McClellan Accept Award!
Friday night, the Boxing Writers Association of America held
its annual awards banquet. The ceremony was a moment for the
sport of boxing to take deep pride in and feel profound shame
all at the same time. Pride in recognizing the work of photographer
Teddy Blackburn whose efforts to help Gerald McClellan is
an example of the very best the human spirit has to offer.
Shame because the sport that we love has given McClellan a
life of darkness and has failed to provide for his medical
The highlight of the New York City affair came when Blackburn
was honored with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award for his years
of friendship and heroic efforts to provide for McClellan,
a former middleweight champion who suffered serious brain
injuries in a 1996 bout against Nigel Benn. McClellan, who
is cared for by his two sisters, now requires constant attention.
Blackburn and McClellan received a standing ovation as they
came on stage to accept the award. McClellan, blind and mostly
deaf, was wheeled on stage by his sister Lisa (the other sister
did not make the trip from their Illinois home). Although
the award went to Blackburn only, the soft-spoken photographer
told the crowd, "this award is for Gerald."
The presentation of the award capped an emotional day in which
many in the boxing industry came to pay tribute to McClellan
both at the dinner and beforehand in his hotel room. Lou DiBella
brought several of the young boxers he advises to meet McClellan.
The former WBC and WBO middleweight champion, still a competitor
at heart, brightened up noticeably whenever a fellow boxer
stepped forward to shake his hand.
rare public appearance overshadowed Bernard Hopkins and Bouie
Fisher, the boxer and trainer of the year, respectively, for
their accomplishments in last year's middleweight championship
tournament. With Fisher in his corner, Hopkins beat reigning
world champs Keith Holmes and the previously-unbeaten Felix
Trinidad to unify the middleweight title. Ricardo Maldonado
was named manager of the year, largely in recognition of his
work on behalf of Marco Antonio Barrera and Teddy Atlas was
honored for his broadcasting work on ESPN2.
Fisher and Hopkins worked together for more than a decade,
culminating in Hopkins' knockout defeat of Felix Trinidad
last September. Since then, however, Hopkins and Fisher have
become estranged. At the awards ceremony, they were seated
separately at tables located on opposite sides of The Supper
Club. Noticeably, the seventy-four year old Fisher did not
mention Hopkins’ name during his acceptance speech.
Hopkins thanked Fisher during his speech but made a point
of mentioning that Fisher could not have won the award if
Hopkins didn't execute their plan in the ring. Hopkins also
repeated that Sloan Harrison was his new trainer. Prior
to receiving his award, the controversial middleweight champion
refused to autograph a boxing glove that will be auctioned
off to raise money for McClellan. In contrast, all three former
world champions in attendance besides McClellan, Iran Barkley,
Juan LaPorte and Chris Byrd, all donated their signatures
to McClellan’s cause.
last year's dinner, held months before he knocked out Trinidad,
Hopkins graciously signed every photograph that was put in
front of him as he watched Trinidad accept the fighter of
the year award for 2000.