Whatever Happened to Riddick Bowe?

The former heavyweight champ's life since his boxing peak has been full of loss and the willingness to trust.

Jonathan Newton/Washington Post

by Rick Maese

The truest thing Riddick Bowe ever knew was that punch. Despite countless blows to the head, the boxer recalls its purity because his memory, he says, is as sharp as ever. He was just a teenager then, but he still hears its echoes.

"WHAP!" Bowe says, punching a fist into an open palm to punctuate his words. "Just like that. You hear that sound?"

He recalls seeing a guy on the ground, knocked out cold, his teeth jutting in all directions. "I tell you something -- about 30 years later, I've never been able to create that same shot," he says.

So much else in Bowe's strange saga, though, seems open to debate, the passage of time and the violence of his chosen profession not necessarily blurring memories so much as crystallizing the differences.