DOES PANAMA DESERVE ANOTHER CHANCE?
San Francisco, CA– There are very few guys around that can mold raw talent into that of a champion. Deceased trainers Ray Arcel, Freddie Brown, they were two all time great teachers. They were eastern legends while on the left side of the US was LA’s Jackie McCoy. These were the “old school” guys that could turn chicken s*it into chicken soup. Arcel and Brown I’m told, taught the art of teaching boxing to Carlos “Panama” Lewis. Infamous? Lewis was convicted of taking the padding out of the boxing gloves of Luis Resto before a 1983 bout with the late Billy Collins Jr. . He would spend 2 ½ years of a six year sentence in prison. Resto spent about the same time behind bars.
LAX NY COMMISSION FACILITATED CRIMINAL ACT A removal of an ounce of padding in each glove resulted into what amounts to two gloveless fists busting up Collins’ facial bones, destroying his vision, and thus ending his promising career. It was one of the most despicable moments I had ever witnessed in my decades of watching prizefights, that night at the defunct Main St. Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on Closed Circuit TV. Collins, 101-7 as an amateur, drove his car off a road and died nine months later. He was 14-0 when he met the light puncher Resto at Madison Square Garden.
MANY HAVE CALLED FOR LEWIS’ HEAD
From that June day in 1983 forward, I’ve been a backer of the 49 states (Pennsylvania has licensed Lewis) that “banned Lewis for life.” Once I wrote, “They should tie him to a cactus in the Nevada desert and pour Coca Cola all over him, let the ants just eat him alive.”
ALMOST WENT TO BLOWS ONCE
I told Panama all of the above and more at the Mike Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr. weigh in that took place at in Philadelphia. It got so heated that people witnessing the event said after that they thought we would go to blows. Having seen a few times over the years, we’ve never talked.
FRAGMENTED COLLINS FAMILY TODAY
Billy parents, Billy and wife Bettye Collins are still together and live in Antioch, Tennessee. Collins did have a child, Alisha, shortly after the Resto assault with then wife Andrea Collins-Nile. The former daughter inlaw and the Collins’ are estranged. Last year the Estate of Billy Collins Jr. filed suit against the New York State Athletic Commission, the filing coincided with a documentary film release entitled, “Cornered.”
COMMISSION AT FAULT SANS QUESTION
The lead Inspector signed off on the gloves, this even though he wasn’t there when they were put on. The tampering took place under the auspices of the New York State Athletic Commission. Shouldn’t they be held responsible? One trial resulted in a hung-jury. If Collins-Nile is successful in a bid for a new trial, look at once for an out of court settlement. Whether by accident, blunder, or chicanery, it was the failure of the NYSAC that led to Collins taking the beating that he did.
THE $640,000 QUESTION
That being said, is it now the time to/ relicense Panama Lewis? Murderers spend less time in prison in a lot of instances. If Panama had intentionally run somebody over with a car, you don’t think that 25+ years later he’d be forbidden to drive. Of course had Lewis been a rapist, he probably wouldn’t be allowed be allowed to work in an OBGYN clinic. I say….yes! Your call, grant him a Assn. of Boxing Commissions license or not?
Note: Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, TV commentator, radio talk show host, former San Francisco Policeman and four-time Golden Gloves champion. Comments regarding this submission can be left below.