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Monday, June 10, 2013

A Look Back: David Lawrence

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will offer monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

David Lawrence wasn't your typical boxer. He wasn't your typical rapper or your typical insurance company CEO, either. Lawrence is a renaissance man who, even at an advanced age, has yet to find the desired acclaim for any of his varied pursuits.

David Lawrence was born in New York on April 29, 1947. His father was a businessman and the family was well off. As a teenager, Lawrence used to get in fights. He became a hippie in those years in order to get "laid."

Lawrence attended City College of New York and would eventually achieve a PhD in Literature in 1976. He taught at Hunter College for three years, mostly Freshman Comp. After his contract wasn't renewed, he wasn't able to find another teaching job. Lawrence was lost; "I felt I was missing some deep satisfaction if I was not a scholar," he later told People Magazine in 1986.

David's father got him a job at an insurance company on Wall Street called Allied Programs Corps. Lawrence's father was a silent partner in the firm because of prior shady dealings. This would turn out to be a trait he passed to his son.

In the mid 1980s, Lawrence's personal driver was killed in a motorcycle accident. Lawrence's wife, Lauren, then forced him to get rid of his motorcycles. David decided to get back at his wife by taking up boxing. He first went to Gleason's Gym, which was then in Manhattan, in 1985. Lawrence was a natural athlete, participating in over-35 amateur tennis tournaments and partaking in downhill skiing competitions.

By this time, Lawrence was 38-years old, but he quickly took to boxing. He loved getting hit and he gained pleasure from doling out punishment. He fought some amateur bouts despite being over the maximum age limit and took part in white collar bouts. Lawrence had mixed success, but showed a propensity for improvement.

When the head of U.S.A. amateur boxing, who also owned Gleason's, stepped down from his post, Lawrence had no choice but to turn pro. He was 44 years old. With the famed Hector Roca as his trainer, Lawrence, who took the nickname "Awesome," had to pay thousands of dollars just to take part in his first professional bout. Lawrence was also given a fake birth certificate that claimed he was ten years younger.

In Denver, Colorado, Lawrence took on Steve Valdez, a 21-year old local. Lawrence claims Valdez was announced with a 3-0 record, but BoxRec says he was 0-1 at the time. Either way, Valdez won convincingly. Lawrence describes the moment he went down by saying, "Valdez pivoted on his back foot and landed an overhand right on the side of my head." Another overhand right knocked Lawrence out cold.

Awesome got back into the ring less than four months later. This fight was on the undercard of a Julio Cesar Chavez affair. Lawrence writes in his book that he fought William "Caveman" Lee. After spending the first round running in fear, Lawrence connected with a straight right that knocked Lee out cold in the second.

Defeating Caveman Lee truly would have been impressive for a middle aged man in his second pro fight. Lee was 23-4 with 22 KOs and had faced Marvin Hagler, the middleweight champion, nine years earlier. But Lawrence actually fought a man named David Lee, who was 1-2 when he stepped into the ring that night. This Lee ended his boxing career six and half years later with a 2-18 mark.

Lawrence was a fighter who bobbed and weaved to get inside. He would have rather brawled than boxed. His best punch was a left hook to the body and he fought out of a low stance as a result. He sparred with Buddy McGirt, Iran Barkley, and once fought the late Hector "Macho" Camacho in a charity bout.

Lawrence's third pro fight came only two months after the win over Lee when he faced Tony Diaz. The Diaz fight is Lawrence's proudest moment in the ring. He told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "I was getting beaten up, but came back with the perfect combination- uppercut, hook, straight right- and he went out."

David fought Jose Rodriguez in February of 1992 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rodriguez landed a hard punch in the opening round that staggered Lawrence. In the second, Lawrence landed a number of body punches that forced Rodriguez down and the fight was waved off.

Less than two months later, Lawrence defeated Daniel Flores by jabbing his opponent's nose until it bled. Lawrence won a unanimous decision. In his last professional fight, at the age of 45, Lawrence was stopped by Luis Navarro. Lawrence claims that Navarro hit him in the back of the head repeatedly.

Lawrence's final professional record was 4-2 with 3 KOs and he was stopped twice. Around the period when his boxing career ended, Lawrence produced some cringe-worthy rap songs under the name Awesome D that were widely panned. But the songs enabled him to take part in a novelty boxing event featuring rappers. He squared off against rap pioneer Kurtis Blow. Blow knocked down Awesome D with an uppercut and ended up taking the decision. Losing to a rapper must have been embarrassing for the professional boxer, but as Kurtis Blow himself once rapped, "These are the breaks."

After his final fight, David spent two years in a white collar prison. Lawrence and his vice presidents at Allied Programs Corps. were convicted of tax evasion. Lawrence alleges that one of his vice presidents took excessive fees from clients and failed to report the earnings, in order to fund his gay escort enterprise. Lawrence later wrote, "I was more a victim than a criminal," claiming that his true crime was incompetence, an old line for executives in trouble.

Lawrence has coached at the Brooklyn version of Gleason's since being released from prison. Doctors believe he has suffered brain damage from his years in the ring. He has published a large number of poems to mixed reviews. And he sometimes posts conservative commentary on the internet, but his writing had gained little traction as of yet. His wife has found fame writing books interpreting the dreams of celebrities. The couple lives together in New York.

Caputo, Matt. "Renaissance Man, Renegade Jew." The Black Table. April 13, 2005
Connor, Mark. "David Lawrence is a Man of Words." December 18, 2008.
Lawrence, David. The King of White Collar Boxing. 2012.
Ryor, Colleen Marie. "Demented Puglist?" The Adirondack Review.
Van Biema, Dan. "Yo, Chip! Fearsome Yuppie Boxers Come Out Swinging in Gyms Coast to Coast!" People Magazine. July 7, 1986.


  1. Whoa, my name is debbie/ debra, David an his father an his brother Peter gave me a great job at all I'd ins in the early 1980s I was a file clerk.it took me months to straighten out that file room. There was a women named judy,who really lied about having all these ins accounts it took me 3 to 5 days to find 1 file an she took them home.there was a man named bill who had a red car where both sides opened up over the car, I forget the name,I said wow he's rich,then there was Jay who had a heart attack after coming back from lunch right in his office,there was Mary who was having an affair with levy the book keeper, the were 3 women in the back that they claim were adjusters.Mary Beth whow approved claims.I have pixs of all these,people. How could they turn their backs on David n his family. There was a big itialian guy who got fired for stealing money.Lauren use to come in with full legnt fur coats they had drivers. I have the sunday news of David at Gleason he loved tennis.every frI day I had to go from room to room looking for so called files,boy I thought they were going to be big.I left because I was pregnant couldn't put up with the bs.but David an family you always treated me good but what you did to Jay was really wrong he died in that office an join an I worked on him for 20 min he was gurgling but was dead. They cover this up so his wife lost shares in the company lost everything.they said he died on the way to the hospital bull.what business partner did David an Peter have that caused tax problems? I just decided to look up on the lawrences boy what a shame.

  2. David Lawrence deserved more time in jail than he received. He always acted like a punk including double breasted striped gangster suits.
    Blaming Tom Smollins for his demise is unfair. Almost everyday he would have sex on the floor of his office with his African American mistress and then go home to his wife Lauren.

    1. Whoa, how do you actually know this? Were you the mistress?

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