The Charleston Police Boxing Club's MOJA 

MOJA in the Ring: What if somebody held an arts festival and

Acting. Poetry readings. Multimedia art exhibitions. Two men duking it out in the ring?

How does that old childhood ditty go: "Which one of these is not like the other? Which one of these is not the same?"

Despite the apparent differences, the MOJA Festival is once again pairing traditional artistic fare and pugilism. On the one hand, you have a performance of Langston Hughes' Tambourines to Glory, and on the other, the Charleston Police Boxing Club's Second Annual MOJA Cup, a one-night only boxing exhibition bringing together some of the finest amateur boxers in the Lowcountry.

For Al "Hollywood" Meggett of the Charleston Police Boxing Club, there's no reason to question the MOJA Cup's place alongside Lorna Simpson's exhibit at the Gibbes. In Meggett's opinion, and frankly the opinion of sports writers across the nation, boxing is an art form, albeit one that involves physical punishment, spit buckets, and Vaseline. (Truth be told, that doesn't sound all that different from some other artistic pursuits. The photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe come to mind.)

"It was called the manly art of boxing," Meggett says. "You have to have rhythm. You have to have timing. Sometimes it even looks like dancing."

He adds, "Sugar Ray Robinson, he was a hell of a dancer."

And that's what Meggett, Chucktown's veteran manager-trainer, tries to teach the boys and girls who visit the gym. It's a job the 76-year-old has enjoyed here in Charleston at the club's King Street location since 1983. "I'm not a slugger guy. I teach movement," Meggett says. "Movement is a weapon."

And in the case of a good boxing match, so is the promise of spectacle. Although the amateur exhibition will be the centerpiece of the event, which is co-sponsored by the Charleston Police Department and Operation Weed and Seed, Meggett expects the main draw to be the appearance of two of the boxing world's finest fighters —WBC junior middleweight champ and Georgia native Vernon Forrest and WBO welterweight champ Paul Williams, who hails from Aiken.

Smart move. Promotion is an art form too. Just ask Don King.

The Charleston Police Boxing Club's MOJA Cup takes place Sat. Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Arthur Christopher Gym, 65 Hagood St. (843) 720-3896. Free.


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