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Articles of 2009

Where Have You Gone, Harry Greb?

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Black clouds gather fast and break over Forbes Field in Pittsburgh where Tommy Gibbons (51-0) and Harry Greb (159-12) are fighting like hell. It’s the last day of July in 1920. The crowd scatters for shelter in the electrical storm. Thunder crashes as Gibbons, standing over six feet tall with a twenty pound weight advantage, lands his feared right cross flush on the jaw of Greb in round seven. It doesn’t faze the smaller man. Greb is Greb –he’s all over Gibbons from every angle, with punch stats that are off the charts. The lone reporter who had not taken cover under the ring strains to see through the downpour and calls the particulars as his peers scribble away in wet notebooks: “Greb lands a right to the face, a left to the stomach, a right to the ear, a left to the face, a right to the neck…” To Gibbons, lightning seems to strike from every angle.

Almost fifty years later, Francis B. Maloy recalled that this fight was “eerie …like a scene from Dante.”

Only two days earlier, Harry Greb was at Jack Dempsey’s training camp in New York City where he fought his third exhibition in three days with the heavyweight champion. Dempsey, known for sending sparring partners out of the ring sideways, could not handle the man known as the “Pittsburgh Windmill” despite being twenty-five pounds heavier and four inches taller. The last day of sparring ended after only two rounds –Greb landed a right that split Dempsey’s eye wide open.

In September, Dempsey was preparing for an upcoming fight with Billy Miske. Heavyweight “Big” Bill Tate and middleweights Greb and Marty Farrell were his sparring partners. According to the New York Times, “the bout with Greb was a real one… a real honest to goodness battle.” Greb was a “veritable whirlwind” – swarming all over the champion and “forcing him around the ring”. Dempsey was throwing his famous short left hooks and rights but could neither connect nor keep him off. Greb hit Dempsey “almost at will”, at times leaping off the canvas to land shots upstairs.

As the year drew to a close, Greb faced “Captain” Bob Roper at Mechanics Building in Boston. Roper was a journeyman heavyweight known for hard punching and hard ways. With a befitting skull and crossbones patched onto black trunks, he was a disqualified four times in his career and once entered the ring with a live snake around his neck. Despite the presence in his corner of Jack Blackburn (whom Greb had already defeated and who went on to train Joe Louis), Roper did not land more than a half dozen shots on Greb, whose speed and activity was dizzying. The Boston Daily Globe reported that Roper had to cover his face with both hands as a “sea of gloves” came at him. It was “laughable at times” when Roper stretched his neck to avoid overhands to the head that always seemed to land anyway. This was vintage Greb. His aerial assaults from the outside were no less effective than his work inside on a much larger man.

Two years later, Greb would fight Tommy Gibbons again at Madison Square Garden. Since the loss to Greb at Forbes Field, Gibbons earned twenty-one stoppages in twenty-six victories. The winner of this bout would fight Gene Tunney for the American Light Heavyweight title as “a qualifying test” to face Dempsey. Seated amid high society were the interested parties –Tunney and Dempsey. More than 14,000 had come out to see Gibbons, prematurely decreed as “Dempsey’s next opponent”. It was almost a black tie affair. Hundreds of women in evening dress raised the eyebrows of the boys from the Bowery and the Lower East Side but their cheers co-mingled as “society cast aside all aloofness”.

The wrong man won. Gibbons took only three out of the fifteen rounds. The betting figure that favored him was the ratio by which he was out landed in the fight: two-to-one. “I never saw so many boxing gloves in my life,” Gibbons admitted the next day, “his punches seemed to come from everywhere –from the gallery, from under my shoes, from behind my back.”

