Native New Yorker Robert Mladinich has captured the March 2005 CJ Award, emblematic of outstanding achievement in boxing journalism, for his profile of former light heavyweight contender "Irish" Bobby Cassidy, it was announced today.
If you find it a bit unusual that a writer for TheSweetScience.com (http://www.thesweetscience.com) would win a CJ Award for a story about someone else who writes for TheSweetScience.com, you'd be right.
But according to Charles Jay, Editor-in-Chief of The Sweet Science, it was fully warranted.
"Bob's piece was extremely well-written, and unlike a lot of features you might find in newspapers or magazines, it wasn't written from a patronizing or sympathetic perspective," said Jay. "He was able to present his subject, warts and all, and in the process he gave us a unique insight into an intriguing character who's had a lot of colorful life experiences."
In the story, entitled "Irish Bobby Cassidy: Fighter, Trainer, Father, Mensch," Cassidy, who also contributes fight analysis to TheSweetScience.com, recounted a past that included loansharking, bookmaking, an abusive childhood and 15-round bouts with the bottle. “I gave up drinking, but embraced racketeering,” he told Mladinich. “I have an addictive personality, so everything I made I was gambling away. I always had money coming in. Who’s not going to pay Irish Bobby Cassidy? But I was a good-hearted shylock. I’d give a guy a miss (allow a skipped payment) at Christmas time. Nobody does that.”
Mladinich is a former pro boxer and NYPD detective who has penned freelance articles for a number of publications and is author of a book, “From the Mouth of the Monster: The Joel Rifkin Story,” which chronicled the exploits of one of New York's most notorious serial killers. He couldn't have been more pleased with this latest recognition. "I'm honored to win this prestigious award," he said. "Making it all the more meaningful is the fact that my colleagues at The Sweet Science are such an esteemed grouping of literary talent."
There was a tie among three runners-up for this month's "CJ." The stories included David Mayo's piece "The Wait Is Over/Floyd Mayweather Is Ready," about the signing of the widely-anticipated Floyd Mayweather-Arturo Gatti fight; George Kimball's "Memo to Don King: Welcome Back to Worcester," which spun interesting anecdotes about the history of boxing in the Massachusetts city which recently hosted the Braithwaite-Mormeck cruiserweight title bout; and Joey Knish's "Winter Sturm Advisory," which explored the position of WBO 160-pound champion Felix Sturm in the world middleweight picture.
Jay saluted the reporting skills of Mayo, who also writes for the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press. "David took the ball and ran with it from the moment the fight was signed," he said. "Not only did he have the full story up in a couple of hours, he was also the first to talk to Mayweather. The result was a complete, coherent piece, which also served to dispel much of the misinformation that had been spread about Mayweather's legal situation by other members of the media."
The CJ Award is a monthly honor named for Jay, an acclaimed boxing scribe whose "Operation Cleanup" books are regarded as the most hard-hitting look at boxing from the inside. It is the only award for boxing writers that is accompanied by money - the winner of each month's prize receives $300, with the runners-up receiving $100 apiece.
Though all pieces must be an exclusive submission to The Sweet Science to be eligible for the award, it is not a prerequisite that a writer be a regular contributor to the site. "We welcome quality work from anyone, anywhere in the world," Jay says. "We're looking for material that is out of the ordinary; that which takes a cutting-edge approach, or reflects an originality in thought or opinion. When we started, our objective was to be the finest boxing publication on the planet earth, period. We've made the commitment, and in fact I think we're already there. We want to recognize stories that are indicative of that commitment."
CJ Award winners are determined by the editorial board of The Sweet Science, a group of people involved with the sport that, aside from Jay, includes editor Robert Ecksel, web editor Chris Gielty, and Dino daVinci, founder of the International Brotherhood of Prizefighters (IBOP). Editorial board members and officers of TheSweetScience.com or IBOP are ineligible to win the CJ Award.
The Sweet Science sets the gold standard for boxing journalism. Updated on a daily basis, it includes hundreds of features, interviews, columns, predictions, odds, angles and more. Anyone interested in boxing will find a treasure trove at The Sweet Science, located at http://www.thesweetscience.com.