Back in 1992, I was boxing as an amateur in the middleweight division. Two guys, in suits, came into the gym and talked to my coach for a few and stood around.
I was sparring with this tall lanky kid; I knocked him down three times in the first round. The coach called it and then waved me over.
The men in suits worked for a Korean business woman, who just brought her company to Canoga Park, CA, and needed a bodyguard.
The men, kind of, looked me over and asked my coach, Morris, what my record was and how long he’s been working with me. At this point, I thought they were promoters looking to turn me into the next Marvin Hagler. No such luck.
One of the suits asked if I was good. I looked at him, his partner and then Morris. And finally said, “Seriously? I was fighting when you walked in. I knocked the shit out of that kid. He was dropped three times in a minute and a half. How about you lace up and we dance a bit?”
Morris clears his throat and says, “The guy’s very good. We’re hoping to take him pro in a few months. 1993 should be his year.” Then the other suit asks, “Are you good with a gun?” That’s when it hits me that these are not promoters. Thoughts of top-secret assassin shit danced through my mind. Battling ninjas and partying with exotic women on tropical islands.
I said, “I shoot weekly, I have a membership at the Warner Center Gun Club.”
Do you have a license to carry a concealed firearm?”
Again, I look at everybody, hoping for a clue, I say, “No, I’m a boxer, not Steven Segal.”
Finally, Morris says, “These gentlemen are here in hopes of finding a suitable bodyguard for a business woman named Ms. Khong. She comes to America once a month from Korea. You would be on call 24 hours a day.”
I say, “OK.” One of the suits gives me a business card and says, “This is Mr. Khong’s card, he is the son. Call him Monday.”
All of this happened on a Thursday night. I forgot about it. Threw my boxing clothes in the washing machine. And made plans for the weekend. On Sunday night, I finally got around to putting my gear into my gym bag and Mr. Khong’s card falls out of the pocket of my shorts. Mangled, but a card just the same. I put the card on my nightstand and called Khong on Monday.
I call, an appointment is made and I go. Mr. Khong is impeccably groomed. Basically, he smelled like cash.
Like the suits in the gym, he stared more than he talked. And he asked the same questions, did I fight well, and was I handy with a gun. I answered pretty much the same as I did before, but left out the part about not being Steven Segal.
Mr. Khong explained the job. Stating that Ms. Khong is very wealthy and several attempts have been made to either kidnap or kill her. I would be responsible for her belongings, her car, her wallet, her money. While in America she would carry nothing on her person. Then he asked if I could speak Korean. I, honestly, told him, “Not a lick.”
He said he would make a decision on Friday. If I’m selected I would have to be ready to start that night. I would be given a Mercedes to drive, a gas card and an American Express, as well as, whatever I carry for Ms. Khong. I told Mr. Khong that the job sounds like an adventure and I looked forward to his call.
On Thursday afternoon, Morris called and says, “The suits are here again and they’re checking out the Korean kid.”
“What Korean kid?”
“The one that started last week.”
“I didn’t know we had a Korean fighter.”
“Yeah, he started last week.”
“I understand that. What are they saying?”
“I don’t know, some shit in Korean.”
When Mr. Khong called that Friday he informed me that Ms. Khong chose someone that could speak Korean. Totally understandable.
I thanked him for his time and told him to keep my information; you never know when you’ll need a strapping young American helping you out of a jam.
The only thing that bummed me out was the fact that I may never fight ninjas.