When Dennis Milton is out of the ring, he spends a lot of time with rings.
Milton the Magician is a boxing semifinalist in the 156-pound division at the Pan American Games, having attained that level Thursday night by stopping Jamaican Anthony Logan in the third round.
Between fights, Milton has been entertaining fellow athletes with a magic act he has nurtured on the streets of the Bronx, N.Y. His current specialty is the lincoln rings--solid steel rings that he links together and pulls apart.
"I've worked them twice down here," Milton said. "I've been trying to master that one routine since June. I've been able to do several things here, like a silent routine at night that everybody seems to understand, no matter what language they speak. I don't have a lot of props with me, but with a few quarters and a deck of cards, you can do a million tricks."
Milton, who will be 22 Tuesday, has been boxing for six years and making magic for three. He has earned spending money on the streets at home with sleight of hand, but so far not a penny in the ring.
Milton has won the last two U.S. Championships, easily captured the Sports Festival title and won the boxoff in St. Louis to earn a Pan Am bid. He never has been very successful internationally, however, in part because he is a skillful boxer who tends to find himself involved in close decisions, in which judges often are swayed by politics.
Milton is looking forward to the Olympics, then will sort through his options to decide his future.
"The Olympics are the granddaddy of all sports events and the gold medal there is what I want more than anything," Milton said. "Afterward, I have a lot of ways to go. There's magic, and there's pro boxing, and I'm studying business in school. But I'm into boxing full speed right now."
While many other athletes complain of boredom, Milton makes the most of his time. He reads magic books, from which he taught himself the tricks he uses.
"If you sit around saying, 'I'm bored,' then you'll be bored," Milton said. "You can learn a lot here. The facilities aren't finished and there are some problems but they're doing their best . . . If the lights go out, they go out on everybody."
All things are not necessarily equal, however. For example, while the U.S. boxers sought a bus to take them to training, the Cuban team marched past and immediately boarded a bus that whisked them away.
"I really pay no attention to them," Milton said. "The only time I want to look at them is when they're in the ring. I have films of (Jose) Aguilar, who got the decision when we fought in Cuba, and I can see what he does right and wrong and what I do right and wrong.
"I was down psychologically last time we fought and boxing was no fun, but I'm rejuvenated now. I expect to win the gold."