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Articles of 2009

THE KIMBALL CHRONICLES: The Prisoner Of Hell's Kitchen

George Kimball

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If I’ve done enough wrong in this life that I’m brought back as a boxing promoter in the next one, first thing I do is abolish press conferences — press conferences announcing fights, post-fight press conferences, photo ops at the Statue of Liberty, the lot of them.

From the standpoint of the working press, they’re all but useless, and from the promoter’s they represent an unnecessary expense producing little of value in return. For a fraction of what they’d save, promoters could spend their money on something truly useful, like health insurance for their boxers.

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There’s a wonderful scene in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.” Mel (Jack Lemmon), afflicted with big-city malaise, has already endured a rough patch in his life that makes the Trials of Job seem trifling by comparison. When a scruffy-looking kid bumps into him on the street, he reaches for his wallet, realizes it is missing, and takes off in pursuit of a mugger half his age.

After a mad dash across Central Park, a panting Mel runs his quarry down and pounces on him. Cocking his fist, he demands his wallet  “or I’ll beat your head in.” The terrified mugger complies. Mel, his sagging spirits lifted by having finally fought back, returns home to report the adventure to his wife Edna (Anne Bancroft), who seems unimpressed. 

“But I got my wallet back!” he says.

“Your wallet’s brown. This one’s black,” she sighs. “You left yours on the dresser this morning. This isn’t your wallet, Mel.”

The excitement drains from Mel’s face.

“My God,” he says. “I mugged a kid.”

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In bygone times press conferences were absolutely essential to putting on a fight show. You hired a restaurant, picked up the tab for lunch, poured a bunch of booze down the throats of the assembled newsmen, and they’d return to their offices and dutifully file glowing stories about that week’s Fight of the Century.  At a time when there were a dozen daily papers in New York and five or six in Boston this made a lot of sense. It eventually got to the point that promoters were so reliant on the practice that they tried to outdo each other. If one of Dan Parker’s colleagues thought the other guy’s lunch was better, he might write about his fight and forget yours altogether. Promoters learned that this could usually be addressed by slipping favored scribes a cash-stuffed envelope on the way out the door.

By the late 1970s Don King had taken this practice to a whole new level, and when word got out in connection with the investigation of the ABC/Ring ‘US Boxing Championships’ it cost some pretty good writers their jobs. Since newspapers today are more ethically circumspect, overt bribery is discouraged, but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared altogether. Nowadays, if the guy owns his own website, the promoter can just write him a check and call it an “ad.”

Back in those days, of course, the post-fight press conference did not exist. Even after the biggest of fights, reporters routinely interviewed both winner and loser in their respective dressing rooms. There was plenty of room to handle the working press, and everybody knew who they were.

I’m not sure when the post-fight press conference started, or why, but I can promise you one thing: they’re not for the press. If you’re writing on deadline you want to get a quote or two to set the mood (and prove to the boss and your readers that you were there) and get your story written and filed as quickly as possible, not sit around waiting an hour or more for the last undercard fighter’s manager to be seated at the dais so a press conference can get started. 

The result is that post-fight press conferences are mainly attended by posses, entourages, relatives, and hangers-on. They’re all but useless for anyone actually covering the event, and if you see a newspaperman or even a legitimate internet reporter at a post-fight press conference, you can pretty much take it for granted that he’s already filed his story. Ninety per cent of the people in attendance have no function and no reason to be there anyway, and the bigger the event, the more true that is.

The same is true for press luncheons and their even more ghastly modern-day counterpart, the Golden Boy Media Event masquerading as a press conference. The latter is as a rule open to the public and overrun with shrieking fans; a reporter who actually tries to interview a fighter at one of them might be shot on sight. 

At any of the aforementioned, there is a pretty reliable way to determine how many frauds are in attendance: the applause meter.

Reporters don’t cheer for fighters or trainers or promoters or television executives, so the more people who break into applause when one of these is introduced, the more interlopers you know are in the room.  You don’t ever hear members of the working press applauding the police commissioner at his press conferences, do you?

Imagine the reaction if a member of the White House press corps showed up at a presidential press briefing and asked Barack Obama for an autograph. Yet there are people who regularly show up at fight press conferences with boxing gloves, posters, and magazine covers they expect the fighters to sign. These people aren’t writers — and if they are they should be drummed out of the profession.

Today’s boxing writers don’t care about a free lunch. They’re there to do a job, but these things have become so glutted with hangers-on that newspapers often tell their reporters to skip them altogether. It’s the very rare New York press conference today when the Times, Post, News, and Newsday all have a representative there, but the promoter winds up picking up the tab for lunch for sixty, eighty, a hundred people anyway. A promoter could get a lot more mileage out of promising each newspaper, and the four or five internet sites people actually read, ten minutes each alone with each fighter. They’d get more and better coverage out of it, and it sure would be a lot cheaper.

And the really perfectly ridiculous part of this is that the promoters know it, too. Just a couple of weeks ago I drove back from Yankee Stadium with Lou DiBella and listened to him moan the whole way about all the lunches he’d bought for people who as far as he could tell had never written a word about one of his fights. Exactly a week later, Lou was buying lunch for ninety at Gallagher’s. There might have been two newspapermen in the whole bunch. The applause meter almost went off the charts that day.

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If you’ve spent much time around the fight game at all the chances are you know Teddy Blackburn, and even if you’re a casual fan you’ve probably seen his work, which graces the pages, and sometimes the cover, of almost any boxing publication you could name. 

