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For Whom The Bell Tolled: 2020 Boxing Obituaries PART TWO

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  • For Whom The Bell Tolled: 2020 Boxing Obituaries PART TWO

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    By Arne K. Lang

    The terrible pandemic that swept the globe in 2020 did not spare the boxing community. Looking over our list of boxing notables that left us this year, we found 10 individuals whose deaths were attributed in whole or in part to COVID-19. Their age at death ranged from 61 to 95 with a mean age of 76.2 and they represented five countries: the United States, England, Italy, Argentina, and Mexico.

    On an upbeat note, the year ended without a single ring fatality. We would like to interpret this as a sign of greater vigilance by those entrusted with the responsibility of keeping boxers safe, but ruefully concede that an abbreviated schedule may have played a larger role.

    Here is PART TWO of our annual end-of-year report in which we pay homage to those for whom the final bell tolled. The decedents are listed chronologically according to the date of their passing. Part Two covers July through December.

    July

    15 – Travell Mazion

    A rising junior middleweight contender with a 17-0 record, Mazion perished when his car crossed the median and slammed into an incoming car on a highway near his hometown of Austin, Texas. He was 24 years old.

    18 – Dickie Cole

    A former amateur boxer, judge, and referee, Cole served the sport in several administrative capacities, most notably as the head of the Texas commission, a post he held for more than two decades. Credited with wooing big fights to the Lone Star State, he drew flack for his autocratic ways, alleged conflicts of interest (he sold insurance to boxers and promoters) and his alleged nepotism. At age 89 in Dallas of heart disease.

    24 – Nazeem Richardson

    “Brother Nazeem” trained dozens of fighters in Philadelphia before achieving national recognition for his work with Bernard Hopkins. He also trained Shane Mosley for three of Mosley’s biggest fights. Richardson suffered a stroke in 2008 and had been in ill health for several years. At age 56 in Philadelphia.

    26 – Willie Savannah

    A longtime trainer and gym operator in Houston, Savannah mentored such notables as Ronnie Shields and Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz. Evander Holyfield and the Charlo twins, among many others, used his facility, but he was most proud of his amateur program and its impact on turning around troubled kids. At age 85 of kidney failure.

    August

    4 – Tony Doyle

    The Salt Lake City bruiser sparred hundreds of rounds with Muhammad Ali. As a pro he was 40-16-1 with the draw coming in a 10-round affair with Jerry Quarry in the first of their three meetings. “Irish Tony” reportedly defeated Joe Frazier as an amateur, but Frazier whacked him out in two rounds when they met up as pros in the first main event at Philadelphia’s spanking new Spectrum. At age 76 in Draper, Utah, where he was battling dementia.

    5 – Pete Hamill

    As a young reporter he took to hanging around Cus D’Amato’s Gramercy Gym where he developed a great friendship with future light heavyweight champion Jose Torres. A central character in Hamill’s 1978 novel “Flesh and Blood” is plainly based on D’Amato. Late in his life, the legendary newspaperman and author wrote poignantly of his disillusionment with the sweet science. At age 85 in his native Brooklyn.

    6 – Wilbert “Skeeter” McClure

    As an amateur, the Toledo, Ohio native won two National Golden Gloves titles and a gold medal as a light middleweight at the 1960 Rome Olympiad where his roommate was Cassius Clay. As a pro, he was 24-8-1 while finding time to earn a Ph. D. in counseling psychology on the GI Bill, his gateway to the quiet life of an academician and psychotherapist in Boston. For a time, he was Chairman of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission. At age 81 of natural causes.

    7 – Chuck Lincoln

    The older brother of the late heavyweight contender Amos “Big Train” Lincoln, Chuck Lincoln, a Korean War veteran, carved out an 11-1-1 record as a pro and then became the linchpin of amateur boxing in Portland, Oregon. Thad Spencer, Ray Lampkin, and Michael Colbert were among his students. At age 88 after a long battle with kidney disease.

    22 – Sandro Mazzinghi

    A two-time world champion at 154 pounds, Mazzinghi was 64-3 (2 NC) in a career that began in 1961. Two of his three losses were to countryman Nino Benvenuti, the first of which, in Milan, was Italy’s Fight of the Century. At age 81 in his native Pontedera in Tuscany where he owned a vineyard.

