Terry Christle doesn't think about boxing when he performs surgery on someone's ailing hip. He doesn't think much about the operating room when he decks an opponent with a left hook. He doesn't think much about either activity when he plays a Bach fugue on the piano.
Christle, who was born in Dublin, is a middling middleweight prizefighter with perhaps a better heart than hands. Still, his record is 10-0-1, and he is managed by Pat and Goody Petronelli, the brothers who handle Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Under their guidance, Christle ended a 2�-year absence from the ring in May by knocking out Kevin Brazier in Atlantic City, and he continued his undefeated string by beating Tom Cole in Lowell, Mass., late in August.
Christle is probably the only unbeaten professional boxer in the world with a medical degree from Trinity College in Dublin. He studied orthopedics and did postgraduate work in anatomy at Trinity, the finest school in Ireland. And on quiet afternoons he used to relax by playing the pipe organ in a Franciscan church beside the River Liffey in Dublin. In fact, when Christle signed his first pro contract, he made his manager sit down and listen to a Beethoven sonatina.
The Irish press has dubbed the 27-year-old Christle variously as the Fighting Physician, Dr. Punch and the Savage Surgeon. He was the Irish amateur middleweight champ from 1977 to '79, the year he also stopped Michel Mouqory in the third round and took the French crown. He qualified to fight for that title because his mother was born in France.
Christle came to Brockton, Mass., last winter to take a determined shot at a boxing career. "So, you're a doctor," said a doubting Goody.
"Yes," answered Christle.
"And you can fight, too?"
"Listen, we don't want people coming in here and wasting our time. Are you sure you're not just a smooth-talking Irish doctor who thinks he can box?"
"I'm sure," Christle said firmly. But Goody still tried him out with Robbie Sims, Hagler's half brother and the WBC's fifth-ranked middleweight. Christle acquitted himself satisfactorily in three rounds of sparring, and the Petronellis took him on.