OCCUPATION Boxer, IBF Junior Welterweight Champion
GOAL To be, pound for pound, the best fighter in the world
QUOTE "I'm from Brownsville, Brooklyn. Boxing is my life."
Behind the ring, a banner bears his name, and when he enters Gleason's Gym--a slight figure in baggy jeans and red leather jacket--the fighters pounding the bags stop to pay their respects. Here, under the Brooklyn Bridge, where so many legends trained, Zab Judah reigns as a local hero. Since turning pro at 18, he is 25-0. In his last bout, on the Mike Tyson undercard in October, he devastated his opponent with rapid-fire reflexes and a withering overhand left. He fights next in January; and before he gets too heavy for his weight class, he hopes to unify the junior welterweight title--something that might earn him a spot on Gleason's wall of fame, beside Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and a fighter known better for his acting chops, Tony Danza.
Why box? "It's in my blood," says Judah, 23, who grew up where Tyson learned to brawl, in Brownsville. Zab's dad Yoel--a world-champion kickboxer--raised him and his six brothers alone, losing none to prison or drugs, infusing all with a deep sense of his Israelite religion (a form of Judaism) and teaching them to box. Zab, with his speed and power, proved best, racking up an amateur record of 110-5. "My father is my idol," Zab says, meaning that while he now drives a Mercedes and wears diamond studs, he still does the dishes at Dad's house.
--By Daren Fonda