gervonta Davis’s defensive instincts in the ring, and his calm demeanor, hew to the style of Mayweather, who has taken on the dual role of Davis’s promoter and mentor. He is undefeated in 17 professional fights. All but one of his victories was by knockout.

His success presents new challenges: the thorny world of professional boxing, and the rigors of grooming and marketing himself as a pay-per-view star. And then there are the myriad voices in his ear. Between rounds at the Pedraza fight in January, Davis had information coming at him from the coaches in his corner and from Mayweather, who was vociferously dispensing advice from ringside.

“I’ve been navigating him for years,” Ford said, ”so he’s always gonna hear my voice. But Floyd’s been to that land I haven’t been to. So he have to listen to him.”

With those challenges, however, comes opportunity. Davis’s aptitude for boxing is inexorably linked to his troubled background: There is not much in the ring that can hurt him more than the tentacles of his city’s drug trade already have. And that gives him an authenticity that rings true for his community.


Photo

A speed bag at Upton. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Photo

Jeremiah Williams, 7, during a workout at the gym. CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
“His whole stance, his whole posture, his whole demeanor is Baltimore,” said Mosby, who has taken Davis to schools and juvenile prisons for outreach talks. “And these kids recognize that. Young folks will get behind an individual like Gervonta, more so than any policy that we’re able to create, more so than any other public service announcement, any other potential opportunity.”

When Davis won his title in Brooklyn in January, Ford and Mosby said, a surprisingly large contingent in the crowd seemed to have made the trip to support him.

“You couldn’t have told me we weren’t in Baltimore,” Mosby said.

The enthusiasm from the city for one of its own is not lost on Davis. He and Ford want his next fight to be in Baltimore; it would the first title bout here for a world champion from the city.

Davis has chosen to remain in Baltimore, rather than uproot himself to Las Vegas to be in Mayweather’s immediate circle. By staying, he believes, he can honor the people who helped raise him — Ford and Ellis.

“More than myself, they deserve the belt,” Davis said. “They go through a lot. You got to look at it. The people before me, the boxers that they lost. People that they put their blood, sweat and tears into. And the fighters that ‘go left,’ it’s not right for Calvin and Kenny.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/sports/gervonta-davis-baltimore.html
Superb, thank you.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
For those who liked the article on Roy Jones Jnr , By award winning writer Gary Smith, here is one by him on Julio Cesar Chavez Snr. Could'nt fit all of the article in the post click the link below to read all of it.


Photo Credits: Bill Frakes
Bearing The Burden
Living in violence-plagued Culiacán, boxing champ Julio César Chávez fights to keep his extended family secure

By Gary Smith



ORIGINAL LAYOUT

IN THE PLACE where the world's greatest fighter lives, men eat a leg of goat and drink a can of beer for breakfast. They drive with a gun jammed in their pockets and with a cold beer sweating between the denim heat of their legs and with a small red crescent of chili powder sprinkled on the backs of their hands to dab upon their tongues between each swallow. From the speakers in their cars thump songs that tangle love and bullets and longing while their dark eyes sweep from left to right, alert always for enemies but more so for the beautiful women with their skirts tight as skin, for which their state, Sinaloa, is renowned. And then, in the morning, a few more bodies are fished from the three rivers that run through the place where the world's greatest fighter lives.

It is October in Culiacán, the drug capital of Mexico. In the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental just east of town, the poppy seeds are ripe, the marijuana leaves full-fingered and ready to be taken. Traffic in Culiacán is thick, the shops hum. No federal troops have come this year to suck the city's lifeblood.

Outside a modest white house at 1181 Río Churubusco, men of all ages have gathered in the heat. They are the children of the world's greatest fighter: brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins, neighbors, childhood friends, house-watchers, car-washers, car-starters, cornermen, cameramen and journalists, all waiting for him to awaken. "¡Somos una armada! [We are an armada!]" exults the fighter's brother-in-law Miguel Molleda. "¡Un batallón! ¡Una infantería!"

It is 10 a.m. It is nearly 90°. The world's greatest fighter is upstairs. The world's greatest fighter is sleeping one off. There's a coldness inside of him that makes him think he can keep people waiting for hours—and a warmth that makes him right. On the fringes of the infantry now are gathering the poor and the gaunt, come from the far reaches of Mexico to beg alms from him. One of them is a cross-eyed man named Andres Felix. In the sixth round on Feb. 5, 1980, he became the first professional boxer to fall at the feet of the world's greatest fighter, but now 13 years have gone by, 68 more knockouts and 83 more victories without a defeat have passed, and Andrès Fèlix has returned with his hand out too.

Like the others, he is patient. In Spanish, one word means two things: Esperar is "to wait"; esperar is "to hope." Inside the house, though, a pretty young woman holding a three-week-old baby peers through a window at the crowd that awaits her husband. Her eyes fill with sadness. This is what happens to every great Latin fighter: His family, his friends—his whole nation—begin to wait and hope for him each day on his doorstep, often until he buckles beneath their weight or severs his roots and runs away. And even though Amalia grew up here as one of 10 children, just as her husband did, sometimes she wonders why he stays and lets this happen to their lives.

There are things she doesn't know yet. The world's greatest fighter has never told his wife that he's afraid to be alone.

BUT WAIT, already we speak of intimacies, and you may not even know the name of the world's greatest fighter: Julio Cèsar Chávez. In the 1970s Tibetan monks would have chanted "Ali! Ali!" had Muhammad Ali passed them in a parka on a Himalayan trail; in the '80s there were grandmothers in Grand Rapids who could spot Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson through a tinted limo window. But on a brilliant autumn day just a few months ago, hundreds of New Yorkers stopped and gawked at a horse-drawn carriage carrying four singing and laughing members of Chávez's infantería through Central Park, never recognizing that the best fighter, pound for pound, of recent years was sitting in the next open-air carriage, directly in front of their eyes.

No man in the history of boxing has been undefeated for longer than has Chávez—13 years. In 84 bouts the only part of his body ever to have touched the canvas are the soles of his feet. He creates no dark aura as Tyson or Roberto Duràn did; he takes away no one's manhood before a fight with looks or words. His is a methodical, matter-of-fact devastation, devoid of persona, the product of a man who knows exactly why he is involved in this sport. With a cranium—abnormally thick, according to a CAT scan taken four years ago—capable of absorbing enormous shock, with his eyes fixed on his opponent's sternum, he comes at his foe slowly and carefully at first, and then with a terrible linear relentlessness, a cold, patient fury, savaging the torso with short hooks and uppercuts for seven or eight rounds, making the head above it sag and the legs below it fold because there is nothing between them but pain. Then he finishes him, leaves him, often, a lesser man. He puts his opponents in hospital beds, he turns their toilet bowls red. "Meldrick Taylor, Edwin Rosario, Roger Mayweather, Juan LaPorte, they were never the same after Chávez," says Bobby Goodman, the matchmaker at Madison Square Garden. "LaPorte told me he couldn't make love for weeks after they fought in '86."

"The toughest fighter I've ever seen," says trainer Angelo Dundee, "bar none."


