From Pugilist To Playwright

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[Theater: Young Pugilist]

A former boxer is promoting play about the "sweet science" of boxing.

Alonza Knowles, who had a brief professional career that lasted two fights in 1995, says one of the main things he wants people to know is that boxers aren’t dumb. Knowles took playwriting lessons and is now about to showcase his talent with "Young Pugilist" which is presented by Struglife Productions in association with Montauk Theatre Production.

Knowles fought Riddick Bowe as an amateur boxer. As a pro, he ended up on the short end of both his pro-fights; he was knocked out.

"I took that as a sign that the Lord did not want me to box," he says.

In the play, which Knowles says is autobiographical, Warren, a professional boxer, after two consecutive losses, also abandons the ring and its spotlight for the "sanctity and tranquility of the Church," as playwright Knowles puts it.

But he soon realizes that he will not be able to keep quiet the demons and passion he developed for the sport. So, Warren starts using his younger brother Robert, as the conduit through which he continues chasing after his unrealized dreams—the championship. 

"He can’t walk away from it," Knowles says, of Warren, and boxing. "He was really talented and he has a lot of skills. He trains his brother."

The role of Warren is played by James Garry, a former pro-football player with the Seattle Seahawks.

Shortly before his pro-début, Knowles recalls attending The Donahue Show. Joe Frazier; Muhammad Ali; Ken Norton; and Larry Holmes, were on stage that day. "I hung out with Larry Holmes at Gleason's Gym after the show," he adds.

"I wanted people to know that boxers aren’t dumb," he says. "It’s not just about punching; someone is also trying to punch you. Young Pugilist is the scientific name for boxers. You have to have finesse and agility; use your skills. One –two-three combinations jab; left hook. It’s like you’re fighting the bull with a red flag. You are swinging and evading the savage beast," Knowles says.

Knowles says it took him over a decade to develop and finish writing the play, with the patient help of Thierry Saintine. "He’s helped me tremendously—to put meat and muscle on the play. He’s a play doctor."

The Play will be performed at the Shooting Star Theatre, from Thursday May 21st through Sunday May 24th; show times are at 8pm except for Sunday, when it’s one 3pm, Knowles said.

He’s invited the producer from the National Black Theater in Harlem and the legendary Woodie King to see the plays, hoping they will be impressed and help take it to the next level.

Knowles studied playwriting with Broadway/Off-Broadway director Gene Frankel, of "The Blacks" with James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, and Louis Gossett Jr.; and, with playwright Charles Fuller, of "A Soldier’s Play, A Soldier’s Story" and at Joseph Popp’s Young Playwright Festival.

His first professional fight was aired on ESPN.

During his boxing career he fought two World Champions, Riddick Bowe in his first amateur bout and Inamu Mayfield in his last professional bout.

He also fought the French Champion Youssef Debah and Norwegian Champion Arve Breidal.

Note: Shooting Star Theatre, 40 Peck Slip, New York, NY 10038. (212) 227-8676

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