Thursday, August 20, 2009

Harold Lederman On Al Gavin

I must have known Al Gavin for thirty years, maybe more. He didn't only like me cause he thought I knew a little about the game, he liked me because, like him, I was a good eater.

Funny thing about boxing judges and cutmen...they both wind up in a lot of God forsaken places with tons of time on their hands and no place to spend it waiting for the first bell to ring.

I remember one time Al and I wound up, in of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Not a heck of a lot to do in Tulsa. Al was working some corner, and I think I was working for HBO, probably when Tommy Morrison was fighting Michael Bentt. Al and I found a little place to eat breakfast and lunch, owned by a nice lady named, "Jeannie". Of course the name of the restaurant was "Jeannie's".

Every morning and every afternoon Al and I would hop in my rental car and go to Jeannie's for breakfast and lunch because the food was good and Jeannie didn't charge L'Cirque prices. Well, as fate would have it, every time we went there there was a cowboy looking person wearing blue jeans sitting at a corner table having his meal. I kept telling Al, "I know this guy". I just couldn't place the face. Al thought I was a total whack job. "How could you know a guy sitting in a greasy spoon in Tulsa, Oklahoma?", asked the world's greatest cutman.

Well, finally I could not take it no more, so I went over to Jeannie, who by this time had become a friend of ours, and said "who is the cowboy who's always sitting in the corner?"

After that, Al had a little more respect for yours truly. He couldn't believe it when the cowboy turned out to be the recently retired kicker for the New York Giants, Don Chandler. Now kickers aren't the biggest guys on the football field, so when I told Al that Chandler kicked twelve years for the Giants, he had a hard time believing that a guy the size of Chandler could be on the same field as Roosevelt Grier.

Problem was that they don't take off their helmets enough, so although I had seen him kick, I couldn't remember who he was over his breakfast of creamed chip beef on toast.

Ain't too many guys left to hang out with now that Al's gone. Al had a special appeal that just made you want to be with him. A die hard fight guy, he knew the business inside and out, and made it fun to be at the fights.

I miss you Al. I'm sure we'll meet up some day, even if it's not at Jeannies.

Harold Lederman is a longtime in-fight commentator for HBO Sports

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