The first rule you learn in journalism is to stay totally objective and never become close to the person you’re photographing or writing about. It isn’t an easy thing to do. In the case of Angelo Dundee, it was absolutely impossible. I met Angelo back in the 70’s and did major stories on him for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Ring… too many to mention.
I think anyone who’s been around boxing can tell you there’s a dark side, and at some point everybody either goes there or experiences it. Angelo Dundee never had a dark side. He is the epitome of sportsmanship, a true gentleman, and the ultimate motivator. He was the total package. One of the most gentle people God put on this planet. He made a perfect ambassador for the sport of boxing. I met several hundred people in boxing over the years, from the very top to the very bottom and never heard one bad word against Angelo. Whether it was Budd Schulberg, Bert Sugar, or a journeyman fighter in Mississippi, they all loved him. Angie treated everybody like they were an important person. He never forgot a name and he had that beautiful smile and those beautiful eyes. He was always warm and attentive. Did I mention his sense of humor?
Here’s an Angelo quote sent to me today from one of my students, Steve Ellis:
“Joe, just want to tell you how much your call meant to me. Really nice gesture.
I was sorry to see the news about Angelo. He seemed like a really interesting guy. I remember when he was a commentator during the ’88 Olympics. During one of Riddick Bowe’s fights he was really critical about all the obvious mistakes Bowe was making. Angelo said ‘If this kid’s lucky, he’ll have a spasm of lucidity.’ I always remember that expression.
Anyone who knows me knows that I can go on and on. I’m going to bring this blog to an end and I will revisit Angie and his memory at a later date. One of my last experiences with him is when he was kind enough to give me a few hours of his time for an interview for my documentary In this Corner.
P.S. In an interview I did with Jake LaMotta, “The Raging Bull”, he told me that he gave this kid Dundee one of his first jobs.
I can see Angie with a water bottle and a towel, cooling down Saint Peter as he’s entering the pearly gates. Rest in Peace, my friend. You’ve got a lot of champions on the other side.