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RAMOS' FINEST FIGHT: STARTING FOUNDATION; EX-BOXER UNTIRING IN EFFORTS, HAS FOUND SUPPORT.

Byline: MICHAEL ROSENTHAL / Boxing

Alex Ramos must have left me 20 messages over several months in hopes I could help in his efforts to establish a foundation for retired boxers, each message as polite as the next and each ending in two words: ``God bless.''

Ramos always did know how to fight.

``I don't never give up,'' he said with a laugh.

Apparently not.

Ramos was one of those can't miss champions-to-be who missed.

He was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, the year the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. As a pro, he developed a reputation as a skilled, hard-punching champion waiting to happen. However, drug and alcohol abuse got the better of him and ruined his career.

Ultimately, he found more serious trouble: He spent 22 months in prison for assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment involving an ex-girlfriend in February of 1988. Ramos said he buckled under the pressures of a sliding career, problems with his manager and women, and grief over the death of his mother.

``I just lost it,'' he said.

He resumed his career in 1990, at 28, but was never the same. His window of opportunity had closed, at least as it applied to boxing.

Ramos, bubbling with enthusiasm, fights on - for the retired-boxers foundation, an idea tossed around in the boxing world for years but one that has yet to take off.

At first, it seems as if Ramos is dreaming. He talks about building villages where ex-fighters can go to live, hospital care, rehabilitation centers, workout facilities, forcing boxing's powers that be to make pensions a part of the sport. The list goes on.

Then you talk to those with whom he's working and it doesn't sound so far-fetched.

First, Ramos, whose passion for the cause is infectious, has managed to put together a team of 30-plus high-powered volunteers to help him pull the project together. Among the players: fund-raisers, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, event organizers, computer experts. Again, the list goes on.

Two, Ramos - who ``knows everyone,'' marveled Joe Rodriguez, a fund-raiser and member of Ramos' team - has the backing of many big-name boxers who he befriended over the years, and other celebrities who have or said they will donate memorabilia to be sold at a fund-raising auction.

Ramos said he has items from the likes of Muhammad Ali as well as from many entertainers, Harry Belafonte, Shirley MacLaine and Ossie Davis among them.

The group also has a Christmas show, an amateur boxing event and possibly a fund-raising dinner at the Playboy Mansion in the works as it tries to build capital. Hugh Hefner is one of Ramos' supporters.

And, perhaps most significant, lawyers are working on a plan they hope will force promoters to earmark a portion of every purse for pensions.

Ramos, who started the project only a year ago, admits he has a long way to go. At the same time, he has that determination that prompted him to call a newspaper 20 times. It's that passion that could turn his dreams into reality.

``Alex believes so much in this, you can't help but get behind him,'' said Arland Dunn, who is in the financial-services business. ``These people are business owners, professionals who are very busy but are willing to give their time and energy to get this off the ground.

``. . . Alex has more intestinal fortitude than anyone I've ever known. I think it began in the ring, knowing that anything can be done if you have the guts to do it. That's what he's learned - to just keep going.''

Where does Ramos' passion come from? He remembers as a child meeting former heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, who couldn't remember his own name. And he knows former champions Wilfredo Benitez, Jerry Quarry and Bobby Chacon, who are lost in the world of pugilistic dementia.

These are his friends. And the foundation is his attempt to help them. Of course, he's helping himself at the same time.

Ramos, who said he's been sober for 2-1/2 years and is devoutly religious, described his life as a trip ``to hell and back.'' He doesn't like hell.

``It's easy to forget people in this sport,'' he said, ``but I'm not going to forget them.''

Ramos can be reached at (800) 732-5932. He also has a page on a Web site: www.globalaffairs.com.

Fighting mad: Emanuel Steward, now the former trainer of Oscar De La Hoya, insists he has no ill will toward the fighter. The same can't said for those around De La Hoya.

Steward was incensed over the implication he was trying to steal De La Hoya from promoter Bob Arum and deliver him to promoter Don King, a concept born when De La Hoya showed up at the King-promoted Evander Holyfield-Michael Moorer fight on Nov. 8.

Steward said such an idea is a product of Arum's imagination.

``It's 100 percent untrue,'' he said. ``It's a story that was made up to justify (his dismissal). They just started lying. I'm irate. And you can write that.

``. . . I've never done anything of that nature.''

Steward, who worked the Holyfield fight as a television commentator, said De La Hoya simply wanted to see a heavyweight title bout and insisted the fighter never made contact with King or anyone else connected with the production. He added that De La Hoya told Arum as much.

``I don't care if he's paranoid, don't slander me,'' Steward said.

Steward believes he was dismissed in good part because De La Hoya's father, Joel De La Hoya, wanted his son to spar more than he has under Steward. Where did he get that idea? According to Steward, from Roberto Alcazar, the fighter's original trainer who had been working under Steward.

``Backstabber,'' was the word Steward used to describe Alcazar, who is once again De La Hoya's head trainer.

No, Steward doesn't think much of Team De La Hoya at the moment.

By the way, Arum's people said he objected to the fact De La Hoya was in Las Vegas when he should be training for his Dec. 6 title defense against Wilfredo Rivera in Atlantic City, N.J. Not a bad point.

Notable omission: Chalky Wright, the former featherweight champion, was left off a list of top fighters from Los Angeles in last week's column.

Wright, whose real name was Albert Martin, was born in Durango, Mexico, but reared in the L.A. area. He went to the now-defunct Riis High.

Wright, who fought from 1928 to 1948, stopped Joey Archibald to win the title in 1941. He lost it to the great Willie Pep a year later. He fought the popular Enrique Bolanos three times, winning once.

Wright died at 45 in 1957 when he slipped in the bathtub and drowned while unconscious from a head injury.

Rabbit punches: Let's hope Foreman, 48, is serious about retirement. Big George, who's done so much for boxing, has taken enough punches. Of course, he's given a few good shots, too. Any opponent who took one will attest to that - if he can still talk.

COMING UP

Tuesday: On USA television, Shane Mosley of Los Angeles defends his IBF lightweight title against Manuel Gomez in El Paso, Texas. Also, Danny Romero takes on Roberto Lopez in a 10-round junior bantamweight bout.

Also Tuesday, Daryl Tyson faces Islander Lacepln in a 12-round junior welterweight bout in Asbury Park, N.J.

Saturday: Montell Griffen faces Mike Pearman in a 10-round light heavyweight bout in Las Vegas.

Dec. 1: At the Pond, Ed Mahone faces Ernesto Yety Moreno in a 10-round heavyweight bout. Also, Isidoro Chino Garcia takes on Danny Nunez in a 10-round flyweight matchup.

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Box

PHOTO Alex Ramos, left, scoring with a left during his active boxing days, wants to start an organization to help ex-fighters. He refuses to give up.

Daily News File Photo

BOX: COMING UP (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 24, 1997
Words:1321
Previous Article:PREP FOCUS: TWO POWERS DEFLATED EARLY.
Next Article:THE WEEK THAT WAS : DRAFT BLOWS IN.


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