Fighting dirty: Behind Boxing’s Brain Damage Crisis
At 46, “Terrible” Terry Norris has the lean, muscled frame of a former pro boxer. He’s just a little taller than average, with a thick, black Van Dyke framing a bright smile.
Gray creeps in at the edges of his beard, but his shaved head seems the only concession to age, a paring away of the intricately razored box cut of his heyday, now some 20 years gone.
These days, he teaches cardio boxing in a converted garage north of Hollywood; upstairs, he shares a loft with his wife, Tanya, who also teaches and runs his gym.
During classes he looks fit and powerful, his fists still preternaturally fast. Only when he speaks, in a low, raspy murmur bordering on unintelligible, do you wonder at the damage he’s suffered.
He started boxing when he was nine years old, a black kid growing up in Lubbock, Texas, a conservative, predominantly white industrial city best known as the birthplace of Buddy Holly. His mother wanted to keep her mischievous son, “Terrible,” off the streets; his father was a former fighter.
At 19 he turned pro. World Boxing Council light-middleweight champion at 22. Three more titles followed; he finished his career at 47-9, with 31 knockouts, and joined the International Boxing Hall of Fame.