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Articles of 2009

1949-The Perfect Storm Of Pugilism

Springs Toledo



Images appear like electric ghosts when the knob is pulled on the Philco console. Eventually white letters shimmy on the television screen -“Gillette Cavalcade of Sports”- and a ringside bell clangs. Friends and neighbors crowd the living room and jockey to get near the 10 inch screen.

It’s 1949.

Jimmy Powers opens the show with a trusty bellow: “Friday night fights are on the air!”

This was the time when boxing was second only to baseball in the affections of the American public. Those lucky enough to have a television set watched sluggers like Joe DiMaggio put wood to cork and cowhide; but NBC had a line-up of sluggers who put cowhide to flesh and bone. The airwaves were saturated with the Sweet Science, and it seemed as if everyone had a sweet tooth. Today we have anonymous legions with Mickey Mouse titles. “Belt-holders” we call them; but back then there were eight World Champions demonstrating their fighting prowess for a nation still celebrating its own after World War II. Eight World Champions. And your aunt could have rattled off the names of half of them. The ring was as uncomplicated as postwar America wished it was and yet was as integrated as a good cup of coffee. Champions, contenders, and a few journeymen of every shade had a chance to become household names and make a decent living: Rocky Castellani, Art Aragon, and Tiger Jones, known then and basically forgotten now, could be poster boys for diversity.

Sure, even during its golden eras boxing was a sport familiar with the sly, slick, and wicked –criminal elements have owned or influenced managers, officials, and individual fighters themselves. No honest fan would hold that boxing is among the purest of professions. Its critics, however, have more elemental problems with boxing –the very idea of it is offensive- and so it has been a punching bag since Cain put Abel down for the count. Some simply cannot see past violence and shrink from what boxing means and represents. It’s a wonder that they can muster up the testosterone to throw their shots in word or in print. We should be gentle with them because they know not what they’re talking about. Their eyes are untrained. They miss the greater part of it… and they don’t know ring history.

Boxing, for all of its faults, has presaged much that its critics celebrate today. Joe Louis got the thumbs-up from white America long before Barack Obama was born –and he did so with two numbers-runners out of Chicago and Detroit, not a PR machine juiced with millions in campaign contributions. Boxing also was and remains a source of great ethnic pride. It is multiculturalism magnified. Those who arrived on these shores throughout the twentieth century had their share of two-fisted folk heroes: Irish, Italian, Asian, and Hispanic immigrants to name a few. Jews who settled in places like Brownsville, NY saw their great traditions vicariously defended in the ring by their children when Nazi Germany began Ha Shoah. They took solace in knowing that Hitler’s jaw would become his hat had Al “Bummy” Davis (nee Albert Abraham Davidoff) landed a left hook.

When America had its back on the ropes during the years of the Great Depression (1929 ~1939), fight clubs were scattered like seeds in every city. Waiting in the gym was a who’s who of flat-nosed wise men ready to cultivate contenders. Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein, Freddie Brown, Charley Goldman, Mannie Seamon, Chickie Ferrera, Nick and Dan Florio were all active in New York City alone. Most eventually wound up at the legendary Stillman’s Gym on West 54th Street. Trainers like these cultivated a special crop of Americans not seen since. The dirty-faced novices who walked the block to a boxing gym as newspapers blew by like tumbleweeds kept both fists deep in their pockets. In the 1930s, these kids believed that those commodities –eight knuckles- were all that could keep poverty at bay. Some came because they had talent tried on street corners. Others came because there was nowhere else to go. Some came because they couldn’t sing or dance but wanted similar glory, others because their race or ethnicity offered them few other options.

…However they came, they came, and the gyms swelled. And the heavy bags heaved and the small bags danced. Ropes skipped and whipped with rhythm and whimsy. Sparring mates honed their punches on blood-spattered canvases. The concrete classrooms were drafty and hard on the nose, but it was here that countering jabs and slipping rights were taught by rote, where mistakes meant broken lips, where progress was quite literally determined by pressure. Over the next 10 years, they learned their lessons well. Growling stomachs had made them lions.

