Thursday, August 6, 2009

HBO Boxing Doc's Nashville Connection

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 12:00 PM

In 1983, an unheralded journeyman named Luis Resto won a unanimous 10-round decision in Madison Square Garden against then-undefeated welterweight Billy Collins Jr. When Collins father went to shake Resto's hand afterwards, he felt only leather. A subsequent investigation by the New York State Boxing Commission revealed that Resto's trainer, Panama Lewis, had removed two ounces of padding from his gloves. In 1986, both trainer and fighter were convicted of assault, conspiracy and criminal possession of a deadly weapon (Resto's fists). The verdict came three years after Collins crashed his car into a culvert in Antioch, dying just miles outside his hometown of Nashville. Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman chronicled the Resto-Collins bout in his 1998 story "Bare Knuckles." Now comes HBO's spellbinding doc "Assault in the Ring." Above is the trailer, and if you follow this link you'll find a scene from early in the film, when Resto, having lost his wife, kids and any hope of ever returning to the ring, confronts his old trainer. As pointed out by Deadspin, Lewis promises to help his destitute former fighter once he gets back on his feet, even though he's covered in gold jewelry... As you might expect, Collins is not the only boxing tragedy to come out of Nashville. Clint "The Sheriff" Jackson was on the '76 Olympic team with Sugar Ray Leonard and Leon Spinks. He got his nickname by working as a deputy alongside the legendary Fate Thomas. Today he's serving a life sentence in an Alabama penitentiary, the result of a botched kidnapping where he tried to hold the vice president of a local bank hostage for $9,000. If you ask the trainers at Boxing Resource in East Nashville, they'll tell you Jackson's life started going downhill when Randy King died in a car crash on I-40. King was like a son to Jackson, and was promising enough to be considered a contender for gold in the '84 games. Just to complete the triumvirate of tragedy, if you're ever stopped by an older black man named Roscoe, looking for change or a ride, just know that you're talking to a man who, in his younger years, went the distance with Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker. As Joe Frazier once said, in boxing you get your brain shook, your money took and your name on the undertaker's book. And that's as true in Nashville as it is anywhere.

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