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Boxing’s very own Walter Mitty – Charlie Zelenoff: Living the Delusion

As most of my friends and family know, I’m quite the boxing fan and enthusiast, though of an age now that that enthusiasm restricts me to whacking a punchbag, yelling from the stands, or in the case of the recent Fury/Wilder fight, shouting at the telly. Like a lot of people though, watching that fight prompted me to scroll through a lot of old YouTube boxing-related vids … it was then I stumbled across the story of bogus boxer, Charlie Zelenoff, a wannabe that puts most of the deluded and untalented contestants of the American Idol, X-Factor, and Britain/America’s Got Talent shows right up there with the cream of the showbiz entertainment industry. 

*One of my rare posts that isn’t a book review, short story, or anything else to do with the wonderful world of writing other than a brief reference, so if Boxing isn’t your thing I’ll happily forgive you for scrolling past. Otherwise, sit back, relax, put your feet up, and have a little chuckle while chillin’ with a beer…

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Living the Delusion, Pt1 …

Here in the real world

TF1Following Tyson Fury’s dramatic TKO win over Deonte Wilder, boxing is once again dominating the news and media. Everyone from network commentators, former champions, and those still aiming for their shot at Ring Greatness to the seemingly endless legion of armchair experts and Vloggers, they’re all saturating the boxing community, social, and mainstream media with content: if you didn’t already know Deonte Wilder and Tyson Fury’s impressive fight stats, unbeaten records, number of knockouts, and just about everything else right down to what they eat for breakfast and the colour of their underwear, you probably do now.

For Deonte Wilder, those brutal knockdowns will be digitally archived forever, being replayed time and time again. They will be constant reminders of the once formidable man’s emphatic defeat, haunting him just like Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rope-A-Dope’ tactics of the Rumble in the Jungle still do likewise with George Foreman nearly half a century later. TF9b

Let’s not feel too sorry for George though: he sensationally regained his title twenty years later, and, even if he hadn’t, probably made more money from becoming the face of the George Foreman Grille than he ever did from boxing. Whether or not Deonte Wilder achieves the same post-defeat success remains to be seen …

That’s the thing about social media, Google, Wiki, and God knows what else, they put every last detail of our lives just a click away. Venture so much as the most tentative tiptoe step into the world of entertainment, commit some indiscretion in public life, or suffer some slight embarrassment that gets caught on film and before you know it, there’ll be ruddy great size-ten online digital boot-prints of it forevermore.

Therein lies the double-edged sword of social media fame; what seems like a good idea at twenty or thirty often isn’t so great a few years later when you’re applying for a job or trying to explain to your kids why you were once such a total and moronic asshole, something which will later bring us onto the bizarre story of Charlie Zelenoff …

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Now, be honest, how many of us haven’t at one time or another imagined ourselves in the shoes of any number of sporting, music, or other iconic figures? Every weekend, millions of us regular mortals trundle down to the local park to play a game of Sunday League footie, our middle-aged footballing prowess on a par with embarrassing dodgy dad dancing, but, nonetheless, imagining Speedbag2ourselves scoring the winning goal in stunning and spectacular ‘Pele’ style fashion. For others, it might be strumming an out-of-tune guitar down the local bar, pub, or club, but enjoying the experience so much that in their head, they’re Jimmy Hendrix headlining Glastonbury.

Returning though to the eventual theme of this blog post, it’ll likely as not be pounding the speedbag at the local gym, all the time secretly wondering what it would be like to be Mike Tyson climbing in the ring at the MGM arena for his umpteenth world heavyweight title defence? But whatever your passion, you get the picture I’m sure …

Now let me say from the start, there’s absolutely nothing with any of the above – it’s as harmless, normal, and innocent as any five-year-old pretending they’re Spiderman, Wonder Woman, or when they’re a bit older, the next winner of American Idol whilst miming with a hairbrush in front of the mirror in their bedroom.

flatcap3For me, my own youthful, sporting, and musical ‘what if’ and ‘what could/might have been’ daydreams have long since given way to more literary ones, though still every bit as fuelled by an over-active imagination as I tap away at my keyboard in the belief I’m writing the next best-seller.

I guess that begs the question, do I ever dream of being the next Stephen King, Lee Child, or Thomas Harris? Hell, yes of course I do, but not to the point where I start Award1mocking up my own imaginary writing awards or membership of non-existent writing organisations just to fuel some daft delusion I’m really in that league let alone convincing anyone else.  Maybe one day, yes, I’d love that, but right now I’m happy to settle for the satisfaction I get from the occasional ‘like’ on a blog post, or better still, a great review on Amazon for one of my books, either of which brightens my day.

