'Smokin' Joe,' lovely Leslie add luster to fight card


June 28, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

It took a pit bull released from captivity to show us how to do it.

Those of us taking in the sport of pugilism Thursday night at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie learned that comebacks should be done in style and class.

It's been awhile since there was so much excitement and anticipation in the air at the Josh Hall-Victoria Savaliski dinner/boxing shows as there was Thursday night.

Most of the excitement was generated in the ring, but several sidelights outside the ring made it an unforgettable evening.

Many of the 600 fans who showed up were there to root for hometown favorite Chuck "Pit Bull" Sturm of Glen Burnie in his return to the ring after a 19-month layoff due mainly to an eye injury.

The surprise added attractions of the world's greatest ring card girl, Leslie Glass, and a former world heavyweight champion legend were icing on the cake.

The electricity in the air for the main event featuring Sturm was turned up when former world heavyweight champion "Smokin' " Joe Frazier made an appearance moments into the final bout.

While not as sharp as he can be, Sturm (24-3-1) didn't disappoint his faithful in taking a unanimous decision over Tony "TNT" Ruthledge (12-26) of Columbus, Ohio in their eight-round lightweight scrap.

The decision satisfied the majority of the fans who voiced their pleasure with a loud roar when it was announced that "Pit Bull" had emerged victorious in his comeback bout.

With Smokin' Joe and the incomparable Leslie making surprise appearances, the fans easily got their money's worth. Glass, a Baltimore resident who has been the ring card girl for more major events than any other in boxing history, loves to return to Glen Burnie whenever she can.

"I love to come back here because I love you all," said Glass, standing in the middle of the ring after accepting a bouquet of roses from Rose Runners in Crofton and a special introduction proclaiming her as the "world's greatest ring card girl."

She held the round card high through all five bouts and a total of 26 rounds of boxing. It was in Glen Burnie that her career began, and she never has forgotten that.

Little did she know back on Aug. 5, 1987, that by lugging a round card through the ring at LaFontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie that she would go on to do the same in world heavyweight bouts at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, N.J., and become a mega model and the only woman to appear in both "Playboy" (1988 and 1991) and "Penthouse" (1992) magazines.

The 28-year-old Glass said, "I love Chuckie [Sturm], and he's one the main reasons I'm back here tonight.

xTC "I really love coming back here to see my old friends. The people here have been great to me. and I need to get back once in awhile."

Frazier drove down from Philly after making a promise to close buddies Sen. Michael Wagner and Jimmy Dunmyer, who runs the Ferndale Tavern.

"Joe told us he would be down for the show, but ran into a little problem on [Interstate] 695 and called to ask us if we could hold up the main event for a few minutes until he got there," said Dunmyer. "He drives his own limo and blew a gasket, so I went and got him and brought him here.

"They held it [the main event] up as long as they could and had to start. But Joe still got to see the finish."

Smokin' Joe was surrounded by adoring fans and autograph seekers. While the fans awaited the announcement on the decision of the main event, Smokin' Joe was introduced and climbed into the ring amid a thundering ovation.

Dressed in a suit with a string tie and a big black hat, Smokin' Joe took a trip around the ring shaking the hands of both fighters and returning to sit at ringside. His ovation proved to be a rehearsal for the one that would follow when Sturm was announced the winner.

"I liked what I saw of him [Sturm]. He goes straight ahead, and that's what I used to do, you know," said Frazier with a laugh.

"I'm glad I got to see him fight, because Mike and Jim have been telling me about him."

Sturm was also the reason that hair-stylist Magic Mike Marcellino, who owns Head First in Harundale, was in the building. Magic Mike has been cutting Sturm's hair for several years, but had never been able to catch "Pit Bull" in action.

"Chuck's been telling me about his fights, and I've been reading about him, but this is the first time I was able to do so and I'm glad I did," said Magic Mike.

An avid boxing fan, Magic Mike, who was a loyal follower of matchmaker Josh Hall when Hall was a middleweight banging his way into the Maryland Hall of Fame at Steelworkers' Hall during the '70s, was pumped up for the main event.

As the Sturm-Ruthledge bout carried into the middle rounds of what was to be an eight-rounder, Magic Mike joined the enthusiastic crowd cheering "Chuckie, Chuckie," and begged for knockdown.

"I would like to see him take this guy out," said Magic Mike, who went on to reveal one of Sturm's secrets, that only his barber would know.

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