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Hometown Hero Devon Alexander: An Editor's Note

Categories: Community, Sports

cornerman.jpg
The opening spread from RFT's 2005 profile featuring "Alexander the Great."

Last week, Daily RFT published a brief post about the announcement that Don King Productions had booked the St. Charles Family Arena for a June 25 boxing card featuring hometown hero Devon Alexander.

The day after the post went up, RFT received a call from activist Anthony Shahid, who claimed the author of the post, Chad Garrison, had denigrated Alexander in the piece and, further, that the perceived slap at the boxer was racially motivated. Naturally, RFT's isn't the only number Shahid has dialed in the intervening days, and, not coincidentally, Shahid's wasn't the only call we received in that same time period.

Anthony Shahid has a knack -- some might say an enviable knack -- for shooting from the hip. But in this instance, his aim is off. Way off.

Neither Chad Garrison nor anyone else at RFT has any beef whatsoever with Devon Alexander. I'm truly sorry that people believe we do. Over the years, we've had a great appreciation for what Alexander has accomplished and what he represents to the community.

In fact, RFT has been covering Devon Alexander's boxing career since he was a senior at Vashon High School. Back then, in 2005, staff writer Ben Westhoff profiled local boxing trainer Kevin Cunningham, whose marquee fighter at the time was Cory Spinks. But the "new golden boy" in that 2005 story was Alexander, already nicknamed "Alexander the Great".

Wrote Westhoff:

Cunningham seems never to tire of touting his young star's academic prowess, in particular the fact that Devon will graduate with his class next month. (Two of Devon's older brothers, Lamar and Vaughn, work at Cunningham's gym and boast pro records of 10-1 and 5-0, respectively. 'Lamar and Vaughn are talented also. Devon's just a little more focused,' Cunningham assesses.)

Alexander says he intends to study business administration at a community college at some point, but not right now. When he talks about his future, he sounds a lot like his trainer: "Boxing taught me that hard work comes back to you. I don't really trip off of not being able to go to all the parties, because I already know that in the long run it'll pay off."

"That kid grew up in the ghetto and has never had a fight in his life outside the boxing ring," Cunningham marvels. "Kids like Devon come along once in a lifetime."

That same year, 2005, we tapped Alexander in our annual "Best of St. Louis" issue as "Best Local Boxer."

Last year, after Alexander fought at the Scottrade Center in another Don King event, we honored Alexander a second time as "Best Local Boxer."

And then a week ago Chad Garrison spread the word on our blog about the June 25 card. Noting that Alexander had lost the junior welterweight crown earlier this year, Garrison ventured to say that Don King's choice of venue, the St. Charles Family Arena, is better suited for the card than Scottrade, which had drawn a crowd of fewer than 10,000 when Alexander fought there last year.

Additionally, Garrison wrote that while Alexander is not fighting for a title this time, the undercard for the Family Arena show includes Ryan Coyne, a St. Charles High School grad who is facing off against champion Guillermo "El Filino" Jones of Panama for the WBA cruiserweight title. Garrison was of the opinion that the title fight might be "more interesting" than the main event.

Devon Alexander is black. Ryan Coyne is white. That's true, but so is the fact that one's fighting for a title and the other is not. Garrison would have written the same thing if both boxers had been black. Or if both were white. Or if the white boxer was the marquee name and the one who was fighting for a belt was black. Not all of us would agree that a Coyne title fight is more interesting than a fight featuring the more seasoned Alexander, but Garrison is entitled to his opinion.

As for Scottrade versus the Family Arena, why not look at it this way:

Home to the St. Louis Blues NHL franchise, Scottrade seats more than 20,000. If the June bouts draw like last year's card at Scottrade, the Family Arena will be approaching capacity -- and that will be a sight to behold.

For the record, I hope Alexander wins, and I look forward to RFT's future coverage of his career and his positive involvement in the local community. Same goes for Ryan Coyne.

For background on this story, check out our previous coverage:

* Ben Westhoff's 2005 profile, which features a young Devon Alexander
* Alexander's 2005 award for "Best Local Boxer"
* Alexander's 2010 award for "Best Local Boxer"
* Other stories include this play-by-play of his Scottrade fight and this account of Alexander's visit to City Hall
* The RFT's 2003 profile of Anthony Shahid


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jackie washington
jackie washington

