Forgotten Legends: David Reid

By: Steve Gallegos

Over the years there have been many fighters who were primed for the spotlight and who were destined for greatness only to have their world come crashing down. That was the case with former Jr Middleweight champion David “The American Dream” Reid.

The story of David is one of both triumph and tragedy. Coming from the fighting city of Philadelphia, Reid was an outstanding amateur boxer, making the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, which was probably the last great U.S. Olympic team. The class of 1996 featured future world champions such as Fernando Vargas, Eric Morel, David Diaz, Antonio Tarver and the great Floyd Mayweather.

In the olympic final in Atlanta, Reid was losing badly on points to Cuban Alfredo Duvergel before landing a huge right hand that knocked Duvergel out earning Reid the gold medal. He is one of there U.S. Olympians to win the gold in the last 20 years. His pro debut was delayed due to surgery of a droopy left eyelid. He suffered the eye injury in a 1995 amateur bout with Daniel Santos and the eyelid would have an everlasting effect on his boxing career.

He turned pro on 03/21/97. He was the first fighter ever to make his pro debut on HBO and he won an impressive four round decision against unbeaten Sam Calderon. Reid continued to fight regularly throughout 1997, scoring impressive KO’s including a first round KO over former world champion Jorge Vaca. The opponents he was being matched against all had winning records and all were being nationally televised on USA, Fox Sports and HBO. He was becoming a sensation very quickly and fight fans were always excited whenever Reid was fighting.

1998 was another successful year as he continued to win impressively against very credible opposition. One of his best wins that year was a fourth round KO over former world champion Simon Brown early that summer. He then was faced with a tough challenge from undefeated southpaw James “Cowboy” Coker. His management and trainer wanted him to face a tall, akward southpaw as it would better him in the long run and make him into a world champion. Reid rose to the occassion and boxed smartly throughout the bout.

Despite suffering two late knockdowns, Reid won a lopsided unanimous decision improving his record to 11-0. That same year, his fellow olympic teammates Mayweather and Vargas won world titles. It was now time for Reid to fight for a world title. He would get his shot against tough WBA Jr. Middleweight Champion Laurent Boudouani of France.

They met on 03/06/99 in Atlantic City. Reid boxed smartly against the champion and rocked him late in the bout. The end result was a convincing unanimous decision victory for Reid. He was now a world champion. He would defend his title that summer against Australian Kevin Kelly winning a unanimous decision.

He then faced former WBC Super Welterweight Champion “Brooklyn” Keith Mullings at the Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas. It was rough, sluggish fight in which Mullings even intentionally fouled Reid by hitting him in the face with his knee. It wasn’t a pretty fight; however Reid got the job done, winnning a unanimous decision. This set up a mega fight with Felix Trinidad.

Trinidad was coming off of the biggest win of his career over Oscar De La Hoya in one of the biggest bouts of the 1990’s. They met on 03/03/00 at the brand new outdoor arena at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Reid fought well throughout the first half of the fight and dropped Trinidad in the third round. Trinidad recovered well and began a huge rally in the second half of the fight in which he battered the much less experienced Reid, dropping him there times in the bout en route to an easy 12 round decision victory.

This particular fight would serve as the breaking point for Reid’s career as he was put into a huge fight against a very experienced, dangerous opponent too soon. He would fight and win three times throughout 2000 and 2001 in unimpressive fashion. He would look good throughout the first half of the fight only to fade in the later rounds. His droopy eyelid was continuing to worsen and his world was about to come crashing down hard.

On 11/11/01 he faced relatively unknown Sam Hill and would suffer a bad ninth round TKO ending his career for good. He retired with a record of 17-2 with 7 KO’s. What’s even more impressive is his opponents combined record of 470-88.

Today Reid resides in Michigan and is battling many demons outside the ring. It’s been reported that he suffers from depression and spends most time in seclusion while reading many books and magazines. In the summer of 2005, Reid locked himself inside his car with the windows rolled up on a very hot day. An ambulance was called and he was rushed to the hospital in which he had to be revived by shock pads. He doesn’t have much to do with boxing these days; however he is viewed a symbol of success for many up and coming Philadelphia fighters who look up to Reid as a hero.

It’s very sad to see what has happened to the once budding superstar and it brings tears to this reporter’s eyes as this piece is being written. What could it have been like had he not suffered the eye injury? What could it have been like if his managment team brought him along the right way and not put him into a fight he wasn’t ready for? We are left with the bittersweetness of a short career full of great memories for as long as it lasted.
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