Monday, August 27, 2012

Boxer Fights Past to Win Happiness

The world of boxing is a fiercely brutal, aggressive and competitive sport where more people often quit and never become a champion. Take one look at Anthony Suggs, Sr. and it’s a sure bet, dangerous is not the first word that comes to your mind. Some of his opponents may have a vastly different opinion. “I used to feel so sorry for my opponents because I’d beat them so badly in the ring and then want to hug them,” says Anthony Suggs, Sr., known to many as Tony “Da Beast” Suggs, Sr. 
Anthony Suggs, Sr. at a boxing gym in Maryland
(Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray)
What his opponents in the mid-to-late 80s didn’t know was the aggressive blows Suggs threw in the ring were camouflaging scars no one could see. “I grew up in tough conditions and my family was very dysfunctional,” says Suggs, Sr. During the mid-to-late ‘80s, Suggs, Sr. was a rising boxing star with trophies and belts piling up in his house. “I had my mind set on winning a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics,” says Suggs. 
photo courtesy of Anthony Suggs, Sr.
Within hours of his scheduled bout, sure to take him closer to the gold that year, the unimaginable dimmed the light on Suggs’ road to success. “When my daughter died I was very angry because I felt like God already knew how much I’d suffered as a kid and I couldn't understand why he’d want me to suffer as a man,” says Suggs, Sr.
photo courtesy of Anthony Suggs, Sr. 
His infant daughter, the new pride and joy of his life, died of sudden infant death syndrome. Her untimely death put Suggs on a personal and professional toxic roller coaster. The man many lauded for years, sadly, landed in an Alexandria, VA jail cell numerous times for selling drugs.  Ultimately, Suggs hit rock bottom as a crack addict. “I finally realized my arms were way too short to box with God,” says Suggs, Sr.
Anthony 'Da Beast" Suggs, Sr. outside of the Alexandria, VA County Jail
(Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray)
The Alexandria, Virginia Hall of Fame boxer is a legend in his community. Everyone from local politicians and ministers to inmates, family and friends admire Suggs’ tenacity and his road to redemption.  Nearly 25 years after coming within hours of his chance to bring home the gold, Suggs, Sr.’s athletic dream may have been deferred but his determination to live a clean and happy life is at its peak. These days, he walks the halls of the Alexandria County Jail, as a mentor and motivational speaker on a mission. “I think the worst thing you can do is tell yourself you can do the time because then you’ll definitely return,” says Suggs, Sr.
Poster still for "Out of the Ring; Still in the Fight"
His life story is the subject of “Out of the Ring; Still in the Fight,” a documentary that candidly puts a microscope on his success, struggles, sacrifice and setbacks. “I feel my story is strong and it will reach all of the people it’s supposed to reach. I’m not hiding anything,” says Suggs, Sr.

The film is currently in post-production and is being produced by Southern Belle Productions, a Washington, D.C. area independent film company. Maniko Barthelemy is the executive producer and CEO of Southern Belle Productions. For more information about the film and Anthony “Da Beast” Suggs, log on to the film’s Facebook page at

We've included a short clip from the film for you to view.

Feel free to e-mail your comments about this article directly to Maniko Barthelemy at