At 10 p.m. last Saturday in a 5,000-square-foot tent where World Trade Center relief workers take their breaks, Stella Lin was giving orders. "Get me garbage bags now," the 4'9", 100-pound Lin shouted. "Yes, ma'am," replied an athletic 6'3", 240-pound fellow volunteer with a smile. Lin didn't know that the guy she was barking directions at was former heavyweight contender Renaldo Snipes, a fearsome puncher who stood toe-to-toe with Larry Holmes and had a 39-7-1 record from 1978 to '93. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Snipes, 45, has worked 10-to 24-hour shifts almost every day, scrubbing pots, peeling wet socks off firefighters' feet and serving burgers and brisket at the 40-foot barbecue grill. "I'm nothing special," says Snipes. "We're here under one flag, like a family."
On Sept. 11, Snipes was two blocks from the World Trade Center, in the sixth-floor office of telecom company GCOMNET, for which he's on the board. The next day his best friend, Salvation Army minister Travis Locke, asked him if he'd volunteer. Snipes was at the relief tent an hour later. "You'd be a chump not to help," he says. He drew on friends from his boxing days to solicit aid, persuading hotels to provide rooms and food, and a sporting goods chain to donate apparel. "I believe the point of my boxing career was preparation for my small role in this disaster," he says. "It gave me the strength to work when I'm needed and the contacts to make life more comfortable for the rescue workers."