*Weigh-in day is a boxer’s second most demanding public ritual. Fighters slim down for a photographed stare-down, and then only have 24 hours to rehydrate and mentally prepare.
Standing nose-to-nose with the undefeated fighter Steven Nelson, the last thing DeAndre Ward expected to do was save someone’s life.
Ward splits his time between training and working as a firefighter and paramedic. He shifted gears when Pete Susens hit the floor.
Susens, a fight coordinator for Top Rank Promotions, had collapsed from what looked like a heart attack. He stopped breathing and had no pulse. Two fight doctors leaped into action. So did Ware. He started administering CPR alongside the physicians—chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing—and resuscitated the man.
Top Rank Promotion rewarded Ward with a bonus. He lost his fight the next night, but had already fulfilled his purpose in flying to Las Vegas, before the opening bell sounded.
Ware, now with a record of 13-3-2 with 8 knockouts, finally got his championship belts in 2019, capturing three vacant titles in the super middleweight weight class with a majority decision over a then-undefeated fighter, Ronald Ellis.
Percy Crawford interviewed DeAndre Ward for Zenger News.
Zenger News: The talk of the weekend revolved around your heroic efforts. You’re preparing to weigh in, and then a fight promoter goes down. You spring into action and shift gears. Boom!—You’re an EMT. Tell us what happened.
DeAndre Ward: I had just got done doing my medicals. I was looking for my coaches. I find one of my coaches and I heard some commotion. I was like, “Is somebody fighting or something?” It’s around fight time, people are antsy, hungry and fighters pass one another in the hallways. So that’s what I’m thinking. At first, I wasn’t going to walk in there, but my coach walked in and I went in behind him. And I see Pete [Susens] lying on the ground. I’m like, “Ah man, Pete must have passed out.”
I don’t know what happened, but he looked pale. The doctor was checking him out. It happened pretty fast, but I was kind of torn because I knew I was fighting, I see two doctors there, but it was like, “Do they need my help?” I didn’t know what to do because there was two doctors there. I let them know that I was a firefighter/EMT and I asked if they needed my help and needed me to do [chest] compressions. … They asked for my help, so I started doing compressions.
They said Pete didn’t have a pulse and he wasn’t breathing. That’s what made me want to do the compressions. Once they gave me the okay to do it, I started doing compressions. After doing compressions for a little while, Pete started to have agonal respirations [gasping]. He was barely breathing, but he was having little respirations. We called to get a defibrillator. I asked them for oxygen, but they didn’t have any oxygen at the time. They finally came with the defibrillator and we gave him a shock, which brought his pulse back, but he wasn’t getting any oxygen to the brain. So, he started to decline again. He lost his pulse again, so I started back on CPR.
A few minutes later the Vegas fire department ended up coming. They hooked him up to their machine and gave him oxygen. He started to come through. He was alert and answered some questions they were asking him. They got him and took him to the hospital.
Zenger: How long have you been a firefighter?
Ward: I’m basic EMT trained to things like CPR, checking for pulses and giving oxygen. Stuff like that. I’ve been on the fire department for seven years.
Zenger: Did you personally know Pete?
Ware: I met Pete for the first time the day prior. I knew who he was. My coach talked very highly of him. That was my second time seeing him, but I had met him that Thursday.
Zenger: That’s a chance meeting. You meet a guy on Thursday and save his life on Friday. Top Rank appreciated your efforts. They announced they were giving you a bonus, but this was reactionary for you. I know you didn’t do it for any recognition, but it has to feel good to be able to keep someone alive.
Ware: Yeah! It made it that much better even though I didn’t get the win. I was there to fight. I was there to get the victory and get the win, but after I saved Pete’s life—that’s all I needed, honestly. I’m not going to say I didn’t care about the fight anymore because I did. I wanted to win and get that title to get myself further ahead in my career. But just saving that life did so much more for me. Even coming home—I mean, yeah, I was talking to my coach yesterday and it’s like, it’s almost like someone just died because I just lost. It hurts, but my spirits are up. I knew I was there for a greater purpose. I saved a life. I was able to talk to Pete yesterday, and I got to hear his voice and that made me feel real good. Being able to do that on your own and knowing you were able to save someone’s life, we do it on the fire department, but I didn’t have no equipment. I didn’t have anything. I just went to my instincts and got the job done and helped save a life. That means so much more to me than winning a fight.
Zenger: There is nothing you could have done during that fight Saturday that would have topped what you’d done backstage Friday.
Ware: Right! No doubt about it.
Zenger: As a firefighter, you understand that there is a bigger purpose for you than boxing, but to have it confirmed in that manner? I think it’s a lesson that everyone can learn from. … You saved what was essentially a stranger’s life.
Ware: I just hope that maybe I can be some type of inspiration. Just bring people and this country together more. I mean, I don’t know Pete. I could have said, “Forget it. I’m here for a fight.” I could have not wanted to risk doing anything because when I was doing compressions, they didn’t really want me doing them because I was dehydrated because I was about to weigh-in.
They didn’t want to take me away from my fight, but I was thinking to myself, “I don’t care.” I never had that thought process like, “I don’t know him, he’s a white guy,” or anything like that. But that’s not me. That’s not how I feel. Even with all the things going on, all the talk of Black Lives Matter, no. I can’t let this man die. This is a time for everybody to get together and come together as a country.
Zenger: You had a fight to focus on. You had a built-in excuse to say, “That’s not why I’m here,” and you chose to do what’s right. If only more people just did what was right!