DON'T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW!!!!! WHO THE HELL ARE YOU ANY WAY PROBABLY A LOSER MR. ANTHONY SHAHID IS A WORLD WIDE KNOWN ACTIVIST RESPECTED BY PEOPLE WHO YOU WOULD LOVE TO JUST GET A DAMN AUTOGRAPH FROM CALLING THIS MAN FOR HELP ON  ALL KIND OF ISSUES..ITS NOT ABOUT BLK AND WHITE BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY MR.ANTHONY SHAHID DOES FIGHT FOR HIS PEOPLE TO BE TREATED FAIRLY WITH EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES JUST AS THE WHITES HAVE PEOPLE IN THEIR CORNERS TO MAKE SURE THEY EXCEED TO THE HIGHEST NO OTHER BLACK MAN IN ST.LOUIS HAS THE COURAGE THAT HE HAS TO STAND UP TO YOU CRACKERS AND CHECK YOUR ASSES AND FRANKLY YOU HUNKIES ARE INTIMIDATED LIKE HELL OF HIM!!!! & YES HE'LL TAKE THAT AWARD TO GO WITH THE THOUSANDS OF OTHERS HE'S EARNED OVER THE YRS WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?? WHO THE HELL EVEN KNOWS YOU LOL

Anonymous
Anonymous

Nothing sells tickets like hype,and very few things hype like race.Don King is playing you for fools and laughing all the way to the bank.

KittyLitterKing
KittyLitterKing

So the rumors that Garrison is using his vacation to attend a "Whites First" camp in mid-Missouri are untrue?

B_
B_

Sounds like Anthony Shahid should win the biggest racist award in the 2011 "Best of Awards".  He certainly earned it. 

guest
guest

DON'T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW!!!!! WHO THE HELL ARE YOU ANY WAY PROBABLY A LOSER MR. ANTHONY SHAHID IS A WORLD WIDE KNOWN ACTIVIST RESPECTED BY PEOPLE WHO YOU WOULD LOVE TO JUST GET A DAMN AUTOGRAPH FROM CALLING THIS MAN FOR HELP ON  ALL KIND OF ISSUES..ITS NOT ABOUT BLK AND WHITE BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY MR.ANTHONY SHAHID DOES FIGHT FOR HIS PEOPLE TO BE TREATED FAIRLY WITH EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES JUST AS THE WHITES HAVE PEOPLE IN THEIR CORNERS TO MAKE SURE THEY EXCEED TO THE HIGHEST NO OTHER BLACK MAN IN ST.LOUIS HAS THE COURAGE THAT HE HAS TO STAND UP TO YOU CRACKERS AND CHECK YOUR ASSES AND FRANKLY YOU HUNKIES ARE INTIMIDATED LIKE HELL OF HIM!!!! & YES HE'LL TAKE THAT AWARD TO GO WITH THE THOUSANDS OF OTHERS HE'S EARNED OVER THE YRS WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?? WHO THE HELL EVEN KNOWS YOU LOL

Anonymous
Anonymous

For the record... We're called "HONKIES" not "HUNKIES".

Uneedgas
Uneedgas

I hate to hear in 2011 that we still are talking about black and white issues. The only color that matters in this is green and Devon is making plenty ! So forget the racial stuff and come out and show the world on HBO stl is a true fight town!

anonymous
anonymous

yes, the surest way to eliminate racism is by ignoring it. killer stuff, keep it coming. learned so much.

not a lot of good fighters at cruiserweight. if you're that big and have a pulse you're a contender at heavyweight any more.

i don't think garrison was being racist--and alexander could have elided the conversation entirely by performing better against tim bradley, who he really had no business losing to--but this is a society built on racism, and one in which white fighters are bigger draws than their skill typically merits (ivan robinson dominated gatti twice; don't hold your breath waiting for the major motion picture about him), so i'll forgive st. louis' black people for being suspicious. more likely he doesn't know anything about boxing.

DYarborough
DYarborough

"Society built on racism"...and thanks to people like you that's all it will ever be.  No opportunity will ever be great enough that you can't ignore.  No accomplishment you can achieve without the crutch of racism too great. People like you will perpetuate the racist mindset because it enables you to find an excuse for everything you fail at, every opportunity you can't capitalize on.  Bigotry is wrong and can never be excused no matter who it is against, whites included.  It's so easy to just put the blame on someone esle: whites, society, the government, the whole racial "consipiracy" that keeps blacks down.  Sure, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, and Oprah Winfrey (to name a few) have all achieved great success...but we all know that was only because they were really house n*ggers right...just like Rep. El Amin said recently? Hypothetically, I want you to consider something very very carefully.....what if there is no racial consipiracy...no reason for "black people to be suspicious"?  What would logic require you to assert as the cause for all the "problems" you see being generated by the racism that this no longer there? For people like you Anonymous, racism is less a real problem (the way it is for most normal people) and more a handy dandy little tool you can pull out at will in rhetorics to shut down real debate about what's really wrong here - the question of culture and how "black" culture in this country is fundamentally broken and self-destructive.

It is broken and self-destructive because it has become dependent on racism and suffering as the identifying feature of an entire group of people.  Any association of people based on racism and suffering must obsess over it and maintain it otherwise they lose their identity.  Moving beyond racism and suffering (as numerous other groups of identified people have) consitutes real effort, real work, real success, and the need to be about something else.  It is difficult. Oh...and I'm a black man.

anonymous
anonymous

really eye-opening stuff. hopefully you can provide a jacket blurb for the next juan williams book.

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