|Riddick Bowe could soon become the poster boy for the American Medical Association (AMA), the British Medical Association (BMA) and any other organization with an anti-boxing agenda. If Bowe or any of his handlers truly believe his|
comeback will result in anything other than tragedy or embarrassment they, are as deluded as any of the Tyson die-hards who believe he is still capable of recapturing former glories. When charged with being a danger to himself as well as to the sport of Boxing, Bowe has even less of a defense than he had in his two fights with Andrew Golota. In the two fights with the unstable Pole, Bowe's face, body and crotch provided an ever-available home for any punch Golota decided to throw. The fact that Bowe escaped with his life was much more pertinent than escaping with two victories via Golota's disqualification for low blows. When looking for a definition of the term "hollow victory," there should be a reference to the two Bowe-Golota fights. The most damaging evidence against him comes from his own camp, when he was declared brain damaged at a court appearance relating to the abduction of his ex-wife and children. For the boxing industry to accept him back in such circumstances adds weight to the abolitionist’s argument and severely weakens the case for the sport's defense.
After the severe beatings he took from Golota, Bowe exhibited a marked deterioration in his ability to articulate and speak. After witnessing his post-fight interview with Larry Merchant following the second fight, many people were alarmed at what they saw and heard. Gone was the witty, articulate wisecracking young man of the early nineties. In his place was a faded, jaded veteran unable to put his thoughts into coherent sentences. It appeared as if Bowe had gotten old overnight and everyone was relieved to hear of his retirement.
Like many fighters before him, Riddick never found fulfillment in his post-boxing life. Unable to settle down, he joined the US Marines, it turned into farce when he quit after a few days of boot camp. Following his military K.O., Riddick finally lost the last stabilizing factors in his life when he became separated from the loves his life, his wife Judy and their five children. Unfortunately, the requiem for this particular heavyweight was not yet complete. After his family moved from New York to North Carolina to try to start a new life. Bowe was unable to accept the situation and went after Judy and the children, abducting them at knifepoint. After being arrested, Riddick submitted himself to hospital for psychiatric treatment.
At the ensuing trial for the abduction of his ex-wife and family, Bowe hired a high- powered legal team headed by Johnny Cochrane. As mitigating circumstances, the Bowe legal team claimed that their client was brain damaged as a result of injuries sustained in his former profession. Riddick was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment and after his release began to talk about a ring return. In November of last year, the ill-advised comeback took place in that hotbed of boxing, Oklahoma. The result was an inevitable knockout of loser's loser Marcus Rhode in two rounds. After the bout, Bowe was trying to convince anyone who would listen that within eighteen months, he has a legitimate chance of dethroning the current heavyweight king, Vitali Klitschko.
It was a tragic spectacle and anyone supporting him should be charged with aiding and abetting the killing of boxing, while Riddick may be acquitted on the grounds of diminished responsibility. I do not expect an obviously impaired athlete trying desperately to recapture former glories, to make an informed decision. Promoters by their very nature will justify anything if the numbers add up. But it would be unforgivable if after a few meaningless victories, television companies started to broadcast his fights and in so doing, give this worrying comeback a validity it does not deserve.
Patrick Gibbons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org