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I watched Russell Chasteen box the other night. I’ve been to several of Russell’s 30 or so fights during the last 14 years and thought since he hadn’t fought in four years it might make a fun story.
What made the story unexpected was after he dealt with a couple of other media types, Chasteen pulled me aside and told me it was his last fight. “You were at my first fight and I am glad you were at the last fight,” Chateen said. Recently divorced, Chasteen now has custody of his 13-year-old son who has special needs, and Chasteen explained he doesn’t want to take the chances of anything happening to him in the ring. Driving home from the fight, I started thinking about Chasteen’s career and how typical his stepping back from boxing is for his personality. He’s realized he has a greater responsibility to his son and to make sure he could be a good dad. I remembered that Chasteen got into the ring due to a bet with buddies after watching a Tough-Man contest and betting them he could have won the contest. The next time the contest came to Louisville, Chasteen entered and won. Shortly after, he launched his boxing career. Chasteen went from boxing at local venues like the old Toy Tiger Lounge to casinos in Las Vegas and even Freedom Hall on a Mike Tyson undercard. There’s always been something a little Walter Mitty-like about Chasteen and boxing to me. He’s the every-man who had the guts to step into the ring and chase a dream. There’s always something admirable about that. Nicknamed “The Sandman,” since he could put opponents to sleep so-to-speak, it’s fun to watch him enter ring with the sounds of the Metallica song of the same name blaring through the loudspeakers. What is also admirable is Chasteen has always been so proud that he grew up in Henry County and lived in Oldham County. He’s made sure people knew that and gone out of his way to make sure he’s represented both counties in a positive way. Chasteen also brought in people. Over the years he had a loyal core group of fans who were always there when he fought locally. They were friends and people who became friends after seeing him fight and meeting him. Friday Chasteen won a unanimous decision over Alex Medina, a young Mexican fighter who brought his own group of vocal and enthusiastic fans. After the bout the two fighters embraced and shared a few words. If Medina can be half as successful as Chasteen as an ambassador for the sport in his area he will have accomplished something – just as Chasteen did. E-mail us about this column at: firstname.lastname@example.org.