- - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brenda Davis has been the first lady of amateur boxing in the Washington area for decades. She has been a three-time president of the Potomac Valley Boxing Association and one of the most respected judges ringside.

Whenever a kid with gloves needed a kind word or more, Brenda has been there to help with several generations of young fighters — ready to lend a needed hand.

Now she is on the ropes, suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s, and the boxing community is coming together to attempt to lend a hand with a fundraiser Thursday night in a boxing show at Michael’s Eighth Avenue — part of a tribute to honor another local legend in boxing circles — promoter Scott Wagner, who passed away last month.

Wagner, who was 49 and suffering from liver disease, created one of the most dynamic club boxing promotions on the East Coast when he ran Ballroom Boxing out of Michael’s Eighth Avenue, a banquet facility in Glen Burnie, Md. He created something unique and special in a raucous atmosphere with more than 70 boxing cards that would broadcast to more than 80 million homes around the world in an ambitious promotional effort.

Some great fighters built or tried to rebuild their careers at Michael’s, such as former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, one-time cruiserweight titleholder Al Cole and former light welterweight champion Terence Crawford, among others.

Promoter Jake Smith of Baltimore Boxing, who has been presenting boxing shows at Michael’s since Wagner stopped in 2009, is putting on Thursday night’s show, which features Deshawn “Soulsnatcher” Chase against Omar Serrano and Tyrell Boyd facing Tyler Langer.

“Scott was one of my closest friends and I was devastated by his untimely passing,” said Smith, who co-promoted with Wagner and also fought for him in 1996. “He ran one of the most successful promotions for more than a decade and did right by the fighters.

“Scott Wagner the person was even better than the promoter,” Smith said. “He always helped other people and his experience assisted me in expanding Baltimore Boxing Promotions. I am forever thankful and will always have a place in my heart for Scott Wagner.”

The event — tickets can be purchased at baltimoreboxing.com — is also a fundraiser for Davis, the wife of longtime legendary boxing trainer Adrian Davis, who has trained a number of world champions from the Washington area, including Rahman and former middleweight champion William Joppy.

Jeff Novotny, who is working with Jake Smith, came up through the boxing ranks with Adrian and Brenda Davis and noted Brenda’s impact on young fighters. “There isn’t a guy who came through D.C. since the 1970s until she stopped — champions, contenders — that didn’t receive a kind word or encouragement from her, or she didn’t judge their fight,” he said.

“When I was boxing for Adrian in the amateurs, she helped us organize travel, expenses, anything she could do for us,” he said.

She was president of the Potomac Valley Boxing Association, a nonprofit responsible for sanctioning and supervising amateur boxing in the District, Prince Georges & Montgomery County whose mission is to promote and provide opportunities for amateur boxers to achieve their goals in boxing.

“What she did for amateur boxing … her impact, the amount of time she devoted and the out-of-pocket expenses she had to help kids is amazing,” Novotny said. “Anyone who passed through here, she had an impact.”

Her time of service goes back to the days when the great Sugar Ray Leonard was an amateur fighter out of Palmer Park, Md. “I remember her baking cakes for Derrick Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard for bake sales to raise money so they could go to the Pan Am Games,” Novotny said.

She was also a veteran judge of amateur boxing, and widely respected. “She was the best judge in the region in amateur boxing for years,” Novotny said. “Her scorecards were always on point.”

He said the family is under pressure from the expenses related to Brenda’s Alzheimers. “It’s really been a strain for them,” Novotny said. “She did so much for so many of us, and now we have a chance to do something to help her.”

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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