One of the saddest things I've heard in a long time: An 84-year-old setting up a programme to help boxers fallen on hard times.
That's referencing the recent death of Jimmy Peau — Jimmy Thunder, to give him his boxing name — who approached 84-year-old trainer and promoter Thell Torrence in the United States.
Peau was broke and homeless and asked Torrence for a handout so he could go to the Nevada Boxing Commission to set the wheels in motion so he could get a job.
He didn't go to the commission but reappeared later, telling the truth when Torrence inquired. That was Peau — almost innocently open and honest; a genuinely nice guy, softly spoken and easygoing outside the ring. He had his moments in the ring, too — in his US career, he beat three former world champions in Trevor Berbick, Tim Witherspoon and Tony Tubbs.
This week, Peau was gone at 54, victim of a brain tumour. It's not clear if the tumour was a result of his boxing career; few would rule it out.
The shock of his passing was amplified by the ongoing lack of action by world boxing to look after old fighters — particularly those, like Peau, who don't quite make it to top level. It's largely left to people like Torrence, though how much an individual can do is questionable, particularly at 84.
The boxer on the skids is so much a cliché, we barely listen these days to the latest tale of untold millions lost. Some post-career damage is self-inflicted — Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield worked their way through US$400 million and US$250m fortunes to end up with virtually nothing.
Poor or crooked management, bad business investments, greedy family members, the taxman, drugs, booze, lack of education/smarts and other possible causes can be blamed.
For every Tyson and Holyfield, there are astute operators such as former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis, George Foreman and Wladimir Klitschko whose wealth is intact.
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But they are the top guys; it's the next level down where the end of a boxing career can do the most damage. Basketball, baseball, American football, rugby and league have made efforts to prepare players for when their sporting career is over; boxing needs to do the same.
Peau didn't earn millions but was our first modern heavyweight with an international reputation, before David Tua and Joseph Parker. Never a truly big heavyweight, Peau nevertheless had a thunderous hook (hence the ring name) and a sculpted body. He won the gold medal at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, beating local hope Doug Young, turning pro a few years later. Those of us covering that fight leapt from our seats when Peau, behind on points, found a punch to knock out Young.
He was fast and, for a time, looked like a real prospect, although it became clear his defence could be penetrated and he did not always take a punch well. Peau lost five of his last six fights and fell on hard times, living rough in Vegas in 2010.
He recovered but came back to New Zealand after it was reported he'd been jailed in the US for assault and battery and bodily harm convictions.
His death may ignite those who campaign against boxing because of fatalities. While that is undeniably sad, so too is the hell-on-earth of boxers who end up with nothing. They include the great Joe Louis, whose funeral in 1981 had to be financed by former opponent Max Schmeling.
But boxing, too, often fails its survivors. It's the big, looping, sucker punch of the sport — the mirage that the fight can go on for ever and the lack of a Plan B when the gloves have to be hung up.
There are retirement funds but they fall short. A California scheme pays boxers over 50; the cash flow depends on how many times the boxer fought in California. In Peau's case — zero; he was under 50 when he was in need, so wouldn't have qualified anyway.
The Association of Boxing Commissions' Retired Fighter Charitable Fund has over US$5m in funds, most of it untouched, according to some reports. Funds are only dispersed to fighters who retired after physical or mental injury. Peau simply drifted away; he wouldn't have qualified for that either.
Death in the sport is as indefensible as it is occasionally inevitable. But you can make an argument that boxing saves as many lives as it takes — like the richest of them all, Floyd Mayweather, whose grim life was typified by his father once using him as a human shield. Or Manny Pacquiao, who grew up fighting in the streets in the Philippines, earning about $2 to buy rice.
It's the also-rans, the not-quite-good-enoughs such as Peau who maybe suffer most. When they climb through the ropes for the last time, they have little to look forward to. Some, like New Zealand's Shane Cameron and his gym business, successfully cater for the future.
We, the fans, are also to blame. We see the glamour, the hoo-ha and the money, and we love, more than anything, a knock-'em-down, drag-'em-out scrap. We don't worry too much about the effects on someone's career consisting of too many blows to the head. When the fighter's day is done, we forget them, accomplices in allowing boxing to do the same.
We can hope Jimmy Peau rests in peace but maybe a better outcome would be that boxing does more for those who survive the sport but not the death of their career. Don't hold your breath.