Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Boxers Vie for Title of 'Contender'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Boxers Vie for Title of 'Contender'

Article excerpt

None of this "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" stuff for boxer Gerald "G5" Sherrell.

"I would say I'm a mix between a cheetah and an alligator," said Mr. Sherrell, 24, of Sheraden. "I have both of their attitudes, and I'm quick, I'm smart, and I am relentless."

It's unlikely any of the athletes participating in Epix's reboot of "The Contender" have had more exposure to exotic animals than Mr. Sherrell, who worked for a time in overnight security at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

"It's pretty scary," he said. "It was pretty dark, and there were a lot of things making noises. But I enjoyed it, man."

He and Charleroi's Morgan "Big Chief" Fitch, 35, are two of the 16 boxers who live together, train together and ultimately compete against one another when the reality series debuts Friday8/24 at 9 p.m.

They'll compete, week by week, in matches ultimately leading to a sanctioned middleweight (160 pounds) Las Vegas title bout for $250,000. Hosting the show is Andre "Son of God" Ward, who retired as an unbeaten champion and was a 2004 Olympic gold medalist.

In the first episode, the boxers are placed in two teams. Mr. Sherrell and Mr. Fitch are on the Blue, coached by the legendary Freddie Roach. The Gold team is mentored by the renowned Naazim Richardson.

"Oh, man, working with Freddie, it was humbling. He taught me a lot," Mr. Sherrell said. "Freddie's the type of coach who can just look at you and he can tell what you do and how you do it.

"He's like a 'Mr. Miyagi' type. He's also a super-funny dude."

When the show begins, there's a good deal of posturing as the young men size each other up, but the coaches aren't having any of it - Mr. Richardson, in particular. When a losing boxer complains he almost "had it," the trainer replies, "You 'had it?' This isn't a sport about 'had it,' this is a sport about 'keep it.'"

The two Pittsburgh boxers are a contrast in histories. Mr. Sherrell grew up in the West End, graduating from Perry Traditional Academy before being recruited to play strong safety at St. …

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