Two sources contributed to help start the boxing career of former Heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe – Muhammad Ali and a school teacher.
Recalls Bowe: “What happened was, I was in junior high school, in eighth grade, and the reading teacher brought in a tape of Ali and I just fell in love with Ali from the second I heard him speak. From that point on I said, I wanna be the Heavyweight champion of the world. And in about ten years later, it took place and it happened.”
Bowe says the reading teacher took matters into her own hands and got the ball rolling. She must have detected something special in Bowe. “What happened was, the reading teacher called around a couple gyms so I could start boxing. So we finally decided to go to Bed Stuy Boxing Association Club. And I walked into the gym, fought in the Kid Gloves, the Golden Gloves, the Junior Olympics. And I realized at that time I could be champ. Because I did feel a certain ease, you know? A lot of guys had a lot more experience than I had but I was beating up all them guys like I was there the whole time they were.”
Bowe says he did lose his first fight as an amateur, but eventually turned the tables on his rival. “Paul Brennan. I fought him four times. Paul Brennan beat me in my first fight as an amateur – by decision. At about 14, I fought him again. Paul beat me again. We didn’t fight again for about two-three years. But I kept Paul in my mind because I owed him one. Then we fought in the Junior Olympics and I knocked Paul out in the first round. Then I fought him again in the Golden Gloves. Paul knocked me down in the first round. I had to get up for the championship – and I had to knock Paul out. I did what I had to do!”
In 1992 Riddick Bowe defeated Evander Holyfield to win the World Heavyweight championship.