The last time I saw Anthony Peterson was at the EagleBank Arena on Oct. 18, 2015. He had disposed of Mike Oliver in one round and was holding court in the back of the arena. He delivered another knockout blow with a quote that should be posted in every gym in the world, in every language:
“Boxing, I don’t know why people call it a sport. It’s not a sport. This is like organized crime. Where else in the history of sports where you see people around the ring and people beating the crap out of each other?”
Anthony Peterson knows of what he speaks. He has been in the business for 28 years as an amateur and a professional fighter. He’s seen some crime, organized and otherwise.
That Saturday night in Fairfax, Virginia, he was there when Prichard Colon was beaten into a coma by Terrel Williams in part because of an irresponsible referee in the ring.
“Earlier that night he (Colon) stopped me and my brother (Lamont Peterson),” Peterson said. “He was so happy to see us and be there with us, he asked if he could get a picture with us.
He was at the MGM National Harbor the night of July 21, 2019, when Maxim Dadashev suffered a fatal blow to the head in his light-heavyweight match against Subriel Matias.
And then he saw a man die the first time he was in a gym. “I watched a man die in a sparring session,” Peterson said. “It was summer of 1995, in the basement of my junior high school. There was a gym there and one guy who was sparring got hit and he had a blood clot and he died. I was 10 years old.
“I’ve seen some things in boxing that would make you walk away from it. But I’ve stuck with it.”
Yes he has. Peterson is 37 years old, with a 38-1-1 record. But he has no championship on his lengthy resume and has only fought four times since that 2015 knockout of Oliver.
He is hoping to kick-start his career when he faces Saul Corral (30-18) of Douglas, Arizona, in a super lightweight contest, the co-main event Saturday night at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in the District.
He chalks much of his inactivity and the lack of the big fight on his record to, well, the organized crime of boxing. “It’s been a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “The way the boxing world works. Bad management, injuries, but it was never a lack of passion or motivation.”
Peterson pointed to a wall inside the Old School Boxing Gym where he trained. A beam of light shone through. “You see that wall?” he asked. “You see that little light coming out there from outside? You see the light on the other side? I saw that.”
You can understand why Peterson sees light in the dark world of pugilism.
It saved the Peterson brothers’ lives when they were homeless youths together on the streets of Washington before boxing coach Barry Hunter took them in and became their trainer.
These days, Peterson is being trained by his brother, a two-time world champion as a light welterweight and welterweight title holder who retired after being stopped by Sergey Lipinets in the 10th round in March 2019.
“Everything just runs out,” Anthony Peterson “It was time. There was no bad blood. We got older and had different visions and we went our separate ways. Lamont and I have always coached each other, sparring in the ring. He knows my heart and make up. He knows more about me than anyone and can be a better trainer.”
Lamont Peterson said he is done in the ring but looks forward to being in his corner for his brother.
“We have been help training each other for a long time,” he said. “Us being brothers and being so close, we have a strong bond. It makes the coaching easier. I know Anthony. I know what button to push to get the right response. And he knows me. The chemistry is there. Now it’s all about executing. That’s the fun part.”
Even if it is organized crime.
“It’s not a sport,” Anthony Peterson maintained, nearly seven years after the scene at EagleBank Arena. “Look at the key word — national. NFL, National Football League. NBA, National Basketball League. Boxing doesn’t have that. It’s wide open. There is no boxing commissioner. Maryland, D.C. Virginia, they all do something different. The Atlanta Falcons, you abide by the same rules as the Indianapolis Colts. Toronto Raptors, you abide by the same rules as the Los Angeles Lakers. Boxing is not that way. It’s organized crime. I still feel that way.”
The great American writer, Budd Schulberg, felt the same way when he wrote “The Harder They Fall” in 1947. Anthony Peterson is in good company.
Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.