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Articles of 2006

Janet Goldman’s Boxing Ambivalence

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Janet Goldman has always been a physical fitness enthusiast who worked hard to have a healthy mind, body and spirit. She has also been a somewhat daring individual who only got bolder as she got older. Although she had taken some kickboxing classes in the past, she had never taken an actual boxing lesson. When given the opportunity to do so in mid-January, the 47-year-old construction project manager jumped at the opportunity.

“I’ve always been a little ambivalent about boxing,” she said. “I figured, what is the point? I have some trouble with two people hitting each other in the head. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Being the open-minded, free-spirited individual that she is, she decided to accept an offer of a one-hour lesson at the fabled Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York. Her instructor was 58-year-old David Lawrence, a veteran of six professional fights with a Ph.D. in literature who had also been a Wall Street insurance mogul who served two years in federal prison for income tax evasion, a white collar boxing champion, and a somewhat successful hardcore rapper whose moniker was “The Renegade Jew.”

In his most recent incarnation, he is a full-time boxing instructor who plies his trade daily at Gleason’s after spending his mornings writing poetry in his expansive apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He has already published several books of prose, and the next is scheduled for publication in March 2007. He credits boxing, which he began as a hobby in 1984, and his prison stint, as being the defining factors in his life.

“As a businessman, I was burning the candle at both ends,” said Lawrence. “I was making millions of dollars, but I wasn’t happy. Boxing was a very simple alternative for me. Whatever pain I experience in the ring, I understand. It is a risk I am more than willing to take. When I leave the ring, I leave the pain behind. I am not devastated. No one has foreclosed on my house or raped a family member. There has been pain, but no cruelty.”

Going to prison made me take stock of what was important in life,” he continued. “I wrote a book of poems while I was inside and worked out three hours a day. It was a very positive experience for me because it enabled me to sit back and realize what is really important and what is not.”

For one hour, Lawrence, who at first glance looks more like a harried executive than a two-fisted ex-convict, put Goldman through a frenetic workout. She shadowboxed, hit the mitts, banged the heavy bag, slammed the uppercut bag, awkwardly tried to master the speed bag, and even tried to keep pace with the swivel bag.

“She was really good,” said The Renegade. “When she hit the heavy bag, it made a great sound. The first time she threw a jab, it was obvious that she had done this before. She threw it with authority. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing the sound of a properly thrown punch hitting a bag—or someone’s head.”

 Although endorphins were raging through Goldman’s well-toned body at the end, she knew that she would be paying a heavy price in the days ahead. And she was right.

“I couldn’t write, eat or walk without pain,” she joked. “Every inch of my body ached. The Renegade was a tough taskmaster, but I was happy to get in such a good workout.”

Although Goldman, who is Jewish, is not particularly religious, she was very surprised at how well represented Jews were at Gleason’s that day. The second she met gym owner Bruce Silverglade, she realized that they shared a heritage. Lawrence is also Jewish, as is his protégé, 15-year-old Todd Mondschein, who Lawrence has trained for a year and a half.

When junior welterweight prospect Dmitriy Salita, who wears the Star of David on his trunks, was pointed out to her, she was perplexed.

“What gives with all these Jewish fighters?” she asked to no one in particular. “I thought those days were over.”

She didn’t feel any particular sense of pride over the fact that Jews were well represented in the boxing game, and she didn’t suddenly become impressed by the level of work boxers put forth to excel in what is unquestionably one of the world’s toughest vocations. But she was intrigued by some of the nuances and ambiguities associated with the people she met.

She was amazed, for example, at the dietary choices of Lawrence, who despite his streamlined, sinuous and well-muscled body doesn’t seem to put a lot of thought into what he eats. After the workout, she looked somewhat aghast as he chomped into a turkey panini (flat Italian bread) that was oozing with a yellow substance purported to be cheese.

Goldman wasn’t able to see the turkey meat under the cheese, and seemed incredulous when she asked him, “What is that, a Cheese Whiz sandwich?” Sensing a judgmental air about her, Lawrence responded with casual and light indifference. “There’s turkey under there. And it’s on panini.”

The way that Lawrence stressed the word panini, it was as if he was comparing it to whole grain or whole wheat bread.

When Lawrence pulled out a chocolate bar for dessert and washed it down with a Diet Pepsi, Goldman again playfully took him to task. But her moral indignation was defused by Lawrence’s even greater jocular ribbing. “At my age I can eat anything I want,” he said in a way that suggested he’d been admonished about his consumptive choices before.

It was obvious that, regardless of what his trainer ate, Mondschein had immense respect for Lawrence, who has worked with him every day since his mother brought him to the gym so he could find a healthy outlet for his aggressions. As a Jewish youngster growing up in Brooklyn, Mondschein wasn’t particularly aggressive in the streets but he was growing weary of being picked on for his interest in all things scholastic.

Unable to take any more verbal or physical taunting from his peers, he began acting out with his fists. His natural power left a trail of wounded carcasses in his wake. His mother, thinking he might be enjoying his newfound aggression a little too much, took him to Gleason’s in the hope that Lawrence could tame the beast. He has done just that.

“Ever since I started boxing, I have no desire to get into street fights anymore,” said Mondschein, whose 1-2 record belies his bone-crunching power. Both of his losses were close decisions to much more experienced opponents in major New York State tournaments. “A lot of people think I’m a pacifist. But I don’t have anything to prove anymore. I know that if I get into a fight, I’m going to win. That is enough for me.”

In some ways Goldman, Lawrence and Mondschein are kindred spirits. All carry with them a sense of history, all have an interest in Eastern philosophies, and all are somewhat in tune with their mind, body and spirit.

Goldman is a few months away from completing an intensive 10-month program at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition. As a future holistic health counselor she will work with clients to make improvements in diet and lifestyle through internal and external means.

While she might not agree with Lawrence on a lot of things, she agrees with him on at least the first part of his philosophical views about the travels and travails that one experiences during the course of their lifetime.

“Life is all about attitude,” said Lawrence. “Going through life with a good attitude is a skill, a skill that comes from hard work and introspection. It is very important to remember that nothing can ever go wrong for a person with a good attitude.

“A good attitude enables you to handle whatever life throws at you,” he adds. “I’ve been a lot of places in my life and the best overall attitude I’ve found has been with boxers. There is no dishonesty in the violence and, as violent as boxing can be, there is no inhumanity. Everyone’s role is clearly defined.”

While Mondschein wholeheartedly agrees with his mentor on such integral matters, Goldman had some issues about the latter part of Lawrence’s assessment. This was glaringly apparent as she watched the badly cut WBA super flyweight champion Martin Castillo eke out a split decision over Alexander Munoz on the January 21 undercard of Erik Morales-Manny Pacquaio pay-per-view bout from Las Vegas.

“This is barbaric, how can this be condoned?” she screamed as Castillo hit the canvas for the second time and his face was lacerated with two wounds that looked as if they had been inflicted with a blade. “You can’t pay anyone enough to justify what these two guys are doing to each other. One fighter will be victorious tonight, but at what price down the road? I’m going to bed.”

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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