Ware: I took that oath to be there, whether I’m on shift or on duty or not. I took that oath and I carry that sense of pride with me through everything that I do. And it’s not just the job, it’s just me as a person. That’s just how I am. I’m there. I like to help people. That’s part of the reason I’m on the fire department. The motto at my high school was, “Being a Man for Others.” I’ve been applying that. I had it before I went to St. John’s, but that made it stick with me.
The post Hero Boxer on Weigh-In Day Leaps to Perform CPR on Collapsed Fight Promoter appeared first on Zenger News.
Former MLBer Micah Johnson Wants His Paintings to Inspire Black Kids (Watch)
*Micah Johnson, a former second baseman and outfielder for the White Sox, Dodgers, Braves and Rays, has indulged in his longtime passion and is now a professional artist of critically acclaimed and highly sought-after fine art paintings.
His latest work, which opened at Art Angels over the summer, was inspired by an overheard question posed by his nephew: “Mom, can astronauts be Black?”
Per MLB.com’s Michael Clair:
Many of his paintings feature real subjects wearing an astronaut’s helmet, while they paint or draw or learn the cello or simply play hopscotch. The helmet represents the dreams Black kids have and the opportunities that are hopefully open to them. He uses colors and images that children can relate to. He wants Black children to see themselves in a fine art world that is historically dominated by white artists and subjects.
“My whole mission is to inspire children,” Johnson told MLB.com. “But I try to have that looseness to it. And that’s just how I am. I work a lot with just my hands. Sometimes I don’t even have a paintbrush in my studio. I try to do these really bold lines and have that perfect blend of whitespace and also color. That’s how I’d define my style now.”
“If I try to really, really focus on the eyes, make the viewer feel this connection — and if they feel that connection — then maybe it will change their perspective on something,” Johnson said.
“In the beginning, it was all inspired by my nephews because I just wanted to inspire them. And that’s how my approach is — I tried to focus on inspiring one person,” Johnson said. “So, a lot of my subjects are real subjects. And I think that’s a message for everybody else — just focus on impacting one person and you’ll really impact the world. So, for me, it’s my nephews, and they’re young, and maybe when they grow up, and they start looking at this, maybe they’ll feel inspired.”
The theme is present in his most recent work, “sä-v(ə-)rən-tē” (pronounced sovereignty), but the presentation is drastically different from anything Johnson has done before.
This piece is a digital artwork available to view on Apple TV or on a billboard at 901 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles from Dec. 7 through Jan. 10. It features two young children (Jacque, 8, and Rayden, 7), who have experienced tragedy in their lives staring at a closed door in a field, with an astronaut standing on the other side.
Unlike a painting, viewers can watch “sä-v(ə-)rən-tē” change in real time. The light shifts from day to night and with each passing year, the door will swing open a little wider, giving Jacque and Rayden a wider glimpse at the astronaut who awaits them on the other side of the door. A QR code connected to a bitcoin wallet also appears on the children’s birthdays, allowing viewers to donate directly to them.
Watch a trailer for sä-v(ə-)rən-tē below:
Watch a July 2020, CBS Los Angeles report on Johnson below:
Five Black NBA Players Meet with Pope Francis to Discuss Social Justice Issues (Watch)
*Five NBA players and several officials from the National Basketball Players Association met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss their work on social justice issues.
The trip was prompted by the Vatican reaching out to the players’ union to learn about their work for social change. The delegation included Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, Houston Rockets wing Sterling Brown and free agents Anthony Tolliver, Marco Belinelli and Kyle Korver. They gave the Pope an Orlando Magic jersey and a golden basketball.
After the meeting in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace, Tolliver called it an “incredible experience.” He added, “With the Pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”
Korver, a 17-year NBA veteran who wrote a powerful essay about racism and white privilege last year, echoed Tolliver’s sentiment after meeting with the pope.
“We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis,” Korver said. “His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.”
Images from the meeting showed Pope Francis and the players sitting and standing next to each other, but not wearing masks. The players union tweeted that “players and NBPA staff members were required to undergo COVID-19 testing before meeting with Pope Francis.”
Watch video from the historic meeting below:
The gathering comes ahead of the December 1 release of Francis’ new book, “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future.” In it, Francis supports demands for racial justice in the wake of the police-custody death of George Floyd.
History: NFL’s First All-Black Team of Officials Takes the Field (Video)
*NFL’s first all-Black team of officials took the field Monday night as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the LA Rams
Jerome Boger lead the team of officials, which umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed. Five members of the crew work together regularly. Johnson and Steed joined the group for Monday night’s matchup between NFC playoff contenders.
Burl Toler paved the way. In 1965, after beginning his officiating career working college games in the San Francisco Bay Area, the NFL hired Toler as a head linesman — making him the first Black official in any major professional sports league.
Members of the Monday night’s crew have a combined 89 seasons of NFL experience and have worked six Super Bowls. When the NFL announced the crew was being assembled last week, league executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent hailed the move “a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game.”
In a commemorative video made by the NFL, Boger said: “I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of the black officials who paved the way for me.”
Watch the video below or watch here on Twitter.
Barry Anderson, U
Jerome Boger, R
Anthony Jeffries, SJ
Carl Johnson, LJ
Julian Mapp, DJ
Dale Shaw, FJ
Greg Steed, BJ pic.twitter.com/XzuqS3Ivos
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) November 23, 2020
Below, Lisa Salters of ESPN examines the history-making night:
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