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Sad times abound on the local boxing scene

The past few weeks have been rough ones in Portland's boxing circle. Three former boxing standouts died last Friday, five days after the death of 29-year-old boxer-trainer Greg Piper. And another prospective fighter, Sean Lancaster, has been charged with murder.

A. Halim Rahsaan, a 1964 national AAU champion for the Knott Street Boxing Club, was among those who died Friday (see separate story on this page). The others: Wade Smith, also a Knott Street boxer, who won AAU national gold medals in 1962 and '63 and represented the United States at the Pan-American Games in Brazil in 1963; and Pat Kennedy, 81, who in 1947 won the state welterweight title and fought in the AAU national tournament.

Laced heroin may be responsible for death

Piper, 29, died July 2 from an opiate overdose ('Boxer-trainer Greg Piper loses the ultimate fight,' Portland Tribune, July 7). He battled addiction to methamphetamine since his teenage years, his sister says. But Jana Piper says that her brother might have taken laced heroin, which doctors say slowed down his heart and subsequently damaged his brain beyond any point of recovery. He had been in a coma for a week.

'Some of his friends since he first started doing (drugs), who have been clean for a while, have made a vow to find out who gave it to him,' Jana Piper says. 'The rest of the family has never been in that world.'

Says his trainer, Fred Ryan of Grand Avenue Gym: 'I wasn't aware of his use. He told me he had a drug problem as a young man, but I thought it was behind him.'

Murder charge a surprise to trainer

Lancaster has been charged with first-degree murder in Cowlitz County, Wash. He allegedly stabbed to death James Morgan, an acquaintance of his estranged wife, Jennifer Lancaster, last month in Castle Rock, Wash. The two were dating, police say.

'He used our gym for training and sparring, and he was going to turn pro and be managed by me,' says Ryan, who accompanied Lancaster to the Golden Gloves Western Regional tournament in Las Vegas last year.

'I thought he was an easygoing guy. The last time I saw him was three weeks before (the alleged stabbing) and I knew he had marital difficulties. He said everything was fine.' Lancaster didn't show a violent side, Ryan adds, and had a refrigeration and heating business. Lancaster and his wife had three children.

Castle Rock police say they found Lancaster, 34, on June 18 at the residence of his wife, covered in blood and holding a knife, and Morgan dead in another room. Lancaster has pleaded not guilty.

Many Castle Rock residents cannot remember another homicide in their town, at least in the past 50 years, according to a newspaper account.

Ducks network on the 'Net

The Web site MySpace.com has been all the rage for the college-age set - a place to hook up with dates, a place to see and be seen, a place to sell one's self. 'Everybody' on the Oregon Duck football team has their own profile, tight end Dante Rosario says, speaking generally. No surprise that burgeoning star Jonathan Stewart has gospel hymns and Scripture on his site, and probably the most 'friends' associated with him - about 1,500.

One Duck, however, says he doesn't care to quack about himself. 'Everybody's on it but me,' wide receiver Brian Paysinger says. 'I got a good enough network. I don't need drama on the Internet in my life.'

-Tribune staff