Requiem for a Cruiserweight

O'Neil Bell

The boxing ring, seen by spectators as a squared circle of sadism, strangely serves as a refuge from violence for many practitioners of the sweet science.

O’Neil Bell, the former lineal cruiserweight champion of the world, serves as a case in point. Bloodied, battered, and bruised, knocked down and knocked out during a 32-fight professional boxing career, the Jamaican immigrant fought a last, losing battle after a sneak attack on the streets of Atlanta earlier this week. Like other young men living in dangerous urban environments, O’Neil Bell died from a violence that ignores the dictates of Jack Broughton, the Marquess of Queensbury, or any other legislator of fisticuffs fair play.

The list of world champion boxers murdered in recent years include Hector Camacho, Vernon Forrest, Trevor Berbick, Corrie Sanders, and, more than likely, Arturo Gatti. If you watched ESPN’s old Friday Night Fights series, then surely Julian Letterlough and Emanuel Augustus ring familiar. The former lost his life after someone shot him in the back after he exited a bar; the latter clung to life after a robber fired a round in the back of his head as he returned home from the gym.

Bell’s killer’s took the coward’s approach, too.

Cops say the latest villains approached an Atlanta bus in a stolen Chrysler PT Cruiser. After passengers departed at a southwest Atlanta stop, the thieves in the SUV robbed a 28-year-old man dressed as a woman of his purse and shot him in the hip. True to his “Give ’em Hell” nickname, Bell apparently told the brigands off. Then the murderers, without even an attempt to fight like real men, shot the former undisputed boxing champion in the chest. He died at the scene.