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Wednesday, November 26
Boxers' Love: A Thanksgiving Story




NEW YORK, Nov. 25 -- You're a professional boxer, a prizefighter. You make your living, or at least try to, in one of the dirtiest businesses and roughest sports on Earth. You will be fighting in just 10 days in Madison Square Garden in the highest profile fight of your career. You are in training, and it is just two days before Thanksgiving.

So how do you spend this chilly Tuesday afternoon? Why, how else? You join a group of fighters and other folks from the fight game to give out Thanksgiving turkeys at God's Love We Deliver.

God's Love We Deliver is a New York-based group which describes itself as "the metropolitan area's oldest and largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to preparing and delivering approximately 2,400 nutritious, life-sustaining meals each weekday, free-of-charge, to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses."

Assembled in the SoHo headquarters of God's Love We Deliver were many of the fighters who will be on the Dec. 6 Madison Square Garden card. Among them were heavyweight Monte Barrett, undefeated junior welterweights Paulie Malignaggi and Kendall Holt, light heavyweight Elvir Muriqi, junior welterweight Edgar Santana, and super featherweight Antonio Espinosa, all from the New York metropolitan area. Joining them were legendary trainer Lou Duva, trainer and TV commentator Teddy Atlas, promoter Dino Duva, DBE matchmaker Mike Marchionte, former fighter-turned-writer Brian Adams, and numerous others.

While waiting for the turkeys, which were donated by Gallagher's Steak House and the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, to be brought in, Adams quipped that this scene looked more like a boxing convention. He was right in more ways than one. Here were some of the legitimately toughest guys in the New York area all gathered to lend a helping hand to some of the neediest people in the New York area.

Why, I asked some of those there, did so many people who earn their keep by trying to hurt other people inside the ring, so often do things like this trying to help other people outside of the ring?

Boxing "comes from the heart," noted Lou Duva. "They are the only sport where after the fight's over, they hug each other." Most of the boxers, he added, "come from the streets. They feel something inside."

Teddy Atlas had a similar view. "They understand what heart's all about. They understand what counts," he said. "If you're real, you're there when there's a need." And he stressed that "most of these people are real."

Although reporters and photographers were present this afternoon, the motivation here was not mere publicity. Kendall Holt pointed out that these were not even the first turkeys he had helped give away just this day. "Before I came here," he stated, "I was doing the same thing in my home town," which is Paterson, New Jersey, along with his trainer Lou Duva. Indeed, they all probably could have gotten much more ink this day by conducting a workout at the Garden.

But there is still much more work to be done.

The God's Love We Deliver organization was founded in 1986 as a volunteer organization to donate meals to people with HIV/AIDS. It moved into its current building, located on 166 Avenue of the Americas at Spring Street in SoHo, just south of Greenwich Village, in 1995. At the same time it delivered its one millionth meal.

Now God's Love We Deliver delivers meals to an average of 1200 clients a day, relying on its 1300 volunteers. Recently it delivered its six millionth meal. But it still needs your help.

If you would like to join in making a donation to God's Love We Deliver, contact them at 212-294-8146. You can also go to their web site at: http://www.glwd.org .

And tell them the boxing people sent you.