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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Champ Bowe Joins the Marines

NEW YORK -- Imagine the scene: It's 5 a.m. at Parris Island, South Carolina, and the former heavyweight champion of the world is beginning a 30-kilometer hike with his platoon. He may be a millionaire many times over, but in this setting, the champ is just another "grunt," a 6-foot-5, 245-pound target for the abuse of a drill instructor shouting out a sing-song cadence to pace his troops:


"I don't know, but I've been told


Riddick Bowe is getting old


Golota hit below the belt.


That's the worst Bowe ever felt


Sound off!"


Unbelievable as it may seem, that scenario could happen soon. Former undisputed champion Riddick Bowe announced Thursday he has put his boxing career temporarily on hold to pursue his longtime dream of becoming a Marine.


Wipe that smile off your face, soldier. This is as serious as a three-punch combination to the privates from Andrew Golota. On Monday, Bowe enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at the Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station. He is scheduled to ship out to Parris Island on Feb. 10 for 12 weeks of basic training. After spending the spring on Parris Island, Bowe will be transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for another three months of combat training and Military Occupational Specialty training.


This is no publicity stunt. It's an eight-year commitment. Bowe will be on active reserve for the next three years and on inactive reserve for five more years. Appropriately enough, Bowe was wearing an olive drab suit when he made his announcement from the halls of the Manhattan office of Home Box Office cable television and held up his enlistment papers and a picture of himself taking the oath.


"Now, I'm a marine," Bowe said. "When I complete boot camp, I will resume my boxing career."


Bowe admitted many of his friends have expressed shock. He said they ask two questions: "Why?'' and "Are you crazy?"


Promoter Rock Newman said Bowe's gross earnings are just over $100 million. Now, he'll be settling for $1,100 per month in training.


The notion of joining the Marines has been in Bowe's mind since he listened to a recruiter's pitch as a student at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn. But his future wife, Judy, became pregnant with the first of their five children, and Bowe decided the best way to provide for his family was to go to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and then turn professional.


Bowe defeated Evander Holyfield in November, 1992, to become champion before losing to Holyfield a year later, but through it all, the thought of becoming a Marine stuck with him. Last year, Bowe reached a crossroad. He was soundly thumped in two bouts with Golota, but Bowe won both when the Polish fighter was disqualified for repeated low blows. Most assumed Bowe was facing a decision over retirement, but there was another factor.


If he wanted to be a marine, Bowe had to enlist before his 30th birthday Aug. 10, 1997. As far back as last August, Newman and Bowe made a three-day visit to Parris Island for a first-hand look at U.S. Marine life. Newman expected the experience to discourage Bowe, but it made him more gung ho. For the second Golota fight on Dec. 14, he wore trunks with the Marines' red and gold colors and sergeant's stripes on each side.