He grew up in Ann Arbor, where his father was a professor at the University of Michigan, but Teddy’s interests veered away from academia when he started to hang around a growing enterprise called the Kronk Gym.  He hung around there with the young Thomas Hearns, and boxed a bit himself, but if getting knocked out by Booker T. Word in the Detroit Gloves wasn’t enough to convince him that his vocation lay elsewhere, a sparring session with the late Mickey Goodwin did. Mickey was trying to take it easy on him but he still broke Teddy’s nose, and when they towelled Teddy off Mick told him he really ought to stick to taking pictures.

Beyond his professional credentials, Teddy enjoys a reputation as one of boxing’s truly good guys. This status was officially recognized in 2001, when the Boxing Writers Association of America presented him with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award in recognition of what was essentially a one-man campaign to raise funds and build a support system for Gerald McClellan, the former middleweight champion who has been blinded and brain-damaged in a 1995 fight against Nigel Benn. It was one of those boxing tragedies everybody remembers, but boxing people don’t like to be reminded that things like this can happen, so apart from Teddy and a few guys like Roy Jones, Gerald doesn’t get many visitors.

Over the years Teddy and I have shared rides to fights, bunked together at casino hotels and out of the way flophouses in club-fight towns, and before I went on the disabled list we used to get up two or three mornings a week for a 6 am round of golf at one of the city courses. 

Teddy is one of those friends who’s always eager to help and never ask anything in return. So a few weeks ago, as the aforementioned press conference at Gallagher’s was breaking up, I saw the baleful look on his face and asked him what the matter was and he said “Somebody stole my camera bag,” I knew it was a longshot, but I was determined to help if I could.

He quickly described the bag, one I knew well because he’s had it for years – a black North Face backpack, the principal contents of which on this day consisted of two Nikon cameras and the results of a day’s work, stuff he was supposed to get down to the Reuters office so they could move the photographs of Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor on wire for the papers back in England.  

Since the room was still half full, there seemed at least a chance that the culprit hadn’t yet made good his escape. Our quickly formulated plan called for me to station myself on the sidewalk outside, where anyone exiting the press conference would have to leave from one of two doors, while Teddy circulated among the crowd, hoping to spot somebody who looked as if he’d recently acquired something he hadn’t come in with.

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Security at boxing events, and at boxing press conferences, can be pretty lax, but theft is surprisingly rare.  This has less to do with the integrity of the guests than the fact that even the posse thugs realize that if anything depreciates faster in value than last week’s cell phone, it’s last month’s laptop or last year’s pre-owned camera.  Some of these people wouldn’t think twice about swiping, say, a press kit right off your seat if you turned away for a moment, but the two cameras in Teddy’s bag had set him back $5,000, and a thief would be lucky to get $200 for the pair of them on the street.  It would be a lot less trouble to just sneak out the door with somebody else’s signed boxing gloves.

I’d been out on the sidewalk for about five minutes, swiveling my head from one door to the next as I clocked the clientele exiting the restaurant. Then, in mid-swivel, I found myself staring at Teddy’s backpack.

I hadn’t actually seen the kid come out the door, but he was standing right in front of Gallagher’s. His face was shrouded by a hoodie, and he seemed to sense me staring at him, because he looked around nervously and quickly crossed the street, where he was joined by an accomplice. The crooks headed west on 52nd Street. I spotted them half a block, and, keeping them in sight, followed at what I hoped was a discreet distance while I simultaneously tried to phone for backup.

To my chagrin I discovered that Teddy’s number had vanished from my latest phone. It presumably didn’t survive the data transfer after I dropped its predecessor into a fountain at Caesars Atlantic City. DiBella’s was switched off. I eventually managed to reach Boxing Digest editor Sean Sullivan, who was still at Gallagher’s, and told him I had the perps in sight, but by then I was a few blocks away. Sean couldn’t find Teddy, but said he’d go look for him. Over and out.

I’m not sure when the perps realized they had a tail, or even if they did at all, but they seemed to cast increasingly furtive looks back over their shoulders as they continued in the direction of the river.  By now Times Square was well behind us, and we were in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, between 10th and 11th Avenues, when they made the drop.

The two perps were joined on the sidewalk by the rest of their posse, so now there were at least half a dozen of them. I ducked behind a delivery truck and watched the one with Teddy’s backpack enter a building while the other gang members stood sentinel outside.

When he emerged a few minutes later he no longer had the backpack. Now I was in a real quandary. There couldn’t have been more than five or six apartments in the building, and the cameras were in one of them. Should I keep the drop under surveillance, or follow the perps?

As I was trying to calculate Popeye Doyle’s advice when Frog One and Frog Two split up and went in opposite directions, the delivery truck abruptly pulled away and left me standing there exposed. Across the street, the kids seemed to think this was pretty funny.

I rang Sean’s phone again.

“Oh,” he said. “Teddy was just looking for you. He said to tell you he found his camera bag under a table at Gallagher’s.”

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I couldn’t tell you how many black North Face backpacks I saw on the long walk back to Broadway, but there were a lot of them. For all I know I had just followed some Stuyvesant honor student on his way home to drop off his school books.

“But he had a backpack that looked just like Teddy’s,” I tried to tell my wife later.

“I don’t care,” she said, unmoved. “You were profiling.”

I was about to offer in my own defense the fact that they had behaved so suspiciously while they were leading me on this wild goose chase when I remembered another pearl of Neil Simon wisdom. 

In “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” as he rationalizes his mistake, Mel recalls that he was certain he’d nailed his mugger when the guy abruptly took flight.

“Why did he run?” wonders Mel.

“You chased him, didn’t you?” says his wife. “You get chased, you run.”

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

David A. Avila

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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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