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Sixteen boxers strive to be the next boxing superstar, as they try to harness their emotional backgrounds into a lesson in the sweet science.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Hosts/Mentors:
Sylvester Stallone & Sugar Ray Leonard
Den Mother: Jackie Kallan
Head Trainer: Tommy Gallagher
Ring Announcer: Jeff Connor
Creators: Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg
EP: Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sylvester Stallone
Packager: Mark Burnett Productions, Dreamworks SKG, Rogue Productions
Airs:
Sundays at 8pm ET on NBC


Copyright Statement
ALL ORIGINAL MATERIAL COPYRIGHT 1999-2005 GAMESHOWNEWSNET.COM. All rights reserved.

No infringement of copyright is intended by these fan pages; production companies of shows this site covers retain all rights to the sounds, images, and information contained herein. No challenge to copyright is implied. 

Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

"Random Acts of Courage" - March 7
 

"Life is a fight. Everyone gets knocked down. What matters is how fast you get up. That's what this story is all about. 'The Contender' is about the lives, loves, hopes, dreams, and fears of 16 heroes as they battle it out on their quest to become a champion. They come from across America, each with a different story to tell. Some heroic. Some heartwarming. Some inspired. Their abilities are unique, but their stories are universal. It's about love, dignity, and courage. Sixteen men - fathers, sons, and brothers - with one common goal, to fight live at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for $1 million and a chance to change their lives and the lives of the people they love... forever. Who will have the heart? Who will have the courage? Who will dare to be great?" -Sly Stallone.

Welcome to "the next great human drama" from the fine folks who brought you "The Apprentice" and "Survivor". But first, here's five minutes of Fear Factor overrun... Okay. Right now, 16 of the most dedicated professional middleweight boxers are headed to a training facility just outside of downtown Los Angeles, state of the art and built specifically for the show.  The most important part of the gym is its crew of cutmen and sparring partners, headed by six-time world champion... Sugar Ray Leonard. Now let's meet who will use them...

Brent Cooper (Nashville, TN), is a born again Christian.
Tarick Salmaci, once ranked fourth in the world, is coming out of retirement for one last shot at a title.
Najai Turpin (Philadelphia; deceased), fighting for a better life for his family.
Jeff Fraza (Boston), trying to prove he can run with the big dogs.
Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora (East LA), undefeated at 14-0.
Joey Gilbert, boxed in college, turned pro during law school, also undefeated.
Alfonso Gomez (Guadalajara, Mexico), trying to prove that he belongs.
Jimmy Lange (Virginia), a devout Catholic.
Miguel Espino (North Hollywood, CA), once a top amateur.
Anthony Bonsante (Minnesota), a single father.
Ishe Smith (Las Vegas), world-class, undefeated, disillusioned by the lack of integrity in boxing today.
Peter Manfredo, Jr. (Providence, RI), risking an undefeated record for a shot at Contender glory.
Juan de la Rosa (South Texas), the youngest competitor, having just turned 18.
Jesse Brinkley (Nevada), a hard-hitting farm boy.
Ahmed "Babyface" Kaddour (Texas), an undefeated European champion.
Jonathan Reid, won 34 of his last 35 matches.

First impressions are all about sizing up the fighters. They knew each other's faces, but never knew names. Two names and faces they know of are Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard. And here they are to greet the contenders. "The only difference between you and the current world champions is that they got a shot and you never did. This is your shot."

And here's how the competition works. Each week, two people, one from East Squad and one from West Squad, will spar in the ring for five rounds. The winner stays, the loser goes home. Sugar Ray notes that this is the real deal. "You win, it goes on your record. You lose... It goes on your record." To that end, the teams are formed...

East: Jeff, Brent, Jonathan, Najai, Jimmy, Juan, Peter, Ahmed.
West: Sergio, Miguel, Joey, Jesse, Ishe, Anthony, Tarick, Alfonso.

This is a journey that should not be taken alone, so their families will be flown to LA to live while the contenders fight it out. They will be their every step of the way, but what will determine the winner is this (heart) and this (mind). 

After being introduced to Jackie Kallan (a promoter and manager) and Tommy Gallagher (a trainer), they move up to their suite. In a word... Quality nice. Tommy notes that East and West will take separate parts of the suite, with two to each room. Alfonso and Ishe start talking about family life as they shack up. Having fought Alfonso before, Ishe calls that moment "the toughest fight of his career. We never said more than two words to each other until this house. But I always respected him."

Anthony is able to call these people friends and still go into the ring and kick their butts, while Peter, who hangs an Italian flag on his loft, states that he is fighting for his family.

So first day. Chill day, right? Wrong. The first training session is downstairs. Jeff sees the big guys and says that he's going to have to fight smart. Peter says that he can box with the best, that's why he's 21-0 today. And with a body blow in training, all Sly can say is "This guy is good." He's one to watch. Meanwhile, Sugar ray is taunting a few of the boxers, namely Ishe, Peter, and Alfonso.

Sly and Tommy talk about Ahmed, saying that he isn't the greatest fighter, but he can be. Ishe, watching him spar from upstairs, taunts. "I would love to fight him." You know what they say, half of the game is 90 percent mental, and Ishe seems to have that down pat. Ahmed calls Ishe on his taunting, saying that he'll take him anytime. "I know I'm professional. I don't have to worry about him." Tommy thinks otherwise, as he's still talking about him.

At the Manfredo house, Peter's daughter says that she wants to see Mickey Mouse. Yamilka (Peter's wife) says that they play a lot together. But Peter says that it's hard, as he's up running, then eight-hour job, school, and at 9:30, he's home and she's in bed. Yamilka is quite confident in his skills, though.

