Thursday, September 19, 2013

SIGnificant Autos - Getting Old Sucks - Dying Is Even Worse

There is no doubt that life is precious. Every minute is a blessing. I've lost loved ones and there is no greater pain. It is amazing how fast time passes. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in the Atlantic City Convention center watching Tommy Morrison manhandle Ray Mercer until he got gassed and Mercer delivered an unforgettable beating. That Morrison came back and fought after that showed how much heart he had. That he defeated George Foreman for a heavyweight title was another example. I was a fan. You see, at that time in my life I worked at Trump Regency (formerly the Playboy Club) and Trump Plaza. I got to meet all of the boxers of that era that came through town. Tyson, Foreman, Holyfield, Ruddock, Bowe, Seldon, Stewart, Holmes, etc. With all of the fights in the city, it was also a great opportunity to meet celebrities that loved the sweet science. Ah, the good old days.

I was fortunate enough to acquire a lot of great autographs during that span, and one of my favorite was Morrison. As Tommy Gunn in Rocky V, the most maligned chapter of the Balboa saga, Morrison became a star. That recognition translated well to his actual boxing career, but many thought of him as just another great white hype. Tommy was good, and what should have been a promising career was derailed when he tested HIV positive in 1996. 10 years later, that diagnosis would be reversed and he resumed a boxing career, but it was nothing like the early years. Some of the big names Morrison beat include James Tillis, Razor Ruddock & George Foreman. When he eventually retired it was with a respectable record of 49-3-1 with 44 KOs.

Here's an 8x10 I acquired in 1991 just before the big fight with Ray Mercer. I was truly saddened by his passing as he was only 44. I am 44. That is simply way too soon to leave this amazing world. RIP Tommy.

Minutes before going on the air for the 9/19/13 episode of Cardboard Connection Radio, I was informed that another one of my favorite pugilists passed away. This time it was the legendary Ken Norton. Norton was a monster in the ring. He defeated Muhammad Ali, not many men can say that. It was quite a feat to beat Ali in his prime. His fight with Larry Holmes in '78 was one of the best heavyweight fights of all time. Norton was 42-7-1 with 33 KOs. Check out round 15 of the Holmes fight, it is a classic.

His son Ken Norton Jr. became the first player in the NFL to win 3 consecutive Super Bowls. It was clear the family had some good genes.

I had the privilege of interviewing Ken a few years ago. I am and always will be a fan. He was a very cool guy in and out of the ring. Here's a link to listen if you like...

On that day, Ken being the consummate professional signed this Everlast glove for me, free of charge. It will never leave my collection. RIP Ken.

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