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Former boxer injured working Clearwater job

Retired professional boxer Tyrone Booze, who now works for the city of Clearwater's solid waste department, was injured last week when a garbage truck ran over him.

Booze, 45, was listed in good condition at Bayfront Medical Center on Tuesday. He did not respond to requests for an interview.

Never the recipient of a huge paycheck from boxing, Booze began working for the city nine years ago. He was working as the flag man on a front-end loader last Wednesday morning when he was injured, said Bob Brumback, Clearwater's director of solid waste and general services.

Brumback said the front-end loader picks up garbage from trash bins within the city. As the flag man, Booze had the job of exiting the truck, opening the gates around trash bins and then guiding the truck as it backs out, Brumback said.

Booze was doing just that about 8 a.m. last Wednesday in the area of Lakeview Road and Tioga Avenue. The driver was Gary W. Johnson, 48, who Brumback said is a friend of Booze's.

Clearwater police said Booze at some point fell down as the garbage truck was backing up. The back wheels rolled over his left leg. The driver had lost sight of Booze, but stopped when he heard Booze screaming, police spokesman Wayne Shelor said.

Brumback said he has learned a car may have tried to pass the truck at the time it was backing up, distracting Booze and Johnson and causing them to lose sight of each other.

Police said no charges will be filed in the incident, which Brumback said is being viewed as just a terrible accident.

"The driver is very upset because they are old friends," Brumback said. "It's just a horrible accident."

Brumback said Johnson has been driving a truck for the city for about 12 to 15 years and has no history of driving problems at work.

Brumback said city supervisors have been spending time with Booze at the hospital. Though he couldn't discuss Booze's injuries, he said he hopes the former boxer will be back to work in the near future.

"He is a very warm and friendly employee," Brumback said. "We're hoping he'll be back."

Booze was a professional fighter for 16 years before he retired in 1998. He fought the likes of Evander Holyfield and Bert Cooper during his career, amassing a record of 22 wins, 12 losses and two draws.

He defeated Derek Angol in 1992 to win the WBO World Cruiserweight boxing championship. He lost the title the following year.

Along with his wife, Tina, he founded the Smart Fighter Institute in Clearwater earlier this year.

The nonprofit organization provides boxing training and educational opportunities to youngsters. Booze has lived in Clearwater since 1989.

Tyrone Booze, 45, a former professional boxer who opened the Smart Fighter Institute for children earlier this year in Clearwater, is also a nine-year city employee.

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