Sick son keeps Wise motivated and fighting New York welterweight faces Coley tomorrow

March 09, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Last spring, Willy Wise was ready to board a plane at LaGuardia Airport that would take him to Las Vegas, where he was to serve as a sparring partner for Pernell Whitaker before his title fight with Oscar De La Hoya.

"I heard my name being called on the airport paging system," recalled Wise, a veteran welterweight from Westbury, N.Y.

"They told me to call home. My wife, Eureka, was hysterical. She said my son, Dominique, was having one of his seizures. A real bad one. I told my manager, Tom Molloy, I couldn't go to Las Vegas and went right home."

His son, Dominique, who turned 4 last month, is why Willy Wise is still fighting professionally and will be swapping punches with title challenger Derrell Coley in a nationally televised bout at the Pikesville Armory tomorrow night.

Dominique suffers from a rare disease called chronic seizure disorder (CSD). The attacks started more than a year ago, and life since has been a perpetual emergency for Willy and his wife.

"It was really traumatic what Dominique had to go through before the doctors diagnosed him," Wise said. "They treated him like a guinea pig. He had spinal taps, CTscans and all kinds of blood tests.

"When he was in the hospital, he'd have six or seven seizures a day. His whole body would shake like a rag doll. It was like a living hell. Sometimes his body would freeze. Other times he'd pass out, just fall flat on his face, and we'd wonder if he'd ever breathe again."

Medication all but eliminated the seizures, but they recurred, less often, but just as frightening.

"Now he takes five pills a day," Wise said. "He tells me: 'Daddy, no more pills. I won't have any more seizures.' It makes me feel like crying."

Wise (22-3-4), who is 31, has considered quitting and has supplemented his ring income by working as a welder and custodian. But without medical insurance and nearly $80,000 in medical bills, he knows boxing affords his best opportunity to get even.

"I was promised $100,000 to fight Whitaker last August after he lost to De La Hoya, but then he flunked a drug test. Now I'm just looking for paydays. If I can ever get out of debt, I'll probably hang up the gloves. But with Dominique, these seizures could last a lifetime."

A superior boxer but lacking a knockout wallop, Wise has been used as a testing ground for up-and-comers like Coley (31-1-2), who is in position to challenge Whitaker or De La Hoya by this fall.

"This is like my last hurrah," Wise said. "If I can beat Coley, it will put me right back in contention. He's a clever boxer, but I don't see him doing anything better than I do."

Wise is still chasing a dream that began as an amateur back on the Virginia eastern shore in the mid-1980s. But, most of all, he fights for Dominique.

He has established a national foundation to help pay the bills of children afflicted with CSD. For information, visit http: // on the Internet.

Pub Date: 3/09/98

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