The champ could make fund-raiser a winner

This Just In...

April 23, 2001|By Dan Rodricks

DURING THE glorious spring weekend when Hasim "The Rock" Rahman astonished everyone with his stunning upset of Lennox Lewis in South Africa for the heavyweight championship, the old trainer, Mack Lewis, was home in Baltimore doing something completely predictable: planning a night of fights to benefit someone in need.

That's so "Mr. Mack."

This time the beneficiary is a little girl who was attacked by a pit bull.

If "The Rock" decides to put in an appearance at the May 10 event as tribute to the man who trained him back in the day, Lewis might have to find a bigger venue for his card. The United Autoworkers Hall might not do.

But, as it stands now, the UAW Hall at 1010 S. Oldham St. is the site of Mack Lewis' night of amateur fights, the proceeds to benefit 7-year- old Kasey Eyring, who was attacked by a pit bull while visiting her grandparents in Southwest Baltimore in January. The girl's family needs money for additional surgery. "I felt sorry for that little girl," says Lewis, who has promoted several fund-raiser cards over the years. "I'm hoping we can have a sellout and get some donations."

Baltimore labor unions are helping to organize the event and to sell tickets. (General admission is $15. Call 410-687-7580, and speak to Vince Johns, if you're interested.)

Keep in mind that there's no guarantee "The Rock" will post. But Lewis is inviting him, and if the champ decides to make an appearance, it'll be da bomb. Rahman did his early training at Mack Lewis' gym in East Baltimore, and he mentioned the 82-year-old trainer after his upset of Lennox Lewis in South Africa. He's one of countless young men who owe a lot to Mack Lewis, one of the genuine heroes of the city.

He's had his champion -- Vincent Pettway, who had the world welterweight title.

But he's had his coulda-beens, too, the most painful memory being that of Reggie Gross, an explosive heavyweight who rocked Mike Tyson in the first round in New York before Tyson came back to knock him out. Gross is serving three consecutive life terms for murder as hit man for a drug gang. "Reggie wrote to me just the other day," Lewis said yesterday. "I still hear from him. I really feel sorry for him. He's in [a federal prison] in Atlanta. But, you do what you can. I can't correct everybody."

As for Rahman, Lewis said: "Wonderful, a great fighter, character-wise. I was so surprised by the statements he made about me [in South Africa]. He really talked nice about me."

Of Mack Lewis, it's nearly impossible to say otherwise.

Just an average mansion

Declarations against "pretense" appear twice in prose accompanying the May/June Style magazine spread on Maryland Senate President Mike Miller's ostentatious, repro-Colonial, faux-Monticello McMansion overlooking the bay in Chesapeake Beach.

"They are the most unpretentious people, and great to work with," interior designer Henry Johnson is quoted as saying of Miller and his wife, Patti, who is described by Style editor Kay MacIntosh as "a genuinely friendly woman who seems incapable of pretense."

Well, I'm glad we got that established. We wouldn't want to think there was anything in the Millers that marked them as given to extravagant show.

The Senate president, who has a $24 million Annapolis office annex named for him, is just plain folk -- and never mind the 40 acres of prime real estate, the two-story great room with Victorian chandelier, the grand central hall with domed ceiling painted in faux sky, the carved Irish sideboard holding the goddess candelabra, or the hand-crafted curtain tiebacks in the dining room. Never mind all that. Mike Miller -- man of the people.

And how fashionably ironic that this leader of Maryland Democrats built his baronial manse on the grounds of a Depression-era project of Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Just another one of many quaint touches.

No laughing matter

I only caught the TV commercial once but I'm sure of what I saw -- cinematic images of Civil War re-enactors gearing up for a dramatization of the 1862 Battle of Antietam, then Union troops charging across Burnside Bridge, then suddenly a woman in casual contemporary clothes stepping out of a crowd of tourists to tell the men to stop the charge while she loads film into her camera. I might have appreciated this attempt at irreverent humor had it not trivialized the "bloodiest day in American history" when more than 23,000 men ended up dead, wounded or missing. This is how we promote tourism in Maryland. Taxpayers paid for it. Someone in state government thinks this is funny?

Falling through the cracks

A couple of weeks ago, a friend, Guy I. Know, telephoned a Montgomery County company to complain that one of its dump trucks had been hauling an uncovered load of stone on the Baltimore Beltway, had spilled some and had chipped the windshield of his car.

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