Luis Rest is the archetypal boxing villain and perhaps the most infamous, on that tragic night against Billy collins.
The former Puerto Rican boxer lives in the paradox of being perhaps the least known villain of this generation of fans and boxers, but at the same time the most cited when some authority ‘catches’ a fighter before or after cheating with his fists.
In the summer of 1983, Rest was assigned to face an Irish-born super welterweight prospect who seemed headed for world championship fights: Billy collins jr, 21 years old.
Rest entered professionalism preceded by a mildly successful amateur career in which he twice won the New York State Welterweight Gold Gloves. However, on a professional level he battled accumulating a record of 20-8-2 and 8 knockouts.
Collins jr He was 14-0-0 with 11 knockouts. It came with charisma, it came from the bosom of a very Catholic working-class family, and it was starting to get promoted well.
On June 16, 1983, Billy Collins jr faced Lewis Rest at Madison Square Garden in a bout leading up to the welterweight world title fight AMB from Roberto ‘Stone Hands’ Durán against Davey Moore.
Rest He was a well-known fighter in New York, who despite not having a punch of respect, made attractive fights thanks to his stamina, striker style and combative attitude.
To his bad luck he had a very ambitious and corrupt coach in the person of Carlos ‘Panama’ Lewis who knew of the weak mentality of Rest and his frustration as a declining challenger whose career was dying out.
Lewis was involved in a pre-fight gambling ring, and moments before the fight he removed the cushion from his gloves. Rest to fill them with plaster with the consent of the fighter himself. He also had the complicity of the signature of an official of the New York State Boxing Commission, as indicated by court documents.
Rest he wore his gloves loaded with hardened plaster to give his knuckles more piercing power. And also to make them look stronger every time he landed a punch on the eyes of his rival. Thus, he managed to win a short-lived unanimous decision victory in 10 rounds in an unexpected way.
Collins Jr. ended up with his face disfigured. He had a fractured orbital bone in both cheekbones, his eyelids were grotesquely swollen, and the skin on his face was stained purple. It’s a chilling scene to watch, even almost 40 years away.
Billy Collins was a young boxing promise, whose career went to the pipe by receiving blows from a man with gloves filled with plaster, he was disfigured, being that this opponent did not even hit hard. + pic.twitter.com/j7I38jhH5D
– Carlos Sánchez (@ Same100702) April 11, 2021
Seconds after the result is announced, Luis Rest approached to congratulate Billy collins and its corner. The father of Collins, perhaps suspecting the trap, he took the right hand of Rest, and noticed something odd about the gloves. Immediately, Rest reacted trying to get away and walk away, while the father of Collins He would not let go of her hand and would call the commissioner saying that the gloves had no padding.
There a spiral of tragedy and drama spread that ruined the lives of both fighters. He marked the family with eternal sadness Collins and ended with Lewis as a coach.
One year after the lawsuit Collins Jr. He had taken refuge in alcoholism and was unable to obtain a boxing license due to severe damage to the retinas in his eyes. In technical terms he was blind.
Collins Jr. he was killed in a car accident in Tennessee on March 6, 1984, near his home. The police concluded that he was driving while intoxicated; He was 22 years old.
Rest Y Lewis they were subjected to investigation by New York prosecutors in 1983. In 1986 both spent two and a half years in jail for having been found to have committed various crimes. The charges were assault, conspiracy and use of a deadly weapon to cause severe injury: his gloves.
It was all the result of the demands that the family Collins filed against the New York Boxing Commission, the promoter Bob Arum (Top Rank), the glove manufacturer Everlast, and the referee Tony Pérez.
Rest He was suspended for life from boxing again; Lewis He was prohibited from coaching in the corner of the ring during professional fights. However, he once again enjoyed relative success as a physical trainer for world champions such as Zab Judah, whom he trained for his combat against Miguel Cotto in the summer of 2007.
‘Panama’ He passed away on September 19, 2020 at the age of 74, in boxing exile. He suffered the moral condemnation for being the intellectual author of this illicit aggression detected in the ring.
But prior to this, Lewis earned recognition as a coach of the legendary Aaron Pryor. He made him a world champion and elevated him to the Canastota Hall of Fame. Not without first starring in a trap in his fight against Alexis Argüello.
In the documentary of HBO, Assault In the Ring, Rest reveals in an interview with the director of the film Eric Drath what ‘Panama’ gave water with aspirin to Pryor prior to round 14. That, because he was about to be stopped by the great Nicaraguan champion, who was defending his world title in the AMB super light weight.
After reviewing the video of the fight, the order to Lewis to his second: “Not that bottle (of water), the one I mixed.”
Then in round 14, a Pryor rehabilitated knocked out Argüello to win the best victory of his career at that time.
The effect of the water mixed with aspirin would have opened the tract of the lungs more to Pryor so that it could process more oxygen and air. At the same time, he could hydrate better in what had been a grueling fight at sea level at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was November 12, 1982.
Lewis, who was a disciple of the coach Chickie ferrara, was also on the corner of Roberto Duran, when he lost, by decision, to Wilfred Benitez, that same night in 1982. To date there has been no controversy or cheating revelation about this fight, and hopefully there isn’t.
Rest He is 66 years old. He wanders as homeless through the streets of the Bronx, where he lives in the pipes of that New York city. Every now and then he acts as a boxing instructor for young prospects and earns a few dollars from there.
According to the documentary, for almost a quarter of a century, Lewis Rest publicly denied knowing that Lewis had tampered with his gloves prior to the fight with Billy Collins. However, in 2007, Rest he apologized to the widow of Collins. Andrea Collins-Nile She tried to sue the state of New York again for failing to protect her late husband in a fight sanctioned by the State Athletic Commission of that entity.
Rest also revealed to mrs Collins-Nile that in addition to removing the padding from the gloves, Lewis soaked her hand wraps in plaster. This caused the casings to harden in molds similar to those used to break bones.
In the same documentary, Rest also visited the grave of Collins and said, “I’m sorry for what I did to you.”
At a 2008 press conference in New York, Rest acknowledged that he knew that Lewis he had removed the padding from his gloves. He also accepted that he had done it at least twice before, but did not say what fights or when they were.
Rest He acknowledged that he did not protest at the time even though he knew things were illegal. “At that time, I was young. I kept going, ”he said laconically to the director of the documentary.
Now as an old man his life continues in infamy.