In May the handicappers at Madison Square Garden got smart and made Greb a three-to-one favorite when he entered the ring against Gene Tunney. Tunney, undefeated before this fight and never defeated afterwards, could not halt the “human hurricane” either, despite being warned by Dempsey himself about Greb’s uncanny abilities. According to the New York Times, Tunney’s exceptional defensive skills were overwhelmed by Greb’s attack and he was “completely at sea for fifteen rounds.” Greb fractured Tunney’s nose in two places in the first round and soon Gene’s handsome features were rearranged into a Picasso painting. Tunney’s corner ran out of adrenaline chloride to stop the bleeding from his nose, mouth, and deep cuts over both eyes. Abe Attell, sitting ringside, ran off to a druggist and returned with a supply which he cuffed to Doc Bagley, Tunney’s chief second. It didn’t matter. Tunney reported that all he saw for most of the fight was a “red phantom”. Greb “was never in one spot for more than half a second,” he said in an interview years later, “all my punches were aimed and timed properly but they always wound up hitting empty air. He’d jump in and out, slamming me with a left and then whirling me around with his right or the other way around.”

Tunney lost every round.

Dempsey ducked Greb.

Dempsey fought Gibbons the year after Greb whipped him, and would later twice lose to Gene Tunney –the second time in the famous “Long Count Fight”. Greb had been calling out Dempsey almost as soon as Dempsey began making waves in 1918, and stepped up the pressure after he knocked out Gunboat Smith in one round the year after Dempsey had knocked Smith out in two. By June of 1922 it got to the point where Greb’s manager showed up at Dempsey’s manager’s office with a generous proposition. It went nowhere. Curiously, King Dempsey was more than willing to fight heavyweights that Greb had already defeated, including not only Gibbons and Tunney, but also Miske and “KO” Bill Brennan. Greb was 2-0-1 against Miske, and Brennan couldn’t beat Greb to save his life –losing all four bouts against Greb inside of one year.

Earlier in the careers, Dempsey and Greb shared several opponents. Among them was Willie Meehan who Greb beat twice though outweighed by thirty pounds. Dempsey posted two losses to Meehan within the same time frame. “The bigger they are,” Tunney asserted, “the less respect Harry had for them… I have seen him virtually climb opponents a foot taller and bring them down to his size.” As late as August 1925, Dempsey was still ducking the 5’8 middleweight, claiming that the only “fight he wanted was with Harry Wills”, who was a 6’2, 213 pound African-American Heavyweight. Dempsey never faced Wills either, though pursued by Wills for years.

At the end of Greb-Tunney fight, Tunney collapsed and had to be carried into his dressing room. Stubbornly refusing to go to the hospital, doctors on the scene stitched up Gene’s face, reset his nose, and used a stomach pump to remove about two quarts of blood, brandy and orange juice, and adrenalin chloride. Greb, unmarked, didn’t look like he even had a fight. He spent the night drinking ginger ale (his preferred beverage) in a speakeasy surrounded by friends.

Happy Albacker was among them. Happy had a secret, but secrets are hard to keep when you’re three sheets to the wind. When the inevitable glass was raised and someone toasted Greb’s victory over the undefeated Gene Tunney “though handicapped by height, weight, and reach”, Albacker blurted out “-and by one eye!” Had it not been for Greb’s ability to parry unexpected blows, the secret would have been out. It would have meant the end of his career.

Harry Greb’s vision in his right eye had been diminishing since the summer of 1921, when Kid Norfolk thumbed him during a particularly violent mill in Pittsburgh. Bill Paxton, the author of “The Fearless Harry Greb,” offers compelling evidence that Greb suffered a retinal tear in the Norfolk fight and so had only partial vision when he faced Gibbons, Tunney, and Tommy Loughren (incidentally, three of the greatest light heavyweights of all time). It is believed that Greb went completely blind in his right eye after his fifth fight with “Captain” Bob Roper. He took almost two months off afterwards (one of his longest periods of inactivity), spent a week in the hospital, and was seen with patches over both eyes. His return fight took place on New Year’s Day, 1923 –against Captain Bob Roper. He would fight sixty-seven more times, take the middleweight title, defend it six times, fight and beat terrors like Tiger Flowers and Mickey Walker, master all-time greats like Jimmy Slattery and Maxie Rosenbloom –all while blind in one eye. 

According to the Boston Daily Globe, Greb earned a few more technical knockouts in Pittsburgh one night, though unofficially. After a female companion in his car was relieved of $95 and a ring on a lonely road in Highland Park by five robbers, Greb reported the incident to the police.