FB_IMG_1468795771785Having said that and in common with a certain Charlie Zelenoff I’ll soon be introducing in more detail, I’ll admit I’ve had my pugilistic dreams too; I fought a few regimental and inter-battery bouts in the army and then, years later, reached the dizzy heights of my one and only televised charity fight in the world of White-Collar Boxing: stepping into the ring, spotlights shining on you, and then the cheering spectators, they all amount to one of the most incredible experiences imaginable (even if as in my case it was mostly just a few friends and work pals turning up), so much so that it’s easy to understand the attraction of the reality of such a life or even some social media-fuelled fantasy … speaking of which …

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Living the Delusion, Pt2 …

Meet Charlie Zelenoff …

Boxer1Depositphotos_44542883_xl-2015Forget all the unbeaten records, double-figure lists of battered opponents, ninety-five-per-cent knockout rates, and other seemingly impressive fight stats of the WBC, WBO, WBA, IBO, and IBF world champions. Prepare instead to be astounded by the greatest pugilistic genius of them all, and indeed, of all time … meet thirty-two-year-old Charlie ‘the GOAT’ Zelenoff, the undisputed UBF multi-weight world boxing champion with a never before, and likely never to be equalled again, current undefeated fight record of *324-0-0.

TF8*For those unfamiliar with the presentation of boxing stats, that’s 324 wins, no, losses, and no draws. (… and for those that are, no, that’s not a typo, but 324 straight-up wins, and don’t bother trying to work out how someone of that or any age ever managed to accumulate that number of fights, let alone wins, you’ll just give yourself an even bigger headache than the one Tyson gave Deonte in their last fight. And if you’re wondering too what the GOAT nic stand for, it’s … wait for it … (drumroll, please)

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* (Charlie’s ‘greatness’ and that ‘unbeaten’ record could be even more impressive by the time you finish reading this blog given that Charlie adds to his ‘Win’ column tally with weekly, daily, and even hourly victories as the mood takes him).

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Now, if your initial reaction to Charlie Zelenoff above was ‘What the F***? (and likewise about the UBF given that you’ve probably never heard of either), let me explain. The UBF is the Underground Boxing Federation, a boxing organisation completely of Charlie Zelenoff’s creation and as fictitious as the fake world-title boxing belts he can be seen posing with above. Most (un)impressively though, our Charlie lays claim to an ever-increasing 300 plus unbeaten fight record, albeit as make-believe as pretty much everything else about his practically non-existent bogus boxing career.

In all fairness, I do have to reiterate my use of the word ‘practically’ here, for to dismiss Charlie Zelenoff entirely would be a mistake; this is a man who’s shared a ring with the likes of Deonte Wilder, Floyd Mayweather Sr, and counts Tyson Fury among his greatest fans, admittedly that last little nugget being firmly tongue in cheek. Returning to reality MrBeanthough, Charlie’s ‘actual’ boxing career does fall ‘just a tad short’ of his imagined one, standing as it does according to www.BoxRec.com at 0-1-0, ie, no wins, one loss and no draws on account of being disqualified in his one and only ever officially sanctioned welterweight fight against Andrew Hartley, a boxer whose own fight record credibility of twenty-eight losses out of thirty is on a par with Mr Bean’s likelihood of being cast as the next James Bond.

It’s worth noting here too, Andrew Hartley was considerably shorter than Charlie, and, despite his appalling fight record, in between having to chase Charlie around the ring was beating the shit out of him prior to Charlie’s disqualification for spitting out his mouthpiece (for the third time) towards the end of the first round (for full-fight footage, see 2nd link down at the end… approx 32-36 minutes in).

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TF7Now, the thing about our Charlie is that he really believes his own delusional view of himself as the world’s greatest boxer, that belief fuelled by the literally hundreds of sneakily contrived ‘victories’ he’s accumulated over the years – seriously, this guy tots up his wins like a schoolboy accumulating marbles or conker fight scores in the school playground. 