    29 – Fritz Chervet

    Hailed as the best fighter born and raised in Switzerland, the “Bernese Fly” competed from 1962 to 1976 and finished with a mark of 59-9-2. He twice fought Chartchai Chionoi for the world flyweight title, losing the first encounter on cuts and the second on a controversial split decision. At age 77 following a stroke at his home near his birthplace in Bern.

    31 – Jean Baptiste Mendy

    A French citizen born in Senegal, Mendy won the WBC and WBA world lightweight titles, in that order, late in a 17-year career that began in 1973. He finished 55-8-3. At age 57 in Paris of pancreatic cancer.

    September

    3 – Terry Daniels

    Daniels showed promise as an up-and-comer on the Texas circuit, but was no match for Joe Frazier when they met on Super Bowl Eve in New Orleans in 1972. Smokin’ Joe stopped him in the fourth and it was all downhill for Daniels from that point; he won only seven of his last 33 fights. In Willoughby, Ohio, at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

    10 – Alan Minter

    He out-pointed defending middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo at Las Vegas in 1980 to become the first British boxer in 69 years to capture a world title on U.S. soil. He butchered Antuofermo in the rematch, but was then butchered by Marvin Hagler in a fight best remembered for the antics of the pro-Minter hooligans who turned Wembley Stadium into a riot zone. He finished 39-9 with most of his losses the result of cuts. At age 69 after a long battle with cancer.

    October

    11 – Ricardo Jiminez

    A newspaperman turned publicist, Jiminez boosted the careers of a slew of mostly Spanish-speaking boxers while employed by Top Rank and other leading West Coast fight factories. Hugely admired by his peers, Jiminez shared the 2006 BWAA “Good Guy” award with his Top Rank colleague Lee Samuels. At age 64 four days after suffering a stroke.

    28 – Miguel Angel Castellini

    Nicknamed “Cloroformo,” Castellini won the WBA 154-pound title with a 15-round decision over Spain’s Jose Duran in Madrid and lost it in his first defense to Eddie Gazo in Managua. In retirement he ran a boxing gym in downtown Buenos Aires that broke tradition by welcoming female boxers. At age 73 after a lengthy hospital stay for a myriad of health issues including COVID-19.

    November

    7 – Reginaldo Kuchle

    He promoted hundreds of shows in Mexico during a career spanning more than four decades. A strong supporter of female boxing, he and his son Osvaldo were the driving forces behind a weekly show on the Televisa network. At age 77 of a heart attack after recovering from COVID-19.

    9 – Fernando Atzori

    Born on the island of Sardinia, Atzori won a gold medal in the 112-pound class at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was 44-6-2 as a pro, including a 10-2-1 mark in bouts billed for the European Boxing Union Flyweight Title. In Florence at age 78 after a lengthy illness.

    17 – Royal Kobayashi

    A 1972 Olympian who was briefly a world title-holder at 122 pounds, Kobayashi finished 35-8 (27) in a nine-year career that began in 1973. Four of his losses came in world title fights including stoppages as the hands of all-time greats Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez, and Eusebio Pedroza. At age 71 of cancer in his native Kumamoto where he was working as a security guard.

    18 – Juan Domingo Roldan

    The barrel-chested middleweight forged a 67-5-2 (47) record during an 11-year career and retired to the life of a successful rancher-businessman in the dairy industry. His biggest fights were in Las Vegas where he came up short in world title fights vs Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. At age 63 in San Francisco, Argentina, the city of his birth, from complications of COVID-19.

    December

    18 – Frankie Otero

    Born in Havana and raised in Hialeah, Florida, the boyishly handsome Otero climbed up the lightweight rankings on club shows in Miami Beach where he had 43 of his 60 fights. He finished 49-9-2 (31) with two of his losses coming at the hands of Scotland’s renowned Ken Buchanan. At age 72 of bone cancer in Hialeah where he had a successful career in real estate and dabbled as a matchmaker.

    23 – Frankie Randall

    A three-time title-holder at 140 pounds, “The Surgeon” etched his name into boxing lore in 1994 when he outpointed Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez who was 89-0-1 going in. Frequently on the wrong side of a controversial decision, he finished 58-18-1 after losing 13 of his last 16, including a loss on points to Chavez in their rubber match in Mexico City when he was 42 years old. At age 59 at a nursing home in his hometown of Morristown, TN, where he had a long battle with dementia.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Frankie Randall shook up the world when he decked Chavez!

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