Back at the gym, the guys are having dinner when Sly comes to visit. The talk turns to his movies. Apparently they watched a few. Jesse loves the Rocky movies (him and a few others). Miguel's more of a fan of "Over the Top" (that movie with the Richard Marx song... you know, "Meet me halfway... across the sky...").

Next day, we're at the Hollywood sign for the first challenge. Challenges are important here, as the winning team will choose their champ to fight against a member of the losing team, also of their choosing. The loser has no choice whatsoever. For the first time in the history of boxing, the competitors have a choice. Destiny is in their hands. As Sly said before... "You blow it... you blow it."

And to start, a simple foot race. The starting line is at the base of the mountain with the Hollywood sign. The end... is at the peak, 100 miles on. Oh, and did we mention that it's over 100 degrees and that each team will be carrying three logs tethered together? The first log, a pick-up. The second log needs to be untied. The third log needs to be unlocked. The combinations of those locks will be posted along the way via route markers. Oh yeah, and Tommy will be taunting you from the back of a Toyota Tundra.

It's a test of will and a test of teamwork. Ready... GO! West starts with an early lead as they pick up their first log. Then it's dead even again at the second log. "I own Hollywood, man!" Again, the East takes the lead. And here come the route markers. East is first to the lock, as he can't remember the numbers! He's blowing the lead! Ishe of the West remembers his and he's unlocked the third log! Now to latch the three together. East gets their lock undone, and it's a race to the finish.... that goes to the West! And the East comes in to lock on the finish. The West will choose the card.

In the West locker room, they celebrate their victory, while East analyzes their loss. It was Ahmed's job to remember the combination. West agrees that the pick is going to be fair. They agree on least-experienced versus least-experienced. They elect Joey to fight Jeff. But all of a sudden, Alfonso volunteers himself to fight Peter. Sergio was shocked, as Alfonso was 10-2, but Peter was 21-0. "I can beat him," Alfonso says. But who will they pick?

They elect Alfonso to toe the line. And he wants... Peter. Everyone is surprised. Is it the best move? Sergio doesn't think so. The Westside, though, thinks that if you kill the head (Peter), the body will die.

At the Manfredo house, Peter breaks the news. Yamilka, who has been with him for seven years, one of them as his wife, says "Whatever he decided to do, I'd be right there." For his daughter, it'll be the first time to see her father fight. Peter believes that the worst that could happen is that he loses. Yamilka analyzes his background: "He comes from a family of fighters." And the latest in the line is going head to head with Alfonso in the Main Event later in the show.

Alfonso: "A true champion never thinks about losing. When I visualize the fight, I get more confidence in myself. After the match, I'm going to raise my hands. If you can imagine it can happen."

Now to the weigh-in:

ALFONSO GOMEZ VS PETER MANFREDO, JR.
24 Age 24
5'9" Ht 5'9"
156.5 Wt 158
10-2-1, KO 3 Rec 21-0, KO 10

Alfonso defends his underdog status at the press conference. Peter feels "like a killer. The better fighter will win." This precipitates into an east-west rivalry that plays out among the non-eliminated fighters. And by that, I mean, Ishe-Ahmed.

In the locker rooms, families converse. The Gomezes talk about going to war ("Depending on the results, I'm either going to be the hero or the idiot."), while Peter finds solace in his daughter. Both go into final preparation.

Tonight's Main Event: Gomez vs. Manfredo

Your ring announcer tonight is Jeff Connor and... Hey, is that Chuck Norris in the background? Alright. the card is set, the gloves have been touched. Now.... llllllllllllLET'S GET READY TO RUM-BLLLLLLLLLE!

Round 1: Alfonso gets in a few hooks, while Peter manages one jab. Alfonso with the MONSTER hook, followed by a right cross to Manfredo's face. Gomez clearly the aggressor... Time up.

Round 2: Peter comes out on the offensive, three short jabs to Alfonso's face. But Alfonso with another hook, as if to say... "Respectamente!" But Peter shrugs it off, delivers blow by blow, but Alfonso is on the defensive. Peter with a hard shot to Alfonso's face... Time up...

Round 3: Both look to be a bit weary, but Gomez is sticking and moving, moving and sticking. He's dodging most of Peter's big hits. Here comes Gomez... He delivers a few hard 1-2s and has Peter on the ropes. And that's time... The Eastsiders are looking worried. Father tells Alfonso to get some air. Peter isn't throwing any punches.

Round 4: Onc again, Alfonso on the offensive, as he raises his hands in victory. His sidelines are cheering. Peter's sidelines are cheering. Peter has nothing. Gomez is going all out, but it's not done for Peter yet...

Round 5: It's all about this one. Both competitors are tied, two round each. Alfonso once again out on the offensive. Peter isn't landing anything huge. Alfonso is just taking everything he's getting and giving it back to him! Alfonso give him a hard left hook, and that's it! Fight's over!

Now as both sides celebrate a hard-fought bout, Peter with his baby, and Alfonso with his crew... we have the verdict. The winner... by a unanimous decision... ALFONSO GOMEZ! "I know I gave Peter Manfredo the fight of his life. I beat a gorilla." And rightly so, it's only his first loss.

And from Peter: "I came in with the confidence of a champ. It just didn't happen. I feel like I let everybody down. Not just myself, but my wife, my daughter, my father... All I can hear is my father in my head."

After a shower to lick his wounds, he joins his wife on the outside. "I've been fighting since I was five years old. Where do I go from here?"

Remember, Peter, life isn't measured by the times you get knocked down. It's measured by the times you get back up. Next time, the grudge heats up faster than a steak on a George Foreman grill. And speaking of which, George Foreman shows up to lend more support.

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