The Sweet Science Comes Up Big in the Annual BWAA Writing Awards

Over the years The Sweet Science has performed well in the annual writing competition sponsored by the Boxing Writers Association of America. 2017 was no exception.

Venerable Thomas Hauser, the author of more than 50 books including the definitive biography of Muhammad Ali, led the way in the “Bernie Awards” named in honor of TSS mainstay Bernard Fernandez, a former five-time BWAA president.

Hauser achieved a first place, a second place, and a third place finish for stories published on this web site. Bernard Fernandez and Springs Toledo were honored with a second place and a third place finish, respectively.

On Nov. 11 of last year, a fighter who was HIV positive and barred from fighting in Florida because of it, participated in a boxing match at a show in Camden, Arkansas. Hauser broke the story, titled “Shame on the Arkansas Athletic Commission,” which ran in two parts. It won first place in the category “Boxing News Story.” Here are the links:

Shame on the Arkansas State Athletic Commission,” and “The Plot in Arkansas Thickens and Sickens”, November 23 and 28, 2017

Welterweight champion Keith Thurman doesn’t fit the stereotype of a prizefighter. Hauser peeled back the layers of Thurman’s unique personality in a story that ran on March 6 as Thurman was preparing for his match with Danny Garcia. It earned Hauser a second place finish in the category of “Boxing Events Coverage.”

Keith Thurman: If You Can Beat Me, Beat Me,, March 6, 2017

Hauser’s third place finish was for a four-part series on the New York State Athletic Commission, an agency long blighted by political mishandling and misfeasance. A segment of this series ran on TSS on August 1. It was titled “The New York State Athletic Commission is Still Courting Disaster.”

“The New York State Athletic commission is still Courting Disaster,” August 1, 2017

In something of a period piece, Bernard Fernandez re-visited “The Omega Project.” That was the name given by Evander Holyfield’s team, led by conditioning guru Tim Hallmark, to the strategy designed to transform Holyfield, then a cruiserweight, into a man capable of taking down the fearsome Mike Tyson. The story, published here on July 11, was entered in the category of “Boxing Investigative Reporting” and earned Fernandez a second place finish.

“How the ‘Omega Project’ Got Holyfield Ready for Qawi – And, Ultimately, Tyson,”, July 11, 2017

Guillermo Rigondeaux’s feeble effort against Vasiliy Lomachenko on Dec. 9 at Madison Square Garden was greeted with derision, but Springs Toledo had a different perspective. His sympathetic look at the “underpaid, physically overmatched, past prime” Cuban refugee, published here on Dec. 11, brought him a third place Bernie for “Event Coverage.” The multi-decorated Toledo, a perennial BWAA award winner, also hauled in three second place prizes and an honorable mention.

“An Unforgiving Minute,”, December 11, 2017

In addition to his second place finish for “Omega Project,” Bernard Fernandez also garnered an honorable mention. Two other TSS writers, Diego Morilla and editor-in-chief Arne K. Lang, were also accorded honorable mentions.


The big winner this year was Mark Kriegel. A former sports columnist for the New York Post and New York Daily News, the author of four books, and now an ESPN boxing analyst, Kriegel was the only entrant to nab two first place finishes, scoring in the “Feature Story Over 1,500 Words” and “Feature Story Under 1,500 Words” categories.

Kriegel and the other honorees will be formally recognized for their achievements at the 92nd renewal of the annual BWAA awards banquet being held this year on May 11 at the fabled Copacabana in Times Square.

When a writer submits a story for consideration in the Bernie awards, his byline and all other identifying marks, including the publication or web site for which the story was written, are omitted to insure that the judging is done on the blind. We here at The Sweet Science extend our congratulations to all of the winners. Here is the complete list:



First Place

THOMAS GERBASI, “Caleb Truax: I Worked My Ass Off – Everything Came Together,”, December 13, 2017

Second Place

THOMAS HAUSER, “Keith Thurman: If You Can Beat Me, Beat Me,”, March 6, 2017

Third Place (Tie)

KIERAN MULVANEY, “Joshua Is the New King As Valiant Klitschko Goes Out On His Shield,”, April 29, 2017

