By Chris “Man of a Few Words” Benedict
Facebook is a funny thing. Prison is not. Allow me to explain.
Chances are bound to be 100% that you have Facebook friends who clutter your feed with the minutiae of everyday monotony. The obsessive parents who post photos of every one of their kids’ adorable accomplishments, the dubious Facebook foodies who insist on sharing the contents of each meal, those who use the site as some sort of journal on which they record, in real time and in excruciating detail, their thoughts and feelings on current events or pop culture and anything and everything in between. And don’t even get me started on the narcissistic selfie addicts.
Some people are more economical, for personal reasons of their own choosing, about the content they share and the frequency with which they do.
Former NABF, IBF, and WBA world champion in three weight divisions-middleweight and super middleweight and light heavyweight-Michael Nunn has a very valid reason for not updating his profile terribly often. That is because, as a current inmate of Bruceton Mills, WV’s Hazelton Federal Correctional Institution, he has been serving a 24-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and is permitted minimal internet access, to say nothing of the denial of his more vital liberties.
Without divulging specifics, Nunn (ineligible for freedom until 2024 under the terms of his original conviction) did just days ago, however, write an interesting update on his Facebook page wherein he thanked his supporters for “your countless support for the injustice suffer and 59 months of being a model prisoner #11772030” before hinting that “my release is soon.”
The Iowa Golden Gloves champion in 1982 (147 lbs.), 1983 (156 lbs.), and 1984 (165 lbs.), Nunn lost only 8 of his 176 bouts as an amateur, before turning pro in spectacular fashion in December of 1984, with a first round knockout of John Borman at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas.
“Second to Nunn” claimed his first title, the California State middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Alex Ramos in his 20th fight. The NABF championship followed less than a year later and, in July 1988, Michael added the IBF title to his growing collection as well with a 9th round TKO of 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Frank Tate. By virtue of these accomplishments, Nunn was named 1988’s Ring and KO Magazine Fighter of the Year.
An impressive array of challengers fell successive and concussive victim to Nunn, among them Juan Roldan, Sumbu Kalambay (1989’s knockout of the year, which came in the first round), Iran Barkley, Marlon Starling, and Donald Curry, on his way to a stellar 36-0 record. He maintains that the superlative fighters of the golden era of his weight class-namely Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran-all avoided him.
James Toney turned Nunn’s lights out in the 11th round, snatching his lineal IBF titles and handing Michael back his first professional loss in the bargain.
Six months later, Nunn stepped up in weight and won the NABF super-middleweight title from Randall Yonker, with the lineal WBA belt previously worn by Victor Cordoba strapped around his waist less than a year after that.
Having compiled a record of 58-4 with 37 knockouts, his career would end with an unceremonious points victory over Vinson Durham on January 23, 2002. This is because just over six months later, Nunn was arrested and plead guilty to paying an undercover DEA agent $200 for just over two pounds of cocaine, the street value of which was estimated to be $24,000. He plead guilty and was sentenced to 24 years in prison, with his incarceration beginning at the Federal Correctional Institution of Bastrop, Texas.
In his Facebook post, Nunn describes a litany of abuses he has suffered at the hands of correctional officers, the likes of which include “90 days no phone, 60 days no commissary rights”. Allegedly threatened for retaliation if he were to make public knowledge of his mistreatment with regards to “civil rights and due process”, Michael claims that he has been told, “I will kill you nigger if you tell this now.”
As one beneficiary of President Barack Obama’s recent commutation of long-term sentences handed down to non-violent drug offenders told NPR yesterday, his voice choked with emotion, “America is the land of second chances.”
Although the American Dream has disfigured itself into a nightmare for Michael Nunn, let’s hope that he too, however soon it comes, gets his second chance. And that he makes the most of it when it does.Contact the Feature Writers