DETROIT – Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns hasn't fought since 2006. But, he is putting on his gloves this week for a different kind of fight --- one against blight.
"This is going to be a fight, but it's not one that we can't win," said Hearns.
It's hard to believe that in the '70s and '80s the corner of Helen and Longyear Streets, just south of East Grand Boulevard used to be a park and the old stomping grounds of the eight-time world boxing champ.
"It's hurtful for me to look out here and see how badly everything is, the grass and weeds just grew all up and I just feel the need to come over here and try to do something about it." said Hearns, "And right here out that alley was my house. My house was a three-family flat-house where me, my mother, my brothers and sisters lived at."
"It was really nice out here. Had houses, those were the good old days." said Theodus Bradford Jr., a resident of the neighborhood for nearly 60 years.
But now the street is mostly home to wildlife.
"Isn't that something?" said Hearns, "Even pheasants are moving in. Pheasants have moved in. I never seen a pheasant when I was living over here."
Crews already started working to pick up trash, remove brush and paint over graffiti. Hearns hopes to eventually knock down the abandoned apartment building and rebuild what he once called "Rock Creek Park" with a small stage for neighborhood children.
You can help "The Hitman" knock-out blight by volunteering your time over the next three days from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.