Chávez has averaged one bout every 57 days over his pro career, two or three times the frequency of other top fighters—the conscientious laborer bringing home the bimonthly bacon. He explains his 84-0 record in an unusual way. "I could not bear the thought of losing," he says, "because it would hurt my family." The world is looking—no, it is not looking—at a rare stone, a Latin fighter who has no trouble with the scales, no trouble with the law, no trouble in the bars, no lapses in the ring. A Latin fighter in control of his life. At age 30, Chávez, who is the reigning WBC super lightweight champion, has won five titles in three weight divisions—super featherweight and lightweight as well as super lightweight—and after he defends his crown against Greg Haugen before 120,000 people in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium Saturday night for $2.5 million, he will fix his eyes on a fourth championship, the welterweight. So why do none but the Latin faces light up when Julio Cèsar Chávez walks by?

"It's a puzzle to me," says Goodman. "He's good-looking, intelligent, sensitive, bright-eyed, quick to smile and such a tremendous lighter. But the average guy on the street still doesn't know who he is."

"He never became what he should've," says trainer Lou Duva. "He should've been taught English, he should've had much more p.r. You don't fight for Mexico when you're as good as Chávez. You fight for the world. But you can only do that by speaking to people. Maybe he's done great things, but who the hell knows?"

No doubt his lack of renown outside Mexico is partly because Chávez does not speak English—beginner's mistakes singed his fierce pride the few times he has tried—but, then, did Duràn? It's also because of the promotional neglect of Don King, whose preoccupation with the heavyweight division and with Tyson often left Chávez languishing on under-cards as Tyson's warm-up wrecking ball. And, yes, there was Chávez's lack of a foil—no household name to dance to the edge of death with, no Ali's Frazier, no Leonard's Duràn or Hearns. "Sure," says Goodman, "but a fighter this good. . . ."

ROOSTERS PECK at the streets in the neighborhood where the world's greatest fighter lives. Black ribbons flutter from the doors of those murdered in the drug wars. Donkeys nibble on the weeds and rust eats at the corrugated metal roofs. But when people ask Chávez why he has not moved to a more exclusive neighborhood, he shrugs and says he would be content to live in this house forever, if only there were more room for his three limousines, three Corvettes, two Grand Marquis, two Lincolns, two Suburbans, two antique Fords, a Cougar, a Jaguar, a Lamborghini, a Mustang and a Stealth.

It is nearly 11 a.m. now, and the egg salad sandwich on the knee of Chávez's stumpy, bald-headed trainer, Cristóbal Rosas, grows stale as he sits on the sidewalk, beneath the security camera that peruses the men who wait on the street . . . but still no one grows impatient. They help two of Julio's sons, Julio Jr., 6, and Omar, 2, lace on boxing gloves that come up nearly to the boys' armpits, and they laugh as the children whale away at each other. They turn on their car tape players and sing along as Culiacán native son Chalino Sànchez sings songs of men cradling machine guns and beautiful women. They know something: Julio needs them. Not for the spit bucket or the Vaseline, not for audience or ego or lies, as other fighters need entourages. No matter how many bodies surrounded the great fighters, nearly all had one thing in common. Each, deep within, was a lone wolf stalking the woods, a solitary man on a quest, one Me against the World. More than money or fame, what kept drawing them back to the ring was this: Nowhere else can a man more purely define his singularity, hammer out his selfhood.

But Chávez doesn't go into the ring to forge a persona, and so—is it any surprise?—he has none. Consider the entrances that he and Hector Camacho made for their fight last September in Las Vegas. Camacho fluttered down the aisle in a tricolored cape and mask, his arms thrust to the sky, his shoulders shimmying to the music, lost in the swirling vortex of himself. Then came Chávez. Julio Jr., whose shirt his father had just made sure was tucked in, was perched upon the shoulders of Julio's cousin Juan, right behind the champion. Julio was one of a group, the head of a phalanx, and the instant that one of his brothers was jostled by a security guard, Chávez lost the businesslike calm that he always carries to a fight, turned his back to the ring, shook his fist and screamed, in Spanish, "Leave my brother alone!"

Julio's mother, Isabel, remembers the evening 17 years ago when her family hugged the ground as bullets from the drug gangs' machine guns ripped the air all around them. She remembers the sobs from Julio's chest when he realized what a quiet family evening in Culiacán could become. "Ever since he was a very little boy, he has had this idea in his head that he must take care of all the people around him," says Isabel. "He was the little father of our family. If his brothers earned a few centavos, he would scold them for spending it on tortillas. He would say, 'We must give all of it to our mother.' "


When Julio was a child, there were so many mouths and there was so little money in his home that his family often hacked a green weed called quelite and boiled it to cat. His oldest sister, Perla, invented pains all over her body to con free medicine from the doctor; she would then sell the medicine in order to buy food. When the mangoes ripened, Julio's older brothers swam across the canal behind their house and raided the grove. One day, before Julio had learned how to swim, one of his brothers pressed a 20-centavo coin into his palm to ease his frustration and told him to wait. Julio stood there in the shallow water, the great six-year-old provider, picturing himself handing the coin to his mother, unmindful of the current sucking at his legs. All at once the water had him, and the bottom was gone. He tumbled and flailed and gasped as the water swept him in over his head, an image of the family he would never see again flashing in his mind and then fuzzing. "Look! It is Julio!" One of his brothers' friends raced along the bank and dived into the canal. When it was over, when Julio had coughed up all the water and was lying on the dirt, somebody peeled back the fingers of his pale blue hand. Inside was the copper coin for his mother.

"Man, I can't explain Julio," says Camacho. "I spent a few days with the guy in Culiacán. He's a gentleman. He's always smiling and drinking beer. He always has a lot of people around him. But you barely notice him. It was me carrying the show wherever we went. He's got to be crazy in some way. To do what we do, you can't be in your right mind. I just don't know what kind of crazy he is."

DEATH IS SUCH an easy thing for great Mexican fighters to find. It hangs every night like the moon, just waiting, over a land of men brought up to believe that the beer can between their legs and the accelerator beneath their feet are part of what makes a man a man; it hangs there, so pale and fat and low you can touch it, right above the shoulders of Mexico's purest strain of machismo, its men of men, its boxers. Just a few drinks and a few minutes to touch his girlfriend—that's all Salvador Sànchez, the 23-year-old world featherweight champion, wanted when he sneaked out of training camp one August evening in 1982. He died that night when he ran his Porsche head-on into a truck. Then there was Gilberto Romàn, twice junior bantamweight world champion in the '80s, who died two years ago in a beer-and-wine-soaked collision with a truck. And former super featherweight world champion Ricardo Arredondo, who was drunk when he died on impact with a bridge stanchion in '91. And Clemente Sànchez, ex-featherweight world champion, who on Christmas Day 1978 exchanged insults with the driver of another car, jumped out to confront the man and was met by a bullet.

The moon hangs over Chávez too. He can open the next Tecate and squeeze the lime around its rim and swivel his eyes at the skirts and throw back his head to sing with the best of men, but he does it all the way he docs it in the ring: a controlled discharge of life, checked before it staggers over the edge. Somebody else can pick the fight with the idiot slurring insults at the next table. Somebody else can come into the ring with a roll of fat hanging over his waistband. In 1986 Chávez gasped past Rocky Lockridge to retain his WBC super featherweight title, and shortly afterward he met a Culiacán high school track coach named Daniel Castro. Ever since, in addition to his three-to six-mile morning runs, Chávez has done timed interval workouts on a track—perhaps 10 100-meter sprints, five 400s, five 800s or five 1,000s a day. Six weeks before each major fight he goes into the mountains outside Mexico City, sweats out all the beer and runs through the pine trees at an altitude nearly two miles above sea level, so that when he descends to a fight site, he is drinking oxygen as if it were Tecate. Sometimes he shatters boxing ritual by running two or three miles on the morning of a fight.

