Life can be filled with knock-outs, low blows that could put you on the ropes, but local boxing legend Al “Hollywood” Meggett knows how to stick and move, and he always manages to counter punch. He’s a beloved community champion in and out of the ring. We’re in Downtown Charleston with our Everyday Hero.
Al “Hollywood” Meggett has been calling the shots at the Charleston Boxing Club for 34 years. Born in Harlem, New York, the Navy brought him to the South Carolina for the first time. He opened up a boxing gym in Charleston back in 1983. He says, “My feelings about Charleston were somebody had to be here to teach these kids boxing. See when you travel the world, and you see a place, and my love for boxing wasn’t happening, I had to make it happen. It wasn’t easy, but you know what, I made it happen. It took me four years to get this program, to get this gym, because I started back in 1979, but that’s ok. I didn’t mind those four years. It was hard, but it was worth it.” Mr. Hollywood admits, he had some challenges at first. “It took a little while. They kept asking who is this guy Hollywood? Who is this guy Hollywood? It took a while for me to show them who I was. I was trying to tell them all the time. They finally realized, I was the man. I started doing it you know.”
Mr. Hollywood brought big names to Charleston. He says, “I had everyone to come to this city of Charleston. You’d be surprised. I had Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier. Ii had all kinds of celebrities come. They wanted to know what I was doing in the city. Love is what it’s all about.”
Mr. Hollywood says he wanted to bring something positive to young people in the area. “I’ve been here for all these years, and all I got was good results from these kids, and many many success stories. These kids are here because of their mothers fathers, and grandmothers, they grow up and they turn around and say well you they’re father. They call me the daddy. I said wow, I did the job, but its beautiful you know.” Hollywood trained boxer Johnny Campbell’s father, and now he is Johnny’s trainer. Campbell says, “He’s been like a grandfather. He’s helped me with life lessons.” Eighteen-year-old Terrence Blatt wants to be a professional boxer one day. “He kept me out of a lot of stuff. I wasn’t running with a really good crew back then. I didn’t see a lot of love back then, but he showed me. He showed me how to love,” says Blatt. “The way he has helped me, he has helped me so much. he changed my life around. In a way he kind of saved me. I just want to give that back to him. I just want to repay him for that.”
There is always showmanship in Hollywood. Meggett says,”When you talk about boxing, first thing that come out your mouth is Hollywood.” Boxer Stephen Canada says, “People just want to be around him, because his energy is just that gravitas.”
During his battle with lung cancer, Al Hollywood took the gloves off, and won that fight. Now despite health challenges, he continues to roll with the punches, so never count him out. “I’ve been here 34 years in this building, wow that’s a long time, and I’m still here, and I’m still doing some more work. I’ve got some more youngsters I got to work on,” says Hollywood.
Mr. Al “Hollywood” Meggett continues to bob and weave, and will never throw in the towel. “If it hadn’t been for God, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m 86-years-old and I’m still doing it, and I love it. There are two things my doctor told me
I would like for you to do Mr. Hollywood, I said what is that doc? He said stay with this oxygen program number one, and continue to train your boxers. I said that’s all I want to do. I said that’s it, so I’m happy.. I’m happy you know.”
A series of books on Mr. Al “Hollywood” Meggett’s amazing life and contributions to the community will be released in a few weeks. You can pre-order the three book series beginning January first. There is also a documentary in the works. Filming for the documentary begins January 5th-7th. Mr. Hollywood will have a book signing on January 13th. For more information, head to http://www.boxingunlimited.com.