Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, who stunned the boxing world three weeks ago when he announced he was fulfilling a lifelong dream by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, quit yesterday after only 11 days of boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

Bowe, 29, of Fort Washington, was in Savannah, Ga., visiting family and could not be reached to comment. But Maj. Rick Long, a Marine spokesman at Parris Island, said, "I spoke with him this morning. He seemed very genuine in his desire to become a Marine. However, he decided at this stage of his life that adjusting to the regimented lifestyle {of Marine training} was too difficult."

Long said Bowe and his Marine trainers and commanders "had been having discussions about his desire to leave" since Tuesday, the first day he began the highly structured, 12-week routine that 88 percent of recruits complete. Recruits are free to quit at any time, but many reconsider after discussing and evaluating their situations with their superiors, Long said.

Bowe, who has earned more than $100 million in an eight-year boxing career, did not cite one specific incident that caused him to give up his quest to become a Marine, Long said. Bowe would have been required to serve three years in the active reserves and five years on inactive duty, Long said.

"It was just a combination of being told when to eat and how fast, when to dress and how fast and the structured environment," he said. "In Marine Corps recruit training, you are constantly supervised and you are on a very rigorous and fast-paced schedule."

Bowe became heavyweight champion in November 1992, successfully defended the title twice, but lost it a year later to Evander Holyfield. For recent fights, he had climbed into the ring overweight and out of shape; eight months ago in a bout against Andrew Golota he weighed in at 252 pounds, an all-time high.

He entered boot camp planning to resume his boxing career later this year. And he entered knowing the challenges that training would present, having visited Parris Island with the Marines' encouragement and permission to see what awaited him. Bowe was not accepted, or "contracted" in Marine parlance, until after this visit, said Capt. David Steele of the Marine Corps Recruitment Command at the Pentagon.

The former world champion was prophetic a few days before shipping out to Parris Island. "Recruit Bowe is going to be in big trouble, I think," Bowe said, chuckling during an interview with The Washington Post. "The physical aspect, for the most part, I can handle. I'm going to have to get used to having someone in your face, and the screaming and whatnot."

When he arrived at Parris Island, Bowe found himself an elder among the recruits, most of whom were in their late teens or early twenties. He couldn't call home to his wife, Judy, and five children. His only contact with family or friends was Deion Jordan, a friend who was accepted under the Buddy Program, meaning they attend boot camp together. Jordan quit at the same time as Bowe, Long said, the first two members of the 60-person platoon to depart.

In his first eight days at Parris Island, Bowe, like the other recruits, received medical and dental examinations, was issued a uniform, was placed in a platoon, received instructions on the routine and began "mentally preparing for the challenge of recruit training," Long said.

The hard training began Tuesday at 5 a.m. -- 0500 in military parlance -- with reveille, morning shower and breakfast. Bowe proceeded to a 1.5-mile run at a 9-minute 20-second pace, did calisthenics, received classroom instruction on standing guard, then moved on to combat-hitting skills and two hours of marching. He had an evening meal, then polished his shoes and mended his uniform before lights out at 9 p.m. Every minute was accounted for, including time to march in formation from activity to activity.

Bowe was one of 43,000 men the Marines expect to accept this year out of an anticipated 3.26 million recruiting contacts, according to Steele. The Marine Corps had made exceptions for Bowe, based on his age, weight and dependents. It cost the taxpayers $4,900 for the Marines to recruit Bowe and transport him to Parris Island, according to Steele; it would have cost $14,320 to train him, according to Long.

Steele said he expects reaction to be mixed about the failure of such a high-profile recruit to complete training.

"We wouldn't say him joining had a positive influence {in recruiting} because we don't want people joining just because Riddick Bowe joined," Steele said. "Some people will recognize that Marine Corps recruit training is difficult, and this is just one public recognition of that. It can work both ways. Some will say, Maybe it's too difficult for me,' and they won't join. Others will say, If the challenge is that difficult for him, this is what I'm looking for. . . . ' "

Rock Newman, Bowe's manager and promoter, said in a mid-afternoon news conference outside his Northwest Washington home that he was not surprised that Bowe did not complete training and that he also would not have been surprised if he had.

Newman, who said he had not talked with Bowe since he left for Parris Island, said the primary reason Bowe left the Marines was because he missed his family.

"For eight years, Riddick's spent enormous amounts of time away from his wife and family. The hardest part for Riddick was never in the ring, and it was never the long hours of training. It was always the separation that took place. . . . He hated time away from his family." Newman said he was not sure when Bowe would return to this area. Earlier, Newman told CNN-SI television in an interview, "I would think Riddick would like to serve his country, but in some other capacity. Maybe now he can run for Congress or something."

"That's interesting," said an aide to Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) in whose congressional district Bowe lives.

Hoyer was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment, the aide said. Staff writer Karl Hente contributed to this report.