“Y’know, it’s too bad I’ve got more rounds left in me than you’ve got in that gun…”
Real Name: Clayton “Clay” Cassidy
Sobriquets: Champ; Ring Leader; The Man in Black; The Black Man; The Penumbral Pugilist; The Defending Champion; The Twelve-Round Terror; The Ringside Raider; The One-Two Punisher; The Ten Count Titan; The Surprise Fighter; various others
Weight: 245 lbs.
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black
Marital Status: Single
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record
Known Relative(s): Bernard Cassidy (father); Whitney Cassidy (mother); Raymond "Ray" Cassidy (older brother); Ida Cassidy (paternal grandmother); Earl “Sonny Boy” Watkins (maternal uncle); Kaleel Watkins (maternal first cousin)
Level of Education: Masters of Business Administration
Occupation: Owner and Operator of the Ringleader Gym and Fitness Center; Personal Trainer; Philanthropist; Professional boxer (retired)
Distinguishing Feature(s): None
A lifelong resident of Bay City, Clayton "Ring Leader" Cassidy (or “Clay” to his family and friends) was a well-adjusted young man from a good home. He was gifted academically and athletically but couldn’t ever really seem to focus for very long. Basketball, chess, football, auto mechanics, guitar, you name it and he tried it and was better than most. It wasn’t until an old family friend, Bernard “Smiley” Cokeley, came to visit his father and regaled Clay with stories of his heyday in the ring that the young boy found something that might hold his interest for more than a week or two.
Starting his training at Cokeley’s world famous Roughhouse Gym at age 13, it wasn’t long before word got around about the natural talent. He was faster, stronger, and mentally quicker than anyone in his peer group. Six months in and he was faster, stronger, and mentally quicker than most of the grown men that frequented the gym.
And so it went for the next nine years. Clay wowed in the ring. Folks claimed he had the power of Tyson, the speed of Sugar Ray Leonard, and the heart and skill of Ali. He didn’t care about all of that. He just knew that stepping into that ring, squaring off against a worthy opponent, and putting his all into every punch made him feel alive. He wasn’t going to give that up for the world.
That dedication took him a long way, all the way to a title shot for Heavyweight Champion of the World!
But that wasn’t what was in the cards.
Bay City had changed a lot over the years. The once peaceful town, known for its docks and factories, hit hard times. Organized crime made its inevitable appearance and while you couldn’t really make money in shipping and manufacturing like in the good old days, there was still plenty of coin to be had betting on the fights.
Clay got a visit from some unsavory characters. They sweet talked him, told him how much they liked him. They bragged on being big fans. And then they got down to brass tacks. “Business is business,” one of the thugs had said. Clay was the odds on favorite to win. A once in a generation talent like him was a sure thing. So, of course, it made sense for him to throw the fight and make their bosses a lot of money.
Predictably, Clay refused. Even if he knew he had the talent to take the title the next time around he wasn’t going to throw away this chance, especially to put a smile on the face of the scum bags that had helped to turn Bay City into the cesspool he saw every day.
A week before the big fight Clay got another visit from the men. This time, however, they weren’t so nice and they didn’t come with compliments in hand. Instead, they held him down and injected him with what they claimed was a brand new steroid. He was going to learn his lesson.
What no one planned on was Clayton’s reaction to the drug. The thugs had just hoped that he’d turn up dirty in a drug test, get tossed out by the commission. No one expected him to have a seizure. No one expected the coma. And no one expected him to wake up six weeks later, blind.
Clay hated his new disability but he hated that he was robbed of his chance to fight even more. He fell into a deep depression over the next month, feeling trapped in his body, and in his home. His parents tried to console him but nothing they said got through to their troubled youngest son.
Once again, Smiley Cokeley came to the rescue. He spent time with young Clay. He kept his spirits up with stories about the good ol’ days, he helped him stay in top shape, and, eventually, a miracle happened.
Clayton woke up one morning, three months after he awakened from his coma to find that he could see. In fact, he could see far better than he had before the allergic reaction to the steroid. But what really blew his mind was the fact that he didn’t seem to have any issue seeing in the dark, no matter how little light there was. A pitch black room looked like downtown Bay City at noon.
