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Biofile Randy Gordon Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

STATUS: Former Chairman of New York State Athletic Commission; Former Editor-in-Chief of Ring Magazine, Boxing TV analyst and author.

FIRST MEMORY OF BOXING: My maternal grandmother used to say, “As quick as Jack Dempsey.” When I was 10, I asked her, “Who is Jack Dempsey?” She told me he was a great boxing champion. That was in 1959. A few weeks later, when my grandparents came over, they brought me a copy of Ring Magazine, which had a story on Jack Dempsey. I read the magazine cover to cover, and became hooked. Twenty years later, I became Editor of The Ring. My grandparents were around to celebrate with me…and grandma still said “As quick as Jack Dempsey.”

LAST BOOK READ: “Who Killed Bummy Davis,” by John Barbella.

FIRST JOB: Mowing neighbor’s lawns for $1 when I was 11. I used part of my earnings to buy a monthly copy of The Ring (which was 35 cents back then), and the rest of the money to buy ice cream sodas for my friends.

FIRST FAMOUS BOXER YOU MET: Floyd Patterson, a few days before his rematch in Las Vegas against Sonny Liston. I met Liston the next day.

GREATEST MOMENT OF CAREER: I cannot possibly choose just one out of dozens. So, I’ve narrowed it down to two. The first was when I was sworn in as Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission by NY Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, then handed my NYSAC badge. Another incredible moment was in 1992, when, in front of a packed room of over 1,000 dignitaries and celebrities, I apologized to the evening’s honoree—Muhammad Ali—for how Ring Magazine and the NYSAC treated him in 1967, when he failed to step forward for military induction. I said to the crows—and Ali–”I cannot undo what they did to you then. But, as the former Editor-in-Chief of The Ring and as the current Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, I want you to know that, if I had been in control of either entity in 1967, I wouldn’t have punished you—I would have put you on a pedestal for standing up for your beliefs. You truly are The Greatest.” He rose from his seat on the dais, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love you, Commissioner.” Then he raised my left hand up and we stood—together– to a loud, standing ovation.

FUNNY CAREER MEMORY: Sitting on a flight from New York to Las Vegas (to cover the Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney fight), as Ring’s Publisher. Bert Sugar and boxing writers Pat Putnam, Dick Young, George Kimball and a few other sportswriters conducted an all-out food fight, which included Roast Beef with Gravy, Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cheese Cake and Ice Cream. Even the flight attendants were involved. (Who started this food fight?) Bert. Who else?!

MOST PAINFUL MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER: Writing the editorial in Ring Magazine immediately after speaking to Billy Collins Sr., hours after his son’s death.

EMBARRASSING CAREER MEMORY: While interviewing Calvin Grove on the MSG Network after a knockout win, I asked him, “I’ve never seen you so focused. Obviously, this fight meant a lot to you, didn’t it?” As he answered, my earpiece fell out, and I didn’t hear his response over the cheering crowd and noise in the ring. After replacing the earpiece, I said, “You set him up beautifully with the jab, then got him out of there with a perfectly-timed right cross. That was a picture-perfect knockout.” When I finished the interview and returned to my announce position at ringside, my broadcast partner, Bruce Beck, smacked me on the shoulder. “What’s wrong with you!!??” Beck yelled. “How could you be so cold? Didn’t you hear what Calvin said when you asked him about being focused?” I told him I didn’t, as my earpiece had fallen out and all I could hear was the cheering crowd and his corner guys. “That explains it!” said Beck. “He said, ‘I was focused because I dedicated this fight to my mom, who was very ill and died a few days ago, but wanted me to take the fight. That’s why I was so focused!’ You didn’t react to that at all. You went right into the knockout being a picture-perfect one. Didn’t you hear his response?” I didn’t, because of the earpiece malfunction. After the show, in Atlantic City, I went to Grove’s room to explain to him what happened. Thankfully, he understood, and accepted my apology and condolences.

WHY DO YOU LOVE BOXING: At it’s best, its competitors are highly-skilled, well-conditioned, polished warriors. Their intensity is unmatched, and so is the respect (for the most part) they have for one another. How can someone NOT love boxing?

FAVORITE BOXING MOVIES: Basically, every one ever made, though I can leave off all the Rocky movies after Rocky III. The original Rocky is still a favorite. I think I know the script by heart! “Then let her train you! Women weaken legs!”

FUNNIEST BOXERS?: As I got to know and became friends with Muhammad Ali, his sense of humor was incredible. He would tell stories to me, even when we were having one-on-one breakfasts, lunches or dinners, which had me splitting my sides in laughter. Joe Frazier also had a terrific sense of humor. So did Hector “Macho” Camacho.”

FAVORITE BOXERS TO WATCH: To me, Joe Frazier, Arturo Gatti, Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor provided thrills, drama, excitement and explosiveness every time they stepped in the ring. Today, I love watching Regis Prograis, heavyweights Jared Anderson and Efe Ajagba, as well as young welterweights Xander Zayas and Vito Mielnicki, and young lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis.

FAVORITE FIGHTS: “Rumble in the Jungle”; Joe Frazier v Muhammad Ali I; “The Thrilla’ in Manila”; Alexis Arguello v Ruben Olivares; Marvelous Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns; Sugar Ray Leonard v Thomas Hearns I; George Foreman v Ron Lyle; Matthew Saad Muhammad v Yaqui Lopez.

FAVORITE ARTISTS: Ray Charles; Sam Cooke; Whitney Houston; Barbra Streisand.

FAVORITE BOXING BOOKS: Mine (“Glove Affair”); My next one (“Glove Story”); and just about every one I’ve ever read—and I think I’ve read them all!

CHILDHOOD DREAM: To become a sportscaster. Living my dream!



Randy Gordon (on left) calling the boxing action with Bruce Beck at the Felt Forum in the mid 1980s for MSG Network.

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