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KO'd By His Demons
Pat Putnam
September 09, 1985
Unbeaten and still a champion, Aaron Pryor is angry, despondent and confused. And he's in no condition to fight, either in or out of the ring
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September 09, 1985

Ko'd By His Demons

Unbeaten and still a champion, Aaron Pryor is angry, despondent and confused. And he's in no condition to fight, either in or out of the ring

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On the patio, Pryor's words continue to tumble forth. "My eye, shocks and everything," he says, casting suspicious glances in all directions. "I think somebody is looking in here and hearing every word we say. I'm a true person. I can feel it." He relaxes after Maggie shuts the patio door. "O.K., I feel better now. Anyway...here I am, 36 and oh with 32 knockouts. I went 15 rounds my last fight. I went four days before that fight without eating, I swear. I had to lay in the hallways to lose four extra pounds. I came home, and the only thing I worked on was not training, because when I train I build up a big appetite. I went on a diet, I lose weight, and people tell me I'm crazy." Pryor gives his weight this day as 138 pounds. He appears to weigh 120 at most.

He puts his face in his hands and gets around to talking about his "abduction." "Oh, it's kind of painful to talk," he says. "I don't have nobody to talk to; nobody comes here; nobody knows me. They all know me, and I don't know them. It hurts so bad. And then I picked a couple of guys up in Miami when I first got here, and we talk: 'Hey, what's going on. All right.' So Linda [Hill, his girlfriend] and the baby [Norra] was at her friend's house, so I go in the house with Linda, and when I come out they had stolen my van. I catch a cab and come home."

Throughout this part of the story there are long, painful pauses. He says that a friend took him to a house where he confronted the men who stole his van. "They said I owed them some money," he says. "Four hundred dollars. I say, 'I don't even know you, man. What do I owe you $400 for?' The guy who took me over, they let him go. So he called the police, and the police break in the place and they—these guys—run away, and now my van is gone."

The police released Pryor at 2 a.m. Another young man in the house was arrested for possession of cocaine. Detective Doreen Nash was one of the officers on the scene. "My part was to see if there was an abduction or not," says Nash. "The only means I had was speaking to the witnesses that were in the house with [Pryor]. They all said basically the same thing, that he went there on his own to try and get his van back. While in the house, witnesses say he did use cocaine and he wasn't abducted. I talked to Pryor but I couldn't get him to give me anything. He wasn't very coherent." Nash says that Pryor's friend, who gave a false name, told police that the fighter owed $1,000 to the people who took his Ford van.

In selecting friends, Pryor is always zero for whatever the number is at the moment. Not long ago a girl he knew named Candy accompanied Pryor's mother to a grocery store. When they returned, Candy helped carry in the bags, then got into Pryor's '85 Saab. Pryor hasn't seen the girl or the car since.

"Everybody robs me," he says. "I meet a girl and she robs me. I meet some guys and they rob me. People break into my house and steal things. They take my machine gun. I had an M16." The visitor asks about the gun. Pryor shrugs and says, very seriously, "I had planned one day to get on a boat and I don't have no license and I might go to Cuba. I wanted to shoot my way back home. I had plans, like if it is nighttime. They come on your boat and shoot you. I believe I'm getting tired. I'm getting hyper talking, and it's so hot. Oh, man, I feel just like getting into a car and running away."

"Why not go back into training?" he is asked.

Strength returns to his voice. "Oh, I'm ready to go tonight. I'm leaving tonight. I'm going back to Cincinnati. I'm going inside. Ain't you hot? I'm hot. The police come by and mess with me. I had a girl forge checks on me. This is my third checking account. People steal thousands of dollars out of my clothes. I don't know where the money goes. Ransom. They threaten my kids [he has two besides Norra] that they will kill me if I don't give them money." He pauses, sighing. "Somebody breaks into my house...setting little things around, like drugs around my house and in my clothes. I can't take no more. You know, a lot of people lost a lot of money on the Alexis fight. They're a little angry. That's the only thing I can think of."

The champion rises and enters the house, taking his demons with him. He admits to the visitor that he has experimented with drugs. This alone is not necessarily a revelation, since newspaper stories have quoted Pryor as having acknowledged using marijuana. But he is vague, or evasive, about whether he has used any other drugs. On Nov. 23, 1983 he was arrested in Inglewood, Calif. for cocaine possession, a charge that was subsequently dismissed on the grounds that the arresting officers had illegally searched the automobile Pryor was driving. He continues to insist that he doesn't have a drug problem.

"Drugs is a big thing in Florida," he says. "Yes, it is. And I figure just one thing: If you can go to training and you can sacrifice sex and alcohol and go to bed early at night, you can sacrifice drugs. If you want to. There never was any drugs involved in me as far as winning a fight. Why does my eye hurt? You have an electricity charge or something? See my eye cross? That's automatic. I'm tired. I've got to get some sleep."

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