- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2001

BALTIMORE Stan Hoffman slowly got out of the wrecked convertible and saw a frightening scene. Heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, who had been riding in the back of the car just seconds before, was lying on the ground about 20 feet away, bleeding, holding two of his crying children. Then Hoffman saw Rahman's wife, Crystal, lying motionless on the pavement.
"I thought she was dead," said Hoffman, who is Rahman's co-manager.
This was the nightmarish scene on a Baltimore street yesterday after their convertible was struck by a car police said ran a red light. Minutes earlier, Rahman had been cheered by thousands at a noon City Hall rally to honor the newly crowned World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation champion after his stunning fifth-round knockout of Lennox Lewis last weekend in South Africa.
Crystal Rahman wasn't dead, and neither Rahman nor any of his three children Hasim Jr., Sharif and Amirah was seriously injured. The champion suffered cuts on his elbows, and his children were bruised and frightened. Rahman had his sons, 9-year-old Hasim Jr., and Sharif, 4, in his arms when he was thrown from the car and held onto them. His daughter, 2-year-old Amirah, fell down into the back seat after the impact.
Rahman and his children were treated and released from Johns Hopkins Hospital (the children were treated at Johns Hopkins Children Center). His wife, who was taken from the accident scene in a neck brace, remained at the hospital last night for observation.
"They are all in good condition, all of them," said Johns Hopkins Hospital spokeswoman Beth Simpkins, who also said she believes Crystal Rahman will be released today.
It was a bizarre climax to a day that began at the place where the 28-year-old Rahman got his start in the ring, Mack Lewis' gym in East Baltimore. From there, a motorcade made its way to City Hall, where Mayor Martin O'Malley, standing in a boxing ring set up on the plaza in front of City Hall, declared it "Hasim 'Rock' Rahman Day" and presented the key to the city to the champion, who grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Bel Air, Md.
Rahman told the cheering crowd that while he was in South Africa fighting for the heavyweight championship, "I felt Baltimore was with me. I was thinking about Baltimore all the time."
Then Rahman, his family, friends and associates, including Hoffman, got into the cars that were provided for them and headed for the ESPN Zone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor to do a television interview. Later the champion was scheduled for an autograph session at the HOBO clothing store several blocks away, where dozens of fans were waiting.
Rahman, his wife, and three children sat on top of the back seat in a red convertible while Hoffman rode in the passenger seat, with a driver from the mayor's office.
The motorcade traveled down South Street. According to police, as it arrived at Lombard Street with an unmarked police car there to stop traffic, a Volkswagen ran a red light and hit the convertible, which then collided with a taxi.
"It was terrible," said Hoffman, who was wearing his seat belt and suffered only a bruised shoulder from hitting the dashboard. "This car came speeding like a lunatic. Without stopping, he hit the driver's side. It was unbelievable."
Rahman's trainer, Adrian Davis, and his wife, Brenda, were several cars behind Rahman when the accident happened. They got out of their cars and ran up to the scene.
"I saw Hasim holding his kids, and he seemed OK," Davis said. "The kids were crying, but they seemed scared more than anything else."
There were conflicting reports about who was at fault in the accident. The driver of the Volkswagen, Mike Heisler, told WBAL-AM that he had a green light at the intersection not red, as reported by police.
"All of a sudden, a red car comes flying through at an amazing speed," Heisler said. "I tried to hit my brakes, and I almost made it through without me hitting him, but I hit the back tail and he spun around and that's when he hit the cab. That's when everybody flew out."
It was an embarrassing scene for O'Malley and the city of Baltimore. The last time Baltimore staged a sports-related motorcade, a police car was struck by a bus carrying the Baltimore Ravens before the team left for the Super Bowl in January.
When Rahman and the mayor walked out of the hospital yesterday to meet with reporters, Rahman said, "Baltimore is still number one."
He also strangely added that he didn't believe the car was struck on purpose, though no one had asked him that question.
And Rahman told reporters that he was ready "to talk about his next fight" a controversial subject with a resolution that could wind up in court.
It was clear that there is one opponent and one opponent only on Rahman's mind: Mike Tyson. He yelled to the crowd at the City Hall rally, "We want Tyson in Baltimore," and the crowd repeated the chant several times.
"The next guy to go to sleep is Mike Tyson," Hoffman said.
However, HBO, which has Lewis under contract, and Lewis' promoter, Main Events, insist their contract calls from Rahman to give Lewis an immediate rematch. They issued a statement Tuesday citing an August date for the rematch. But Rahman is not under contract to HBO, and his promoter, Cedric Kushner, is talking to HBO's rival, Showtime, about a fight with Tyson, the former two-time world champion who is under contract to that cable network.
Yesterday Kushner called the Main Events August rematch declaration "illegal posturing they are presenting an illegal position."
The discussions about a Rahman-Tyson fight put Tyson's June 2 match against David Izon in doubt.

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