A Regular Joe
Recently I heard from Travis Roste, who runs joeheavyweight.com, a boxing memorabilia website (“Boxing for the regular Joe,” as he calls it). Travis lives in Minnesota and although we’ve never met, I know he’s an upright guy because he actually asked for permission to post some passages from Operation Bullpen on his site, rather than just going ahead and doing it as many people would. Travis, who has a wife and two daughters, is a crusader against forgeries, but at the moment he has more immediate concerns, as his email explains:
“Hi Kevin. This is Travis. I found another fake Ali signed photo with Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier in it, and I was wondering how many different pictures did Olson fake? [Note: John Olson was a big boxing and Ali forger who has since repented.] I have at least eleven different examples of photos with the Olson fake on it. Plus the Wepner-Ali photo that would make twelve. And I am sure there are more.
“I got laid off from my job a couple weeks ago. I was a shipping specialist for a company, so while looking for a new job, I am working on the website a lot too. I like to write a lot, and have some boxing columns on the website. I envy you a lot since writing is your business. What is it like? See you later, Travis.”
And this is what I said in reply:
“Travis, I’m sorry to hear about you being laid off. That’s pretty discouraging. I don’t think I’ve ever known a time where so many people I know are without work, including lots of writers. The writing biz is about as crappy as everything else at the moment. I have two book proposals sitting in the offices of New York publishers-and that’s what they’re doing: sitting. Anything having to do with the printed word is being hit hard and publishers do not appear to be buying much of anything from writers, as far as I can tell.
“The best thing about writing is that I get to do what I love and connect with people like you. Don’t get discouraged. Take care of those girls, and we’ll get more into those Ali fakes at a later date. Kevin.”
P.S. For anyone else caught in Travis’s situation, you may want to check out an article I wrote for and about unemployed fathers some years ago, during our last recession. It’s called “Coping at Home After Losing a Job,” and it’s the second article on the list at dadmag.com. Read it here.