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Sat Jul 28, 2012, 07:59 PM

A Wolfe in Sweet Clothing

This is one of those essays that I could post in any number of forums on the Democratic Underground. It involves a “big name” in the sport of boxing; spirituality; economics; the media; and even sex and race. But I’ve decided to post it in General Discussion, because I’m hoping that as many friends and associates here will read and enjoy it.

I have a friend named Ann Wolfe …..and most people who know of her, probably know very little about the real her.

Some sports fans may remember seeing her May 8, 2004 bout against the much larger Vonda Ward. If you didn’t see it on live television, you’ve probably seen it on some highlight clip. Ann, standing 5’ 9”, and holding the junior middleweight and super middleweight titles in women’s boxing, challenged the undefeated, 6’ 6” light heavyweight champion, Vonda Ward.

Ward had played college basketball for four years in Tennessee, before taking up the Great Sport. She was widely recognized as one of the two best female fighters in the sport. None of her previous opponents had exposed any faults or weaknesses in her style -- she had solid offensive and defensive skills.

Very few people gave Ann Wolfe any chance in that fight. But I remember my son Darren saying that he had seen Wolfe fight before, and that she had something indefinable about her that made him think she had a very real chance. And after a minute into the first round, Ann landed what is known as the hardest single punch in women’s boxing. She scored a brutal knockout, that sent Ward to the hospital with a serious neck injury.

Soon after winning that third title, Ann would retire. She is now known as the trainer of junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland. His record is 31 - 1, with 27 KO victories. Ann’s intense mental and physical training methods place her slightly outside of the boxing mainstream, much as Cus D’Amato’s had.

The media has a field day with Ann: she’s a strong black woman on the outside of a sport that generates the highest paydays, although it has been marginalized by polite society. And the taped pre-fight interviews with her are always edited to highlight every cuss word she may utter. For polite society fears nothing more than a tough, angry black female who swears.

But that’s not the Ann Wolfe that I’m coming to know. What stands out first and foremost is her absolute love and devotion to her family. And her intelligence. She has her Ph.D. in the streets of hard knocks. Still, when I read a note from Ann yesterday, even I -- as grumpy an old pug as life has ever produced -- was surprised.

Ann was going to pick up a couple items in a store, after spending time in the gym. She was tired, and not particularly pleased to find herself at the end of the long, lone check-out isle. A young man at the counter was a few pennies short of what he needed to pay for his goods, and the cashier was being rude. No one in line offered to give this fellow a few cents, until Ann did. As it turned out, the guy had a wife and small children, and the family was down-on-its-luck broke. This father couldn’t afford to buy his two itty-bitty children the food they needed. Until he encountered Ann Wolfe.

What really stood out -- along with my friend’s big heart -- was her outrage that we live in a society where people are silent when they see a fellow human being in need. That, and the very real concern Ann felt for this family’s future.

My father used to tell me about his great aunt, when our extended family lived in Nutley, NJ. The family worked on the railroads. During the Great Depression, those human beings known as “hobos” would ride the rails, from city to city, town to town, looking for some work, some pay, and a good meal. The hobos used to mark the sidewalks or fences in front of a friendly house with an “X.” My family’s house had such an X.

Dad’s great aunt learned the hobos by name, for she knew they were real people, with real needs. My grandfather and his brothers were not pleased when she gave these hobos their best coats and clothes (while they were at work). Dad told me that she would explain to them that these hobos were actually Jesus in disguise.

I like that. And so I told my friend Ann Wolfe that the man she helped -- and that others ignored -- was Jesus. And I mean it. Not the stained-glass window Jesus, or some carpenter who lived some 2,000 years ago half-way around the globe. But the human Jesus that is homeless, or incarcerated, unfed and ill-clothed in a society of plenty.

My friends from polite society sometimes ask me how I could possibly like boxing? It’s the good people in the sport. And Ann Wolfe is a great example.

