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CORA AND DORA, THE . . . TWO-FISTED TWINS : From Ft. Lauderdale to Reseda, This One-Two Combination Has Taken Its Punches and LandedFeet-First in a Sport Reserved Mostly for Men

May 17, 1985|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

They would seem to be a fight promoter's dream. Identical twins. One trained by the other, a black belt in karate, in the "art" of boxing--that's what they call it--to become a world champion after only two bouts.

Both unbeaten, although they've fought only 11 times between them. One, described as a "bull," a no-frills puncher. The other, drawing on the experience of 10 years in the ring, a skilled technician and more highly regarded boxer. Hardened by a tumultuous childhood that led one of them to run away at age 15 and both to quit school before the 10th grade.

And both women.

Dedicated to their craft, too.

Cora Long and Dora Webber are not a novelty act. The 26-year-old twins, who have been fighters all their lives, take their boxing seriously.

Before Cora's first professional bout--she fights at 128 pounds--her husband and her 190-pound male sparring partner conspired to see if she could "take a punch."

As she and her sparring partner went out to the middle of the ring for the traditional tapping of hands to start the match, her opponent reared back and punched her square on the left eye.

"I felt my feet sink into the floor," Cora said, "but I never fell."

They didn't tell her for several days that they had set up the whole thing, and Cora walked around for weeks with a black eye.

"They wanted to see if I could really handle it," she said. "Before I went into the ring and got myself killed, they wanted to test me."

Despite the daily reminder of what a punch could do to her, Cora said she never had any second thoughts about going into boxing.

"It didn't hurt me," she said. "You should have seen him. . . .

"Believe me, nobody's going to beat this chick. Nobody's going to hurt me. Not after what I've been through when I was little."

The twins grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the fourth and fifth of six children born to truck driver Bobby Wayne Webber and his wife, Caroline, a waitress who said she supported the family financially when her husband walked out.

Caroline said her husband was gone, off and on, for 15 years. They were divorced once but remarried. Their second divorce, she said, will become final later this year.

Cora and Dora were tomboys. Their three brothers, needing bodies to fill out teams, got them involved in sports at an early age.

"We always played everything the guys did," Cora said.

But it was not a carefree childhood. Said their mother: "I wouldn't say any single one of my kids was happy at home." Caroline Webber worked 14 hours a day to support the family. Her husband wasn't around much, but when he was, he was usually drunk and was physically and verbally abusive toward her, she said.

During the divorce proceedings, she testified in court that she had been "beaten on numerous occasions and habitually frightened and threatened" by her husband.

Three times, she said, she tried to kill herself by taking tranquilizers. Twice, she threw herself from a moving car.

"I wanted to die," she said. "I just wanted to get away from him."

She doesn't know where he is living now, she said, and hasn't seen him in several years.

Said Cora: "We had it as rough as any of them guy fighters from the ghetto who were getting beat up all the time. We had the same stuff, the same thing."

The twins took up karate to protect themselves.

Finally, in the summer after her freshman year of high school, Cora ran away with Jeff Long, a 31-year-old karate instructor.

She had beaten up a city councilman's daughter, she said, and police were threatening to try her as an adult for assault and battery. "So I split," she said.

She and Long stopped in Tempe, Ariz., for a few months, found it too hot and dry and continued on to Los Angeles. Six years later, on Cora's 21st birthday, they were married. They live today in a motor home that is usually parked near the beach in Santa Monica.

Meanwhile, Dora was still in Ft. Lauderdale, getting into trouble of her own. She, too, quit school in the summer before her sophomore year, taking a job in a grocery store so she could help pay the bills.

Because she wasn't in school, she said, "I was getting into trouble and mischief and carrying on. Just going crazy. All the girls, I was just kind of their leader. Wherever I went, they went. I was always getting into fights."

She said she spent two weeks in a women's rehabilitation center once after wrecking a girlfriend's car; she had borrowed it when her girlfriend's mother was out of town. Afraid of the consequences, the girls reported the car stolen. Several people, however, had seen Dora driving it, so the police picked her up.

Eventually, Cora sent for her, mailing her a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. She hooked up with Raymond Cole, an electrician she had met at a nightclub in Florida, and they now live in a rented house in Reseda with Dora's mother and their two sons, 2 1/2-year-old Raven Lee and 1-year-old Travis Lee.

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