Rahman's corner change

Boxing: Hasim Rahman has replaced Adrian Davis with Thell Torrence, the ninth time in his 10-year career that Rahman has switched trainers.


October 14, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Adrian Davis previously spoke to Hasim Rahman in early August. It was nearly midnight as they stood outside Michael's Eighth Avenue after a fight card at the Glen Burnie ballroom.

"He gave me a hug, told me he'd be checking out real estate in Las Vegas, that he'd see me in two weeks," Davis said. "Next thing I hear, he's got a new trainer."

Davis learned Friday that Rahman, the former world heavyweight champion from Baltimore, had replaced him with Las Vegas-based Thell Torrence. Rahman has worked for the past month in preparation for a Nov. 13 bout with New Zealand's Kali Meehan.

In Torrence, Rahman has tapped a man who spent 44 years as a chief second to legendary trainer Eddie Futch. Torrence, 68, had a hand in the development of heavyweight champs Riddick Bowe, Tony Tubbs and Ken Norton, as well as champions at lighter weights - Alexis Arguello, Wayne McCullough, Mike McCallum and Virgil Hill.

Rahman owns homes in Fallston and Las Vegas. He has been living in Las Vegas for the past few months with his wife, Crystal, and three children, who are in school there. He cited a need to be near his family as being a factor in making the switch in trainers.

"I needed someone who was geographically convenient, so that I can be at the gym full time, and I needed someone with vast knowledge and experience," said Rahman (39-5-1, 32 knockouts), who is in search of his fifth straight win and his fourth straight knockout against Meehan (29-2, 23 KOs), who is 34 and a hard-punching 6 feet 5.

"I'm on a roll, and I'm in better shape than I've been in for the past few years," said Rahman, 31, who changed trainers for the ninth time in his 10-year career. "I'm still a work in progress, and I don't want to lose the feeling I have right now."

It is the second time Rahman has replaced Davis, who was in Rahman's corner for both his knockout win over Lennox Lewis for the world championship in April 2001 and for Rahman's loss in their rematch seven months later.

Rahman fired Davis after the loss to Lewis, then turned, in succession, to Bouie Fisher, Buddy McGirt and Roger Mayweather.

Rahman rehired Davis for his past three bouts, all second-round knockout wins.

"I had heard all of the negatives about Rahman - hard guy to get along with, don't pay attention, don't train right, has a rowdy group of friends around him," said Torrence, who became interested in Rahman after receiving a call from Rahman's co-manager, Steve Nelson, early last month.

Torrence agreed to work with Rahman only after being convinced of his commitment and loyalty in "a frank and fair, one-on-one meeting that lasted an hour," the trainer said.

"What he told me was that he's had other guys and that he doesn't want to change trainers again. I've got standards that I live by, don't train you just for the money," Torrence said.

"If I don't feel like I can make the right contribution, if I don't get respect from the fighter - I don't do it. My last statement to Rock was, `As far as I'm concerned, your whole past is behind you.' And he said, `You tell me what to do, I'll do it.' I'm comfortable with that arrangement."

Rahman said he became a "confused fighter" as a result of the trainers' differing philosophies. But Torrence said, "I'm not going to come in and make any drastic changes to confuse him, just make adjustments to his benefit."

Strength and conditioning guru Leonard Ellerbee said Rahman's "legs are stronger, his conditioning is superb," and "five weeks out, he weighs less than he did in his last fight [246 3/4 ]."

"It looks like it's fun again for Rock, which motivates me," Torrence said. "If what he's doing now transfers into the ring, he'll be heavyweight champion of the world again."

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