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Attention Military: Riddick Bowe? About Face!

Graduated NYU 1963. Worked in NYC in public relations 2 years then as reporter/news editor 32 years at The Hour newspapers. Retired in 2000.

Riddick Bowe, right, Defeats Evander Holyfield in 1995

Riddick Bowe, right, defeats Evander Holyfield in 1995

These Are 'Real' U.S. Marines

These are (real) U.S. Marines

The Cold War may be over, but there's no shortage of hot or potentially explosive situations around the world.

There have been a few military cutbacks since the Soviet Union bowed to the pressures of history and a flawed economic and political system, but the United States still must spend huge amounts of money to maintain, equip and pay the gallant men and women whose job is to keep us out of harm's way.

Military Preparedness

Should any of the festering conflicts around the world flare up, we'll need all of our resources to handle them. Just look at what it took to quell Saddam Hussein's ambitions in Kuwait.

But, based on some things I've heard recently, the military doesn't appear to be the same one that I served for three years.

Case in point: Riddick Bowe.

Bowe, for the uninitiated, is a former heavyweight (boxing) champion.

Earlier this year, the press reported that Bowe had joined the U.S. Marines.

Puzzling Announcement

Personally, I was puzzled by the announcement. Why would a boxer who can make millions for a single prize fight want to give up his income, as well as his freedom, to become a Marine recruit? It didn't make sense to me.

Shortly afterward the media reported that Bowe said he didn't like the Marines and, therefore, decided to quit.

Quit? Quit the Marines?

The report was incomprehensible.

Ask any oldtime soldier. sailor, Marine, airman or Coastguardsman about quitting the service -- during basic training, or at any time.

It isn't done! It can't be done!

Not Wanted by Marines

The Marines confirmed this later when they issued a statement saying that Bowe did not quit after all; the Marines didn't want him!

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I didn't see any reaction to that story. But another story soon surfaced saying that Bowe was considering reapplying to the Marines.

The media, I must say, parenthetically, has done an overall incompetent job of covering this story.

Riddick Bowe: A Big Wimp?

No one asked the question: How can a champion heavyweight boxer be such a big wimp? Or, even, how can anyone just up and quit the Marines?

Sure, there's been a lot of changes in the military since I served three years in the Army in the '50s. For one, today's dogfaces make a whole lot more that the $78 a month I received.

Training may have changed somewhat since those days, but I'm sure the military still aims to instill unquestioned discipline and wants to be certain that every man, or woman, has the high degree of physical conditioning necessary to insure that the job gets done.

Trainees Taught Humility

In the '50s, the training cadre let the recruits know that no matter who they thought they might be in civilian life in the military service they were just another trainee. The recruits were not handled with kid gloves; on the contrary, one could say without fear of contradiction that they were treated like dirt -- or perhaps that's being too mild. They were taught humility.

In any event, Bowe would have had his face rubbed in the mud by fellow trainees, and the cadre, had he cried about his fate in my outfit -- notwithstanding his "champion" sobriquet.

More likely, he would have won his discharge from the Marines, but not before he faced a court martial for refusal to obey orders (to undergo training.)

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaperof Norwalk, Conn., on April 26, 1997.

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 1

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 2

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 3

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 4

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 5

Riddick Bowe Verses Evander Holyfield 11/13/92 Part 6


William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 22, 2010:

Back in the old days, mquee, the military often used celebrities to help build morale among the troops rather than giving them ordinary grunt jobs. I agree it was a mistake for the Marines to accept Bowe unless they planned to use his talents and his celebrity wisely. I think the military is far different now than it was just a few decades ago. Thanks for your nice comment.

mquee from Columbia, SC on June 22, 2010:

I know I am a bit late on this William, but I agree that the news media for some odd reason let this slip by. Actually, I believe the Marines made a mistake in accepting Riddick Bowe in the first place. By the time he decided he wanted to be a marine, he was a millionaire. Making the transition from living in an expansive residence then going to a military cot in an open barracks does not make sense. Anyone that has been in the military would know this act was doomed to fail. I guess this was not entertaining enough for the news media. Good job William!

William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on March 15, 2008:

It sure is a different Army today, Bob. But the pay's better.

Bob on March 14, 2008:

Bill....Liked it. As you kno,I too was a member of the old "Brown Boot" Army. When the Sgt. said drop your drawers and squat , you didn't question him. Times sure have changed and you know my feelings , I don't think for the better.

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