2nd chance let Walker put pieces together Super middleweight aims for state title tonight

April 08, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Twelve years ago, Gerry Walker, admittedly intoxicated, was sleeping in the basement of his East Baltimore home when a three-alarm fire broke out.

"By the time the paramedics got to me, I had no pulse," said the super middleweight who challenges Stan Braxton for the state title tonight at Martin's West. "They told my mother I was dead. But, miraculously, they revived me."

When he opened his eyes at the Key Burn Center, Walker asked the doctor two questions: "I wanted to know if I was going to live and if I'd be able to box again."

The doctor assured him he would survive the ordeal but took some time responding to the second question. He finally answered in the affirmative, and, after a month of skin grafts to his arms and back, Walker began resurrecting his ring career.

"It was the Lord's way of giving me another chance in life," said Walker, a deeply religious man who attends bible school classes at the Greater Grace World Outreach Center.

"Before that fire, I was into drinking and heavy drugs. But I got married to my wife, Angela, and I've been clean now for over eight years."

Now 34 and working full-time as a security guard at Maryland General Hospital, Walker (9-8-1) has never risen above club fighter status.

His top purse -- $2,500 -- came in March 1996, when he gave longtime title contender Glenwood Brown a surprisingly tough 10-round battle. He seemed on the threshold of a breakthrough only to be stopped in three rounds by Curtis Mombelly in his next bout.

"I just wasn't as motivated for Mombelly as I was for Brown," Walker admitted.

Nothing has come easy for Walker, who enlisted in the Marines when he was 17. His unit was sent to Lebanon to evacuate the Palestine Liberation Organization from Beirut.

"The Marine outfit that relieved us was the one that got blown up by the suicide truck," Walker said. "Again, it showed God was looking out for me."

Since turning pro in 1989, he has visited just about every gym in town and worked with six trainers -- Jimmy McAllister, Emperor Harris, Frank Gilbert, Andrew Singletary, Larry Middleton and Mack Lewis. He is now back at Gilbert's Loch Raven gym.

"No matter how far he goes as a fighter, Gerry is already a success story to me," Gilbert said. "He put the drugs and booze behind him and became a model citizen."

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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