Can Atlantic City Boxing and Casinos Survive the Downtown Drug Scurge?
Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Atlantic City, NJ (July 12, 2016)– With the recent arrest of 41 people in and around Atlantic City for dealing drugs in Atlantic County, one has to view the magnitude of the bust versus the tourist and boxing situation in Atlantic City. Much development is still coming with hotels on the Boardwalk, with The Revel set to reopen, the Showboat and the Atlantic City Hilton and the Trump Plaza all works in progress. Can Atlantic City survive and flourish in the boxing scene, and the hotels and casinos which go with it? Or will the drug scourge in Atlantic City town, only blocks from the tourist action, serve as the final blow to bring the nearly bankrupt Atlantic City down?
In all 20,000 bags of heroin, eight ounces of raw unpackaged heroin, eight ounces of suspected Fentanyl, and about two pounds of cocaine were seized in residences and commercial properties in Atlantic City, Hammonton, Pleasantville, Galloway Township, Egg Harbor Township, and Hamilton Township. Eleven vehicles, $155,000 in cash, and six handguns were seized, including one with an illegal 25 round magazine.
The total of illegal drugs recovered had a street value of nearly $500,000, and two ringleaders, arrested and charged with a narcotics trafficking network, face a life sentence if convicted, according to first assistant prosecutor Diane Ruberton. The two ringleaders arrested are: Diaab Siddiq (also known as Marshall Davis), 47, of Atlantic City, the owner of Marrakesh Restaurant in Atlantic City; and Ameer Stevens, 36, of Galloway Township, who was arrested in 2004 for cocaine, heroin, and firearms possession, and was arrested in 2005 for selling cocaine to an undercover officer. According to Atlantic City prosecutor Jim McClain, local, city, state and federal organizations have worked together to bring criminal organizations in Atlantic County, including this particular narcotics network, down.
When we think of boxers from Atlantic City rising up from the depths of poverty on the mean streets to try to make it and do something with their lives, it is events like the latest bust which teach us just how hard is for many of them to escape ‘the vicious cycle’. Atlantic City never cleaned out the town, as it was hoped the casinos and hotels might do. The Revel was at one point involved in a beautification project requiring the confiscation of property by eminent domain. The hope was if all of the downtown blight and its welfare drug addicted population could be removed and structures bulldozed, it would lead to a very different Atlantic City than the one which now exists off the boardwalk. The Revel went broke twice, and the concept was abandoned as Atlantic City plunged into bankruptcy due to competition from other casinos in the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania Tri-State area. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has been in court for four years with Atlantic City piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum, still trying to confiscate and demolish his business property one block north of The Revel, but unable to state what they would do with the property one they confiscate it.
Super middleweight Isiah Seldon, son of former WBA World Heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon, was one sidetracked Atlantic City boxer who overcame homeless, selling drugs, and minor infractions in Atlantic city which landed him in jail, who was able to subsequently put his life together and resume his boxing career.
The mean streets of Atlantic City, only two blocks from the boardwalk, are a far cry from the glitz and glitters of the tourists, high rollers, and the board game monopoly which made Atlantic City famous. A monopoly display of the boardwalk is gone. As the police presence has been scaled back, the drug scourge has continued. If Atlantic City is to survive its shadow, it will need state funding to continue to keep it financially solvent, and increased money for public services to keep the police presence strong enough to keep the drug presence from returning and destroying what hope Atlantic City has left. When a boxer arises from the depths of poverty in Atlantic City, the streets of Atlantic City, far from the glitz and glitter of the casinos, are still a mean as they can be.