His usual modus operandi is to invite innocent gym-goers around the gyms and studios of West Hollywood to ‘lightly’ spar with him, usually offering some financial incentive to seal the deal. Thinking they’re onto easy money, most agree … and that’s when Charlie shows his true colours: no sooner do they touch gloves, Charlie goes nuts, pounding on his unsuspecting opponent without warning while either his dad or a mate films the encounter. By the time Charlie gets round to posting another ‘boxing win’ on his YouTube channel and elsewhere, the footage will have been edited to show Charlie in the best possible light, and of course, minus the context in which the supposed ‘fight’ actually took place. As an added touch, Charlie also likes to claim most of his opponents are retired US Marines/Special Forces, or some other ex-this, that, or the other to emphasise the scale of his latest win. Naturally, of course, things don’t always go to plan, and the bogus boxing bully sometimes comes a cropper such as when he’s occasionally been stupid enough to take on real boxers (that never ends well, trust me). Mostly though he gets away with what, in reality, are nothing short of criminal assaults; Charlie Zelenoff is quite young, reasonably fit and in shape by the looks of him, and trains regularly in his basement so it’s not as though he doesn’t possess some fighting skills, certainly enough to overcome most unsuspecting opponents with a sneak attack or a ‘sucker’ punch (the latter definitely backfired on Charlie when he tried the ‘sucker’ punch tactic on Floyd Mayweather Sr).  Still, just to stack the odds even further in his favour, another of Charlie’s tricks is to remove most of the stuffing from his gloves prior to a ‘fight,’ thus having the effect of landing his blows with much the same effect as if fighting bare-knuckle … yep, a real piece of work is our Charlie.

On the domestic front, Charlie Zelenoff was at one time supported by his ex-wife, Daria Zelenoff, which in itself is a little odd given that several years ago, Charlie regularly posted genuinely creepy online footage that it was God’s Will for him to marry the love of life, Kim Kardashian, and for her to bear his children (phew, lucky escape there, Kim, lol).

Charlie is also actively encouraged by his father, Eugene Zelenoff, in his strange and bizarre life and boxing ambitions, both often joining Charlie in his online victory celebrations.

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To conclude …

Whilst I’ve tried to present an overall picture of bogus boxer, troll, and all-round deluded fantasist, Charlie Zelenoff, I’ve barely touched the surface here. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and if that’s true, then the documentary video of him by Cloud5146 on YouTube (2nd link below) must amount to several volumes of insight into what can only be described as a very strange and disturbed individual, though watching the footage of his father, Eugene, it’s clear where at least some of Charlie’s delusional belief and aggression come from.

It would be too easy to simply dismiss Charlie Zelenoff as a young man with some delusional mental health issues or lacking the usual social skills. In truth, this is a man with quite enough of his wits about him to carefully pick/deceive most of his ‘opponents’ (i.e. mostly victims), then beat the living daylights out of them before posting said assaults online for all the world to see. Watching further footage of Charlie’s online rants also reveals him to be racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and to possess borderline levels of violent aggression, i.e. an all-round nasty piece of work.

Does Charlie need help? Abso-fucking-lutely, yes he does, but with his supposed friends and family encouraging him in his bizarre antics and the local authorities doing nothing, unless the online community shame or deter his behaviour, Charlie Zelenof is going to get himself seriously hurt. I mean, calling up the likes of Deonte Wilder and making racist comments to him before saying equally vile things about his daughter isn’t a recipe for a long and happy life. Neither is sucker-punching a sixty-six-year-old man as he did Floyd Mayweather Sr (among others). Not only that, Charlie bragged about it online and threatened to do the same to Floyd Mayweather Jr, actually threatening to put him in a wheelchair, you know, the real undefeated and possibly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters to have ever lived, I kid you not!

Again, many will argue that Charlie Zelenoff is to be pitied, is in need of psychiatric help, and should not be ridiculed online. Well, if all Charlie was doing was posing in the privacy of his own bedroom with his Toys-R-Us boxing belts, pretending to be the boxing champion of the universe for anyone cares, no one would really give a shit – but that’s far from the case: despite getting the odd battering himself, Charlie launches into some pretty violent and dangerous attacks on innocent people. What if he one day sucker-punches a sixty-six-year-old man who doesn’t possess the defensive skills of Floyd Mayweather Sr and actually kills somebody as he so often brags he’s capable of? 

My advice to Charlie: give up this daft boxing lark, get some psychiatric help, and ffs, don’t post any more bogus fight shit on YouTube.

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See/click below for further info/links to the YouTube boxing sensation that is … Charlie ‘the GOAT’ Zelenoff:

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Charlie’s own YouTube channel (No, really, don’t laugh) 

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Troll Champion: The Charlie Zelenoff story (on YouTube)

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Charlie gets schooled by Mayweather Sr & a 16-year-old kid (Ha Ha)

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When Charlie met Deonte Wilder (Ha Ha Ha)

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Tyson Fury: Charlie’s biggest fan (no, seriously Ha Ha Ha Ha)

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The Punchbag – Flash fiction short story

The Punchbag

punchbag2Frankie Watkins was good with his fists, so good in fact he might even have been a champion. But getting a title shot would have meant hard-work and fighting guys who were also good with their fists; that wouldn’t have suited Frankie at all. You see, Frankie was a coward, and a lazy one too. The thought of someone hitting him back terrified him even more than hard work.

