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#1
Old 04-08-2012, 12:01 AM
ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY
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Default The GREAT boxing people u never hear about!!

One of my first real life boxing idols...the most humble, most giving man I have ever met in this game...

GLADLY TAKING PUNCHES TO HELP YOUNG BOXERS
By HELEN UBINAS; Hartford Courant;

Oct 8, 2001
Muhammad Shabazz is San Juan Center's very own Pied Piper, a former hometown boxer who barely makes it inside the Hartford gym before he's surrounded by young men with big fists and bigger dreams.

"I got first," one fighter says.

"I'm after," says another.

"I'm after whoever's after."

"They come at you like flies," says Shabazz, visibly pleased with the popularity that sometimes makes it impossible for him to take off his backpack before boxers line up to hit the mitts.

Not everyone likes to do mitt work; it can get tiring, a little boring. But the way Shabazz sees it, if a fighter can go five rounds with the mitts, he can last 10 rounds in the ring. So he keeps his hands up as long as there are boxers who want to train, even if he has to take a hit from his asthma inhaler to keep going. Anything to be near the boxers, the fight.

He stopped fighting six years ago, partly because of age, partly because of chronic asthma. But boxing is an addiction, Shabazz says, that keeps him coming back to the gym every day. He recognizes himself in the little boys who want to hit something, the older ones who want to hit hard.

"You're up, Mike," he calls out to a fighter (Mike Oliver) who's going to be making his professional debut in a few weeks.

"That's it. That's it," he tells him, ignoring the bag bouncing up and down on his back. His black leather backpack is filled with candy for the kids, a Burger King chicken sandwich he offers to anyone who looks hungry and a couple of old Jet magazines he hasn't gotten around to reading all the way through.

"Come on," he tells him. "Harder. Good. Good. You doing good."

He gives the boxers tips on posture, punches. Anyone who dares complain about being tired gets the "Gas in the Tank" speech: "If you don't take care of yourself, if you don't sleep and eat right and train, you're going to run out of gas. See, no matter how pretty the car is, if it doesn't have gas in it, it ain't gonna go nowhere, right? Same thing with your body."

He first heard that speech from one of his own trainers, a man who taught him a good trainer talks up his fighters -- even if they don't know they're fighters yet. Shabazz tells them he's never felt a harder jab, no matter if he's working with a seasoned boxer or a boxer wannabe.

"He hits hard," he says about 9-year-old Andrew Flores.

"He's going to be big."

And he rarely lets anyone pass without trying to recruit them into the sport.

"You wanna be a boxer?" he asks a girl who's more interested in getting into shape for her singing career than in being the next Christy Martin.

"You could fight," he says. "You could do it."

The girl laughs. So does John Scully, a professional boxer and trainer at the center.

"He's had more people leave thinking they're ready for the pros," Scully says, laughing at Shabazz's power of persuasion.

Scully has known Shabazz since he was 16, a teenager consumed by his own dreams of being a boxer. He once gave a speech about Shabazz in high school. He knows just about everything about him -- except for his age and record.

"Hey, Muhammad, what's your record?" Scully yells out.

Shabazz, who's working his way down a line of boxers, calls time and shoots Scully a mischievous look: "You know fighters never tell their age or give their real record," he says.

Shabazz, who is 43 and left boxing with a 15-15 record, fought as an amateur and pro for nearly 20 years. In 1978, he won a novice title in the Western Massachusetts Gold Glove Championships in Holyoke. He started fighting pro in 1979 and won his first three fights. But the typically bashful Shabazz was known most for the heart he showed in the ring. People still talk about his 1980 fight against New England light heavyweight champion Don Addison, who stopped him in the 11th round of a scheduled 12-round fight.

"You almost had him," they tell Shabazz.

Until that fight, he had only been as far as eight rounds in a match and the majority of his bouts had been four rounds. He was beating Addison but then got tired. Later, he came back and defeated "Tough" Tony Suero in 1981 in a 10-round decision.

One of his last fights, in 1994, was with the future world middleweight champion William Joppy. The fight was stopped -- something that still haunts Shabazz.

"I could have gone all the way," he says. He gets quiet for a minute, and then says, "But I guess all old fighters think that way."

