Boxer gervonta davis and trainer calvin ford saved each other

    Calvin Ford was in the middle of a conversation when his phone rang. she looked at the caller ID.

    “one of my co-defendants,” he joked.

    ford chuckled.

    He is now 57 years old, more than three decades after the racketeering and conspiracy charges that landed him in federal prison.

    ford maintains a slim build and youthful appearance, roaming around l.a. live on a recent day in a black beanie, a blue hoodie, gray basketball shorts, and white leggings. she never took off her sunglasses, not even when she was indoors.

    with a warm smile and a high-pitched laugh, he didn’t look much like the tortured fictional character he was based on.

    Ford, a former major player in the Baltimore drug trade turned boxing instructor for at-risk youth on the city’s West Side, was the inspiration for Dennis “Cutty” Wise on the HBO series “The Wire.” “.

    while “the wire” was characterized by its realism, ford’s story is defined by extremes. there is more anguish. more death. win too.

    one of the guys who trained with ford while “the wire” was being produced has become a world champion. his name is gervonta davis and he will defend his lightweight title at the staples center on sunday against isaac cruz of mexico. Ford will be in his corner as one of his coaches.

    ford has visions of davis, 27, transcending his sport and transforming the crime-infested community in which he grew up.

    “He has a purpose we don’t yet know and he doesn’t yet understand,” Ford said.

    similar to how ford once didn’t know theirs.

    In the 1980s, Ford was the lieutenant of a Baltimore drug distribution ring run by Warren Boardley and Christopher Burrows. While his made-for-TV alter ego was an enforcer, the real-life Ford was the brains of the operation. Ed Burns, co-creator of “The Wire,” was a police detective who investigated the Ford gang.

    “I ran the business,” Ford said. “make sure everything was there. make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to do. he paid everyone. ”

    One of the gang’s enforcers was Reggie Gross, a heavyweight boxer whose resume includes losses to Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno and Razor Ruddock. Gross is currently serving a life sentence for three murders to which he pleaded guilty in 1989.

    ford was sentenced to prison in 1988. He spent the next 10 years behind bars. When he was released, he vowed to turn his life around, working his way up from dishwasher to manager at Phillips Food.

    “It was based on structure,” Ford said. “Just the same concept that he had when he was on the streets.”

    The search for a place where he could train his then-teenage son led him to Herring Run Recreation Center. Under the Baltimore Parks and Recreation Department, the downtown boxing classes moved to their current home in the Penn-North community. Ford was hired to run the show.

    One of the children who came to the Upton Boxing Center was 7-year-old Davis, who worked with Ford’s son, Quaadir Gurley.

    When Gurley moved to New Jersey with his mother, he told his father, “I need you to stay with Shorty [Davis] because you’ll be a good role model for him.”

    “Since then, he’s stuck to my side,” Ford said of Davis.

    Davis had moved around in foster homes and group homes, as his mother was a drug addict and his father was in prison. At the time he entered the Upton Boxing Center, he was living with his grandmother.

    “Calvin has always been that male figure in my life,” Davis said. “I think a lot of kids who were growing up around the time I was growing up needed that father figure. I really wasn’t getting that at home.”

    Davis wasn’t the most talented fighter Ford mentored, but he was the most focused, an invaluable trait in a community where the streets were always calling.

    ford remembered the fighters he lost.

    ramone manley, his first national silver glove champion, was killed. Ronald Gibbs, a nationally ranked fan with Olympic dreams, was stabbed to death while defending his sister. angelo ward, super featherweight, was shot in front of his house.

    “I’m sorry sometimes, even sitting here talking to you,” Ford said.

    The tragedies shaped Davis, who considered these fighters older brothers.

    “I was younger than those guys,” Davis said. “It was just learning from their mistakes. I know what to do and what not to do. he was traveling when he was 10, so he had seen things bigger than baltimore. my mentality was a bit different from the others. everyone else’s was to stay on the streets. I was so focused on getting out of the neighborhood and off the streets. my focus was boxing. that was my escape. I kept that path and stayed close to my coaches. we are here now.”

    especially painful was the murder of gurley, the son of ford. He was shot to death in New Jersey in July 2013, just one day after Davis knocked out Rafael Casias to improve to 4-0.

    “Your son trained me and I had a close bond with your son,” Davis said. “His son of his was a real guy. I think I got that energy from the son of him and then it went from the son to the father.”

    As Davis spoke, Ford sat down next to him and nodded silently.

    Now 25-0 with 24 knockouts, Davis has credited Ford with saving his life. Ford said the reverse is also true, that Davis and others like him have saved his life.

    “The kids helped me understand,” Ford said. “I can’t tell a child not to do something and do it myself. so I had to keep my head on straight.”

    His message to Davis is based on insight he gained during his unusual journey.

    “Live your life to the fullest,” Ford said. “You only get one life. Be nice while you’re at it.

    “You want people to love you or fear you. I’d rather people love me than fear me because if they fear you, they’ll do something to you.”

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