Thursday, 2 February 2012

RIP Angelo

The boxing cornerman Angelo Dundee, who had died aged 90 in Tampa, Florida, is best known for having trained Muhammad Ali.

The first time I went to the United States was in 2002. It was a baseball trip along the East Coast from Baltimore to Boston which included a couple of days in New York for games at Yankee Stadium and the Mets' then ballpark, Shea Stadium.

After the Yankees game, we were sitting on the coach waiting to head back to Manhattan when a small, elderly guy appeared from the direction of the stadium, surrounded by a group of fans. The friend who was on the trip with me is, unlike me, a boxing fan and knows everything there is to know about the fight game. He immediately said, "It's Angelo Dundee!" I must admit I didn't know the name then but he soon filled me in on who he was.

I only caught a glimpse of Angelo that day but it evoked that New York sub-culture, best captured by famed sports journalist Jimmy Cannon, of baseball, boxing, card games, trips to the racetrack, bartenders, fedoras and Cuban cigars. I'm glad that he not only got to celebrate his 90th birthday last year but was also able to attend the 70th of his greatest protege, Muhammad Ali.

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