- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Rock Newman will make his return to professional boxing tonight in New York with a display of goofiness the likes of which the sport has never seen.
Newman former manager of Riddick Bowe, political consultant to Marion Barry and wearer of many other hats has a fighter and a plan: He wants to turn the heavyweight champion into a Beanie Baby.
How? With his newest fighter, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound heavyweight named Goofi.
Goofi steps into the ring tonight against another massive heavyweight, 6-foot-6, 240-pound Jameel McCline (26-2-3, 16 knockouts), in a 12-round main event on an HBO "Boxing After Dark" show at the Jacob K. Javits Center. The winner of this fight could put himself in the forefront of heavyweights ready to emerge when the Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield eras end.
Goofi is the fighter formerly known as Lance "Mount" Whitaker, a powerful 29-year-old fighter (23-1, 19 knockouts) who is coming off impressive second-round knockouts of Oleg Maskaev and Robert Davis.
He hooked up with Newman after becoming disenchanted with the way he was being managed and promoted by the Goossen brothers, Dan and Joe, who at the time were with America Presents and sought out Newman for advice in Las Vegas, where Newman lives.
"I wasn't looking to get back in boxing," Newman said. "But this was a unique situation that presented itself. It was the right situation, and my focus and dedication is to maximize his career."
The way he hopes to do that is by creating a new persona for a heavyweight fighter not the baddest man on the planet, but a cuddly role model for children who happens to hit hard enough to knock people out.
"This name fits his personality," Newman said. "He is a genuine nice guy, a prankster and a jokester. If the world is exposed to his personality, he has a chance to be an international superstar.
"He didn't want to be called Mount anymore," Newman said. "That name is too stoic. It's not his personality. He likes to have fun, and wants to appeal to everyone, especially kids. We want kids to love this guy."
They want it so badly that at a news conference Wednesday in New York, Newman revealed that Whitaker had officially changed his name to Goofi.
"I appeal to all of you to address him by Goofi," Newman told reporters. "Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. At the time, the world was filled with self-indignation over his name change and would not give Ali respect. Years later we see the arrogance of that indignation.
"Goofi's name is about having fun in his life and his desire to be a role model for children," Newman said. "There are way too many athletes who are too serious and don't look like they are having fun at what they do."
Whitaker said while he likes his new persona, no one should mistake it for him being a cream puff.
"Once I get in the ring, I'm going to try to hurt you," he said. "I will knock you goofy. People will take me seriously when they see me fight."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide