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Articles of 2005

The Devil and Charlie “Devil” Green

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Although there is overwhelming evidence to suggest otherwise, Charlie “Devil” Green, who competed against some of the top light heavyweights and heavyweights of the sixties and seventies, insists that he is not a triple murderer. However, twelve Manhattan jurors and a whole bunch of other people disagree with that assessment.

Green, who says he was born in Mississippi in 1939 but is listed in at least one boxing record source as being born in 1942 and in 1948 by the New York State Department of Corrections, is currently serving a sentence of 45-years-to-life for the early morning murders of Craig Carr, Elliott Williams and Phyllis Rogers inside a Harlem cocaine den in September 1983. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of two others, one of whom was shot and one of whom was stabbed.

He is serving his time at the maximum security prison in Shawangunk, New York, where Jack Hirsch, the senior editor of the Las Vegas-based newspaper Ring Sports, and I visited him on August 17. Ironically, the prison is a stone’s throw from the home of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, who scored a tenth round TKO over Green at Madison Square Garden in September 1970.

Among the other boxing notables whom Green tangled with are Frankie DePaula, who he stopped in two rounds, Jimmy Dupree, who beat Green twice, former light heavyweight champion Jose Torres, and longtime heavyweight titlist Larry Holmes, who stopped Green in two rounds in March 1975, in what would be Green’s final fight.

Besides being a staple at many New York boxing venues, Green, who campaigned from 1966-75, fought in such diverse locations as Belgium, England, Germany, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Pennsylvania and Ohio. His final ring ledger was 14-15 (9 KOs).

In boxing circles, the hard-punching Green is best known for the unusual circumstances surrounding his fight with Torres, which occurred at MSG in July 1969. Torres’s original opponent, Jimmy Ralston, fled the arena just hours before the fight that had attracted legions of Torres’s maniacal Puerto Rican fans. Green jokes that Ralston got “stage fright.”

Green, who said he “smoked a reefer” before entering the Garden, was enjoying a hot dog and a beer when he was summoned to duty as a last minute replacement. He quickly laced up the gloves and began pummeling Torres in the first round, dropping him with his vaunted right hand. He knocked Torres down again in the second before the much more seasoned Torres came to his senses and rebounded with a sensational second round knockout victory.

While that story is still told around New York, the crimes for which Green was convicted are equally legendary. While we have come to expert such grisly occurrences since the advent of crack cocaine in 1986, these murders occurred three years before crack even existed. Free-basing cocaine was the way to ingest the drug in its most potent form, and like so many other things in his life, especially gambling and drinking, Green free-based in excess.

Many of his friends and family, including former welterweight contender Harold Weston Jr., who credits Green with helping raise him to be a productive citizen, insist that Green’s personality was altered for the worse by drugs. The Green that Weston knew would not have been capable of such horrific acts. Cocaine changed him, says Weston, in ways he never could have imagined.

“Charlie was a caring, generous man who was like a big brother to me,” said the 53-year-old Weston. “They say it takes a village to raise a family and Charlie and his family was my village. He taught me a lot of street knowledge, and I managed to survive that era where a lot of people got messed up. He was the last guy you’d think would get involved with drugs. It’s terrible that he couldn’t have gotten into a hospital and gotten some help. He’s good people, so it’s hard for me to jump ship on him because he got in trouble. I love him to death and will never give up on him.”

Green’s potential for trouble was actually detected as early as 1958 when he was medically discharged from the Marine Corps. The reasons, as cited in court papers, was him being “unfit for duty due to convulsions, disorientation, wandering around in the rain for two hours before regaining awareness, loss of consciousness, confusion, blackouts, left frontal headaches and epilepsy grand mal(ady).”

Although Green’s attorney utilized an insanity defense at his trial, the crimes were so heinous and the evidence so strong, he was convicted almost as quickly as O.J. Simpson was acquitted. When asked how long it took the jury to convict him, Green responded disdainfully, “Not very long.”