23 replies, 4362 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply A Wolfe in Sweet Clothing (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2012 OP
msanthrope Jul 2012 #1
H2O Man Jul 2012 #7
PDJane Jul 2012 #2
H2O Man Jul 2012 #8
Coexist Jul 2012 #3
H2O Man Jul 2012 #12
MiddleFingerMom Jul 2012 #4
The Doctor. Jul 2012 #5
annabanana Jul 2012 #6
mmonk Jul 2012 #9
riverbendviewgal Jul 2012 #10
heaven05 Jul 2012 #11
LineReply X
grantcart Jul 2012 #13
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #14
NNN0LHI Jul 2012 #15
H2O Man Jul 2012 #19
NNN0LHI Jul 2012 #20
H2O Man Jul 2012 #22
The Wizard Jul 2012 #16
The Wizard Jul 2012 #17
spanone Jul 2012 #18
lunatica Jul 2012 #21
Jazzgirl Jul 2012 #23

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 08:03 PM

1. Proud to be the first kick on this great thread. nt

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 11:28 AM

7. Thanks!

I liked writing this OP. I was hoping that folks here would enjoy reading it.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 08:27 PM

2. Second kick. We need more like Ann and the wisdom to see them.

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Response to PDJane (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 11:38 AM

8. Much appreciated.

The networks that carry boxing present Ann as a tough gal who tells her fighter to "get fucking busyin there!" And that is part of her.

But just a part.

I may do an interview with her about her experiences with poverty and homelessness, and her thoughts on social justice. That's a big part of the culture of boxing .....not the people that promote the fights, for they are too often parasites ...... but those men and women who have inhabited the margins of society.

You hit the nail on the head: there ARE many, many good and wise people out there. We should recognize them for what they are. And we have to realize that very, very few of them are political candidates.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 08:55 PM

3. Hobo symbol for "a kind hearted woman lives here"



Thank you for sharing this story

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Response to Coexist (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 04:14 PM

12. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 09:21 PM

4. I was preparing for my show at the radio station one night when the doorbell rang.

.
.
.
The two hosts of the weekly LGBT show (partners and two of my favorite people at the station -- and beyond)
answered the door before I could get there. It was a homeless woman who was carrying a small cardboard box
with some pine bough ends and a couple of flowers in it -- pretty obviously something she had just put together
on our street without any craft skills whatsoever -- it was sad. She asked if they wanted to buy it.
.
I rolled my eyes. I almost certainly would have said "no, thank you" and sent her on her way. My two friends
invited her in and spoke with her for a while (it was obvious that she was mentally challenged). They were so
gentle and kind and eventually pooled their money and bought the box for $20.
.
Sometimes people, without even intending to, can motivate and inspire others, I was acutely aware of both
the strength of their character AND the weakness in my own.
.
.
.
Thanks for this post. It brought back some very special memories. I think this was the right place to put it
(though I think it would have been suitable for GD, too).
.
.
.

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Response to MiddleFingerMom (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 09:43 PM

5. Introspection is among the most powerful tools

 

for shaping oneself that a person can employ.

But it requires an admirable quotient of humility to use it.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2012, 09:58 PM

6. I'm glad you put this in GD.

You bring it all back around to the center. Where it belongs.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 12:02 PM

9. Recommended.

In these times of need, more should follow her example and more should be concerned with eradication of the problem. Sweet indeed.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:13 PM

10. Great Post

You made me look up Ann Wolfe on google I watched her knockout of Ward and listened to her interview.

I am not into boxing but I admire people who care about people.. Ann does and I like your story about your aunt...Hobos were Jesus in disguise....

All of us should remember your story when you see the next person in a checkout line..

I love the Canadian feeling that we are all in this boat together.

and we are.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 03:28 PM

11. ok

there is some love out there.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 06:30 PM

13. X

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 10:30 PM

14. One of the great things about sport

At least for people on the inside - you are exposed to an incredible variety of people, in all sorts of situations - and you get to see how grace, honesty, and intelligence pay off in the long run. And you see the corrosion of the soul, and inevitable departure, of the greedy, mean, loud and cheap.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 10:40 PM

15. I haven't been able to watch boxing since seeing Duk Koo Kim die in the ring in 1982

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Response to NNN0LHI (Reply #15)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 08:39 AM

19. It is often brutal.

I read your post yesterday, a couple of times actually, and then once again this morning. I'll likely repeat some things that I've said before on this forum while responding.