What does all of this mean? It means that a conflux of rare factors and events spawned greatness in the ring. The popularity of boxing, the glut of gyms and clubs, the presence of many A-list trainers to develop fighters, the sheer depth of the pool of potential and their familiarity with hardship –all combined to create a “perfect storm” of pugilism. The result? The fighters of the 1940s can rightly claim to be boxing’s “Greatest Generation”. What’s more, when the caliber of fighters and fights on record are fully considered, we can get even more specific and assert that 1949 was the best year that boxing has seen in the modern era.

Turn on that Philco television in your head. If you’re old enough, rewind the tapes of your memories, if you’re a whippersnapper like me, then shut up, sit back, and witness how great boxing was in that shining year.

1.      The Nonpareil. Sugar Ray Robinson is the consensus pick as the greatest fighter who ever lived. If your protestations cause you to chant the name of Ali, know that Ali himself agrees with the consensus pick. If you don’t believe it, just email me and I’ll send you a complimentary clip. In 1949, the 28-year-old welterweight King fought 13 times. In July, Robinson (95-1-2) defeated Kid Gavilan, 23, a second time in Philadelphia –coming on strong after getting cut over his right eye in the fourth. Considering the fistic genius of the Cuban Hawk, this may have been Robinson’s greatest victory. For his part, Gavilan fought 10 times that year and defeated Rocky Castellani, Beau Jack, and the formidable though faded Ike Williams twice.

2.      The Rising Bull. By the late 1940s, Jake LaMotta had already fought Robinson five times and managed to hand him his first loss. In June of 1949 he took the World Middleweight Title from the great French champion Marcel Cerdan in his career-best performance. Tragically, it was Cerdan’s last fight. He would die on October 27 while flying over the Azores on his way back to the U.S. for the rematch. Purists like me still wish he took a boat.

3.      I Ragazzi Duri. Newcomers Joey Giardello in Philadelphia, Tony DeMarco of Boston and Rocky Marciano of Brockton, MA were fighting more than Italian newlyweds. Sicilian Charley Fusari, a 7-5 underdog, managed to beat the up-and-coming Castellani, and was looking good against Rocky Graziano until going down in round 10 and getting up to see 2 more Rockys and too much leather. Johnny Saxton was managed by the guys in the sharkskin suits. Carmen Basilio had shark-repellant. Both began their careers in ’49. In his first year, Basilio fought 15 times to start things off with a bang and a butt or two. (Basilio defended the World Welterweight Title against Saxton seven years in and the sharks behind Saxton ensured a spurious decision. It was only a six month loan. Basilio stopped him to take his title back and then again six months after that to add an exclamation point.) 

4.      The Warhorses. Meanwhile Fritzie Zivic, Sammy “The Clutch” Angott, and Lew “The Living Death” Jenkins were all winding down in 1949. Take a look at their records and see why boxing purists giggle when they here modern fighters like Floyd “Money” Mayweather touting their greatness after 39 measly fights. Zivic and Angott had 39 fights when they were 21 and 22 years old respectively. Angott had another 91 and Zivic 142 before they hung up the gloves. Lew Jenkins fought a total of 121 times, including 19 times in his last year (albeit so inebriated half the time he couldn’t see through a ladder).

5.      The Mongoose and Murderer’s Row. Archie Moore wasn’t even old yet in 1949. He was near-prime and proved it by stopping Jimmy Bivins, Bob Satterfield, and a formidable five fight rival in Harold Johnson. Johnson regrouped and went on to defeat Bivins and Bert Lytell -one of the remnants of the fearsome sextet called “Murderer’s Row”. The others, Lloyd Marshall and Aaron Wade were also winding down by this time while Eddie Booker and Jack Chase had retired. The greatest among the six was still active (and still avoided) in 1949: Charley Burley. Uneasy laid the crowns of champions in three divisions when these men were campaigning. To his everlasting credit, Archie Moore fought all six of them, posting losses to four. He went down a total of 20 times when he faced the killers on Murderer’s Row. According to Harry Otty, Archie admitted that Burley was the best and Eddie Booker was the second best fighter he faced –no small compliments from a man who fought 161 professionals. Incidentally, Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong both ducked Charley Burley. That’s a fact.

