Originally created 07/24/99

Boxing career was short-lived

There are 42 participatory Georgia Games events in Augusta this weekend, some requiring little to no experience to compete. And I'm smart enough to pick the one that will alter my mug shot for months.

All I can remember from my infamous two minutes and 13 seconds of subnovice boxing Friday is that I started out looking like a giant blue smurf and I ended with a nice left-eye shiner to symbolize my first and last effort inside the squared circle.

I've officially retired, winless in one fight, knocked out in the second round with my best Glass Joe impersonation. All you heavyweights out there can rest a little easier. You won't have to hurt your hands punching me.

The subnovice division is open to anyone who never has had a sanctioned fight. Registration forms tell you that skill and acumen are not prerequisites, but after Friday, let me tell you how much I'd recommend having one or the other. Preferably both.

Lenny Roberts served as my superheavyweight opponent, or Cuisinart, depending on your point of view. He hit me so hard he knocked the goatee off my face.

We are a contrast of personalities, Roberts and I. He played four years of football at Rowan College, a Division III power in New Jersey. As an offensive guard, he slogged around at 315 pounds just a year ago.

Now a graduate student at Life University in Marietta, Roberts tipped the scales at a chiseled 215, with a right hand that can penetrate cement. My forehead can attest to that.

Sitting in Bernie Ward Community Center while watching the 12 other subnovice bouts, Roberts told me he was studying to be a chiropractor. I told him I might have to schedule an appointment to straighten out my neck.

Me, I do crosswords, not counterpunches. My favorite combination is the No. 11 at Vallarta. Before Friday's debacle, my ring experience involved my tub and several shirt collars.

So you can see why the results are as black-and-blue as an Odalis Perez start. At least I accomplished my goal, which was to answer the bell. And not throw up in the ring.

Augusta Boxing Club's Tom Moraetes and Elbert Maddox served as my mentors, teaching me the basic one (left jab), the two (straight right), the one-two, one-two-one, one-two-one-two. The only numbers I remember now are referee Linda De La Paz's five, six, seven, eight.

More than once during my brief training, Maddox implored me "not to start throwing John Wayne punches" -- you know, the ones from way out in the country.

I would have settled for some Mel Brooks hooks.

As the one-sided fight ended, and my wobbly legs began to regain their sturdiness, Roberts' corner man came by to wish me well. Or to see if I wanted to go again.

"Did I at least get one shot in?" I asked him. I didn't want my boxing career to end in a shutout.

"Oh yeah, you got a couple of blows in," he said. "You were tough."

Funny, because I sure don't recall connecting. I do recall slipping three times in the first, getting a standing eight count (much to Moraetes' disagreement), telling Maddox in the corner that I was hyperventilating and had a throbbing headache that might never cease.

There were other nervous neophytes who entered these Georgia Games on a whim. James Dalberg, a 17-year-old rising senior at A.R. Johnson, told me he wants to study engineering at Georgia Tech. In his mismatched 178-pound fight, Dalberg got dropped in less than a minute.

Redhead Ben Esser, a 19-year-old ditch digger for Williams Moisture, signed up a week ago and trained by sparring eight two-minute rounds. It took 30 seconds before the 147-pound Esser found a right hand to his disliking.

"If there were no such thing as the Georgia Games, I wouldn't be able to do this," Esser said as he shadowboxed in front of the dressing room mirror. "This is sort of like a dream come true. I got to do some real boxing."

I'm not going to go as far as say I did some real boxing. I didn't take a dive, and I discovered my threshold for blows to the face is eight. Roberts thanked me for the fight, and I thanked him for his charity in not rearranging my face. He only bruised it.

I now turn my efforts toward tennis. So attention: Those participating in the wheelchair mixed doubles this morning at Newman Tennis Center. If you see a guy walking with a steak over his eye, please take pity on him.

Rick Dorsey can be reached at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.


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