At 47 years old, Rob Garris, no doubt a better man than I, got himself into stellar shape and entered a boxing ring -- 27 years after he last gloved up. The Mount Vernon resident made his professional debut in Queens on Dec. 8, and basically, it is almost immaterial whether he won or lost.
Fighting to bring attention to foster kids who fall between the cracks, and to raise money for headstones for foster kids who met a tragic end at the hands of "caregivers," Garris met Abdellah Smith at Resorts World Casino. Things started off OK, but early in the first round, Garris' right shoulder ripped. He tore his rotator cuff and could barely raise his arm. He went back to his corner, sat on his stool, and the New York State Athletic Commission inspector took a hard look at him.
"You OK?" the inspector asked, with Garris' age in mind. He was ready to pull the plug if the light heavyweight, who ended his amateur career in 1985 because of a nose injury, so much as winced.
"I'm good," Garris answered.
He wasn't, really, but he knew he wanted to go out on his shield if need be, that he couldn't quit on his stool in front of many of those kids who look up to him. He went out for Round 2, and Smith dropped him. The fight was stopped.
I bitterly oppose the term "loser" being attached to Garris, who handed out 20 tickets to foster kids and donated his whole purse to go towards helping some of society's underdogs. "They stopped the fight, but I made history," Garris told NYFightblog.
"I wanted the kids to see it, win or lose," Garris said. "I wanted to get the opportunity to inspire kids in the system and set the record, for the longest period of time elapsed before a comeback. I didn't get the win. I can live with that."