The hits just keep on coming at The Sweet Science, the world's foremost online boxing publication. It rewards the best of the best as it appears on its website with the CJ Award, and it's no small feat to win it - the most accomplished group of writers in the world is assembled at TheSweetScience.com. George Kimball, April's winner, is indicative of that level of accomplishment.
George Kimball, one of the more decorated boxing writers in the world, has added another honor to his beefy resume, prevailing over an outstanding field of candidates to capture the April 2005 CJ Award, as bestowed by TheSweetScience.com (http://www.thesweetscience.com).
"This was an incredibly difficult selection process," said Charles Jay, editor-in-chief of the website. "The stories are getting better and better every month, and it was a sin that some of them had to be left out."
Kimball, who in addition to his duties at The Sweet Science also writes a regular boxing column for the Boston Herald, is a previous winner of the Nat Fleischer Award, given for "excellence in boxing journalism" by the Boxing Writers Association of America. But that didn't prevent him from being critical of the organization in his CJ-winning story, "Termite Watkins, Iraq & the BWAA."
"Kimball deserves all the credit in the world for taking his best shot at George W. Bush, Iraq, war profiteering, and the hypocrisy of some of his less savory colleagues," says Robert Ecksel, editor of The Sweet Science.
In the piece, Kimball cited a "Special Achievement" award the BWAA presented to Watkins, an ex-junior welterweight contender, who coached Iraq's national boxing team in the wake of "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and the confusion over exactly how Watkins wound up receiving the award.
Kimball saw Watkins' efforts as rather self-promoting, and the accolades accorded him to be something of a political statement. Kimball's story itself may have been construed by some as a political statement, but as far as Jay is concerned, the articulate expression of opinion is exactly what his online publication is looking for.
"Whether or not I concur with Kimball's political leanings, as exhibited in the story, is not the issue," he said. "What's important is that the writer is taking a stand, and is not afraid to appear politically incorrect to some. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most CJ-like story since the inception of the CJ Award, which is to say it looks well below the surface, takes chances, tells the hard truth - at least as the author knows it, goes against what might be considered a popular position, and asked questions that made his interviewees backpedal a bit, to say the least."
It was also another good month for the Cassidy clan. Former light heavyweight contender-turned-writer Irish Bobby Cassidy, who was the subject of March's CJ Award-winning piece by Robert Mladinich, took home one of the runner-up positions for "Boxing Emile Griffith," largely a first-person account of his experiences with the three-division world champion that was posted leading up to the air date of USA Network's outstanding documentary about Griffith.
The other runner-up citation was snagged by Irish Bobby's son, Robert Cassidy Jr., who waxed eloquently about Cuban fighters in "Castro's Cuba & The Spirit of Kid Gavilan." Cassidy Jr. focused not only on the late Kid Gavilan, who had a new tombstone dedicated to him in a moving ceremony in Miami last month, but also Johnny Sarduy, a former pro who fled Fidel Castro's Cuban regime and struck it rich as a businessman in the Miami area. "This told me a story I didn't know before, and demonstrated genuine passion for the subject matter," says Jay. "That certainly represents some of what we strive to recognize here."
Special mention went to Marc Lichtenfeld, who in "Weekend Warrior Challenges Kassim Ouma" wrote about sparring sessions with the junior middleweight champ. Ecksel called it "clever, fast-paced, and filled with up close-and-personal touches." Jay says "Anyone willing to take a few punches for The Sweet Science deserves some consideration in my book."
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.
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.