Knowing that he had let his chance of stardom pass him by, Frankie took out his frustration on all the young lads that attended his gym, particularly the ones willing to put in the work … and take the knocks too.

He encouraged the bigger lads to bully and go in hard on the little ones. And when he didn’t have some younger version of himself to do his dirty work, Frankie insisted on giving extra ‘coaching’ to the weakest and smallest boys. Few left without a fair few bruises or a cut lip – “just a bit of character building,” as he told them, “and don’t be such little cry-babies,” he would often add, delighted when he saw some frightened kid was trying to hide the pain he was in or holding back a tear.

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Eleven-year-old Ricardo was the latest addition to Frankie Watkins’ stable of stardom-dreaming young boxing hopefuls. Even at such an early age, Ricardo had a natural boxer’s physique and determination—and Frankie Watkins took an immediate dislike to him for it, seeing in the boy the potential champion he could never be.

Ricardo’s dad, Samuel, knew how much his son wanted to be a boxer when he grew up, ever since the wee lad had marvelled at seeing Muhammed Ali knock out Sonny Liston on the television. It wasn’t a sport Samuel had much interest in himself, but since the death of his wife, Amelia, during the last hurricane back in Haiti and then the move to the US, he was determined to do whatever he could to fulfil Ricardo’s dreams.

 

Photo readerSamuel looked down and took hold of the ruby amulet he wore around his neck, the one Amelia had so treasured. It contained her soul, just as she had wanted. They had agreed that whichever one of them died first, the other would house their soul in the precious jewel in preparation for them to both take that last step to the afterlife. It was their wish to embrace Dambala together, their guiding spirit god or Ioa as it was called in the old language.

It had not been an easy ritual to perform, the transference of the soul from the body to an inanimate object, but Samuel and Amelia were both powerful voodooists, skilled practitioners of the old magic.

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Samuel peered in through the small window, watching how Frankie Watkins ‘trained’ his young would-be boxers. He was no boxing enthusiast, but he’d attended just such a gym when he was a boy too, and as tough as they were, the coaching staff there would never have hit young boys as hard as Frankie did.

Depositphotos_180350446_xl-2015Like his own son, none of the lads complained, believing Frankie’s spiel about how he needed to be extra hard on them if they wanted to make ‘the big time’ someday. For many of the boys, they knew it was the only way they were likely to escape the poverty and squalor of the neighbourhood, and so they just accepted it as normal. But Samuel had noticed the changes in his son, his gradual lack of enthusiasm for the sport he loved, and then there were the bruises; he even suspected a possible hairline rib fracture judging by how the boy sometimes winced when he coughed or made a sudden movement.

This wasn’t training, Samuel thought, but plain and sadistic bullying masquerading as ‘coaching and character-building’, the very words he had prised out of his son.

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He might not have possessed Frankie’s boxing skills or indeed, his son’s love of the sport, but since buying the gym following Frankie Watkins’ mysterious disappearance, everyone agreed Samuel was a much better coach and mentor.

A mischievous smile curled around his lips while answering young Eric Ruiz, the latest addition to the now Samuel’s stable of stardom-dreaming young boxing hopefuls …

Depositphotos_183854010_xl-2015“I know, everyone reacts like you do, but it’s just the leather and years of soaked in sweat that causes it to make that sound.”

“An … and the blood?” ten year-old-Eric hesitantly asked.

“That’s no mystery to that either. It’s just a trick of the light, and the red dye in the leather seeping out and getting mixed in with the sweat on your gloves and the perspiration in the air.”

 

Depositphotos_80689912_xl-2015Eric gave the punchbag another whack, and then another and another, chuckling at the gasp-like sounds the punchbag seemed to wheeze when he hit it.

That corner bag was a good one. It had a good feel to it when you gave it a solid whack. And the apparent squealing sound it made when you hit it made the lads laugh, imagining they had winded and blooded some imaginary opponent. Yes, the lads loved whacking that bag for all they were worth. They weren’t to know that Frankie Watkins felt every punch they landed, and as they got bigger and stronger, Frankie felt the blows even more. Had those that had previously suffered at the ends of Frankie’s fists known, no doubt they would have given it a few kicks too.

Samuel figured with regular re-stitching, the lads’ favourite punchbag would last another ten or twenty years before someone punched the last painful squeal and drop of blood out of Frankie Watkins’ trapped soul.

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going out of hellIt had not been an easy ritual to perform, particularly transferring a soul into the battered old punchbag. Samuel doubted he could have completed it successfully anywhere else in the US other than the Creole quarter of Louisiana’s New Orleans. But Louisiana voodoo was almost as powerful as back in Haiti and West Africa.

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If you enjoyed this story and would like to read many more like it, check out my latest collection of short stories on my Amazon author page links below:

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