I taught college Criminal Justice, on a part-time basis for about a decade. Out of about 6 of those years, I taught in downtown Cleveland in an area where especially at night, wasn’t very safe. During that time, I became friends with a parking lot attendant and former professional boxer, Rick Spain now known as Abdul Rahman. I wrote an article about him and some of my initial interactions with the former Mike Tyson opponent that I link here.https://www.searchwarp.com/swa640897-Mike-Tyson-And-Muhamad-Ali-The-Parking-Attendant-And-Regular-People-Who-Are.htm
While in my article I write about some of my initial dealings with Abdul, I never mention a disagreement we had in the middle of a desolate alley one evening having to do with an unpaid parking bill. Abdul and I had a tense conversation that could have ended up in a physical confrontation. But it didn’t, as he was reasonable, I was reasonable, and we worked things out as adults. And we became friends. We became friends to the point that I introduced him to another friend of mine, Derrick who I was training at the time in martial arts with a lot of emphasis on boxing and kickboxing. Derrick got so good that he was considering turning pro but he had no amateur experience which can be a problem. So, one night Abdul and Derrick who are both African American, and I visited some boxing gyms Abdul recommended. He showed us around and introduced us to some top boxing people. Later, we had dinner together.
Derrick and Abdul became friends and got to know each other pretty well. When our evening ended we left Abdul on the corner where he managed some parking areas. It was already dark and the street people were out in full force. People who will use and abuse you if possible. I told Abdul to be careful. Everyone in the area knew Abdul. He was a fixture in the area and no one messed with him. He carried himself a certain way that showed people that he was not an easy mark and you may be opening up a can of whoop ass if you did. But I knew that people carry knives, guns and some people are stoned out of their minds and aren’t reasonable in their thinking and I also knew that not everyone knew Abdul and who he really was. He was a man who had been around and fought some of the toughest men on the planet and he was one who would not take anyone’s abuse and would not allow someone to assault, rob or kill him. But I still feared for his safety. So did Derrick.
After I left the area to teach in another city, I thought of him often. Several times we talked on the phone. But I always waited for the day that I’d hear a news story that Abdul had been killed by some street thug. I wasn’t far off that mark when I heard a news story about Abdul on September 7, 2017. Abdul had been confronted, threatened and had shot and killed someone near a bus stop at 10:30 one evening as he was going home. See the attached link:
I called Abdul after I saw the story and he told me that the new County Prosecutor did a thorough investigation into the shooting and found a witness that said Abdul was minding his own business when accosted by a group of people. They also found surveillance video that corroborated Abdul’s story. So, Abdul was in the right in the shooting, it was self-defense.
But now, Abdul is being harassed by some people, most likely friends or perhaps gang members of the person he shot and killed.
Abdul told me that he had been trying to do the right thing by working every day, treating people well and it’s sad that he was forced to kill someone to survive. Now he also finds himself watching his back constantly for the thugs who have vandalized his home and threatened him over the shooting.
And this is the important part of my story. Abdul had to be on top of his game to survive that night. He lived and the other man died. Now every day he lives in fear or deep concern for his safety from more thugs. But this happens EVERY DAY in much of urban America in areas such as Cleveland, Chicago, Niagara Falls NY, Oakland, Baltimore, Stockton, Buffalo and countless other areas. Good people having to fend for their lives every day. And there are those who tried to survive but were killed instead, every day. Mostly black people, by black people. It’s a fact. It’s a shame.
Bad cops who improperly kill or harm African Americans is a tragedy and must be stopped. In fact, more white people are killed by cops then African Americans and that too, of course, must stop. But police killing or threatening the safety of African Americans in Urban America is not the issue. It’s the thugs or lost souls in these neighborhood of color that prey on others. Not many want to confront the real issues. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ organization should be ashamed of themselves for wallowing in the peripheral and not helping with the real problems in African American communities. The solutions are hard. They’re not soundbites. They’re not blame games. The real solutions have to do with JOBS and quality mentoring and actions on that level. The good news is that in mid-2017 African American employment is on the rise. That has to continue along with the great people working to help in these communities of color who are working on the actions that actually make positive differences. The shame of it is that positive change is so slow and so many more will die before things change much. In fact, in the time that it took me to write this article, at minimum, one person in one of the cities that I mentioned has been killed. That’s another fact. And that’s a sin.
Good luck to my friend, Abdul. You deserve to smell the flowers, smile, and live your life to the fullest.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Latest posts by Steve Kovacs (see all)
- Black Lives Really Mattering and My Friend the Boxer - September 7, 2017
- Meaning—Makes the Man and Woman–Makes the Difference - August 28, 2017
- Bars, Demonstrations, and Getting Thumped… - August 14, 2017