Ask someone in the South to identify a popular personality with the name "Ray," and almost without exception, Mr. Charles will be the response. That response would certainly be appropriate, since Ray Charles' accomplishments are huge and fresh on our minds because of the recent Hollywood movie documenting his life story. There are others named "Ray" who also prompt attention when mentioned. Suggest the name "Sugar Ray," and instantly most will respond with "Robinson" or "Leonard" - both huge names in boxing. The name "Ray Mercer," although not as popular, is associated with boxing right here in Augusta. Ray Mercer has been very successful in the boxing ring.
Hopefully in the not too distant future, the name "Ray" will bring another young man's name to mind, Rayonta "Sting Ray" Whitfield who hails from Augusta. Ray Whitfield returned home Friday night to an excited hometown crowd in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. The boxing was great, but the hometown show offered by Ray highlighted the evening. It was great to see world-class action return to Augusta. Not since Vernon Forrest fought here in the '90s have we had the chance to watch live boxing. When a hometown fighter is participating, that is just icing on the cake - and how sweet it was! Whitfield displayed obvious talent mingled with class. It was nice to see a young man reap the rewards of hard work and dedication.
Augusta should be proud and seek to promote boxing on a larger scale. There have been numerous fighters from Augusta who have prompted national attention: Ray Mercer, Poncho Carter and Vernon Forrest just to name a few - and now Ray Whitfield. What a testament to boxing talent in Augusta, especially Tom Moraetes and the Augusta Boxing Club!
A special thanks to Ray Whitfield for coming home to share his talent.
Jerry Pitman, Martinez