SPRINGS TOLEDO, “An Unforgiving Minute,”, December 11, 2017

GEORGE WILLIS, “Unbelievable: It Was Boxing’s Perfect Night – Until Judge Ruled,” New York Post, September 17, 2017

Honorable Mention: Mike Coppinger,; Jack Hirsch,; Gordon Marino,; Lance Pugmire,; Cliff Rold,; Don Stradley,


First Place

JOSEPH SANTOLIQUITO, “Samuel ‘The Tsunami’ Teah Has Been To Hell and Back,”, December 1, 2017

Second Place (tie)

DON STRADLEY, “Miguel Cotto’s New York,”, November 29, 2017

SPRINGS TOLEDO, “There’s A Barbarian at The Gate,”, July 20, 2017

Third  Place

THOM LOVERRO, “McGregor Never A Threat to Methodical Mayweather,” Washington Times, August 27, 2017

Honorable Mention: Adam Berlin,; Matt Christie,; Lyle Fitzsimmons,; Norm Frauenheim,; Thomas Gerbasi,; Kelsey McCarson,; Dan Rafael,; Cliff Rold,; John Whisler, San Antonio Express News


First Place

THOMAS HAUSER, “Shame on the Arkansas State Athletic Commission,”, November 23 and 28, 2017

Second Place

KENNETH BOUHARIE, “Another Scandalous Decision in Boxing,” Boxing News,

October 2, 2017

Third Place

MIKE COPPINGER, “Manny Pacquiao – Jeff Horn to Kick Off Top Rank/ESPN Series,”, June 17, 2017

Honorable Mention: Bernard Fernandez,; Lyle Fitzsimmons,; Lee Groves,; Diego Morilla,; Dan Rafael,; Don Stradley, The Ring; David Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City

BOXING FEATURE (Under 1,500 words)

First Place

MARK KRIEGEL, “With A Title Shot on the Line, Undefeated Jose Ramirez Ready To Make Another Statement,”, November 9, 2017

Second Place

SPRINGS TOLEDO, “The Feast of St. Tony,” The Ring, January 2018 (on newsstands November 9, 2017)

Third Place

DON STRADLEY, “A Life in Many Acts,” The Ring, January 2018 (on newsstands

November 9, 2017)

Honorable Mention: Adam Berlin,; Bernard Fernandez,; Norm Frauenheim,; Thomas Gerbasi,; Thomas Hauser, The Ring; Lance Pugmire,; Joseph Santoliquito,

BOXING FEATURE (Over 1,500 words)

First Place

MARK KRIEGEL, “A Father’s Touch: The Relentless Regimen of Vasyl Lomachenko,”, December 9, 2017

Second Place

SPRINGS TOLEDO, “On the Boston Waterfront,” City Journal, Winter 2017

Third Place

KIERAN MULVANEY, “The Last Boxing Days of Miguel Cotto,”, November 29, 2017

Honorable Mention:

Ron Borges, The Ring; Thomas Hauser, The Ring; Ivan Goldman, Ringside Seat;

Don Stradley, Ringside Seat; John Whisler, San Antonio Express-News; Michael Woods,


First Place

ERIC RASKIN, “Unrealized,”, June 7. 2017 – December 20, 2016

Second Place

BERNARD FERNANDEZ, “How the ‘Omega Project’ Got Holyfield Ready for Qawi – And, Ultimately, Tyson,”, July 11, 2017

Third Place

THOMAS HAUSER, Four Part Series on New York State Athletic Commission,, RingOnline,com,, February 23 – September 8, 2017

Honorable Mention: Kenneth Bouharie, Boxing News; Norm Frauenheim,; Thomas Gerbasi, The Ring; Arne K. Lang,; Dan Rafael,; Springs Toledo, Tara


TOMMY DEAS, Executive Sports Editor, Tuscaloosa News; Past President, APSE

MICHAEL HIRSLEY, Chicago Tribune (retired)

JOE MAXSE, Cleveland Plain Dealer (retired)

JOHN SCHULIAN, Chicago Sun-Times (retired)

ED SCHUYLER, Jr., The Associated Press (retired)

MIKE WATERS, Syracuse Post-Standard

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