A Leg to Stand On

After an awful wreck and years of ruin, a nod from God means comeback time for the East Side's favorite son

Enter Ron Peterson, a veteran promoter bearing a history of rancorous relations with the state's boxing establishment. In recent years, Peterson has staged all of his fights on Indian reservations, outside the purview of the boxing board. After learning of Peterson's upcoming card, Schultz contacted the promoter, who made one request: Get evaluated by a doctor. In short order Schultz did just that--though he eschewed the doctor recommended by the boxing board for one of his own choosing. Soon afterward Peterson sent him a contract: Four rounds, four hundred bucks.

For his part Peterson says he was pleased by Schultz's mid-October performance at the casino. "What an inspiration he was. He's a legitimate boxer. If the guy's got enough guts to quit drinking, he's got enough guts to try anything." He says he plans to put Schultz on future cards, but adds the cautionary note that "as a promoter, I'm not gonna set Gene up with a guy who's gonna embarrass him or kill him."

O'Hara takes a different view. Though he is careful to note that the board may ultimately relent and grant Schultz a license to fight outside the casinos, he offers a word of warning. "I give Gene Schultz credit for his courageous stand," O'Hara says, "but this fight means absolutely nothing. If the promoters are gonna match him with a bunch of Tory Martins, maybe he could fight until he's 50. But eventually they're gonna want to pair him with somebody of ability--not some tub of lard."

One-round wonder: Heavyweight Gene Schultz hoofs his hardware in the Hinckley ring
Sean McCoy
One-round wonder: Heavyweight Gene Schultz hoofs his hardware in the Hinckley ring

Fine by Schultz. In the fading afternoon light, he dances and bobs and weaves through his small apartment. He has shucked off his fake leg, and is showing off his balance, hopping up and down, throwing jabs and straight rights into the air. Puffing, a little out of breath, he plops down on the couch. "Right now, I'm still the Great White Dope," he says. "But I think I can be the Great White Hope. I think I've got a 50/50 chance of winning the heavyweight title."

"I'm a one-man special agent," he adds then. "I'm a Special Agent of God boxer. When I get my robe, it's not gonna say 'Gene Schultz.' It's just gonna say 'Praise Jesus' and 'God Is Great,' and it's gonna have a cross and it's gonna say 'R.I.P., Mom and Dad.'"

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