Boxers and champions galore came to watch their friend, their old rival, get what he deserved: a ring from the International Boxing Federation for defending his super middleweight title three times in the 1990s.
"It was something that was long awaited and well past overdue," said Charles "The Hatchet" Brewer, holding his 1997 IBF title over his right shoulder. "But [winning the belt] was probably one of the most exhilarating feelings someone could ever experience. I needed that highlight.
"Two years earlier, I had lost my mom and that took everything from me, emotionally, physically and spiritually. But I endured that pain and went on to contend and compete, and years later I got the world championship, and it was all in dedication to her."
Brewer, 44, won the vacant IBF title in June 1997 with a TKO in the fifth round against Gary Ballard. He defended the title three times before losing in a split decision to Sven Ottke in October 1998. In a 2000 rematch, he lost another split decision to Ottke before leaving the sport in April 2005.
Now, he and his wife Sophia Brewer, 41, have a shop at 22nd and Indiana streets, serving the same community Brewer grew up around. When IBF president Daryl Peoples presented the ring to him yesterday afternoon, Brewer let out a loud "yes, Lord" before watching it get placed on his finger.
"It's an honor they should have," Peoples said of champions who never get their rings. "It's a lot of champions, but not everyone defends it three times. Charles is a good champion. He's right here in Philly, and he's personally someone that I admire.
"This guy came back and defended his title at the Blue Horizon for all the fans that watched him come up through the USBA. He's done well after boxing, and I'm proud to be able to bring this down to him."
Besides the barbershop, Brewer owns C-2-C Technologies, a computer-repair company, a skill he said he is very well-versed in. His son, Charles Brewer Jr., has already started following in his father's footsteps by boxing; he's already picked up the nickname "Bam-Bam" and attends Rowan College at Gloucester County.
Brewer's robust family filled the shop with chants of excitement when they saw the large box for the retired boxer. Peoples gently opened the ruby encasing and eased the ring onto Brewer's finger; Brewer gazed at it for a few seconds before casting a wide beam.
Brewer put a lot of time and dedication into the sport, and though no one could say why it took so long to get his ring, the Brewer family is just happy it's finally here. And Charles Brewer is just pleased his life can keep on chugging.
"I've never become complacent with who I am, rather, content with being determined with achieving success," he said. "I'm so grateful for everything I've acquired and accomplished at this point and stage in my life. There are so many things I still want to achieve and places I want to be and things I'd like to do.
"The way I see it," Brewer said with a smirk, "the party is just starting."
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