Boxing: Bowe leaves ring for `The Crucible'

Riddick Bowe, a former world heavyweight champion, stepped off a plane and into the ranks of the United States Marines on Monday.

The 29-year-old Bowe and 21 other new recruits, most of them in their teens, were met by three Marine instructors at Charleston airport in South Carolina prior to a bus trip to the notorious Parris Island Marine Corps training centre.

The newest, and probably the first multi-millionaire Marine briefly scanned the crowd upon arrival, but showed no emotion.

Bowe stunned the boxing world last month with his announcement that he was fulfiling a lifelong dream by enlisting in the Marine Reserves. He will be with them on one weekend a month of active duty for three years.

Bowe must first get through Boot Camp, 12 weeks of basic training that should make preparing for a fight with Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield seem like a day at the beach.

The Marine training, however, could be just the thing for the often overweight and out of shape fighter, whose last two bouts were disasters.

Bowe, who won the heavyweight title by beating Holyfield in 1992, was getting battered by Andrew Golota in each of his last two fights only to win when the Polish-born fighter was disqualified for a succession of low blows.

The culmination of Boot Camp is an exercise knows as "The Crucible", a gruelling 35-mile march to be completed in 54 hours on low rations and little rest.

"It's a pretty serious shock," said Gunnery Sgt Melvin Allen of the trainees' regime. "The first couple of weeks they don't know what to expect."

If he survives basic training, Bowe will graduate on 9 May, when the fighter who has made an estimated $100m (pounds 62.5m) in and out of the ring will begin to earn as little as $600 a month as a private in the Marine Reserves.

Bowe will be the fourth former heavyweight champion to serve in the Marines, joining Gene Tunney, Leon Spinks and Ken Norton.

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