Friday, July 31, 2009
Al Gavin is in my heart.
To those of us who liked to fight, the big guy was the prime example of who world champions wanted in their corner in the tradition of Arcel and Bimstein.
As a understudy to these masters of the art, able to stop the flow, and carry the distinction of the true gentlemen who he emulated through his entire life. Al Gavin was prized by all of us who have been lucky enough to be considered in friendship.
When you shook his hand you knew or you didn't. "The old school". He knew what 15 rounds took, what champ meant in 8 weight classes. Stillman's gym, and who, along with Bobby Jackson and Pat Robertson inherited the Empire State Sporting Club housed at the Gramacy gym from Cus D'Amato.
Trainers of champions, all of them . Contributors to American Boxing History that began in 1939. In the tradition of American fighters, who have ruled the game.
I was there in 2000 at the 75th Annual Boxing Writers Dinner that Al invited me to attend at the Crown Plaza in N.Y. Boy, I got slicked up for that one... Blue suit, impeccable white shirt, black featherweights you could see your face in, haircut, fresh shave.
I walked through the door, and a guy with a dented nose pointed me to the stairwell to the mezzanine, and halfway up, I was grabbed by two huge guys bigger than Al himself in suits, Asking me if I was Bulldog Williams.
Ahh, am I under arrest ? Aww no way Bulldog, you have been invited to Al's suite, and we are taking you there. "You must be a good guy sir, because he likes you, and he doesn't like anyone! I can't tell you how honored I felt. He did the Jimmy Walker Award proud along with Bob Jackson that evening, being honored by the best writers of boxing, and the best fighters on the planet.
Like I said, "Al Gavin is in my heart".
Verne "Bulldog" Williams
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