42nd Street in New York is the home of Boxing Joe, the single most fascinating homeless man I have ever met.
As we approached Joe's area of the road, we saw him in his prime: a young, vitriolic man, whittled with the wear and tear of New York City, shadow boxing in the middle of 42nd. He was wearing a leather padded helmet, a teal bath robe, and white loafers, with little underneath to protect from the wind and cold.
Joe was homeless due to alcoholism, although he was not drunk when we spoke to him the first time. He told us his story inside an Applebee's not far from the Lunt Fontaine Theatre, over a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes with coleslaw. We saw Beauty and the Beast that day.
According to Joe, his family was very broken, and he ended up leaving home at the age of 14. With no money, and no place to go, he was homeless nearly one year later, and decided to try crime. His first attempt was a robbery of a news stand that did not succeed, and landed him in jail for around four months.
He continued to tell us of his boxing career, which ended when he started drinking heavily. Since then, Joe has been dealing with an alcohol problem, which, according to him, has kept him from becoming a "seriously talented boxer".
Sadly, when I return to 42nd Street, I don't find Joe there anymore. If anyone is to see a man boxing in the middle of 42nd, please let me know. He was a very interesting man.