He has a sense of duty, a governing purpose for his life. The people ask, One-hundred-and-oh? Is that his governing purpose now? If there's a beer in his fist and he's in the mood to talk, he'll admit it: He believes he can reach that fat, round number, and then retire within the next few years. But stubbornly he adds that this is not his true motivation; over and over he repeats the same seven words that interviewers keep wanting to sweep past, that his reason to continue is the same as his reason to begin, "para asegurar la seguridad de mi familia [to assure the security of my family]." He might scrape the paint off the bottom of all 19 cars on the two massive speed bumps he has had poured a few yards apart in front of his house, but Chávez is going to assure the security of his family.

You want to know what kind of crazy Chávez is? Drain a couple beers and slam a car into his house, as a teenager did early one morning three years ago, and then you will know. "See this crack in the stucco in the corner of Julio's house?" asks Juan Antonio Valenzuela, Chávez's friend since school days, as he runs his finger across it. When Chávez heard the collision, he bolted from a dead sleep and raced downstairs, his head turning wildly to make sure his children were inside the house. Then he exploded out the door and into the teenager's face, a madness in his eyes that we never see in the ring. "If you kill my kid," he screamed, "I kill you!" The teenager blinked at him groggily. How could he know that he had just awakened a ghost, the spirit of the dead little brother—killed by a young drunk in a barreling car 11 years earlier—to whom Chávez prayed during his most desperate moments in the ring? How could he know that Julio had felt responsible when Omar, 4, was struck down . . . no, not because Julio had been at the scene, not because Julio could have done a thing about it, but only because God had given him an assignment in life, to assure the security of his family, and somehow he had failed.


Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . SOLDIER SHOT BY DRUG DEALERS. . . . Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . YOUTH MURDERED DURING ARGUMENT OVER CARDS. . . . Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . The infantry stirs from its stupor. A small, battered car cautiously approaches the two speed bumps, the news vendor inside hollering the day's headlines over a loudspeaker between tape-recorded bursts of machine-gun fire. No car bombs to report today, like the ones that Culiacán's drug kingpins planted in front of each other's houses a few months ago. No military helicopters swooping in on raids, no assault teams on rooftops. The vendor's car scrapes bottom. No one bothers to buy. Slow news day....

Read the rest of the Article here >>>....... http://www.si.com/vault/1993/02/22/128103/bearing-the-burden-living-in-violence-plagued-culiacan-boxing-champ-julio-cesar-chavez-fights-to-keep-his-extended-family-secure
 

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,763
For those who liked the article on Roy Jones Jnr , By award winning writer Gary Smith, here is one by him on Julio Cesar Chavez Snr. Could'nt fit all of the article in the post click the link below to read all of it.


Photo Credits: Bill Frakes
Bearing The Burden
Living in violence-plagued Culiacán, boxing champ Julio César Chávez fights to keep his extended family secure

By Gary Smith



ORIGINAL LAYOUT

IN THE PLACE where the world's greatest fighter lives, men eat a leg of goat and drink a can of beer for breakfast. They drive with a gun jammed in their pockets and with a cold beer sweating between the denim heat of their legs and with a small red crescent of chili powder sprinkled on the backs of their hands to dab upon their tongues between each swallow. From the speakers in their cars thump songs that tangle love and bullets and longing while their dark eyes sweep from left to right, alert always for enemies but more so for the beautiful women with their skirts tight as skin, for which their state, Sinaloa, is renowned. And then, in the morning, a few more bodies are fished from the three rivers that run through the place where the world's greatest fighter lives.

It is October in Culiacán, the drug capital of Mexico. In the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental just east of town, the poppy seeds are ripe, the marijuana leaves full-fingered and ready to be taken. Traffic in Culiacán is thick, the shops hum. No federal troops have come this year to suck the city's lifeblood.

Outside a modest white house at 1181 Río Churubusco, men of all ages have gathered in the heat. They are the children of the world's greatest fighter: brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins, neighbors, childhood friends, house-watchers, car-washers, car-starters, cornermen, cameramen and journalists, all waiting for him to awaken. "¡Somos una armada! [We are an armada!]" exults the fighter's brother-in-law Miguel Molleda. "¡Un batallón! ¡Una infantería!"

It is 10 a.m. It is nearly 90°. The world's greatest fighter is upstairs. The world's greatest fighter is sleeping one off. There's a coldness inside of him that makes him think he can keep people waiting for hours—and a warmth that makes him right. On the fringes of the infantry now are gathering the poor and the gaunt, come from the far reaches of Mexico to beg alms from him. One of them is a cross-eyed man named Andres Felix. In the sixth round on Feb. 5, 1980, he became the first professional boxer to fall at the feet of the world's greatest fighter, but now 13 years have gone by, 68 more knockouts and 83 more victories without a defeat have passed, and Andrès Fèlix has returned with his hand out too.

Like the others, he is patient. In Spanish, one word means two things: Esperar is "to wait"; esperar is "to hope." Inside the house, though, a pretty young woman holding a three-week-old baby peers through a window at the crowd that awaits her husband. Her eyes fill with sadness. This is what happens to every great Latin fighter: His family, his friends—his whole nation—begin to wait and hope for him each day on his doorstep, often until he buckles beneath their weight or severs his roots and runs away. And even though Amalia grew up here as one of 10 children, just as her husband did, sometimes she wonders why he stays and lets this happen to their lives.

There are things she doesn't know yet. The world's greatest fighter has never told his wife that he's afraid to be alone.

BUT WAIT, already we speak of intimacies, and you may not even know the name of the world's greatest fighter: Julio Cèsar Chávez. In the 1970s Tibetan monks would have chanted "Ali! Ali!" had Muhammad Ali passed them in a parka on a Himalayan trail; in the '80s there were grandmothers in Grand Rapids who could spot Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson through a tinted limo window. But on a brilliant autumn day just a few months ago, hundreds of New Yorkers stopped and gawked at a horse-drawn carriage carrying four singing and laughing members of Chávez's infantería through Central Park, never recognizing that the best fighter, pound for pound, of recent years was sitting in the next open-air carriage, directly in front of their eyes.

No man in the history of boxing has been undefeated for longer than has Chávez—13 years. In 84 bouts the only part of his body ever to have touched the canvas are the soles of his feet. He creates no dark aura as Tyson or Roberto Duràn did; he takes away no one's manhood before a fight with looks or words. His is a methodical, matter-of-fact devastation, devoid of persona, the product of a man who knows exactly why he is involved in this sport. With a cranium—abnormally thick, according to a CAT scan taken four years ago—capable of absorbing enormous shock, with his eyes fixed on his opponent's sternum, he comes at his foe slowly and carefully at first, and then with a terrible linear relentlessness, a cold, patient fury, savaging the torso with short hooks and uppercuts for seven or eight rounds, making the head above it sag and the legs below it fold because there is nothing between them but pain. Then he finishes him, leaves him, often, a lesser man. He puts his opponents in hospital beds, he turns their toilet bowls red. "Meldrick Taylor, Edwin Rosario, Roger Mayweather, Juan LaPorte, they were never the same after Chávez," says Bobby Goodman, the matchmaker at Madison Square Garden. "LaPorte told me he couldn't make love for weeks after they fought in '86."

