"The Contender" is a reality show that ran on NBC the first season and on ESPN the second season. It features boxers as they compete against each other. Each week, one potential contender is eliminated. The show is hosted by boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard, but Rocky star Sylvester Stallone also co-hosted the first season. The trainers on the show are Leonard and Tommy Gallagher, with Jackie Kallen appearing on the first season to counsel the boxers. Guest appearances on the first season included Jay Leno, Chuck Norris, Burt Reynolds, and William Shatner.
The boxers are divided up into teams depending on where they live. The East Coast Team and West Coast Team share residence while on the show in Pasadena, California. Teams compete to see who fights that week and against whom from the other team. The loser of the fight must leave the show. The constants on the West Coast (yellow) team were: Alfonso Gomez, Anthony "The Bullet" Bonsante, Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith, Jesse "The Body" Brinkley, Joey Gilbert, Miguel Espino, Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora, and Tarick "The Arabian Prince" Salmaci. The contestants on the East Coast (blue) team were Ahmed "Babyface" Khaddour, Brent "The Disciple" Cooper, Jeff "The Hell Raza" Fraza, Jimmy Lange, Jonathan "Reid Dawg" Reid, Juan "El Gallo Negro" de la Rosa, Najai "Nitro" Turpin, and Peter "The Pride of Providence" Manfredo Jr.
The show does follow the boxing format of a 16-man knockout tournament. The eventual winner was Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora. He beat out Peter "The Pride of Providence" Manfredo, Jr. on points. For third place, Alfonso Gomez beat out Jesse "The Body" Brinkley on points.
During the first season, contestant Najai Turpin committed suicide on February 14, 2005. It is unclear why he committed suicide, but he was unhappy that he could not fight between being eliminated on the show and the show's finale. He was also in a custody battle for his daughter. The show set up a trust fund for his daughter Anyae.
The show received more bad news when it was cancelled in May 2005 by NBC. However, in August of that year, ESPN announced it would be picking up the rights to the show.
Season two ran on ESPN, starting on July 18, 2006. It featured the Blue Team and the Gold Team. Guest appearances were from many of those that competed on the first season including the winner (Sergio Mora), the runner up (Peter Manfredo Jr.), and the third place finisher (Alfonzo Gomez). In the finale, Grady "Bad Boy" Brewer beat out Steve "2 Pound" Forbes in a split decision. Coming in third was Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage.
The third season of "The Contender" just rapped up on ESPN November 6th with the finale at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. The winner was Sakio "The Scorpion" Bika over Jaidon "The Don" Codrington by unanimous decision.
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