Joseph Santoliquito

The American Dream came close to being a nightmare

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Now Reid fights a new battle.

The demons gnaw at him. It’s reflected in his personality and in his words. When Hart was living with him he could tell when Reid would have a good or bad day. Reid would engage him in conversation on good days. On the bad days Reid would lock himself in his bedroom and say nothing.

“I was depressed for a while there; I have really bad depression in my family and it’s a struggle every day,” Reid admitted during a more lucid discourse. “I inherited it from my family. Being depressed isn’t that bad right now because I take medication for it. I don’t know how bad it got. I just got into a depression and I lost track of things.”

Reid is only 38. He’ll turn 39 in September. His professional career only lasted four years. He fought a mere 19 times, going 17-2 with seven knockouts. Mitchell resisted Reid fighting again after his punishing loss to Felix Trinidad in March 2000, when he lost the WBA 154-pound title he had won from Laurent Boudouani in only his 12th pro fight.

alt“Dave had a pretty remarkable career,” said Mitchell. “What makes it more remarkable is he fought essentially with one eye. His left eye was far worse than anyone knew, and it’s why we wanted to move Dave fast. I walked away. I wanted Dave to get out of [boxing] after he got beat by Trinidad. I didn’t want the Trinidad fight. I wanted Dave to take some easy fights.

“We were lucky. The eye came down after a year or two (after turning pro). But it came down after one or two rounds in the Trinidad fight. We didn’t talk for a little while there, but Dave has found his way back. He called me up and told me he wasn’t doing anything at home and he’s been up here [in Marquette] since 2004.”

If there’s been an omnipresent light in Reid’s life it’s been Mitchell. An old-school coach who possesses old-world values, Mitchell may be the one singular reason Reid is alive today. The trainer manages Reid’s expenses, keeps the parasites away and covets and protects Reid’s most prized possession, his Olympic gold medal, which sits securely in a safe.

“I worry about him when I’m not home; I’m like his only support now with everything, but my goal is for Dave to go back home and rejoin his family, to get better and be around some people we trust. We’re working on that,” said Mitchell, who essentially raised Reid and trained him since he was eight.

The mood swings that Reid says is hereditary may have been worsened by his boxing career.

“With boxing, you see repeated concussive blows that can increase the risk of depression,” said Dr. Matthew Sacks, a licensed clinical psychologist at Joint Base Andrews Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic based in Camp Spring, Maryland. “There is no black-and-white answer as to whether or not depression is hereditary. You can have an identical twin, separated at birth and raised in completely different environments, in those types of studies, you see some differences. Your life experiences make up those differences. But research suggests you have an increased risk of chronic depression and encephalopathy, all the stuff that we see in the NFL, NHL, what everyone is talking about, when you expose yourself to repeated brain trauma.

“That can have a long-term effect. Look at the list of all the professional athletes that go through this and kill themselves. It’s probably a little bit of both, heredity and boxing.”

There is hope for Reid. To his credit, he doesn’t shoulder should’ves, could’ves and only-ifs.

“I feel better today from the condition I was in five, six years ago,” Reid said. “I’m a whole lot better. I realize I’m going to have to take medication every day for the rest of my life. Al is still a very important part of my life. But I don’t talk to anyone else.”

He has also cut himself off from boxing.

“I do remember winning the gold medal,” Reid said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I still would have fought and I think I would have done everything the same.”

In the meantime, Hart will still continue pestering him about being in his corner, and Mitchell will continue worrying about him, and Mussachio will continue to keep Reid in his prayers and his thoughts.

“I won’t stop until I see Dave in my corner one more time on my HBO debut,” said Hart. “That’s my goal for him. David Reid means too much to so many people, because he’s helped so many. Now maybe it’s time people start thinking about Dave.”

 

 

Photos / Al Bello and Donald Miralle of Getty Images Sport, and Danielle Pamble

Santoliquito can be emailed at jsantoliquito@yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @jsantoliquito

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