A native of the tough Brownsville section of Brooklyn, at age 25, Riddick Bowe was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. He knocked out 28 of his first 31 opponents. Many observers thought that the 10th round of his championship fight, a brutal slugfest, against Evander Holyfield was the greatest single round in heavyweight history. In 42 fights, he was never defeated. He had dinner with Nelson Mandela in South Africa and an audience with the Pope in 1993. He was grand marshal of the Macy’ Day parade, and a regular on the Tonight Show. Two months after retiring, he joined the Marine Corps, where he lasted 11 days in basic training before quitting. Several months later, his marriage fell apart, and his wife left him, taking the children with her. He kidnapped the wife and children, and served 15 months in jail for interstate domestic violence. He gained weight in prison, ballooning to 330 pounds. Upon his release, he began his comeback – starting on an Indian reservation, in a barren field, with a crowd of 2,500. Is this because, like so many boxing champions, he has squandered the fortune he won while at the top of his career – perhaps like another heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, also a graduate of the Brownsville school of tough knocks – who squandered a fortune of $400 million and ended up bankrupt. Not at all, the pathetic man, probably brain damaged, 37 years old and overweight, staging the pathetic comeback, is actually a rich man, probably worth about $20 million from the $80 million he earned as a boxer. He owns six homes. It’s not about the money. “This is what I was born to do. I miss the cameras. I miss talking to you guys. This is what gives me life, this is what makes me happy. So to tell me to stop fighting is telling me to die. I died eight years ago (when he stopped boxing) now I’m coming back to life.

— Riddick Bowe  

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