March 23, 2006

By Mark Kram

NO TALE IN the forlorn annals of boxing ever topped the sorrowful story of Gypsy Joe Harris. For a shimmering blink of an eye in the 1960s, the wildly unorthodox and undisciplined Gypsy surged to the heights of the welterweight division, where he had the ingenuity of a scaled-down Ali. The crowds loved him and he played to them boldly both inside the ring and away from it, where he roamed the bars and pool halls of North Philadelphia sporting a cowboy hat or a Persian lamb collar. Scarcely the type to plan ahead, he never had a bank account, owned a house or held even an insurance policy for his loved ones to bury him.

April 13, 2006

By BERNARD FERNANDEZ

BOB LEE SR. and his wife, Shirley, have just gotten back from their daily gym workout. The founder and former president of the International Boxing Federation, who is insulin-dependent and has suffered from Type 2 diabetes since 1986, claims to be more physically fit than he's been in years.

"I've dropped 24 pounds. I'm down to 195 now," the 5-8 Lee says proudly. "I started losing the weight about a year ago . . . Losing the weight has also helped my diabetic neuropathy. "

That's a condition that causes severe pain in the feet and extremities.

If only rehabilitating his personal reputation were as easy for Lee, 72, who was released from Lewisburg (Pa. ) Federal Prison on Feb. 27 after serving 22 months for six convictions, including racketeering, money-laundering and tax evasion.

Oct. 17, 2006

By STAN HOCHMAN

BERNARD HOPKINS donated $60,000 to the Charles Henry School in Mount Airy to pay for new playground equipment. That seems about right. When he attended the school, Hopkins broke some of the furniture and all of the rules.

"I'd stop by his house after school," James Villarreal recalled. "I'd have a fistful of pink [disciplinary] slips. After a while, his mom said, 'Don't bother to knock, Mr. V, just walk right in.' "

"Ah, Mr. V," Hopkins said, grinning. "He was my fourth-grade teacher. He saw something in me I didn't see. "

And now, the rest of the world sees what Bernard Hopkins was concealing all that turbulent time.