6.      The Cobra. The only real bête noire that Burley had was the Cincinnati Cobra, Ezzard Charles. Ezzard beat him twice at only twenty years old and he did it in Burley’s backyard of Pittsburgh, PA. Only recently recognized as an elite, all-time great, Ezzard conquered several notable middleweights and cleaned out the light heavyweights before stepping up and fighting the big boys. In 1949, he defeated Joey Maxim, stopped Gus Lesnevich and Pat Valentino, and took the Heavyweight Title with a unanimous decision over the shifty Jersey Joe Walcott.

7.      The Two Kings. Joe Louis became the World Heavyweight Champion on Tuesday, June 22, 1937. He relinquished the title on Tuesday, March 1, 1949. He was king for 11 years, 8 months and 7 days. It remains an unbroken record. On the other end of the scales and incidentally on the same date, Bantamweight Manuel Ortiz defeated Dado Marino during his second reign as champion. Ortiz stands at the leg of Louis but holds his own record among bantamweights for most defenses (15) of the World Title.

8.      The Crown Jewel of 1949. In October of 1948, Sandy Saddler challenged Gugliermo Papaleo, known to us as Willie “Will o’ the Wisp” Pep, for the World Featherweight Title. Saddler shocked everyone at Madison Square Garden by knocking the champion cold in four rounds and lifting the only thing about Pep that wasn’t illusory: his crown. This began a four fight rivalry although Saddler would, by series end, stop him twice more. Context is important here. Only two years earlier, Pep was in a plane crash that should have killed him like Cerdan. He was not the same fighter after that near-tragedy. Sandy, underrated still, is one of the most formidable featherweights who ever lived –standing at 5’8, and 124 lbs. He looked like an atomically mutated insect from those monster movies of the next decade; and with an eventual 103 KOs on his record, Saddler’s shots could sandbag the hardiest of foes.

Pep was a savant. Where most fighters are trained to see and respond to their opponent’s punches without thinking, Pep took it to a new level. He could predict what his opponent was going to do seemingly before the opponent knew, and react accordingly with laser accuracy. At times it looked like magic –Pep would set traps and invite particular shots that he wanted to counter. His opponent would comply and get socked from several angles. Pep may have been the ring’s greatest mentalist. But he had a contemporary who was at least as good –Archie Moore. Perhaps his mistake was a social one. Perhaps Willie should have become better friends with Archie than Sandy was, because Sandy called Archie and Archie gave Sandy answers to Pep’s in-the-ring riddles…as if Sandy’s ferocity, size, and power weren’t enough already.

I’ll be the first to admit that Willie Pep had no business ever beating Sandy Saddler. But he did… at Madison Square Garden on February 11. Pep stepped into the ring with a record of 136-2-1. Saddler was 91-6-2. In a 15 round display of boxing brilliance that has probably never been equaled, Pep reclaimed his seat on the throne. It was his greatest victory. The seat wasn’t warm -it was scorching. Sandy Saddler was a force of nature. “I’ll remember him as long as I live,” Pep said years later, still shuddering.

By my count, five of the ten greatest ring generals of all time were at or near prime exactly sixty years ago. That’s Robinson, Moore, Burley, Charles, and Pep. And they were doing what fighters are called by their fans to do –fight often and fight hard. Indeed, what Pierce Egan called The Sweet Science of Bruising has often approached the sublime, and it was always a serious endeavor for serious men. It was never more serious than it was in 1949 –the year of pugilism’s “perfect storm”.


Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

David A. Avila



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




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 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




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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