"The toughest fighter I've ever seen," says trainer Angelo Dundee, "bar none."


Chávez has averaged one bout every 57 days over his pro career, two or three times the frequency of other top fighters—the conscientious laborer bringing home the bimonthly bacon. He explains his 84-0 record in an unusual way. "I could not bear the thought of losing," he says, "because it would hurt my family." The world is looking—no, it is not looking—at a rare stone, a Latin fighter who has no trouble with the scales, no trouble with the law, no trouble in the bars, no lapses in the ring. A Latin fighter in control of his life. At age 30, Chávez, who is the reigning WBC super lightweight champion, has won five titles in three weight divisions—super featherweight and lightweight as well as super lightweight—and after he defends his crown against Greg Haugen before 120,000 people in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium Saturday night for $2.5 million, he will fix his eyes on a fourth championship, the welterweight. So why do none but the Latin faces light up when Julio Cèsar Chávez walks by?

"It's a puzzle to me," says Goodman. "He's good-looking, intelligent, sensitive, bright-eyed, quick to smile and such a tremendous lighter. But the average guy on the street still doesn't know who he is."

"He never became what he should've," says trainer Lou Duva. "He should've been taught English, he should've had much more p.r. You don't fight for Mexico when you're as good as Chávez. You fight for the world. But you can only do that by speaking to people. Maybe he's done great things, but who the hell knows?"

No doubt his lack of renown outside Mexico is partly because Chávez does not speak English—beginner's mistakes singed his fierce pride the few times he has tried—but, then, did Duràn? It's also because of the promotional neglect of Don King, whose preoccupation with the heavyweight division and with Tyson often left Chávez languishing on under-cards as Tyson's warm-up wrecking ball. And, yes, there was Chávez's lack of a foil—no household name to dance to the edge of death with, no Ali's Frazier, no Leonard's Duràn or Hearns. "Sure," says Goodman, "but a fighter this good. . . ."

ROOSTERS PECK at the streets in the neighborhood where the world's greatest fighter lives. Black ribbons flutter from the doors of those murdered in the drug wars. Donkeys nibble on the weeds and rust eats at the corrugated metal roofs. But when people ask Chávez why he has not moved to a more exclusive neighborhood, he shrugs and says he would be content to live in this house forever, if only there were more room for his three limousines, three Corvettes, two Grand Marquis, two Lincolns, two Suburbans, two antique Fords, a Cougar, a Jaguar, a Lamborghini, a Mustang and a Stealth.

It is nearly 11 a.m. now, and the egg salad sandwich on the knee of Chávez's stumpy, bald-headed trainer, Cristóbal Rosas, grows stale as he sits on the sidewalk, beneath the security camera that peruses the men who wait on the street . . . but still no one grows impatient. They help two of Julio's sons, Julio Jr., 6, and Omar, 2, lace on boxing gloves that come up nearly to the boys' armpits, and they laugh as the children whale away at each other. They turn on their car tape players and sing along as Culiacán native son Chalino Sànchez sings songs of men cradling machine guns and beautiful women. They know something: Julio needs them. Not for the spit bucket or the Vaseline, not for audience or ego or lies, as other fighters need entourages. No matter how many bodies surrounded the great fighters, nearly all had one thing in common. Each, deep within, was a lone wolf stalking the woods, a solitary man on a quest, one Me against the World. More than money or fame, what kept drawing them back to the ring was this: Nowhere else can a man more purely define his singularity, hammer out his selfhood.

But Chávez doesn't go into the ring to forge a persona, and so—is it any surprise?—he has none. Consider the entrances that he and Hector Camacho made for their fight last September in Las Vegas. Camacho fluttered down the aisle in a tricolored cape and mask, his arms thrust to the sky, his shoulders shimmying to the music, lost in the swirling vortex of himself. Then came Chávez. Julio Jr., whose shirt his father had just made sure was tucked in, was perched upon the shoulders of Julio's cousin Juan, right behind the champion. Julio was one of a group, the head of a phalanx, and the instant that one of his brothers was jostled by a security guard, Chávez lost the businesslike calm that he always carries to a fight, turned his back to the ring, shook his fist and screamed, in Spanish, "Leave my brother alone!"

Julio's mother, Isabel, remembers the evening 17 years ago when her family hugged the ground as bullets from the drug gangs' machine guns ripped the air all around them. She remembers the sobs from Julio's chest when he realized what a quiet family evening in Culiacán could become. "Ever since he was a very little boy, he has had this idea in his head that he must take care of all the people around him," says Isabel. "He was the little father of our family. If his brothers earned a few centavos, he would scold them for spending it on tortillas. He would say, 'We must give all of it to our mother.' "


When Julio was a child, there were so many mouths and there was so little money in his home that his family often hacked a green weed called quelite and boiled it to cat. His oldest sister, Perla, invented pains all over her body to con free medicine from the doctor; she would then sell the medicine in order to buy food. When the mangoes ripened, Julio's older brothers swam across the canal behind their house and raided the grove. One day, before Julio had learned how to swim, one of his brothers pressed a 20-centavo coin into his palm to ease his frustration and told him to wait. Julio stood there in the shallow water, the great six-year-old provider, picturing himself handing the coin to his mother, unmindful of the current sucking at his legs. All at once the water had him, and the bottom was gone. He tumbled and flailed and gasped as the water swept him in over his head, an image of the family he would never see again flashing in his mind and then fuzzing. "Look! It is Julio!" One of his brothers' friends raced along the bank and dived into the canal. When it was over, when Julio had coughed up all the water and was lying on the dirt, somebody peeled back the fingers of his pale blue hand. Inside was the copper coin for his mother.

"Man, I can't explain Julio," says Camacho. "I spent a few days with the guy in Culiacán. He's a gentleman. He's always smiling and drinking beer. He always has a lot of people around him. But you barely notice him. It was me carrying the show wherever we went. He's got to be crazy in some way. To do what we do, you can't be in your right mind. I just don't know what kind of crazy he is."

DEATH IS SUCH an easy thing for great Mexican fighters to find. It hangs every night like the moon, just waiting, over a land of men brought up to believe that the beer can between their legs and the accelerator beneath their feet are part of what makes a man a man; it hangs there, so pale and fat and low you can touch it, right above the shoulders of Mexico's purest strain of machismo, its men of men, its boxers. Just a few drinks and a few minutes to touch his girlfriend—that's all Salvador Sànchez, the 23-year-old world featherweight champion, wanted when he sneaked out of training camp one August evening in 1982. He died that night when he ran his Porsche head-on into a truck. Then there was Gilberto Romàn, twice junior bantamweight world champion in the '80s, who died two years ago in a beer-and-wine-soaked collision with a truck. And former super featherweight world champion Ricardo Arredondo, who was drunk when he died on impact with a bridge stanchion in '91. And Clemente Sànchez, ex-featherweight world champion, who on Christmas Day 1978 exchanged insults with the driver of another car, jumped out to confront the man and was met by a bullet.

