Howard Brooks was a two-sport star in high school and won a football scholarship to the University of Virginia, but he gave it up to spend more time on his chemical engineering studies.
Brooks, 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, seemed to have it all going for him--he was intelligent and industrious. But all the while, he dreamed of a career in boxing.
Friends said he was not capable of that, but apparently no one told Brooks.
Brooks died last Saturday at Miami General Hospital. He collapsed in the ring Feb. 28 during the third round of a Golden Gloves boxing tournament and never regained consciousness.
Brooks' body will be returned to his native Punxsutawney, Pa., for burial. That's where he starred as a football player and wrestler in high school and where he nurtured the dream of a professional boxing career.
Brooks, 24, earned his chemical engineering degree from the University of Virginia last year and moved to Florida in November.
Promoter Chris Dundee found a trainer for Brooks, who had fought 10 unspectacular amateur fights. The Feb. 28 South Florida Golden Gloves tournament match against Hank Williams of Fort Lauderdale was his first bout in Miami.
All five judges gave Brooks the first two rounds. In the third round, Williams dropped Brooks to a knee with a quick, but not hard punch.
Brooks quickly rose for a standing eight count. Referee Harry Brennan said Brooks' knees "wobbled" at the count of seven and Brennan called the fight. For an instant, Brennan feared he had acted too quickly, then Brooks collapsed face-first onto the canvas.
Five doctors in the crowd rushed to ringside, but one said later that for all practical purposes, Brooks was dead the instant he collapsed.
Brooks was rushed to Miami General Hospital, where he lay comatose until his death late Saturday.
The cause of death will not be known until lab tests are complete in about two weeks, but trainer Norm Wilson said it might have been related to a bicycle accident Brooks had earlier in the week.
Brennan said neither Brooks nor Williams threw any real punches in the bout. "They weren't quite that able," Brennan said.