Clay was overjoyed, at first. He had his sight back and thanks to Smiley he hadn’t lost a step. He was still as good a fighter as ever. But he found that stepping back into the ring was the furthest thing from his once troubled mind. Sure, he still loved boxing. He was good at it. He lived for it. But it didn’t seem like the biggest priority anymore.
He had been robbed of his big shot but that only reminded him that the people who did it made a habit of robbing the rest of Bay City’s good men, women, and children of their shots at happiness and success. He had wallowed in self-pity over his blindness but the entire ordeal brought into focus just how blind he himself had been to what was going on in the city.
Putting on a ski mask, taping up his gloves, and hitting the streets, Clayton set out to take down the men that had interrupted his life.
In a matter of nights he had taken down the gang, put their top thugs in the hospital and their top dog in jail.
The thrill of battle was several times more than what he had felt in the ring. The stakes were higher. The fights more brutal. But, ultimately, it was for a greater cause than his bank account or name in lights.
He decided he was the only man capable of being there for the good people that had cheered for him, had stood by his side on his rise to the top. Now they needed him. Bay City needed him in their corner.
So he wouldn’t be just Clay anymore. No, he would be the Shadowboxer, the Penumbral Pugilist!
World class boxer and easily one of the top five living practitioners of the fighting form
A peerless brawler that has no problem abandoning his phenomenal boxing skills in favor of brutal, free-form savagery
Possesses some training in other martial forms, including Karate, Judo, Muay Thai, and Krav Maga, but namely utilizes these disciplines to supplement his primary boxing talents
A talented acrobat and gymnast
A uniquely skilled detective and investigator who makes great use of his above average intelligence in his investigations
An experienced urban tracker
Superlative stealth skills despite impressive height and build
A skilled intimidator and interrogator
An exemplary athlete who is able to compete in a wide range of physical activities from swimming to climbing to parkour on at least the national level
Powers and Abilities:
A peak human athlete with strength, endurance, agility, dexterity, coordination, and speed that meet or exceed those of any Olympian
His lone parahuman ability is his enhanced night vision. He is able to see in total darkness as clearly as he can at midday.
Possesses a near-superhuman pain threshold that allows him to not only push through the rigors of combat but also torture and overexertion
His most prized talent is his ability to read another person’s body language to the point that he is able to predict, with approximately 95% accuracy, the move an opponent is going to make in hand to hand combat as well as being able to predict when someone is about to fire a gun or tell a lie
Weapons and Equipment:
Costume composed of Kevlar and a number of insulated and resistant materials that afford him some protection from small arms fire, weather resistance, and flame resistance
His mask has an integrated phone/scanner that allows him to make phone calls and monitor local law enforcement frequencies
Gloves are weighted and reinforced to add even more impact to his formidable punches and strikes
His costume has a utility belt and a number of hidden compartments where he keeps first aid supplies, lock picks, a burner cellphone, petty cash, and keys
Uses a custom-engineered, dual configuration grapple gun for traversal across urban, mountainous, and forest terrain
An earnest and forthright man, Clayton has always had a strong moral character, even as a boy. This kept him on the straight and narrow for most of his life and was reflected in his disciplined boxing and perpetual sportsman-like conduct. His fall from grace and subsequent resurrection did a lot to help him stay focused and did away with any hope that he would take his talent, success, good health, and most importantly, the family and community that stood by him when he was framed for granted.
Shadowboxer prefers to handle his opponents one on one in melee combat. To this end, when faced with multiple opponents, he strikes hard and fast with the aim being to incapacitate enemies as swiftly as possible to lessen their numbers. When the odds are overwhelmingly not in his favor or he is uncomfortable with the amount of firepower he’ll be going up against, he will usually do his best to strike from the shadows and stalk and take down targets. He also enjoys using his preternatural vision to his advantage and shutting down the lights in an area to reduce or eliminate his enemies’ vision.
None beyond those inherent to being a mortal man.