Promoter Gary Shaw has listened to the debate about what to do at ground zero, whether to build a memorial or rebuild the World Trade Center. Frankly, he didn't get it.
"Why don't they just put up the buildings again," he wondered.
Now he understands.
Shaw, who promotes local fighters Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy, returned Monday from a trip he and Tampa attorney Jim Wilkes(Wright and Lacy's adviser) took to tsunami-ravaged regions in Thailand.
What he saw he can't put into words. But he called it a life-altering experience.
"I didn't really ever grasp ground zero I didn't get it," said Shaw. "When I was over in Thailand, I was standing there on the beaches where 1,000 people had just died. We saw shoes and flip-flops washed up, and I knew people had been in them. I saw a monk praying. I felt like I was on hallowed ground. I understand ground zero now."
Shaw and Wilkes, who donated $100,000 to relief efforts, were invited to Thailand by Gen. Kovid Bhakdibhuni, the president of the Asian Boxing Council, to view the damage.
While there, they saw homeless people and areas completely obliterated by the tsunami. "To think the energy of a wave could do this we're not just talking mud huts and homes on stilts, this was concrete. It was just destroyed."
Shaw said he plans to contribute to the relief effort by trying to get the WBC to hold its annual convention in Phuket, instead of Spain, to help boost Thailand tourism.
"I'm trying to gather my thoughts; I want to do something and something that's meaningful," said Shaw. "If I had a billion dollars, I would have given it away there at the (the Golden Triangle, where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet). The people there told me that if I could bring one message back, it's to tell Americans to come back. Let them come, and come with money in their pocket."
FIGHT TIME: Shaw said he was going to speak to fellow promoter Don King today, and Wilkes would be talking to Wright, about the negotiations for a fight with Felix Trinidad.
Negotiations stalled after Wright said he was unhappy with his cut of the purse and the proposed March date, which was too soon after his second win over Shane Mosley in November. Shaw said he hopes a deal can be made by next week.
KIDS IN THE HALL: Former two-time featherweight champion Bobby Chacon and junior middleweight champ " Terrible" Terry Norris head the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum's Class of 2005.
Other notables include former featherweight champion Barry McGuigan and boxing historian and writer Bert Sugar.
The Hall of Fame also released nine names of posthumous honorees, including former Mike Tysonmanager and historian Bill Cayton.
NOT SO FAST: Just a week ago, promoter Murad Muhammad was quoted as saying the Feb. 26 rematch between Manny Pacquiaoand Juan Manuel Marquez was "not final but we believe it's done."
Sunday night, it was reported that Erik "El Terrible" Moraleswould meet Pacquiao, instead, on March 19 in Las Vegas. The 12-round super featherweight bout will be an HBO pay-per-view event. Reportedly, Marquez was demanding too much. Pacquiao's people moved up their plans to fight Morales. The two were expected to fight in the summer.
FIRST UP: The first local boxing card in 2005 will take place Jan. 21 at the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa. The StarFight Production's card will be headlined by Sarasota's Aaron Jaco (12-0-0, 4 KOs) fighting for the NBA Junior Intercontinental light heavyweight title. In the co-main event, welterweight Oscar Gonzalez (7-2-0, 2 KOs) will be fighting. For more information, call (813) 831-5390.