The late writer writer Gore Vidal once said, "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little."
The man had a way of examining and synthesizing lowly envy, didn't he?
I thought of that quote as I was talking to Joe Greene, the Queens native who headlines a fight card at the Cordon Bleu club in Woodhaven, Queens on Thursday night.
The Florida resident Greene, a 24-1 lefty promoted by Greg Cohen, will meet 15-12 Calvin Odom, a loser of his last four straight. We spoke on Tuesday afternoon about the scrap, and the state of his career, and I tiptoed around that emotion Vidal described.
A pro since 2005, fighting at junior middleweight and middleweight, Greene is now campaigning as a welterweight, and the fight with Odom is contracted for 150 pounds or less. "I've had managerial and promotional problems," he said, in explaining why he's fought just five times in the last four years. "But now, no more breaks."
The fight will be the first for the 26 year-old Greene in Queens, and he expects a bunch of family and friends to attend. He admitted that he moved to Florida over a year ago to get some distance from the city, from the proximity of attractions and distractions that can make NYC so alluring but also makes one more prone to hit the snooze button ten times instead of getting up for 5:30 AM road work. "You pay a high price for convenience," said Greene, who chose not to part with much in the way of specifics about the detours, which he noted he's been avoiding successfully.
The recent success of Peter Quillin, the Manhattan based WBO middleweight champion, has impacted Greene (who twice won the NY Golden Gloves at 165 pounds). Quillin won the WBO crown at Barclays on Oct. 20, and he and Greene are pals. "He's a motivation," Greene said of the 29 year old, who turned pro three months after Greene. "I told that to myself when I saw him getting ahead, 'You started behind me as an amateur and as a pro.' I took a little break, and he just went on ahead."
He's happy for Quillin, he said, and they have chatted about the grind and the game on the phone. "I've got to get better," Greene said. "You can learn from everybody."
Sounds like a healthy take on the matter. I detected nothing Vidal would have recognized and identified with in Greene, who offered this resolution, in the Norman Vincent Peale vein: "Look out for me in 2013, I'm back here to stay and make a big bang at welterweight."