By Scoop Malinowski
We never forget the action of boxing’s greatest high stakes super fights. But sometimes ringside stories connected to these historical contests get lost in the shuffle of the drama and competition. Here are some interesting ringside stories you probably never heard about…
Ray Poplawski: I was ringside for Pernell Whitaker vs. Buddy McGirt at Madison Square Garden in 1992 and sitting in front of me were Lennox Lewis and Dustin Hoffman. After Sweet Pea won the decision, the New York pro-McGirt crowd got upset and started throwing things. A piece of debris flew down, hit Hoffman, cut his eye and knocked him down. And Lennox helped pick Dustin up!
LeRoy Neiman: Jake Lamotta’s wife was sitting ringside and during one of the Raging Bull’s fights she stood up to cheer and by the time she sat down her fur coat had been stolen!
Thomas Hearns: When I fought Pipino Cuevas I could see Muhammad Ali at ringside and I could see he was trying to tell me to throw the right hand. So that’s what I did (Hearns KOed Cuevas in the second round with a right hand).
Donny Lalonde: Bob Dylan was in my corner before and after the fight with Mustafa Hamsho (in 1987 at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden). First thing he said after was: ‘Why did you stop throwing the jab? You could have won the fight with that punch alone? He couldn’t get inside.’ My answer was, ‘Where were you between rounds [laughs]?!’
Deanna Dempsey: Jack and I met Muhammad Ali in San Juan, Puerto Rico after he beat Jean-Pierre Coopman in 1976. He was young and handsome and vital and so full of life. After the fight, as he was coming down the steps from the ring, Ali spotted Jack and he said, ‘Mr. Dempsey, can I call you Jack?’ Jack said, ‘Everybody calls me Jack. ‘ Then Muhammad said, ‘Oh Jack, you were the greatest!’ And Jack said, ‘But Muhammad, I thought you always said YOU were the greatest?’ Ali said, ‘Jack. When I say I’m the greatest, it’s all bullshit!’