You have to love the man. If you spend any time at all talking to Angelo Dundee, the 90-year-old cornerman who entered the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 and is still training fighters today, you have to love the guy. If for no other reason than he still calls Muhammad Ali “the kid.”
I chatted with Angie…sorry, I can’t help myself, to give myself an injection of insidery coolness, I call him “Angie” sometimes..the other day, and as always, I left the call feeling a surge of admiration and a bit of a hit to my ego. Because the worldview of Dundee is so sunny, so positive, most all pale by comparison. I sure as heck do...
Dundee told me he went to a 70th birthday party at the Ali Foundation in Louisville last Saturday, and it was a blast. “The party was great,” he said. He said the temps there reminded him how Ali would always, no matter where they were, ask Dundee to find them a gym, so he could get a sweat going. “You couldn’t sweat in Louisville, it was 20 degrees,” said the sage, who lives in Florida.
“This kid---he’s talking about the 70 year old Ali, by the way—“had so much love for the sport, for training. He was the first guy in the gym, and the last guy to leave. He loved to train. In any town we’d look up a gym and he’d fight his friends.”
Seeing Ali today is always something of a shocker. To contrast his apparent frailness with the vibrant character who entranced us with his physical and vocal boldness for decades can be a downer. Did Dundee expect the fighter, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, in all honesty, to make it to 70?
“I thought he would beat Parkinson’s, that’s how much gumption, that much drive he has,” Dundee said. “Doggone it, it takes its toll. Freddie Roach has it, Michael J. Fox, they’re still doing well but they’re little guys. You do better when you’re smaller. Ali’s so big. But he fights so hard."
They still have a good deal of that magic intact. Ali is still an ace chopsbuster, Dundee reports.
“He asks me how how my sex life is doing,” he said, chuckling. “I’ve only known the kid for 54 years. We never had a beef, we never had a contract.”
Shame on me, shame on the media for not talking to Dundee every damn day. His outlook is so instructive, and the nature of the relationship he and Ali had and have is a blueprint to be followed in all walks of life. Loyalty, decency, humor, a relationship built on a foundation of trust and a handshake. Love stands out as the main glue here.
"Ali is the best thing to happen to the human race," Dundee said, in closing.
Amen, I say...