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Former welterweight champ Meldrick Taylor accused of insurance scam

December 30, 1997 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Former welterweight champion Meldrick Taylor has been accused of trying to swindle an insurance company by claiming his $85,000 Mercedes convertible was stolen in 1994.

The 1984 Olympic gold medalist, now a minister at a Cheltenham church called the University of Practical Knowledge, waived his preliminary hearing Monday and is scheduled to be arraigned on the fraud charges next week.

Prosecutors say Taylor, 31, is broke after spending the millions he made in the ring on bad investments and high living.

He wouldn’t discuss the charges outside the courtroom, but said: ``I don’t need worldly fame. Money won’t make you who you are.″

Taylor (34-5-1) was two months behind on his $1,600-a-month lease payments in October 1994 when he reported the car stolen, according to the district attorney’s office.

When police found the 1991 car a year later, they discovered in the trunk a receipt for a cellular phone that Taylor had purchased 14 days earlier, authorities said.

On Monday, he told reporters he still wants to return to the ring.

``I never retired. I’m waiting for the right fight to come along,″ said Taylor, who won the IBF junior welterweight title in 1988 and WBA welterweight title in 1991.

Taylor’s last fight was Nov. 22, 1996, a split-decision loss to Dan Maciunski.

The State Athletic Commission suspended Taylor in April for failing to appear at a bout in Altoona. Pa., but is trying to arrange a new fight to allow him to pay back the advances he received, executive director Greg Sirb said.

The unemployed boxer, the father of three young daughters, said his primary focus is spreading the word of God.

``Boxing is just a pit stop for me,″ he said. ``It may not be the Lord’s purpose for me. ... Right now, I’m very content.″