In a perfect world, Georgia-born Mills Lane would not have had a stroke in 2002 and instead, after retiring from the ring while still on the ultra-short list of best referees in the game, would have been installed as boxing's czar.
The game could have and could still use a firm dose of Lane's common sense, applied with just enough growl to make you know he meant business but just enough softness to let you know he rooted for even the bad apples. That appointment will not be made, as the sweet science still operates without a central authority that imposes standards of decency to the racket, but Lane's legacy on boxing has now been firmly implanted in the history books. The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., today announced that Lane, 75, is one of the inductees into its 2013 class.
A District Court Judge in Nevada when he wasn't overseeing bouts like the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield ear-bite special in 1997, Lane had a take-no-nonsense demeanor that made him one to tap if the powers that be suspected that fair play wouldn't be adhered to during a fistic faceoff.
His catchphrase -- "Let's get it on!" -- rivaled Michael Buffers' "Let's get ready to rumble" back in the day, and helped propel him to his own "Peoples' Court"-style syndicated program, "Judge Mills Lane," from 1998-2001.
His son Terry, a promoter of boxing matches along with younger brother Tommy, got the news last week, and is over the moon. "I'm thrilled for him," Terry told NYFightblog. "It makes him happy -- and, to be honest, he doesn't get a lot of happy moments these days."
The boys called their mom in Nevada, and she told Mills, and he grinned.
"This made him really proud," Terry said. Mills can sometimes say one word at a time, but he mostly expresses his needs, wants and emotions though facial expressions and pointing.
Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler was likewise warmed when he heard Lane made the Hall. "Mills is cool, tough, cocky, witty, no-nonsense, a real Western man even though he's from Georgia," said Trampler, who started out in boxing in the late '60s.
Terry said the family will meet in a few days and discuss whether or not Mills will attend the induction, which is headed up by the Human Highlight Film, former two-division titleholder Arturo "Thunder" Gatti.
Trampler, who will be present the weekend of June 6-9 to pay homage to the superior fair-play maker, summed up Lane exquisitely: "He is boot-tough, but with a twinkle in his eye."