Friday, February 03, 2012

974 Angelo, Joe and the Missing Old Man

974  Angelo, Joe and the Missing Old Man

If you’re one of those who believes things happen in threes, look for a third old and major sports figure to die soon, because we’re up to two.  

First, Joe Paterno, the football coach from Penn State, hounded into the grave by residents of the house he built.  Now, Angelo Dundee, the trainer and cornerman joined at the hip with Muhammad Ali in his glory days.  Dundee was 90.

Dundee, (nee Mirena) had more than a little to do with champions like Ali, Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Basillio.  And open for debate is whether he was the guy who made Stillman’s Gym famous or it was the other way-’round.

This is the kind of guy you wanted in your corner.  Between rounds, patching your injuries, he’d tell you what you were doing right and what you were doing wrong and where your opponent was weak and where he was strong.  And you could take that info to the bank.

And at the championship fight level -- whether heavyweight or lighter -- the bank was a pretty good place to be.

Dundee, like Paterno, was one of those straight shooter guys you could count on the fingers of one hand who hovered over the world of brutal contact sports without hint of throwing a fight or throwing a game.  He was -- they were -- men who’d make you forget about dirty wins or dirty losses or recruiting scandals.  (Paterno was marginally caught up in Penn State’s Sandusky problem by inaction, but in the long run, that ain’t what we’re going to remember about him.)

It wasn’t easy being on the level in the world of pro boxing in the 1950s through today.

And you can argue all you want about the violence and damage of boxing or football or lacrosse or any other contact sport, but if you step back and say “this is going to exist, right or wrong.  This is going to exist whether I like it or not,” you want guys like Dundee and Paterno to make the rest of the pack less dishonest.

So look for a third old man to leave us relatively soon and join Joe and Angelo “upstairs.”

Shrapnel (other obituary edition):

--Camilla Williams, star of the New York City Opera and who predated Marian Anderson as the first African American woman under contract with a major company has died at the age of 92.  Williams was unrecognized and her work is hard to find and the few existing recordings are of so-so audio quality. But they’re out there if you want ‘em.

--Rest in peace, Don Cornelius, one of the first African Americans to own a TV show, and what a show it was.  “Soul Train” was as much a part of the fantasy world of reality TV as today’s flimsy, over-produced imitators, though with better moves and better costumes. But it’s always hard for others to understand when the last of the moves is to put a pistol to your head and pull a trigger.

Have You Noticed?  The dog wasn’t good enough and now Romney is driving his station wagon with US strapped to the roof of his car.

Shameless Plug:  Introducing a dazzling new feature for 2012, Wessays Extras.  These are like factory seconds or “slightly irregulars” and don’t meet the size or frequency standards for this, the regular site and/or may violate its rule against writing in the first person singular.  Here's the first of them.  And here's the home page.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them ®
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© WJR 2012

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