As the president and CEO of a company that designs and implements sophisticated supply chain management software, Eddie Capel is immersed in non-linear complexity every day. But this past Saturday, standing in a boxing ring erected on the field of Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the boss of Manhattan Associates Inc. had a simple mission: Hit or be hit.
The 57-year-old Capel entered the ring for the first time in 36 years as part of a four-hour exhibition called "Brawl for a Cause," where each fighter in multiple bouts threw punches for the charity of his choice. For Capel, it was "Camp Hope," an Atlanta group that provides a free week's vacation to kids of incarcerated parents. Approximately one in 28 American children have at least one parent behind bars, according to data provided by Atlanta-based Manhattan. Children of incarcerated parents are three to six times more likely to be arrested or incarcerated than are kids of parents who have never been in prison, according to studies cited by the company.
The match was unusual in that the combined ages of Capel and his opponent, 47-year-old Marshall Chiles, a comedian and owner of an Atlanta comedy club, meant they were the oldest combatants on a card populated mostly by relative youngsters. Clad in black trucks and highly protective headgear (he is the head of a $600 million company, after all), Capel entered the ring to chants of "Eddie, Eddie," from supporters, many of whom held up placards with Capel's face on the front and "Team Eddie" written on the back.
Capel handled himself well in the three-round bout. He got in a few punches, much to the delight of his backers. He fell through the ring ropes near the end of Round 1, and bystanders could not be sure if he slipped or if the force of his opponent's punch sent him there.
In the end, Chiles was awarded the bout in a split decision. But while Capel lost the battle, he, and by extension Camp Hope, won the war. As of midday Monday, Capel had raised more than $102,000 for the charity, which in 17 years has served more than 650 campers. Only one out of the 90 youth and young adults who have completed its six-year curriculum and one additional year as teen counselors has ended up into the prison system.
Capel, who had last fought competitively at age 19, got some advice from boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard, who spoke at Manhattan Associates' last user conference. Watch the video to see what Leonard had to say.
Editor's note: A shorter version of this article appears in the Inbound section of our March 2018 print edition under the title "Street fighting man." Also, this article has been updated to include the video clip and accompanying text.