Monday, April 12, 2010

A Message From a Former Fighter

This was sent to us from Jay Speelman, a former welterweight boxer who trained under Al Gavin..

I had the great privilege of knowing and training under Al Gavin for about seven years. As with anybody who knew Al, that time was not enough.

I first met Al when I was twenty-three years old. I previously came from an extensive martial arts and kickboxing background, but was in pursuit of a more respected sport and felt the need for a world class trainer. One summer night, my friend Walter and I drove up to Gleason's "Bull Dog" boxing gym in Garden City, N. Y where I heard Al was training fighters. Upon observing my sparring sessions, Al kindly took me under his wing.

Al was unparalleled as a trainer in two different ways. First, he had an in depth knowledge of the game unlike any other trainer I have come across. Second, he treated and directed his fighters as though he were looking through a father's lenses.

He taught me many of boxing's finer points and steered me out of harm's way when I was too foolish and prideful to realize that the sport was bigger than my ego.

We headed to Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, NY for one of my amateur fights. My family was there to support me along with many of my friends. There was confusion with the fight card and some fighters didn't show and others didn't make weight. Al was talking to some officials and coaches in the back while other event members prompted me toward the ring. Across from my 139 pound frame was a 165 pounder waiting eagerly to make minced meat out of me.

My thought was that my family and friends came to watch me fight-- I wasn't going to let them down by going down. I was hoping Al would get to my corner before the opening bell. Instead he came walking out of the back pointing at me saying, "GET OUT." He was wearing an expression as if to say, " Don't even think about talking back either." Perhaps Al didn't realize the depth of my respect for him and wouldn't question him even in the midst of that humiliating moment.

Later in the locker room, Al explained to my family and me that certain people involved with the event were trying to play dirty, "but Uncle AL stepped in." Later, Al told me that he knew I wasn't afraid and was willing to fight.

Al made a very successful career out of the sport he loved. He never found any financial security in me. Al took the time to steer me away from the dark side of boxing and eventually out of the game all together. What can I say? I just didn't have it. The thing that made Al unique is that he truly cared. He wouldn't advance his agenda if it meant hurting someone else.

Since Al's passing, I have stepped out of boxing completely. I have a wife and daughter now and have not followed boxing the way I use to. I recently learned that Al Gavin is not in the Boxing Hall of Fame. This disturbs me. Al is known in the sport as the "world's greatest cutman" and "boxing's good guy."

Boxing has had it's run in with many corrupt people making money from the blood of others. Al was NOT one of them. He was a light in what is sometimes a dark sport. Al was a true professional who took in a guy like me and kept him safe.

We miss you Al. God bless

1 comment:

boxinglover9 said...

OT: Hey sports fans, i know this is a bit off topic, but just to let you know Manny Pacquiao will be getting back in the ring with Timothy Bradley this 2016. Fortunately we can still see his training and fights at Manny Pacquiao Video Channel

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