The moon hangs over Chávez too. He can open the next Tecate and squeeze the lime around its rim and swivel his eyes at the skirts and throw back his head to sing with the best of men, but he does it all the way he docs it in the ring: a controlled discharge of life, checked before it staggers over the edge. Somebody else can pick the fight with the idiot slurring insults at the next table. Somebody else can come into the ring with a roll of fat hanging over his waistband. In 1986 Chávez gasped past Rocky Lockridge to retain his WBC super featherweight title, and shortly afterward he met a Culiacán high school track coach named Daniel Castro. Ever since, in addition to his three-to six-mile morning runs, Chávez has done timed interval workouts on a track—perhaps 10 100-meter sprints, five 400s, five 800s or five 1,000s a day. Six weeks before each major fight he goes into the mountains outside Mexico City, sweats out all the beer and runs through the pine trees at an altitude nearly two miles above sea level, so that when he descends to a fight site, he is drinking oxygen as if it were Tecate. Sometimes he shatters boxing ritual by running two or three miles on the morning of a fight.

He has a sense of duty, a governing purpose for his life. The people ask, One-hundred-and-oh? Is that his governing purpose now? If there's a beer in his fist and he's in the mood to talk, he'll admit it: He believes he can reach that fat, round number, and then retire within the next few years. But stubbornly he adds that this is not his true motivation; over and over he repeats the same seven words that interviewers keep wanting to sweep past, that his reason to continue is the same as his reason to begin, "para asegurar la seguridad de mi familia [to assure the security of my family]." He might scrape the paint off the bottom of all 19 cars on the two massive speed bumps he has had poured a few yards apart in front of his house, but Chávez is going to assure the security of his family.

You want to know what kind of crazy Chávez is? Drain a couple beers and slam a car into his house, as a teenager did early one morning three years ago, and then you will know. "See this crack in the stucco in the corner of Julio's house?" asks Juan Antonio Valenzuela, Chávez's friend since school days, as he runs his finger across it. When Chávez heard the collision, he bolted from a dead sleep and raced downstairs, his head turning wildly to make sure his children were inside the house. Then he exploded out the door and into the teenager's face, a madness in his eyes that we never see in the ring. "If you kill my kid," he screamed, "I kill you!" The teenager blinked at him groggily. How could he know that he had just awakened a ghost, the spirit of the dead little brother—killed by a young drunk in a barreling car 11 years earlier—to whom Chávez prayed during his most desperate moments in the ring? How could he know that Julio had felt responsible when Omar, 4, was struck down . . . no, not because Julio had been at the scene, not because Julio could have done a thing about it, but only because God had given him an assignment in life, to assure the security of his family, and somehow he had failed.


Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . SOLDIER SHOT BY DRUG DEALERS. . . . Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . YOUTH MURDERED DURING ARGUMENT OVER CARDS. . . . Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . . The infantry stirs from its stupor. A small, battered car cautiously approaches the two speed bumps, the news vendor inside hollering the day's headlines over a loudspeaker between tape-recorded bursts of machine-gun fire. No car bombs to report today, like the ones that Culiacán's drug kingpins planted in front of each other's houses a few months ago. No military helicopters swooping in on raids, no assault teams on rooftops. The vendor's car scrapes bottom. No one bothers to buy. Slow news day....

Read the rest of the Article here >>>....... http://www.si.com/vault/1993/02/22/128103/bearing-the-burden-living-in-violence-plagued-culiacan-boxing-champ-julio-cesar-chavez-fights-to-keep-his-extended-family-secure
"DO IT FOR YOUR FAMILY..." Who could ever forget those words in the Taylor fight. Kid got the job done, and don't talk to me about Richard stopping the fight early. Taylor was on the slide from 5 or 6.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
I highly recommend The following article as essential reading...Never thought I would say that about an article on Zab Judah..But it had me mesmerised and captivated from beginning to end.. a gripping story. About Zab,his upbringing and his Father who has a very interesting back story..! Definitley a 5 Star article...When I first saw the article and realised it was about Zab Judah I was about to skip it...I am glad I did'nt.


Photo Credits: Jeffery A. Salter/Saba
The Chosen One
If you've never heard of Zab Judah, who will fight to unify the junior welterweight title this weekend, then you don't know boxing's strangest family saga

By Gary Smith

Here is the Link.... http://www.si.com/vault/2001/11/05/313356/the-chosen-one-if-youve-never-heard-of-zab-judah-who-will-fight-to-unify-the-junior-welterweight-title-this-weekend-then-you-dont-know-boxings-strangest-family-saga
.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: Trail

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,763
I highly recommend The following article as essential reading...Never thought I would say that about an article on Zab Judah..But it had me mesmerised and captivated from beginning to end.. a gripping story. About Zab,his upbringing and his Father who has a very interesting back story..! Definitley a 5 Star article...When I first saw the article and realised it was about Zab Judah I was about to skip it...I am glad I did'nt.


Photo Credits: Jeffery A. Salter/Saba
The Chosen One
If you've never heard of Zab Judah, who will fight to unify the junior welterweight title this weekend, then you don't know boxing's strangest family saga

By Gary Smith

Here is the Link.... http://www.si.com/vault/2001/11/05/313356/the-chosen-one-if-youve-never-heard-of-zab-judah-who-will-fight-to-unify-the-junior-welterweight-title-this-weekend-then-you-dont-know-boxings-strangest-family-saga
.
To be read while eating my dinner today. Thank you very much.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
when it comes to story telling their is no one better then Brendan Ingle, a few of his stories are true many of them are spiced up, some just made up...But entertaining none the less.

The following is an article from The Irish Times,

The champion maker
Sat, Mar 9, 1996,
TOM HUMPHRIES


IN WINCOBANK, the pathways are still pockmarked with dishwater grey, scabs of ice. The country beyond gives off the soft glare of February snow. The steep roofed houses are stacked right up the hill. A strange place from which to plan world domination.

"Cup of tea?" asks Brendan Ingle, beneath the lintel of his house, here on this hill, in the east end of Sheffield. He is wearing a hunting hat. Duly, he hunts the grumbling family dog out of the living room.

"Or coffee if you prefer."

"Whatever you're having, Brendan."

"Don't drink tea or coffee." He pauses. "Anyway, it's Ramadan."

Don't ask. It'll all come spilling out anyway. This is Brendan's neck of the woods. Wincobank. Where he does his talking and his boys learn their fighting.

"Up there," he says, pointing right, towards his living room wall. "Top of the hill, that's where Naz lives.

Naz, Prince Naseem Hamed to you, isn't in residence at the minute. The world champion has set himself up in a four bedroom spread in what Brendan affectionately dismisses as the posh part of Sheffield. Ingle likes to ask Naz if, with all his tricks and all his dancing, he can manage to sleep in all four bedrooms at once. Young fellas and their money. Easily sundered.

"Don't you talk that man to death," calls Brendan's wife Alma, suddenly. "He'll talk you to death, you know." And Brendan rolls his eyes theatrically. Starts talking, unspooling his life as he sits beneath the crowded bookshelves which carry the testaments of his eclecticism. Potboilers.

Biographies (Thatcher and Michael Collins snuggled next to each other). Travel. All you need to know about Yemen. Religion. Politics. A few boxing books as well. No manuals for the man who has sent forth so many champions from this patch of Sheffield.

"You know what I say to the kids when they come in across the road," says Brendan. "You know what I tell them?"

"No, Brendan." He leans forward and acts out the scene playing himself in a nice understated way. I'm a bit of an expert on sex," he says, startlingly. "What?"

