Paul's Blog - Remembering Angelo Dundee

In 1978, I had a little band, and occasionally this horn player would sit in with us. He was going out with Angelo Dundee's niece. He got some tickets for all of us to go to the Hynes Auditorium in Boston and watch Sugar Ray Leonard fight a 10-round exhibition match against the Welterweight Champion of New England, Dick Ecklund.
We saw a couple of preliminary fights that weren't memorable, but it was exciting, because this was the first time I'd ever been to a boxing match, and I was going to see Sugar Ray Leonard who was pretty much in his prime. We all sat 3 or 4 rows back from ringside, and I sat very near to Marvin Hagler, who was also there to watch Leonard. I remember looking at Hagler between rounds . He was bigger than he looked on TV, and he was glowing with health and vitality. He looked invincible.
The fight was only remarkable for one thing: by the 9th round, Ecklund had been knocked down twice and had lumps under both eyes, but he was still game, and connected with a lucky push/punch/shove combination that knocked Leonard off balance, and Leonard went down. It was ruled a trip, but everybody wanted to believe that Ecklund had landed a good shot. If it was a lucky punch, it didn't matter. Of course, Leonard was careful and stayed up and won the next round and easily won the decision, which was booed heartily by Ecklund's family and friends, who occupied most of the seats around us.
Afterwards, we went across the street to Angelo Dundee's hotel room, and he talked to us while we sat and watched him pack his clothes. He had one suitcase, and he packed everything very carefully. It was a perfect scenario. He was very relaxed and a very good speaker. He was used to people listening to every word he said.
I asked him about Muhammad Ali being knocked down by Henry Cooper in London in '63. Throughout his career, Ali was susceptible to left hooks, and Henry Cooper had a really good one. Early in the fight, Ali (still called Cassius Clay at that point) was admonished by Dundee that he was fooling around and should take the fight more seriously. Just as the bell rang to end the 4th round, Cooper caught Ali with a perfect left hook and knocked him into the ropes and down. Ali was definitely hurt and dazed when he walked back to his corner. Two minutes later, he came out and put a serious beating on Cooper, slashing his left eye open so badly that the fight was stopped almost immediately.
I asked Dundee how Ali revived so fast, and he looked right at me, as he was rolling his socks into a little ball, and he said, "I put ice down his trunks. That woke him up."
It was a great answer to my question. At the time, I appreciated that Angelo Dundee had made sure I got a good story from him. It didn't matter if it was true or not. I'm glad he lived to be 90 years old and I'm glad I had a chance to meet him.