Boxing: barack obama

Floyd Mayweather proved yet again to be master of the sound bite. On an HBO special Saturday night, he sat down and talked with author-professor Michael Eric Dyson, and Dyson asked him about the President, and if he thinks Mr Obama has the swag to get into the ring with the pugilist.

"People want to know how much power Floyd Mayweather got," Mayweather answered. "I can guarantee you this. I show you how much power I got, if I was to fight Manny Pacquiao, I'd let Barack Obama walk me to the ring holding my belt. Can I make it happen, absolutely."

The undisputed pound for pound champion of the sweet soundbite, Floyd Mayweather.
He is 80 years old, and if I get to that place, and I told this to his face when he was in Brooklyn watching the ring action at the Aviator Complex on March 24, I do hope I am close to as vibrant, as with it, as in the game, as Don King still is.

Yes, boxing's Barnum isn't as busy as he once once. He runs shows few and far in between, none of them the blockbusters which he put his stamp up, like the The Thrilla in Manilla and the Rumble in the Jungle. His wife passed away in late December 2010, and we hear periodic stories of his own health woes, but in the flesh he is still a considerable and magnetic presence.

NYFightblog asked The Don what brought him to Brooklyn as we waited for ex heavyweight titlist Sergei Liakhovich to stride to the ring, where he would take the kind of whupping which makes man consider a new vocation, ASAP, at the hands of Bryant Jennings.

"I'm with this young man Vernon Paris, I want to see if the transition is going to take place, the old going on and the young taking their place, coming on," King told me. Alas, his man Paris showed himself to not be quite ready for prime time, as Judah, faster, stronger, more seasoned and skilled, stopped him out in round 9.

When I referenced ole PT, King said it was a pleasure to be referred to at all, and noted he didn't take umbrage at being lumped in with the man (erroneously) credited as living by the credo, "There's a sucker born every minute."

"The mere fact that they call my name is compliment to me," King said. "I feel good about that. I'm a promoter, of the people, for the people, and by the people."

It was Barnum who used to say, “Without promotion something terrible happens... Nothing!”...and I was reminded of that saying as I pondered the sad possibility that megastars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao might never give the people what they want, and sign on to fight each other. King has taken periodic stabs at aligning himself with Mayweather, and injecting himself into the equation as a lubricant to getting the deal done. But he's had no success. So I asked him why. Why hasn't the Super Bowl of the sport, which would be the top-grossing fight of all time, been booked?

"Give the people what they want and they will respond," he said. "It's about two things: inclusiveness, and respect. That's why they're losing the ballgame. They're arguing about money, as if money is more important than the fighters. Respect the guy, and you'll get him in there for less. When you disrespect them, it don't even be about money...They're too busy worrying about their feelings being hurt, and being talked to condescendingly, and patronizingly, rather than respectfully."

Money isn't the be-all, en- all, King said. "People are the most important asset."

Whenever I see King, I try to tease him about his political leanings. He backed George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and helped tip crucial Ohio, which Bush won by three million votes, to the incumbent with his stumping. In 2008, he backed Obama, and in Brooklyn, he exulted in the win for racial harmony that was Obamas' 2008 victory. He noted that "we aren't there yet," however, and the subject of the slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin came up. "For the man who shot him, right or wrong, to be still free, it's like the old Western days. It's very sad," he said, before shifting to an upbeat conclusion about the racial strides the US has made.

It's good to see King, yes somewhat humbled by the great equalizer that is time, still in the game. We've lost so many legends and icons and characters lately, Joe Frazier, Angelo Dundee, Bert Sugar just a day after I chatted with King, that I find myself embracing the remaining cast-members a little bit more fiercely.
Boxing lost three wonderful people last week. Angelo Dundee and Goody Petronelli drew more ink than Wayne Kelly did, but that doesn't mean Kelly was any less beloved. The 63 year-old Kelly, best known to fight fans as a rock-solid ref, who presided over the Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota "riot fight" at Madison square Garden in 1996, died of a heart attack last Wednesday. The Long Islander was an Army vet, who served a year in Vietnam, and then had a few cups of coffee as a professional fighter, going 4-3 as a light heavy from 1975-1979. Kelly showed a sure, confident, kind hand in the ring, during fights like the 1995 Arturo Gatti-Wilson Rodriguez classic, as an advocate for the ex welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith, who suffers from dementia, and as a physical conditioning specialist for the elderly at his 9-to-5, in Hempstead, Long Island.

I didn't know Wayne, so I thought it better to let you hear from someone who did, someone who can properly convey just what kind of void his death leaves. Dan Sapen is a faithful reader of the website I edit, TheSweetScience.com. Clinical psychologist/psychotherapist Sapen, who is awaiting the publication of his book "Freud's Lost Chord" this summer, attended the viewing and service for Wayne on Saturday on Long Island.

"I've heard that Irish wakes could be pretty boisterous and celebratory - the funeral was a full house, standing room only, divided between old family and friends, IBF officials and colleagues, trainees and sparring partners from the gym. More laughter and loving cross-talk than tears and lamenting. The priest and various friends who stood to offer testimonials told, one and all, about Wayne's triumph over personal darkness and tragedy, his unfailing sense of humor, his dedication to the happiness and comfort of friends, strangers, and the elderly he served throughout his career as a counselor; they spoke of a man in love with boxing, who didn't give a damn about the egos and politics of the boxing world, and whose main goal as a referee was "to protect the fighters as if nothing else matters." People spoke of his combined traits of fierce principle and light-heartedness, his ability to find the best and funniest and warmest aspects of any situation. Wayne was described as a man who, more than most, lived life to the fullest, not in the cliched sense we use when we want to comfort ourselves that the deceased had an OK life, but in recognition of a guy who lived the extremes without backing off or losing his decency. "Strength, persistence, and tenderness" were words used in combination, several times.

As for me, I met Wayne barely two years ago when I got back into boxing after decades away. I knew of his refereeing work - no sense in my re-hashing that. We hit it off right away, after Randy Gordon introduced us - I also work with the elderly, and we found plenty of common values, including the ability to make each other laugh. We spoke several times a week, ate and drank together, confided like friends who've known each other their whole lives, worked out, sparred a little (though Wayne, strong as an ox, was already kind of tentative in the ring, having gone through bypass surgery not long before). I was privileged to meet and start to get to know his son, Ryan, a very cool guy and good southpaw heavyweight, and his lovely and warm-hearted daughter, Jackie. He invited me to join him and ref Charlie Fitch at the IBF convention in Vegas, and made me feel like a boxing insider, telling exaggerated stories of my re-discovered ring prowess, involving me in all the social and professional activities, and encouraging me forcefully to train for the masters tournament he seemed sure I could compete well in. He spoke with humor and humility about his own boxing ability, admitting that he was a much better gym fighter than competitive pro; but the guy was, you could still see, at 63, still a formidable athlete. Most of all, Wayne was, in a short time, an easy and true friend, with no BS, no fear of sentimentality, who spoke his mind and his heart in ways that humbled me and inspired me to loosen up and take life less seriously, and at the same time, to value friendship more directly and warmly than I've had much of a chance to in my adult life. At his funeral, I was surrounded by more than a hundred people, all of whom seemed to have had the same experience of him as a genuinely good man who serves as an example of how to live well, honestly, and fully. One friend paraphrased Wayne paraphrasing President Barack Obama, that the measure of a man is not in money, power, or the respect granted him, but the love and respect he shows for others. About Wayne's success in this regard, the whole room was unanimous. I will miss my friend, but life is better because of the short time I had to know him."

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