"Random Acts of Courage" -
"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?"
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...
(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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Now to the weigh-in:
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,
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
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
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.