"Oh, yeah. I'm a bit of an expert on sex and I'm a bit of an expert on politics and I'm a bit of an expert on religion and I'm a bit of an expert on economics, too. Not an expert. Just a bit of an expert. Sure I wouldn't have survived any other way. Mickey Duff, Jarvis Astaire, Harry Leveine. Jack Solomons. Millionaires. They controlled boxing when I came here first. Frank Warren broke that monopoly in the end.

"But I had me battles, though. I took me lumps and bumps. In the ring and out. Twenty two stitches here. Ten stitches there. Trained the hard way. Wife did the pads for me during sparring. Had five kids and worked seven days a week. I did all that. I didn't get anywhere, but I'm a bit of an expert on lots of things."

Brendan's voyage. He has been here for going on 40 years now. His accent is hard Dublin, tempered in Sheffield steel. He left a big and close boxing family in Ringsend and sailed to England one winter in the 1950s. His brother Jimmy met him at Victoria Station and fixed him up with some quick tutorials in the school of hard knocks.

"When I come away on the boat at Dun Laoghaire and the boat pulled out I just thought `bloody hell, will I ever see home again'. Got over to Holyhead at one or two. Train to Manchester. Snow on the ground in Sheffield. Had to walk up the city road. All the houses were browns and blacks and greens. `What have I bloody done,' I thought to meself, `what have I bloody done'.

"Peter had been here about a year. He'd came home once when I was 17 and he had a few hundred quid in his pocket. I knew I'd go then. He took me down to the city centre in the snow, set me walking around one spot that I got to know. Left me there till knew me way around. I thought it was terrible. He said this is your starting point. Knock at every door of every firm, tell them you'll do anything. So I went around. Nothing."

He settled into steel work, became accustomed to the grey strangeness of Sheffield, the tight back to back houses with the shared toilets, the feeling of always being an outsider. He put down the years indulging in his twin passions: talking and boxing.

Talking politics, religion, history, trade unionism. Arguing with anyone who would sit still. Fighting with anyone who would step outside. Along with a handful of displaced Ringsend kids, he joined Hillsborough Boys Club and spent his energies there boxing and sparring. Let a day dream grow in his head.

"That was 1959. It was in me head to go to the 1960 Olympics. I'd win the senior and junior championships at home and I'd go to the Olympics. I used train three times a day. I hooked up with Corinthians. Sparred with Steve Collins' uncle, Terry. I was holding me own as a welterweight. Down running every morning at six to tower at Sandymount, then down to Red Lighthouse, back in and training some more. In the heel of the hunt, I over trained. I was knackered when I came to the juniors. No Olympics. Going nowhere. I headed back to Sheffield."

Nothing but the same old story? No, heir could always throw a feint. Duck the stereotype. Irish, Catholic and socialist, he met Alma in a jazz club one night. She was English, Protestant and conservative, the right chemistry for a lifetime of talking. So he married her.

Two years later, his house was broken into one afternoon. The intrusion threw Brendan off kilter and he high tailed it for home, Alma with him. Had to be home. Got home and couldn't stick it. Back to Sheffield again.

BRENDAN INGLE lives in this house now. He got married in the church next door. He built the little five a side football pitch across the road, hewing it out of Sheffield stone with his own hands. He put up the boxing club much the same way, begging for girders to hang punchbags from, herding the youngsters in towards the heat of the Supersers and the whirr of the skipping ropes.

He's a bit of an expert on most things now. He knows how to a map a path through life's minefield. He remembers his second boat trip to England. He still had the money from the sale of his house in Sheffield. Some more, too. £600 in all. Got to gambling. Got down to his last £150. Fairly shaken. Gambled on. Stepped off in England, just £50 down. Vowed never to gamble again.

The expertise is put to good use. So much so that last year the University of Sheffield gave the Irish boxing trainer from Wincobank an honorary degree. All those champions, all those kids, all those hours, all that love and affection. It was due some reward. He has melted into the fabric of this place. He observes Ramadan every year, fasting with his muslim friends and fighters, moves seamlessly into the abstinence of Lent and goes hungry one day a week for the rest of the year just to feel the sharpness.

University? At the very mention of the word he is suddenly up out of the chair and itching to get across to the gym. "This is the university," he says, crossing the road, passing his own Peugeot 306, the livery of which identifies the driver as Brendan Ingle, manager of Prince Naseem Hamed. "This is where kids around here learn about things. They wander in here and they start learning discipline." His thoughts are interrupted by a car horn. The car stops.

"Sal!"

"Brendan!"

An elderly man is excitedly winding down the passenger window. Sal is Naseem Hamed's father. Friendly words fly through the frosted air. Sal delves into his pocket, fishes out a sheet of postage stamps sent to him from home. The faces of Ingle and Naseem beam out from each little perforated square. Seeing Brendan and Naz on the Yemeni national stamp moves Sal more than it moves Brendan. The journey rather than the destination is what enthralls Ingle.

With Naseem, whom as a skinny seven year old schoolboy Brendan spotted brawling from the top of a bus one day, he has travelled furthest. After a string of British, Commonwealth and European champions, Naseem is Brendan's first world champion, the boxer who will make him a rich man at last. There's satisfaction in that, but the work a day brawler who hits the gym once a week is just as absorbing to Brendan.

He hurries across to his gym. World champions are not in his thoughts. The gym, the St Thomas Boys club, is bare walled and pumping with heat, energy and music. The ring is at one end, the punchbags dangle in rows down the length of the hall. Rudimentary tools for hungry boxers.

Ingle isn't very big on the idea that people are born to be victims. Can't be, not having seen his boys fight their way out of trouble, out of poverty, out of discipline troubles. He's had them all through here. Tough nuts, thieves, losers, vandals, hooligans. Boxing gives them a framework. This gym gives them a stable point.

Sometimes it works. He calls over his latest pro, Davey Codwell. Davey has just bought a tuxedo so he can travel to the big time shows with Ingle. A tux is the passport to this brave new world. Codwell has lived in a flat, away from a violent home situation since he was 15, lived on £60 a week which he ekes out with weekend work. Stands on the cusp of a pro career. Doesn't know what would have become of him without boxing.

And sometimes Ingle fails. "If you want loyalty," he likes to say about his failures, "buy a dog." He tells the stories of failure. Like most social workers, the failures haunt him and the successes just grow away from him. Take Chalkie. Ingle brought a kid in here years ago, just nine or 10 years old. Problem kid, with a tough lonely road to walk. Looked after him, taught him, moved him in with Alma and the kids across the road, fed him, clothed him and loved him as one of his own.

One night Chalkie robbed the Ingle house. "You've robbed me Chalkie," said Brendan helplessly. "After all this, you've turned around and robbed me."

He tells all this and the sadness in his voice has turned to weariness. All Chalkie had to do was say he sorry and the fence was mended. Now there's distance and if Brendan wants loyalty he'll buy a dog."

It's part of the process. He talks of Herol Graham. He took Herol in and taught him what he calls his free thinking boxing, his philosophy whereby the science of defence takes precedence over the practice of mere slugging. Hero was good, so good you couldn't hit him with a handful of rice. He fought twice for the world championship, but along the way there were sharp words and had times. Everyone wants part of a winner.

"Here's how it is," says Brendan. "I take 25 per cent from the start. If my sons work with a fighter, they get another 10. That's for my time, for all the experience, all the knocks I took, all the mistakes I made, all the battles I've had. I take the chance with a kid. When he's getting £100 for a fight, he's happy to give me £25. He gets £400, he's happy to give me £100.