When they arrived on the scene, the officers noticed blood all over the road. It was not Greb’s.

Moved at the ensuing hearing by the weeping wife and children of one of the assailants, Greb offered to post bail. For those close to him, this was not a surprise. Contrary to the myth that he was a half-cocked hell-raiser, Greb was a kind man and a practicing Roman Catholic. There is nothing to suggest that he was anything less than in love with his wife Mildred throughout their courtship and marriage. When she died of tuberculosis in 1923, he was at her bedside. Harry was a faithful husband even if he was not the kind of widower who held a candle.

To his credit, Greb had no regard for color lines. Some boxing historians rightfully hesitate before testifying to the greatness of fighters like Dempsey and Tunney because they would not fight the full range of threats on the spectrum. Tunney never once faced an African American in seventy-seven professional contests. This kind of discrimination affects legacy. It has to. Greb, by contrast, avoided no man. He faced several black fighters beginning as early as 1915 against Jack Blackburn, as well as Willie Langford, Kid Norfolk, Tiger Flowers, Kid Lewis, and Allentown Joe Gans.

Greb’s last fight was in 1926. It was an attempt to regain the middleweight crown he lost to Tiger Flowers. The determined ex-champion turned the clock back and fought well but lost another split decision to Flowers. Most believed that the victory was rightfully his; that he had done more than enough to take back the title. Greb himself said “well, that was one fight I won if I ever won any.” But the windmill was creaking. Greb was finally slowing down.

In September, Greb had his right eye removed and replaced with a glass eye. He confided to a friend that his career was over and that he planned on opening a gym in downtown Pittsburgh. It must have been bittersweet for Greb as he sat in the audience at the Dempsey-Tunney title fight in Philadelphia later that month. He watched Tunney do what he always knew he himself could do if given the opportunity –outbox Dempsey and become world heavyweight champion.

The end was near. After what was supposed to be a non-serious operation on his face, Harry fell into a coma. At 2:30pm on October 22, 1926, the 32-year-old Greb died of heart failure. It was shocking news.

This fighter’s fighter, often seen smiling in the heat of battle and laughing when hit with a good shot, lived only two months after his final bout. Perhaps Greb was a romantic who couldn’t live without the object of his passion. This much is beyond dispute: In a rougher era when boxing was just emerging from the seedy underground and men fought to live, Harry Greb lived to fight.

His legacy dwarfs what we see today. In a career that spanned from 1913 to 1926 and over 300 fights, Greb fought and beat almost a dozen Hall of Famers (including two who were previously never beaten) and champions in four divisions. Ninety years ago, he gave us a boxing milestone that you can bet your house will never be repeated:

Greb fought forty-five times in 1919.

-That’s an average of one bout every eight days against an array of sluggers, boxer-punchers, and defensive specialists. That’s a record of 45-0 against not only other middleweights, but light heavyweights and heavyweights –in one calendar year!

Raise a glass of ginger ale in honor of the Pittsburgh Windmill: a remarkable middleweight who fought them all –any time, any place; the spirit smiling behind every club fighter, contender, and champion who fights with the sudden, ruthless passion of a summer storm …for the glory of it all.

Here’s to you, Harry Greb.

The author wishes to both acknowledge and highly recommend Bill Paxton’s The Fearless Harry Greb, Jack Cavanaugh’s Tunney, Peter Benson’s Battling Siki, and Andrew Gallimore’s A Bloody Canvas. Thanks to the Boston Public Library Microfilm Department, an invaluable resource for locating obscure fight reports. Gregory Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010

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As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of TheSweetScience.com I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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Articles of 2009

A Very Special New Year's Day Column

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It has been just over four months since Nick Charles, the play-by-play announcer for Shobox: The New Generation, was diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer and forced to take a medical hiatus from the monthly show that has aired since 2001.

Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.

If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.

“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”

As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.

Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.

While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.

Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”

His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”

“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”

That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.

“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”

Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.

“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”

Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.

“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.

While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.

“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”

Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.

“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”

Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.

Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.

“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”

He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.

“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”

More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.

“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”

In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.

By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.

I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”

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