My brothers and I were teenagers when we used to travel around NYS, boxing in one city, then the next. My oldest brother and I fought; our middle brother trained/ managed us. We were always fighting in the other guys' home towns. We were friends with most -- though definitely not all -- of the other fighters.

One night, a friend got beat to death in the ring. I remember, on the ride home, thinking, "Poor Frank!" But not making any connection between his brutal death and what I did. I hear some boxers today talk about that risk, but I know that no young man thinks it can happen to them .... and once you are able to make that connection, you simply have to bury it deeply away from your conscious mind.

I watched the Duk Koo Kim bout. It could have been prevented. The referee, Kim's corner, the ringside doctor, the commissioner ..... what the fuck were they thinking? Years later, watching a bout on tv, I told my sons that one fighter was going to die if the fight wasn't stopped. And he did. If I could see it, how could the ref et al not?

My middle brother despises the sport today, because of that brutality. Our older brother is a living corpse in a wheel chair; he recognizes me every so ften, and has some brief moments of clear thinking. But they are few and far between. I remember years ago, him calling me late one night, to say he was scared, because he knew the punches to the head were taking his mind away.

Tomorrow, I'll be making my monthly trip to a specialist, who monitors the damage boxing did to my central nervous system. In a week, I'll be on a new medication; after two weeks, I'll be hospitalized for at least a week. Just the opposite of my brother -- my mind is clear (well, pretty clear), but I am trapped inside a body that just doesn't work right. And there are nights when it is scary to think about what lies ahead.

Yeah, it's a brutal sport. I agree 100%. There are changes that can and should be made. But, all in all, I wouldn't change a thing about my life.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #19)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 09:17 AM

20. Thank you for reading and understanding my post

I wasn't trying to criticize anyone with what I said. And I knew you were someone who was intelligent enough to understand that. Or I probably wouldn't have posted it.

I also boxed when I was young. No Golden Gloves or anything like that. Just a guy with kids of his own who used to give classes on the correct way the sport should be done in our elementary school a couple of evenings a week. Nothing ever brutal. I really enjoyed it too. Wouldn't change that for anything even if I could.

My real fighting was done on playgrounds or at school ball fields. I usually always lost. But occasionally I would win one. But I discovered something. Didn't make any difference if I won or lost. I felt like hell afterwards no matter if I won or lost. I felt like I lost even when I won.

Same thing Ray Mancini discovered in the ring. He won the fight. But he still lost. Mancini was never the same after that fight with Kim. I think he eventually admitted that. But it wasn't necessary. I could just look in his eyes and tell that was the case.

Take care and see you later.

Don

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Response to NNN0LHI (Reply #20)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 03:51 PM

22. Another ex-fighter

who dislikes the sport is my friend Rubin. And for all the same reasons that we've identified, in terms of brutality.

Maybe I've told you this before, but after the death in the Mancini fight, Carter wrote to the various commissions. Move the bottom rope back three inches, so that unconscious fighters don't suffer whiplash as they go down. Though not a factor in that particular fight, Carter was able to identify a number of other high-profile deathes that resulted from this.

The commissions ignored him. It would be an easy change to make, but the commissions and promoters and most managers view fighters as sub-human.

Rubin then wrote to Angelo Dundee, who heartily endorsed the recommendation. But the commissions refused to budge.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 12:05 AM

16. "Never treat a brother

like a passing stranger.
Always try to keep that love light burning.
Listen closely to his song and watch his eyes,
For he might be the Prince of Peace returning."
(Leon Russell, Prince of Peace Returning, 1970)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 12:15 AM

17. So I'm at the cafeteria

in the VA hospital and a young girl with a mental deficit is in front of me trying to count the money necessary to pay for her cup of yogurt, and having great difficulty. So I intervened and paid for it. She was so grateful and it made my day, but more importantly, it made hers. She works there doing menial chores and no one ever paid her any attention. She probably forgot about it by now, but I never will. Random acts of kindness lift the spirits of all. One other thing I do at the hospital is offer to guys in wheel chairs a push. It doesn't cost me a dime.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 12:58 AM

18. k&r...

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 09:22 AM

21. Thanks for another uplifting story

It's great advice.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 04:18 PM

23. Sniffle...

Great OP Mr. Waterman. As usual.

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