Green says that he was present at the murder scene and even wrestled with the actual killer. He also states that the victims were killed because they had robbed one of the biggest drug dealers in Harlem.

One surviving victim who testified at Green’s trial said she remembers seeing him in the doorway of the coke den with a gun in his hand. He asked where the money and cocaine was. Then, she said, Green put down a free-basing pipe and announced, “You are all going to die in here tonight. Then he grabbed Craig and shot him. Then he grabbed Elliott and shot him …”

A few hours after the killings Green was hanging on the air shaft of the 15th floor offices of his attorney’s office in downtown Manhattan. Bare-chested, he was snorting cocaine out of a plastic bag with one hand as he threatened to jump to his death. It took an army of emergency service police officers to rein him in.

Green says that he ran the eight or so miles downtown because he knew that he would be blamed for the crime. “I was at a party, lying on a bed when I heard shots,” he explained. “I’d been free-basing for two days.  I see a guy cutting (one of the victims) with a knife. I ran out the door to help and saw three mother——s dead.”

Green says he began grappling with the assailant, and they eventually toppled out of the second flood window and into the street. He then ran, barefooted and shirtless, to his lawyer’s office.

While there Green remembers telling himself, “My life is over, I’m going to kill myself. I’m going to jump to my death on Broadway.”

While Green might have difficulty convincing others of his innocence, he is more erudite when discussing his fall from grace. He admits that he always had no shortage of bad habits, all of which were exacerbated when he started running a disco called “Dom” on East 8th Street in Manhattan. It was a hip and happening place and Green says, “I was the n—— in charge. I could hire or fire you and I’d let you sell reefer if you paid me.”

Green’s biggest vice was always gambling and friends have often joked that he’d bet on roach races if he could. To this day Green says he gambles every night, playing poker with fellow inmates for stamps and cigarettes. Gambling was something he always felt he could control, while his incessant drug use sent his life into a downward spiral from which he could never recover.

“I started doing drugs after the Patterson fight,” he recalled. “Before that I did good things. I took over city owned buildings, put a sign on one door that said “Sugar Hill Youth Opportunity Program,” and put in a day care center and an old people facility. I wanted to help people, help my community. Once I started doing drugs, that all ended. All I cared about was getting high.”

Although Green says he has evidence that could free him, namely some clerical errors on some of the court affidavits and disputing the credibility of several witnesses, one of whom is a surviving victim, it is doubtful he will ever see another day of freedom. Regardless of what his true age is now (because of his Marine Corps record, the best guess is he was born in 1939), he is not eligible for parole until 2028 when he will be 89-years-old.

While his neck is still thick, his stomach taut, and his arms strong, Green’s gauntness makes it apparent that he has been sick. Even though he denies the medical diagnosis, he was recently treated for prostate cancer. He believes he received the treatment so the doctors could bilk the system out of thousands of dollars.

He also believes that if someone like filmmaker Spike Lee could get word about the injustice of his incarceration, freedom could conceivably come long before he serves his minimum sentence.

“Remember something,” says Green, whose wife, a hospital administrator, as well other family members still visit him regularly. “There are no rapists or thieves in prison. Everyone says they’re a killer to get respect. I’ve steered drug buyers, was a middleman for stolen cars and jewelry, and did a lot of bad things. But in this case I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everyone that was killed had longer records than mine. I’m no killer.”

Moreover, conceded Green, if he wasn’t sent to jail he most certainly would have been dead by now. He then showed us a newspaper photo of himself in a strait-jacket with a deranged look on his face being hoisted into an ambulance.

“I was dying, I was killing myself on drugs,” said Green who says he now derives a degree of spiritual contentment from the fact that he is a practicing Ethiopian Jew. “I want to get out of jail, but I won’t die if I don’t. Being in prison saved my life, even if I was wrongfully convicted of three murders. I’ve done a lot of right things and a lot of wrong things, but I didn’t do that.”

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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