One of the most controversial professional athletes in history was James Scott--a light heavyweight boxer who was permitted to pursue a professional ring career from within the confines of a New Jersey state prison. By the time Scott was 28 years old he had spent about half his life in reformatories or prisons. After serving time in Rahway State Prison for robbery, Scott began boxing professionally in Miami under the tutelage of Angelo and Chris Dundee in the mid-1970s. He compiled a record of 11-0-1 before trouble found him again. A car he owned was linked to a robbery and murder. Scott maintained he had merely loaned the car to friends and was utterly unaware of their plans. Law enforcement didn't buy his story and Scott was returned to Rahway prison to serve a 30-year term for parole violation. While there Scott persuaded correctional officials that a prison boxing program would benefit everyone: Prisoners would be able to release their frustrations in an acceptable manner, they could pursue professional careers upon their releases, and the overall camaraderie among all prisoners would be improved. The state thought Scott's idea had merit. Remarkably, they also allowed Scott to resume his pro boxing career--as long as his opponents were willing to fight inside the prison. Scott--whose fitness regimen reputedly included 1,500 push-ups per day--became a force to be reckoned with. He earned a top-10 ranking from the World Boxing Association in an era when the light heavyweight division was very deep. NBC and CBS each aired Scott's bouts. ABC, however, kept its distance from Scott due to his criminal convictions. Scott's biggest win came over Eddie Gregory in 1977. Gregory was the number-one-ranked contender at the time and would eventually win the WBA championship. Whenever a Scott bout was shown on TV there were numerous complaints forwarded to the network from people who did not think an incarcerated person should be allowed to pursue a pro sports career in prison. The rival World Boxing Council agreed and never did rank Scott. Eventually the WBA dropped Scott from its rankings too, largely because he would most likely have to leave Rahway to fight for a championship. With no hope of ever fighting for a title, Scott's career waned. Scott lost two of his last three fights to end his career with a record of 19-2-1. Scott's final bout, a 1981 defeat, came at the hands of Dwight Braxton who would later win world titles in the light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions. Ironically, Braxton had been a former Rahway inmate himself. Scott was finally released from prison in 2005 when he was in his mid-sixties.
This was originally posted to YouRememberThat.com by member Lava 1965 on July, 2015
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