Shabazz started volunteering at San Juan about seven years ago. He started off with a pair of old raggedy gloves. Scully collected $1 from everyone at the gym and got him a new pair. He gathered everyone in the middle of the gym and called Shabazz over.

"Listen," he told him. "We're sick of seeing you hold those nasty gloves."

"Oh man, I'm sorry," Shabazz said. "That's all I got."

He couldn't believe his eyes when Scully pulled out a pair of brand-new red ones for the resident "Mitt Man."

"It was like giving a little kid a brand-new bike," Scully recalls. It was the least he could do, he says, for someone he's looked up to for most of his own boxing career. It was Shabazz who taught him one of the sport's most important lessons. Scully was in high school when he first sparred with Shabazz, and he felt he got the best of him that day. He bragged about it at school the next day. The next time the two boxed, Shabazz delivered a body shot that took the wind right out of Scully.

"He taught me that every boxer can have a bad day. And it can be dangerous to judge him on that day," Scully says.

Shabazz, who lives in Hartford, works in construction now. He walks over to the Main Street gym every day after work. He used to walk there when he lived in East Hartford, too. The walk's shorter now, but his desire to be there is just as strong.

"You fight for so many years, you still want to be around fighters, even if you can't do it," he says.

"If the doctors said I could fight, I would get in the ring tomorrow. But you know, you get older, and you realize, `Wow, I'm fighting a lost cause.'"

Shabazz has a son, who he says isn't particularly interested in boxing, and two girls he hopes never develop a taste for it.

"Maybe I'm old-fashioned," he says. "Or maybe I know that if you fall for boxing, you don't pay attention to anything else."

Nearly three hours after walking into the gym, Shabazz has managed to work with every young man who approached him.

All except a new guy who called an early place on Shabazz's list, but then let others go ahead.

Finally, though, he approaches Shabazz, who gives him a quick lesson on how to stand and hold his gloves.

"Like you're holding up a ball," he says. "OK, come at me.

"Like you mean it. Come on."

The young man raises his right hand and throws a punch.

"Yeah. Yeah." Shabazz says, each time the fighter's glove lands on his mitts.

"Protect yourself. Chin down. Good. Good. You got it."
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#2
Old 04-08-2012, 12:41 AM
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good article showing the kindness that can happen in boxing gyms as vets try to help the youth achieve their dreams


Muhammad Shabazz is San Juan Center's very own Pied Piper, a former hometown boxer who barely makes it inside the Hartford gym before he's surrounded by young men with big fists and bigger dreams.

"I got first," one fighter says.

"I'm after," says another.

"I'm after whoever's after."

these parts made me think he was an old fighter used as a sparring partner until I read on
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#3
Old 04-08-2012, 10:51 AM
ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY
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Yeah, exactly, but its more than him just passing on knowledge to younger guys etc...this guy, its hard to describe...he has no money really...but he wants NOTHING for helping the kids...he used to be in the gym for free every day helping out and then when we would do amateur shows he would PAY to get in, even though I told him he didnt have to, that he was part of them team...
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY View Post
Yeah, exactly, but its more than him just passing on knowledge to younger guys etc...this guy, its hard to describe...he has no money really...but he wants NOTHING for helping the kids...he used to be in the gym for free every day helping out and then when we would do amateur shows he would PAY to get in, even though I told him he didnt have to, that he was part of them team...
wow. seems like a cool, humble guy.
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#5
Old 04-08-2012, 01:11 PM
edgarg
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He sounds a very likeable person. But he wants everybody to be a boxer...except his 2 daughters. And I wonder why he was so upset about the Joppy KO, it was just another KO. He'd already been KO's 4 times in his 5 previous fights...all losses. I saw this report a couple of years ago, and maybe even again before that.

This report can be inspirational for kids, and some of our champions got their start with such a guy..
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#6
Old 04-08-2012, 01:43 PM
ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY
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Originally Posted by edgarg View Post
He sounds a very likeable person. But he wants everybody to be a boxer...except his 2 daughters. And I wonder why he was so upset about the Joppy KO, it was just another KO. He'd already been KO's 4 times in his 5 previous fights...all losses. I saw this report a couple of years ago, and maybe even again before that.

This report can be inspirational for kids, and some of our champions got their start with such a guy..
Because boxers arent HAPPY to lose generally...I mean, u cant expect him to be happy with losing like that...
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