Former WBC/IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander has been invited to a special VIP reception in downtown St. Louis that is being held on Tuesday evening by President Barack Obama, who is visiting Alexander’s native city for a fundraiser, Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, told RingTV.com on Tuesday.
“We got a call from City Hall, and we’re invited and we’re on President Obama’s VIP list,” said Cunningham.
Then, referring to the fact that Alexander has recently climbed into the welterweight division, he added, “I guess that Manny Pacquiao isn’t the only top welterweight who will meet President Barack Obama.”
In February, Pacquiao met Obama at the White House as part of the press tour promoting what would be his unanimous decision victory over Shane Mosley in May.
Obama is visiting St. Louis as part of a tour focusing on the Midwest heading into the 2012 election season.
The opportunity to meet the President is, for Alexander, a testament to how much things can change in a person’s life.
“Me? Devon Alexander? Snotty-nosed kid? I’m fixing to meet President Barack Obama? That’s like coming from rags to riches or something like that. I mean, Manny Pacquiao, he’s the only other fighter I know who has met President Obama. So I feel pretty special. I’m very blessed,” he said.
Alexander was among 13 children born to Sharon Alexander in an embattled section of St. Louis, Mo., called Hyde Park.
Cunningham, a former narcotics detective who was working as a patrol man monitoring local elementary schools, recruited Alexander and 29 other children into boxing, offering an abandoned police station and former shooting range turned recreation center as a respite from the crack-fueled neighborhood run by notorious street gangs the Crips and The Bloods.
Alexander’s mother reluctantly allowed her son to begin boxing for Cunningham at the age of seven, but the decision to do so saved his life.
And now he’s about to meet the President.
“I can’t ask for no more. I’m fixing to go meet Obama. It could be five minutes, I don’t know. Five minutes is a long time meeting the president. I’m excited. I don’t even know what I’m going to say when I get there. I can’t even fathom it. My head hasn’t even registered it yet. I’m just ecstatic.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org