ON SCREEN: FOR MANY BOXERS, WHEN THE PUNCHES STOP, THE REAL FIGHT STARTS.
IRAN BARKLEY: You were searching for something. You were searching for survival. I was a puncher. I didn’t try to, like, be a fighter. I was into boxing and I was staying away from the gangs.
ON SCREEN: IRAN “THE BLADE” BARKLEY IS A FORMER WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION.
IRAN BARKLEY: Growing up in the Bronx, I had to be my own blueprint. When I won my first real good fight, threw a big party, spent money, spent money, spent money. I was that kid that I never had nothing, but when I got something I shared. It was a good thing and then it was a hurtful thing, too.
ON SCREEN: IRAN WENT BROKE. BY 2010, HE WAS SLEEPING IN THE SUBWAY.
IRAN BARKLEY: The friends and the family that I got, they had apartments. But I wouldn’t go to them. My sisters and my brother, I didn’t even want to burden them.
ON SCREEN: THE FOUNDERS OF A NONPROFIT CALLED RING 10 HEARD IRAN HAD FALLEN ON HARD TIMES AND TRACKED HIM DOWN.
IRAN BARKLEY: I was down in the subway, just riding the trains. They took me to the restaurant to eat. They rescued me.
ON SCREEN: BECAUSE BOXING LACKS THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF OTHER PRO SPORTS, RING10 WAS CREATED TO HELP STRUGGLING EX-BOXERS.
LIKE WILFRED “THE RADAR” BENITEZ, WHO LIVES WITH HIS SISTER YVONNE IN PUERTO RICO.
YVONNE BENITEZ: I liked to see him fight. But I was worried so he won’t get hurt. You understand? Him or the other person.
ON SCREEN: WILFRED IS A THREE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION. AT AGE 17, HE BECAME THE YOUNGEST CHAMPION IN BOXING HISTORY.
YVONNE TO WILFRED (TRANSLATED FROM SPANISH): Girlfriend, no. I’m your sister.
YVONNE BENITEZ: I think it was in 89-90, he used to keep on talking the same thing – repeating.
ON SCREEN: WILFRED IS BELIEVED TO SUFFER FROM CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY, OR CTE, ONCE SIMPLY KNOWN AS BOXER’S DEMENTIA OR BEING “PUNCH DRUNK.”
YVONNE BENITEZ: My mother always used to say that if she passed away her worries was what’s going to happen with him. And I always told her that I was going to be there. I see him like that and I suffer.
ON SCREEN: TODAY, RING 10 IS ENLISTING FORMER BOXERS TO TAKE PART IN HEAD TRAUMA STUDIES. THE ISSUE HAS GAINED MORE ATTENTION SINCE BEING LINKED TO FOOTBALL AND OTHER CONTACT SPORTS.
IRAN BARKLEY: Sometimes I get a little forgetful. But, it’s not often. I mean, it happened. I got hit in my head a couple of times, but I don’t think about it because I don’t want to think about it.
ON SCREEN: IRAN SAYS HE WANTS TO GET BACK IN THE RING TO FIGHT HIS OLD NEMESIS, TOMMY HEARNS.
YVONNE SAYS WILFRED HAS MEMORIES OF HIS LIFE IN THE RING.