Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been called every name in the book - most of them by his own fans. But he can look forward to a little less heckling now that he sports a 2008 World Series Championship ring. In this Real Sports/Sports Illustrated profile, correspondent Frank Deford sits down with the newly beloved Phillies skipper to discuss his unlikely path to success, the loss of his parents and the down-home style his players have come to love.
This story begins with a single stunning statistic: Seven football players from Hampton Roads, Va. were gunned down in a ten-month period between March 2008 and January 2009, and now a desperate search for answers is underway. For many African-American kids in this part of Virginia, sports has long been a safe haven from violence and a way out of poverty. But amidst a current scourge of gang and youth violence, the shootings of so many promising student-athletes are raising questions. Were they targeted, or are these cases mere coincidence? And is it now harder than ever before for young athletes to run the gauntlet of the inner city? Real Sports correspondent Jon Frankel follows the trail of these cases and reports a story of gangs, guns and the grip of fear that has left most of them unsolved.
Behind up-and-coming, unbeaten junior middleweight James Kirkland stands a trainer widely regarded as the hardest puncher in the history of boxing - women's boxing. Ann Wolfe dominated the sport for nearly a decade after turning pro in 1998, holding world titles in four different weight classes simultaneously. But while Wolfe's professional boxing record shows only one loss, the scars she's acquired outside the ropes number too many to count. In this Real Sports profile, correspondent Andrea Kremer sits down with Ann Wolfe to discuss her extraordinary life and her current quest to become the first woman to train a male boxer who wins a world title.
In 2002, Real Sports took an in-depth look at the fevered debate over the nationwide movement to ban dodgeball in schools. Critics of the game argued that it teaches an excessively violent message to kids, while opponents of the movement feared that banning dodge ball is the first step down a slippery slope to an over-sensitized world where kids aren't allowed to be kids. Now, seven years later, correspondent Bernard Goldberg takes another look at the issue, only to discover that the debate has moved far beyond dodge ball and now includes efforts to ban games like tag and, in some cases, physical contact between students altogether.