On a recent afternoon, Henny Wallitsch, the sandpaper-voiced boxing trainer and proprietor of the Fifth Amendment in Kew Gardens, Queens, leaned up against his bar, lit a cigarette and told a visitor a story that most of his patrons have heard before.
Roughly 10 years ago, Mr. Wallitsch said, he brought a young boxer out to Las Vegas for a fight. The kid was a promising heavyweight, but untested, Henny said. One night before his big debut, Henny’s trainee found trouble, and he fell–or was pushed, some fear–out a 10-story hotel window and died. No one knows for sure what happened. The kid’s white boots still hang over the Fifth Amendment’s cash register.
“I’ll never train another fighter,” Mr. Wallitsch said dramatically. “But if I were to train someone, it’d be this girl here .”
The girl was a petite, firm-shouldered, 21-year-old brunette named Lynn Mora, who had just walked in the door and was preparing to relieve Mr. Wallitsch behind the bar. She was dressed in a halter top and tight pants, with a green bandanna pulled around her head and large silver hoop earrings dangling from her ears. As Mr. Wallitsch watched, Ms. Mora glided along the narrow file between the bar stools and yellowed walls smothered in aging boxing memorabilia.
“I wanted no part of women fighters,” Henny said. “But this girl impressed me.”
Ms. Mora is a flyweight on the cusp of going professional. She’s being trained by Mr. Wallitsch’s friend, Billy McNeece, the son of a former heavyweight professional who runs the Electchester gym out of the basement of an electricians’ union cooperative apartment building on Jewel Avenue, a 15-minute walk from the bar.
A military brat originally from Florida, Ms. Mora moved to New York four months ago. Her days begin at about 5 a.m. with a seven-mile run. Next is a workout, followed by a long nap. Afternoons are spent at the gym with Mr. McNeece, hitting the bags with six-pound gloves, improving her right hook. Dinner is usually two flanks of steak; bedtime is early.
“No one really comes here to just sit around and be here,” Ms. Mora said of her decision to come to New York. “Everybody comes here for that crazy purpose, that job or that dream, to really make something happen here.”
Prior to boxing, Ms. Mora modeled swimsuits, and she spent time in flight school before her brother told her about underground boxing bouts in Miami that allowed women to fight. “I’d always been a tomboy,” she said. Soon, she was making better money fighting than she had modeling. She enjoyed it, too.
As a pro, however, Ms. Mora is considered raw, lacking proper technique. Mr. Wallitsch has come out of semi-retirement to assist her, giving her a job at the Fifth Amendment, setting her up with Mr. McNeece, introducing her to his old connections in the fight business. They recently took in the bouts at the new ballpark in Coney Island; Mr. Wallitsch introduced Ms. Mora to the state boxing commissioners and to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. “Most kids starting out don’t get to see all that,” Mr. Wallitsch said. “What it’s like inside.”
As for Ms. Mora’s future, Henry was cautious. “She could be great in the gym, but she lets her guard down in the ring, she gets hit in the jaw–BOOM!–end of her career,” Mr. Wallitsch said. “But she’s got her own way of doing things.”
” Playboy is interested in me,” Ms. Mora said, as if to prove Henny’s point. “It’d give me exposure … yeah, that’s the word: exposure !”
Ms. Mora wasn’t sure if she’d do Playboy . Propelled by name daughters like Laila Ali, Freeda George Foreman and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, women’s boxing is gaining strength and is surprisingly lucrative at its top levels. While the purses for male boxers are still far bigger, a woman can now make as much as $3 million per bout.
Ms. Mora, of course, will earn considerably less in her first fight. “She has to prove herself in the ring!” Mr. Wallitsch said.
And if she doesn’t prove herself?
“She’ll pick up her marbles and go and do something else,” Henny said. “I got a friend in here who’s in horses. Says she’s the perfect size to be a jockey.”
No Ordinary Love
In her 17 years making records, Sade, the Nigerian-born pop singer who played Madison Square Garden on Aug. 13 and 15, has been called everything from a bore to a musical genius to a slightly-better-than-average elevator musician. What’s undisputed about Sade, however, is that affluent white people like to fool around to her records. Walk into someone’s bedroom and find Love Deluxe on the CD tray, chances are that he or she is getting some–or at least trying to get some. Sade’s the Al Green for people who shop at Pottery Barn.
“I had one of my first kisses to ‘Diamond Life,'” said Jeremy Smith, 29, who was standing outside the Garden before the Aug. 13 show. “Her name was Julia. She was all ‘This music is making me tired’ and pretending to be asleep. I knew what she wanted. So I planted one on her lips. Then she woke up and went home.”
“Wow–we used to smooch to [‘Diamond Life’],” said Franz Schelling, 38, who was attending the concert with his wife Anna. They were on holiday from Germany.
Al Sacco, 41, was more direct. “I came alone,” he said. “But I am not leaving alone. I’m here to get laid, basically.” He pawed his substantial belly. “I brought my Mustang for just that purpose. Sade has never let me down.”
Death Row doesn’t sound that awful. You get to read a lot, and there’s three meals a day. It gives order to your life. Plus, you know how you’re going to die. The other morning, I was stepping off the curb to hail a cab outside Bellevue Bar and Tracy, the owner, yelled, “Get back here!” A split second later, a sanitation truck came barreling by me, missing me by inches. A nasty, embarrassing way to go, right? No saying goodbye, no making peace, no ordering whatever you want to eat the night before.
Here is what I would like for my last meal:
1. Two double-bacon cheeseburgers (medium well), crispy fries and onion rings from Gardenia on Madison. And some of those delicious mini-burgers from that jazz place on the Upper East Side.
2. Guacamole and chips and salsa from Zarela or Maya.
3. Thai beef jerky from Rain.
4. Fuck sushi. O.K., one spicy tuna roll from Hatsuhana with that sauce. Extra wasabi. A seaweed salad. Some sea urchin.
5. 10 mozzarella sticks.
1. A brisket sandwich with mayo and two hot dogs from Katz’s, a little sauerkraut, a little catsup.
2. Eight ounces of Beluga caviar with all the fixings.
3. Truffles from Le Cirque; a Wolferman’s English muffin perfectly toasted, drenched with butter; lima beans with butter; mousse paté and Stoned Wheat Thins; a big Caesar salad with three nicely sliced avocados and salty sunflower seeds. No anchovies, no anchovy shit in the dressing.
1. A banana-cream pie with real bananas; a Hot Fudge Brownie Delight from Dairy Queen; a big mess of tapioca pudding.
1. A Creamy Club (extra bacon) and a Tijuana Taxi (extra jalapenos) from Yello Sub.
2. A personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut (surprise me on the toppings, but no mushrooms or olives).
3. A plate of burnt ends from the Bum Steer in Lawrence, Kan., with four pieces of white bread. (Don’t forget this one; very important!)
1. One bottle of very expensive, good-tasting (not fruity-tasting) red wine that gives you that nice, warm feeling; three cans of Heineken and a straw; a can of Bud; some root beer (A&W, if possible); a liter bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label–Red Label, not Black, not Blue, especially not White, that’s Dewar’s and it sucks; lotsa ice; a bottle of brandy; a pack of Dunhills, a pack of Camel Lights; two frozen margaritas with salt (Zarela); a gram of pure coke; two bags of good-quality smack; an eight-hour Demerol drip; another gram of the uncut in case I start feeling sleepy ….