Coaches, friends mourn Baltimore boxer fatally shot on cusp of turning pro

"I am hurt. This kid had so much potential," coach says of boxer killed in a shooting.

Montell "Telly" Pridgett, 24, was the next son of Baltimore destined for glory in professional boxing, his coaches say.

But Wednesday, he was shot dead just blocks from his Upton home.

Marvin McDowell, Pridgett's longtime coach, said he thought of him like a son.

"I am hurt. This kid had so much potential," said McDowell, founder of UMAR Boxing in Druid Heights. "It just seems like the good ones, they the ones that get it."

Pridgett was shot at about 12:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Pennsylvania Ave. after a fight, police said.

Officers found him at a local hospital with a gunshot wound to the torso, police said. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

News of the young boxer's death spread rapidly in West Baltimore and across the city.

Anthony Williams, owner and operator of the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center a block from the shooting, said he had known Pridgett for about two decades. He got a call about 3 a.m.

"It was just so devastating, because we were just having a conversation about him," Williams said. "We were just planning on having his last amateur boxing fight at Shake and Bake."

In Pridgett's sights was his first professional fight.

McDowell said Pridgett had fought at UMAR for about six years, and had a 42-8 record.

"Outstanding boxer. Powerful puncher. Very skillful. Couldn't too many people beat him. He was that talented," McDowell said. "He was a tall, slim dude. He didn't have weight, but he was tall, so he had that leverage. He could hit hard."

Calvin Ford, head coach at the Upton Boxing Center, said he had been training with Pridgett for the last several months. Ford works with Baltimore native Gervonta "Tank" Davis, who won the IBF junior lightweight title in January.

Ford said Davis and Pridgett, who were friends, planned to have a fight in Baltimore once Davis came home from fighting overseas. Davis would headline and Pridgett would be on the undercard.

"We was planning on putting Telly on the card. We were putting everything together," Ford said. "Tank was going to bring him out like, 'This is one of the new guys I'm promoting.'"

"He was the next guy in line," Ford said.

Davis could not be reached for comment, but mourned Pridgett's death publicly on Twitter.

"I wake up from a call saying my friend got killed ... RIP," Davis wrote. He posted a screenshot of a text message exchange in which the two were encouraging each other.

"Do good for yourself," Davis told Pridgett in the texts.

Devin Allen, whose widely praised photographs of Baltimore during and since the unrest of 2015 are to be published this summer in a new book titled "A Beautiful Ghetto," also tweeted about Pridgett.

Above a black-and-white photograph he took of Pridgett in 2015 that is to appear in the book — Pridgett with a backwards cap, one fist in the air — Allen wrote it was probably "one of my most powerful portraits taken that year."

"R.I.P. champ," Allen wrote. "#baltimore we gotta do better."

Williams said Pridgett often volunteered at the center, and was always in good spirits — ready with a joke.

"I thought he had a promising future," he said. "He was one of the youngsters I did see making a transition."

Ford said Pridgett was so friendly, he knew everyone up and down Pennsylvania Avenue and throughout the neighborhood, including corner boys in the drug game.

But Pridgett wasn't in the game himself, Ford said. He was pursuing a GED, and knew his boxing career was on the verge of exploding.

"Telly was really getting himself together. He was feeling he was hot," Ford said. "He was so close."

McDowell said Pridgett was not the type to be involved in trouble. Whenever there was beef, he said, Pridget was suddenly gone, "in the gym somewhere."

"He wasn't on that kind of time, man."

McDowell said he heard Pridgett was defending someone else when he got shot, not involved in a fight himself.

"They came back and got him," he said.

He said he's seen too much violence.

"Put the guns down, put the gloves up," McDowell said, repeating a mantra he's espoused to kids in the neighborhood for years. "We've gotta take the grief off the streets, because in the boxing gyms, we all can win. We've just got to work it out. Anything can be worked out."

Police also were called at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday to a shooting in Northeast Baltimore. Police said a 24-year-old man had just arrived home when he was shot multiple times by a masked man attempting to rob him in the third floor landing of his apartment building in the 4000 block of White Avenue. He was listed in critical condition Wednesday.

Police identified the man shot who was shot to death in the 1500 block of Retreat Street in West Baltimore on Monday as 30-year-old Andrew Jackson.

Another man was shot and injured on Wednesday in the Union Square neighborhood. The victim was found shot in the back around 5:40 p.m. at the intersection of S. Mount Street and Hollins Street.

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