Boxer should get rights punched out

Just how old are we? On Wednesday evening in St. Paul, 44-year-old University Facilities Management employee Gene Schultz appeared at a meeting with the Minnesota State Boxing Board. The subject: Should Schultz — who has an artificial right leg — be given an unrestricted license to fight professionally anywhere in the state?
In this corner, the seemingly indisputable seven-member board. The group, led by chair Joe Azzone, maintains — in accordance to state rules — Schultz see a doctor to give him a fight physical.
In August, the board suggested Schultz see a specific doctor for the evaluation and Schultz supposedly agreed.
But Schultz said Wednesday he agreed to no such thing. He said he has no desire to see any physician connected to a board he absolutely does not trust.
Again, with no physical examination to evaluate, the board could not issue a license to Schultz.
Ultimately, Schultz stuck his tongue out at the board and went to fight on the casino circuit.
In October, Schultz won his first professional bout in Hinckley, knocking out an 0-5 punching bag named Tory Martin in 36 seconds.
Prior to the ‘Humiliation in Hinckley,’ Schultz received permission to fight from a clinic in Roseville. So, he reasons that he is ready to step into the professional ranks. Na-na-na-nah-boo-boo.
Not so, says the board. They passed a motion Wednesday that under no uncertain terms Schultz must see their doctor. The message: Either Schultz does it the board’s way, or he has no chance at a license. ‘Young man, as long as you live in this house …’
Once again, Schultz balked. He said following the meeting that his next step is to sue the board under the American Disabilities Act.
So there.
What’s a guy to do? Schultz puts Martin away in the time it takes a college basketball clock to expire, and the board laughs. They wrote Martin off as a tomato can.
Schultz threatens to sue and the board doesn’t budge. In a shrewd way, the board knows time is not on the side of Schultz. A court case like this could take years to resolve, and at 44, Schultz doesn’t have that kind of time for a license in limbo.
Whether or not Schultz’s skepticism of the board is justified, he certainly has a right to be frustrated. Even the board’s executive secretary, Jim O’Hara, said the Minnesota Board is one of the most stingy in the business.
But O’Hara also points out that such stinginess helps the members fall asleep when the lights go out. Better to protect the boxers from themselves, they reason.
In this case they’re probably right — Schultz is the epitome of relentlessness.
But that’s what a fighter is.
He grew up a scrapping kid on St. Paul’s East Side. Jail time? Logged it. Back-alley brawls? Won some, lost some.
The scars on Schultz’s face attest to that. His mug is a travelogue of heartaches and hard knocks.
Steered in the direction of the sweet science, Schultz won Midwest Golden Gloves heavyweight titles in 1978 and 1979.
His promising career looked over later in 1979, when Schultz lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.
Focused? Lying in the street sans appendage, Schultz’s immediate thoughts were of a comeback.
He is a hard-punching brawler. He’s the type who’d eat his own guts and ask for seconds.
So come on, at the risk of sounding like a blood-thirsty fan, let Schultz fight. This is the boxing business, right? The board, in its infinite righteousness, can’t keep grounding Schultz like an overbearing parent.
Besides, “White Lightning” ‘s got a chip on his shoulder, and he deserves a chance to get it knocked off.

David La Vaque covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]