Did he march or didn’t he? Did he polish his boots and run the obstacle course, or simply throw in the towel?
The ballyhooed bout featuring Riddick Bowe and the U.S. Marine Corps appears to have ended with a split decision.
The former heavyweight champion left Marine Corps boot camp last week after telling his drill instructor and battalion commander the regimen was too strict, that he missed his family and that he wished he’d enlisted when he was younger.
At the time, the Marines said they tried to talk the 29-year-old multimillionaire into staying and continuing his quest to join the Marine Corps Reserves.
But in Tuesday’s Washington Post, base spokesman Maj. Rick Long said the Marines booted Bowe because he refused to train.
“There were a lot of occasions when he was told to do something and he just said, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.”’ Long told the newspaper. “It’s just obstinacy, that’s all.”
But Long told The Associated Press on Tuesday: “I did not say it was just obstinacy. I wouldn’t classify it as obstinacy. He had difficulty with the day-to-day regimen.”
And he said he knew of no instances where Bowe outright refused to follow orders.
“I didn’t say he was a problem,” Long said. “I said he had problems with the day-to-day being told what to do, when to do it and how fast to do it.”
Rock Newman, Bowe’s manager, said from Las Vegas that Long called him this morning to “apologize for the fact that he was misrepresented, misquoted and mischaracterized.”
Said George Solomon, sports editor of The Washington Post: “We have our notes and we stand by our story completely.”
Long said Bowe’s decision to leave was a “two-way process” made by Bowe and the Corps.
He said he was concerned about reports that Bowe had requested to leave and the Marines tried to talk him into staying. He said Marine officials spoke with Bowe and agreed it would be best he leave.
“He didn’t want to be a Marine and he was having trouble adapting,” Long said. “The bottom line is if you don’t want to be a Marine, you won’t be one.”
Long told the newspaper it became obvious Bowe was a “problem” recruit during his initial five days after processing and that his behavior became worse Feb. 18 when he refused to train.
He said normally a small percentage of recruits refuse to train and eventually are allowed to leave. Usually they are assigned to what is called the “casual platoon” and wait a week to 10 days for paperwork to be processed before they are sent home.
Bowe’s lawyer and financial adviser, Jeffrey Fried, said Bowe quit the corps because of his family.
“I truly believe that he underestimated how much he would miss his wife and children when he made the decision to join the Marines,” Fried said.