"He gets £4,000 and next thing somebody is whispering in his ear. Don't be giving that mad Paddy £1,000. I'll do it for £750 or £600. Come with me Lots of people to get their hands on the finished product."

Graham was the breakthrough fighter for Brendan Ingle. There has been a steady troop of champions through these doors since. Brian Anderson. Johnny Nelson. Slugger O'Toole. Neville Brown. Chris Saunders. Naseem Hamed. On the night when Naseem beat the peerless Robinson to become world champion, Brendan knew he had taught him - almost everything in his head.

"If you saw him switch hitting. Leading either way. Nobody could predict what way - Naz was going to move. That's the boxing I've dreamed of."

It's afternoon and the gym is full now. Brendan's boys are everywhere. Dreamers. Naz is doing a photo session. Neville Brown, who fights Steve Collins in Cork tonight, is punching the heavy bag. "Nev is going to win, says Brendan. "Mark my words. He's a good scientific boxer." Neville nods his head.

March is a busy month for Ingle. After Millstreet tonight, he takes Naseem to Glasgow next weekend. Then he has other irons in the fire. "Here's me heavyweight," he says, apropos one such iron. "This is Pele."

Pele is 23 and very big. He has three knockouts from three starts and Brendan plans for him to be world champion in five years. Even for the man who took Fidel Castro Smith and renamed him Slugger O'Toole, the appropriation of the name of the world's greatest footballer seems a bit cheeky.

"No," says Brendan outraged, "that's his name. The Da is mad for Brazilian football, He has a brother named Santos."

And so time passes. Down the decades, talking and boxing. He's rooted here with these people and these boxers. The National Front tried to get him out for running the first multi racial boxing club in Sheffield. The amateur boxing association tried to get him out when he started cleaning up their titles. Big time boxing folk tried to buy him out or force him out. Yet he rolls on. An independent republic of boxing perched on the side of a hill in Sheffield.

The only Irishman ever to appear on a Yemen national stamp talks about slowing down and then laughs at the very thought.

"I'll drop dead in the middle of a ring after a fight some night and when that happens yiz will all know that Brendan Ingle died happy.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=19&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJqZrFnLHTAhUJ3YMKHTOqC4w4ChAWCEEwCA&url=http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/the-champion-maker-1.33944&usg=AFQjCNFN48Ase1V7Qr93L8GXehdnxpyg_Q&sig2=1G6KJfaXIqWdBN8bgAgKHA
 

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,763
when it comes to story telling their is no one better then Brendan Ingle, a few of his stories are true many of them are spiced up, some just made up...But entertaining none the less.

The following is an article from The Irish Times,

The champion maker
Sat, Mar 9, 1996,
TOM HUMPHRIES


IN WINCOBANK, the pathways are still pockmarked with dishwater grey, scabs of ice. The country beyond gives off the soft glare of February snow. The steep roofed houses are stacked right up the hill. A strange place from which to plan world domination.

"Cup of tea?" asks Brendan Ingle, beneath the lintel of his house, here on this hill, in the east end of Sheffield. He is wearing a hunting hat. Duly, he hunts the grumbling family dog out of the living room.

"Or coffee if you prefer."

"Whatever you're having, Brendan."

"Don't drink tea or coffee." He pauses. "Anyway, it's Ramadan."

Don't ask. It'll all come spilling out anyway. This is Brendan's neck of the woods. Wincobank. Where he does his talking and his boys learn their fighting.

"Up there," he says, pointing right, towards his living room wall. "Top of the hill, that's where Naz lives.

Naz, Prince Naseem Hamed to you, isn't in residence at the minute. The world champion has set himself up in a four bedroom spread in what Brendan affectionately dismisses as the posh part of Sheffield. Ingle likes to ask Naz if, with all his tricks and all his dancing, he can manage to sleep in all four bedrooms at once. Young fellas and their money. Easily sundered.

"Don't you talk that man to death," calls Brendan's wife Alma, suddenly. "He'll talk you to death, you know." And Brendan rolls his eyes theatrically. Starts talking, unspooling his life as he sits beneath the crowded bookshelves which carry the testaments of his eclecticism. Potboilers.

Biographies (Thatcher and Michael Collins snuggled next to each other). Travel. All you need to know about Yemen. Religion. Politics. A few boxing books as well. No manuals for the man who has sent forth so many champions from this patch of Sheffield.

"You know what I say to the kids when they come in across the road," says Brendan. "You know what I tell them?"

"No, Brendan." He leans forward and acts out the scene playing himself in a nice understated way. I'm a bit of an expert on sex," he says, startlingly. "What?"

"Oh, yeah. I'm a bit of an expert on sex and I'm a bit of an expert on politics and I'm a bit of an expert on religion and I'm a bit of an expert on economics, too. Not an expert. Just a bit of an expert. Sure I wouldn't have survived any other way. Mickey Duff, Jarvis Astaire, Harry Leveine. Jack Solomons. Millionaires. They controlled boxing when I came here first. Frank Warren broke that monopoly in the end.

"But I had me battles, though. I took me lumps and bumps. In the ring and out. Twenty two stitches here. Ten stitches there. Trained the hard way. Wife did the pads for me during sparring. Had five kids and worked seven days a week. I did all that. I didn't get anywhere, but I'm a bit of an expert on lots of things."

Brendan's voyage. He has been here for going on 40 years now. His accent is hard Dublin, tempered in Sheffield steel. He left a big and close boxing family in Ringsend and sailed to England one winter in the 1950s. His brother Jimmy met him at Victoria Station and fixed him up with some quick tutorials in the school of hard knocks.

"When I come away on the boat at Dun Laoghaire and the boat pulled out I just thought `bloody hell, will I ever see home again'. Got over to Holyhead at one or two. Train to Manchester. Snow on the ground in Sheffield. Had to walk up the city road. All the houses were browns and blacks and greens. `What have I bloody done,' I thought to meself, `what have I bloody done'.

"Peter had been here about a year. He'd came home once when I was 17 and he had a few hundred quid in his pocket. I knew I'd go then. He took me down to the city centre in the snow, set me walking around one spot that I got to know. Left me there till knew me way around. I thought it was terrible. He said this is your starting point. Knock at every door of every firm, tell them you'll do anything. So I went around. Nothing."

He settled into steel work, became accustomed to the grey strangeness of Sheffield, the tight back to back houses with the shared toilets, the feeling of always being an outsider. He put down the years indulging in his twin passions: talking and boxing.

Talking politics, religion, history, trade unionism. Arguing with anyone who would sit still. Fighting with anyone who would step outside. Along with a handful of displaced Ringsend kids, he joined Hillsborough Boys Club and spent his energies there boxing and sparring. Let a day dream grow in his head.

"That was 1959. It was in me head to go to the 1960 Olympics. I'd win the senior and junior championships at home and I'd go to the Olympics. I used train three times a day. I hooked up with Corinthians. Sparred with Steve Collins' uncle, Terry. I was holding me own as a welterweight. Down running every morning at six to tower at Sandymount, then down to Red Lighthouse, back in and training some more. In the heel of the hunt, I over trained. I was knackered when I came to the juniors. No Olympics. Going nowhere. I headed back to Sheffield."

