Boxing Minister Takes A Jab At Finding Noah's Ark

Pugilistic Preacher Travels To Turkey To Follow Calling

January 20, 1991|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff writer

The young preacher's got a heart full of grace and a mean left jab.

He can put a man on the ropes with that fine left jab and hook andthose straight rights. But then he eases off. Alas, no killer instinct.

Perhaps he just can't shake his true calling, which goes beyond the boxing ring.

John C. Doughty has followed the deeper calling all the way to Mount Ararat in Turkey because the Bible says Noah's Ark landed there when the flood waters receded and God threw a rainbow over the Earth to seal the peace. Doughty didn't find Noah's Ark last August, but he says he'll go back. Faith calls him there.

The 25-year-old light middleweight nurtured the faith growing up in Ohio and Virginia, the son of Charles Doughty, a minister in the Church of Christ.

Doughty is not ordained, but has served as a youth minister at the First Christian Church of Glen Burnie. Doughty, who recently transferred from the University of Maryland to James Madison Universityin Virginia, has preached from the pulpit in Glen Burnie and in Virginia.

Doughty developed the left jab and the fine straight right at the Harding-Lowery gym in Pasadena. In so doing, he followed the family fighting tradition that began with his grandfather, W. Homer Doughty, a welterweight who compiled a 38-3-1 record as a professional and 32-0 as an amateur. He left the ring at 22 because his wife insisted upon it. Doughty's father, Charles, left a Golden Gloves career for the ministry.

The kid knows the story well. As a project for a James Madison history class, he wrote a 121-page book about his grandfather called "THE CHAMP: The Story of W. Homer Doughty."

So when Doughty in May walked into Harding-Lowery's, an unheated garage equipped with a boxing ring, punching bags and a few folding chairs for spectators, he carried on his shoulders the weight of family history. He has borne the burden well, says Dominic Baccala, the slender ex-boxer who presides at the gym with Charlie Holloway, a Maryland Boxing Hall of Famer.

"John's got a good future for the amateurs," says Baccala. "The reason I say amateur is John doesn't have the killer instinct. He doesn't want to put the full force behind it, he's afraid he'll hurt somebody. He gets him on the ropes and he lets him off . . . John's a boxer, he's not a slugger. He's more scientific."

Thus, despite the lack of hunger for the jugular Doughty has managed to compile a 3-2 record in his amateur bouts.

That last entry in the loss column really hurt. It was Nov. 26 at the Teamsters Hall in Baltimore when Doughty faced Shawn Jackson, who trained at Sugar Ray Leonard's camp in Prince George's County. Doughty and Baccala say it was Doughty's best fight ever. Everything was working, everything he wanted to do he did. Everything but win the decision.

"His boxing skill was outstanding," says Baccala. "He out-punched him, but he hurt him and let up on him . . . I was disgusted when they announced the decision. I threw my hands up in the air, which you shouldn't do because you embarrass the officials."

Doughty smiles now when he talks about that fight. It was frustrating, sure, but it was a good fight. Doughty smiles much of the time. When you first meet him you have to wonder if the blue-eyed boy is for real. He about bowls you down with good-natured enthusiasm.

Gary Serago, the evangelist at the First Christian Church of Glen Burnie, says Doughty puts lots of work into his sermons and speaks from the pulpit with verve. He's "like a ball of energy," says Serago. "He lives what he preaches. Knowing how he lives, it's easier to hear what he says. You know there's no hypocrisy."

The zeal carried Doughty to a mountain top in Turkey.

It was his idea to spend a few thousand dollars of his own money, get his buddy Doug Hardman, of Akron, and trek off to Turkey in search of Noah's Ark. Doughty says he got the idea from seeing the movie "In Search ofNoah's Ark." It took a couple of years just to plan the trip.

Itwas more than adventure for Doughty; it was spiritual quest. Doughty's not dogmatic about it, but he believes evolution is one theory of the origin of species and creationism is another. Both are worth a hearing, he says.

As both a devout Christian and a student of biology and history at James Madison, Doughty leans toward creationism. Andfinding evidence of Noah's Ark certainly would put some pragmatic clout behind his faith in the story of Genesis.

Since 1905 when a Turkish shepherd claims to have spotted the Ark on a Mount Ararat ledge, dozens of people, including several pilots, claim to have seen it.

So Doughty braved dysentery, dehydration, treacherous glacial ledges and packs of wild dogs for a chance to glimpse the Ark. He spent 17 days in Turkey in August, 12 of those on Mount Ararat. He took a lot of pictures, drank a fair amount of bad water, made friends with some potentially hostile Turks, including members of the military.

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