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The Boxer Next Door
Richard Hoffer
April 26, 1999
Dimpled—and undefeated—lightweight champ Sugar Shane Mosley, the 1998 Fighter of the Year, is putting a fresh, sweet face on his often sour sport
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April 26, 1999

The Boxer Next Door

Dimpled—and undefeated—lightweight champ Sugar Shane Mosley, the 1998 Fighter of the Year, is putting a fresh, sweet face on his often sour sport

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Mosley, who has two older sisters, had the luxury of one of those "normal" childhoods that real kids—much less boxers—never seem to have. His parents relocated from downtown Los Angeles to comparatively bucolic Pomona, 35 miles to the east, when Shane was a baby. Jack commuted 100 miles a day to USC Medical Center, where he worked as a material manager, and for a while Clemmie, who worked in the accounting department of General Dynamics, commuted too. The sacrifice allowed Shane one of those Leave It to Beaver upbringings, a sense of middle-class prosperity as well as of family. It was one big world of opportunity. If it occurred to Mosley to take up the trumpet, then he did. If it occurred to him to learn Spanish, from tapes and daytime soaps, then he did. And if it occurred to him to follow his father, who boxed in local recreational club matches and once served as a sparring partner for WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver, to the gym to hit a speed bag, well, he did that, too.

No wonder it's the idea of family that has stayed with Mosley. Though he has a fiancée, Myoloe Gilmore, and his own son, Shane Mosley Jr., age eight, he has not strayed far from home. Just that one block, actually. Clemmie sometimes wonders what would happen if she and her husband picked up and moved. "I kind of think Shane would follow us," she says.

Of course, it's the father-son relationship that, in boxing anyway, seems strangest. Shane and Jack get along like two best friends, neither challenging the other, each accepting his role in the partnership. It's comical when you see it, young Mosley being alternatively assertive and submissive, but it seems to work. Example: At one point in a recent conversation Jack tried to say something on Shane's behalf, beginning, "Let me interject...," and Shane just cut him off, saying, "Don't interject nothin'." Champion talking. Yet seconds later when Jack was spinning some yarn about how he showed up a bully during his days as a child pugilist in Watts by giving the kid "the bad eye," Shane had relaxed into a six-year-old, sitting at his father's knee, just eating it up. Laughing, young Mosley turned to his guest. "The bad eye!" Any father should be so lucky that his kid still laughs at, or even listens to, his stories.

In time, and in not too much of it, Shane will have all the stories to tell. If his young career proceeds as expected, those stories could very well describe how he changed the fight game, turned it from spectacle back to sport, how he made it safe to enjoy boxing once more. Dimpled instead of dour, he could be the guy to do just that. Be sweet, wouldn't it?

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