By Michael Marley
Twenty seven years and counting but the punishment, the banishment of controversial boxing trainer Carlos “Panama” Lewis goes on.
Younger people may not be aware but on June 16, 1983, the night of the infamous Luis Resto-Irish Billy Collins bout at Madison Square Garden, the blinged to the max trainer was only 36 and riding high.
Lewis, having studied under the masterful Chickie Ferrara, seemed to be his generation's equivalent of Angelo Dundee or what Coach Freddie Roach is these days, a strategist and ring technician who had an incredible personal rapport with fighters of all descriptions.
Lewis was the mastermind in the corner of budding superstar Aaron "Hawk" Pryor before Pryor tumbled into despair through crack addiction.
Then came the revelation that the light hitting Resto's gloves had been tampered with, that some of the horse hair padding in the Everlasts had been removed, turning Resto into a power puncher who bruised and discolored the unbeaten Collins so badly that the lumps on his face had lumps.
Two weeks after the bout, New York revoked the licenses of the boxer and the trainer. The pair went to trial, were convicted and, ironically, both served time in an upstate prison named after a man named Collins.
Resto never boxed again and now, 27, years later, Lewis remains in a professional purgatory, permitted to tutor boxers in gymnasiums but unable to be in their dressing rooms or corners.
Only Pennsylvania and Florida have given Lewis a second chance and those licenses were not renewed. Florida claimed bureaucratic error in licensing Lewis and the gutsy commissioner in Pennsylvania (if memory serves it was Howard McCall) wound up getting sacked.
So purgatory is where Lewis' career resides.
But now, I've learned, the 64 year old trainer is preparing to move to Texas, where the Athletic Commission has been liberal enough to license boxers Antonio Margarito, Edwin Valero and Evander Holyfield when other jurisdictions either refused them or restricted their licenses.
If the Texas boxing board thinks the Margarito matter was a hot potato, wait until it gets Lewis' application for licensing.
(It's long been my personal view that some commission should grant Lewis a probationary license and then after review as to his conduct, either renew or deny it. I believe that three decades of banishment is sufficient punishment for his misdeed.)
Will the Lone Star State show some compassion after almost three decades of punishment for a boxing crime which Lewis steadfastly denies committing?
“I cannot refute a dead man (co-trainer Artie Curley),” Lewis said recently.
“It was Curley who wrapped both of Resto's hands. It was Curley who put on both of his gloves that night.
“Even Resto has said that. When Curley died, I became the fall guy. Dead men tell no tales.
“This put me in jail, this ruined my life. I have been banned for life, really, but under what grounds?”
Even in his limited sphere, fighters such as Mike Tyson, Francois Botha, Arturo Gatti and Zab Judah have hired Lewis to train them within the confines of a gym.
Lewis' health is questionable, his having had a heart attack in a boxing arena five years ago.
Lewis told me he plans to open up a gym in Houston and will live in that city.
Fireworks to follow.
He won't give up his fight but you have to wonder if Lewis is destined to go to his grave living in the shadows of shame.
How much punishment is enough for Panama?
Why is there a different standard for Margarito?
Michael Marley is the national boxing examiner for examiner.com. To read more stories by Michael Marley, Click Here .