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CHAMPIONS...CONNECTING DOTS

Updated: 11 hours ago

I was on the edge of not only my bed, sitting on a gold-colored 920-thread count sheet and looking past my spacious, bright living room to the earth-toned adjoining kitchen. Afternoon rays were bathing the Purple Heart hardwood flooring and streaming in from everywhere, especially from the 15-foot-high skylights. Whenever I asked Frank, my always calm and convivial contractor, if something could be done during the remodel, like knocking out a wall or removing a substantial chunk of the ceiling, he replied matter-of-factly, “Sure, why not?” His open-mindedness and zest to actualize my ideas were exceptional and highly valued. I poured lots of cash and passion into creating a peaceful environment where I could hear myself think and not think, and that wouldn’t remind me of all the altercations I had when I was with Yve, my business and personal partner. In addition to a Golden Retriever named Bear, we shared a 1934 Spanish-Art Deco house on one of LA’s prized beaches. It was a trophy property that I managed to wrangle for a song and a dance, yet I could never fully appreciate it — a house does not make a home.


About half a year later, after I packed my bags and Bear’s heart gave in, I found an oversized lot near Marina del Rey on which a raggedy 1950-something dwelling cried to be resurrected. I identified with its wail and gave my all to transform it. Melora, my assistant, interfaced with the contractors and vendors as I tended to business in Asia, Europe, and Eastern Europe. Except for 90% of all my personal photos being destroyed by a water inundation caused by a careless construction worker, the renovation went without a hitch and took about six months to complete. One could argue for staying busy because, thanks to my hectic schedule, the unfortunate loss that symbolically washed away my past didn’t have a chance to sink in consciously.


For nearly a year and a half, the Utopia I designed soothed and inspired me until my house of cards began to fall. As the adage goes, “When it rains, it pours.” American culture may have readied me to rise, but it didn’t inform me how to tumble and take the emotional blows life inevitably delivers. It’s easy to get cold-cocked when your eyes are spellbound, or you don’t know the warning signs to look out for, as was my case. Indeed, I could have used a wise and earnest mentor — Who can’t? Nonetheless, even though I knew it, I forged ahead by converting ignorance into a bullish purpose, to chase some hazy and perilous dream that mainstream media and uncountable others sold me on as a kid. Astonishingly, my game became multidimensional, comprising mega real estate deals and representation work for exceptional people, places, and inventions. Wrapped inside my entrepreneurial bubble was a romance I had cultivated for over a year in Paris, France. I was about to buy ourselves an apartment that overlooked the River Seine on Ile de la Cité. I didn’t even think to pinch myself to see if all these bedazzling dreams were real and consider their lifespan, probably because I didn’t dare to know. On one unforeseeable night, the s... hit the fan when, at dinner, I asked my French darling if she had added salt to my spinach.

Parisians are particular...big mistake! 


That was the first of the life cards that crashed and soon after brought me back to LA, to my bedside, stooped over and perplexed amidst the light amber beams of an abandoned afternoon, gently kissing the kitchen’s granite countertop, the slate-framed bathtub, and my somber delirium. When I turned to the adjacent bathroom, I questioned my choice of its cream-colored marble floors and the Japanese-made robotic toilet/bidet that included an eye-opening blow-dry feature, which I exuberantly splurged on. Additionally, squared, pearlescent, Italian-blown glass accented the beige-and-brown-colored rock that enclosed the body of my tub like a casket. A couple of small rectangular nooks were built into the egg-shell colored walls so that I could hang my soap on a rope, shelve flowery body oils and designer shampoos, and, in one fluid motion, grab the television’s remote control as I soaked. I had no concerns about the incompatibility of electrical appliances and water. Convenience preoccupied my thoughts. Twenty feet straight ahead from the bathtub, between the bed and the rose-garden-facing windows, was the bedroom’s wide-screen TV from which I enjoyed many Laker games. Basketball had become not just a favorite sport of mine to watch and play but also one of my enterprises, the one that was indirectly responsible for me representing undisputed Cruiserweight and four-time Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, Evander Holyfield. 


Some champions look to Jesus for guidance and the source of strength that affords patience, perseverance, forgiveness, gratitude, and victories. Back then, when I looked to heaven, I saw a bathroom skylight and the pristine waterfall that would fill my laminated vessel as iridescent lighting and adjustable effervescent water canons jetted to the left,

to the right, and beneath my tush.


My familiarity with boxing was mainly connected to watching Ali, Foreman, Spinks, Durán, Leonard, and Hearns matches. Since I had grown up in New York, aka ‘Gotham,’ during the 60s and 70s, their bouts mesmerized and kept me company while providing know-how that came in handy on too many occasions when at and coming home from school. Fortunately, after my mom and I left the rough streets for palm trees and the not-as-rough streets of Los Angeles in 1980, I could lighten up and turn my attention to less combative things, like making music, films, and peaceful friends.


Boxing symbolized my environment back in New York, aka ‘The Big Apple,’ but it had little to do with my future, or so I thought. It felt surreal and salutary when the opportunity to get so close to the sport arose. However, I realized there would be something more valuable than money and prestige to gain by getting to know Evander’s mindset and the ring of adversaries and adversities it faithfully took on.


FEAR NOT THE DOTS

From an ordinary point of view, our convergence was highly improbable. On the surface, our backgrounds and cultures appeared to be rainbows apart. Though curiosity would sometimes flare and entice me to connect the dots that brought us together, my thoughts continually peddled into the promising future with such velocity and certitude that my bulletproof persona was unassailable. Unconsciously, I lost interest in where I came from and gratitude for where I was standing. After all, in addition to almost drowning while scuba diving, meeting the grim reaper on an ice-covered desert freeway, wiping out numerous times on my psychotic thoroughbred horse, skirting two near heart attacks, sidestepping the threat of thugs, guns, and knives, etc. I had ample reason to bow my head humbly and give thanks. However, my ego was unquenchable as it raced for and from something. Could the “for” part have been attributed to money, possessions, acceptance, and love? Absolutely. However, the “from” part was obscure. My souped-up dopamine-secreting brain and the emotions my ever-inflating self-image produced prevented me from plunging profoundly into the past and the most self-calibrating inquiry I ever asked,

“Who am I and where did I come from, really?”


How deep would I have had to go to make sense of the serendipitous dots that connected Evander and me? What bridges people and opportunities, and do they have any say in how it happens? Should we know, and if so, how can we? Could I have pointed to just one thing, person, or instance? Would studying the past, the possible path of the alliance, impact how the present or future unpacked itself? Would the acknowledgment of previously perceived failures stir fear and foil good fortunes if not disrobe the character I, with the help of Americana’s aspiring script, crafted so cleverly? 


History’s worth in spinning the globe forward and in precluding repeated miscalculations, misjudgments, and gross misfortunes is indisputable. So why did an undercurrent of trepidation keep me from looking honestly at how I was functioning? In retrospect, my two psychologists and two psychiatrists were mistaken in dissuading me from examining and connecting my evolutionary dots. If I could have scrutinized the origins of my methodologies, my buried fears would have been set free as friendly and not frightful ghosts. Without tying them to frustration, anger, resentment, and the stacked ideas of ME, they could have been transformed into terrific agencies of insight and development. For example, my recollection now brings to light the petite, rigid, bony, 43-year-old woman who, like no other, dotted my roads so exceptionally, including the one that led me to Evander. 








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