- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe says he is prepared to go to jail after a federal appeals court last week ordered a judge to resentence Bowe to at least 18 months in prison for kidnapping his wife and their five children in North Carolina more than four years ago.

Bowe said he was "surprised" by the three-judge panel's decision in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a decision by U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen that ignored an initial plea agreement between prosecutors and Bowe's lawyers requiring the former boxer to serve between 18 and 24 months.

"There ain't nothing I can do about it,"Bowe said. "I'm just going to go ahead, do the time, and get on with my life. I'm just waiting."

When Bowe came before Mullen for his initial sentencing, his lawyers presented evidence that Bowe suffered from diminished mental capacity because of injuries suffered in the ring. Instead of the 18 to 24 months in the plea agreement, the judge gave Bowe 30 days of confinement and probation.

Prosecutors appealed the ruling, and the appeals court ruled in favor of the government. That sent the case back to Mullen, who in turn sentenced Bowe to 18 months in prison but granted him credit toward that for his probation period, a ruling that continued to keep the fighter out of prison.

Now the appeals court has ordered Mullen to resentence Bowe to at least 18 months in jail. Yesterday his Washington attorney, Eric Bolog, went to North Carolina to meet with prosecutors, who were clearly angered by the failure to comply with the initial plea agreement.

"We thought that the district court made an error by not sending him to prison for 18 to 24 months," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Hill, who said he expects Bowe to be resentenced within the next three or four months. Bolog could not be reached for comment about possible appeals of last week's ruling.

According to court documents, Bowe, who lives in Fort Washington, was estranged from his wife, Judy, who was living in Charlotte, N.C., with their five children. On Feb.25,1998, Bowe went to his wife's home accompanied by a relative and threatened her with a knife, handcuffs, duct tape and pepper spray. He forced her and his children into a car and began driving back home to Fort Washington. At one point during the incident, Judy Bowe received a cut from the knife the boxer was carrying, court documents said.

While the car was stopped at a restaurant in South Hill, Va., Judy Bowe managed to contact authorities, who arrested Riddick Bowe at the restaurant. He faced federal kidnapping charges and could have been sentenced to 10 years and fined $250,000. But in June 1998, he pleaded guilty to federal interstate domestic violence, under a plea agreement.

However, at a sentencing hearing in February 2000, Bowe's lawyers, who included controversial defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, introduced evidence and testimony that showed that Bowe suffered brain damage while fighting and it affected his behavior. Mullen agreed to spare Bowe jail time, which set in motion the appeals that now have resulted in Bowe facing time in prison more than four years after he committed the crime.

Rock Newman, Bowe's former manager who testified about Bowe's mental problems in court, said yesterday he was "saddened" by the news. "I sent Riddick an e-mail telling him our prayers are with him," Newman said. "For this to come now, after all this time, seems unfair."

The two have had a falling out, and now Bowe is suing Newman. "That doesn't make me stop caring about him," Newman said.

Bowe, 35, from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y., won the undisputed heavyweight championship by defeating Evander Holyfield on Nov.13,1992. He gave up the World Boxing Council version of the title rather than fight a mandatory challenge against Lennox Lewis but successfully defended the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation belts twice, scoring a first-round knockout of Michael Dokes in February1993 at Madison Square Garden and a second-round KO of Jesse Ferguson at RFK Stadium in May1993.

But Bowe, who compiled a record of 40-1-1 with 32 knockouts, lost the IBF and WBA crowns in a rematch with Holyfield on Nov.13,1993, in Las Vegas. He came back to win the World Boxing Organization version of the title by knocking out Holyfield in their third fight in November 1995.

Bowe suffered two severe beatings by Andrew Golota in the next year, although Golota lost both fights by disqualification for repeated low blows.

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