Nothing but the same old story? No, heir could always throw a feint. Duck the stereotype. Irish, Catholic and socialist, he met Alma in a jazz club one night. She was English, Protestant and conservative, the right chemistry for a lifetime of talking. So he married her.

Two years later, his house was broken into one afternoon. The intrusion threw Brendan off kilter and he high tailed it for home, Alma with him. Had to be home. Got home and couldn't stick it. Back to Sheffield again.

BRENDAN INGLE lives in this house now. He got married in the church next door. He built the little five a side football pitch across the road, hewing it out of Sheffield stone with his own hands. He put up the boxing club much the same way, begging for girders to hang punchbags from, herding the youngsters in towards the heat of the Supersers and the whirr of the skipping ropes.

He's a bit of an expert on most things now. He knows how to a map a path through life's minefield. He remembers his second boat trip to England. He still had the money from the sale of his house in Sheffield. Some more, too. £600 in all. Got to gambling. Got down to his last £150. Fairly shaken. Gambled on. Stepped off in England, just £50 down. Vowed never to gamble again.

The expertise is put to good use. So much so that last year the University of Sheffield gave the Irish boxing trainer from Wincobank an honorary degree. All those champions, all those kids, all those hours, all that love and affection. It was due some reward. He has melted into the fabric of this place. He observes Ramadan every year, fasting with his muslim friends and fighters, moves seamlessly into the abstinence of Lent and goes hungry one day a week for the rest of the year just to feel the sharpness.

University? At the very mention of the word he is suddenly up out of the chair and itching to get across to the gym. "This is the university," he says, crossing the road, passing his own Peugeot 306, the livery of which identifies the driver as Brendan Ingle, manager of Prince Naseem Hamed. "This is where kids around here learn about things. They wander in here and they start learning discipline." His thoughts are interrupted by a car horn. The car stops.

"Sal!"

"Brendan!"

An elderly man is excitedly winding down the passenger window. Sal is Naseem Hamed's father. Friendly words fly through the frosted air. Sal delves into his pocket, fishes out a sheet of postage stamps sent to him from home. The faces of Ingle and Naseem beam out from each little perforated square. Seeing Brendan and Naz on the Yemeni national stamp moves Sal more than it moves Brendan. The journey rather than the destination is what enthralls Ingle.

With Naseem, whom as a skinny seven year old schoolboy Brendan spotted brawling from the top of a bus one day, he has travelled furthest. After a string of British, Commonwealth and European champions, Naseem is Brendan's first world champion, the boxer who will make him a rich man at last. There's satisfaction in that, but the work a day brawler who hits the gym once a week is just as absorbing to Brendan.

He hurries across to his gym. World champions are not in his thoughts. The gym, the St Thomas Boys club, is bare walled and pumping with heat, energy and music. The ring is at one end, the punchbags dangle in rows down the length of the hall. Rudimentary tools for hungry boxers.

Ingle isn't very big on the idea that people are born to be victims. Can't be, not having seen his boys fight their way out of trouble, out of poverty, out of discipline troubles. He's had them all through here. Tough nuts, thieves, losers, vandals, hooligans. Boxing gives them a framework. This gym gives them a stable point.

Sometimes it works. He calls over his latest pro, Davey Codwell. Davey has just bought a tuxedo so he can travel to the big time shows with Ingle. A tux is the passport to this brave new world. Codwell has lived in a flat, away from a violent home situation since he was 15, lived on £60 a week which he ekes out with weekend work. Stands on the cusp of a pro career. Doesn't know what would have become of him without boxing.

And sometimes Ingle fails. "If you want loyalty," he likes to say about his failures, "buy a dog." He tells the stories of failure. Like most social workers, the failures haunt him and the successes just grow away from him. Take Chalkie. Ingle brought a kid in here years ago, just nine or 10 years old. Problem kid, with a tough lonely road to walk. Looked after him, taught him, moved him in with Alma and the kids across the road, fed him, clothed him and loved him as one of his own.

One night Chalkie robbed the Ingle house. "You've robbed me Chalkie," said Brendan helplessly. "After all this, you've turned around and robbed me."

He tells all this and the sadness in his voice has turned to weariness. All Chalkie had to do was say he sorry and the fence was mended. Now there's distance and if Brendan wants loyalty he'll buy a dog."

It's part of the process. He talks of Herol Graham. He took Herol in and taught him what he calls his free thinking boxing, his philosophy whereby the science of defence takes precedence over the practice of mere slugging. Hero was good, so good you couldn't hit him with a handful of rice. He fought twice for the world championship, but along the way there were sharp words and had times. Everyone wants part of a winner.

"Here's how it is," says Brendan. "I take 25 per cent from the start. If my sons work with a fighter, they get another 10. That's for my time, for all the experience, all the knocks I took, all the mistakes I made, all the battles I've had. I take the chance with a kid. When he's getting £100 for a fight, he's happy to give me £25. He gets £400, he's happy to give me £100.

"He gets £4,000 and next thing somebody is whispering in his ear. Don't be giving that mad Paddy £1,000. I'll do it for £750 or £600. Come with me Lots of people to get their hands on the finished product."

Graham was the breakthrough fighter for Brendan Ingle. There has been a steady troop of champions through these doors since. Brian Anderson. Johnny Nelson. Slugger O'Toole. Neville Brown. Chris Saunders. Naseem Hamed. On the night when Naseem beat the peerless Robinson to become world champion, Brendan knew he had taught him - almost everything in his head.

"If you saw him switch hitting. Leading either way. Nobody could predict what way - Naz was going to move. That's the boxing I've dreamed of."

It's afternoon and the gym is full now. Brendan's boys are everywhere. Dreamers. Naz is doing a photo session. Neville Brown, who fights Steve Collins in Cork tonight, is punching the heavy bag. "Nev is going to win, says Brendan. "Mark my words. He's a good scientific boxer." Neville nods his head.

March is a busy month for Ingle. After Millstreet tonight, he takes Naseem to Glasgow next weekend. Then he has other irons in the fire. "Here's me heavyweight," he says, apropos one such iron. "This is Pele."

Pele is 23 and very big. He has three knockouts from three starts and Brendan plans for him to be world champion in five years. Even for the man who took Fidel Castro Smith and renamed him Slugger O'Toole, the appropriation of the name of the world's greatest footballer seems a bit cheeky.

"No," says Brendan outraged, "that's his name. The Da is mad for Brazilian football, He has a brother named Santos."

And so time passes. Down the decades, talking and boxing. He's rooted here with these people and these boxers. The National Front tried to get him out for running the first multi racial boxing club in Sheffield. The amateur boxing association tried to get him out when he started cleaning up their titles. Big time boxing folk tried to buy him out or force him out. Yet he rolls on. An independent republic of boxing perched on the side of a hill in Sheffield.

The only Irishman ever to appear on a Yemen national stamp talks about slowing down and then laughs at the very thought.

"I'll drop dead in the middle of a ring after a fight some night and when that happens yiz will all know that Brendan Ingle died happy.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=19&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJqZrFnLHTAhUJ3YMKHTOqC4w4ChAWCEEwCA&url=http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/the-champion-maker-1.33944&usg=AFQjCNFN48Ase1V7Qr93L8GXehdnxpyg_Q&sig2=1G6KJfaXIqWdBN8bgAgKHA
Wincobank gym is just down the road from me. Half an hour drive.