By Jackie Kallen
I am writing this with a very heavy heart. The boxing world has lost a true legend and I have lost a dear friend. Angelo Dundee was more like an uncle to me than a mere business associate. I cherished our thirty year friendship and his advice and positive spin on life will never be replaced.
I first met Angelo in 1981 when Thomas Hearns was fighting Sugar Ray Leonard. I was Hearns’ publicist back then and we all traveled together to promote the fight. Although Angelo and I were in different camps, we immediate bonded and I used to spend as much time as possible with him, drinking in his fabulous stories and soaking up his vast knowledge.
Angelo never seemed to notice that I was a female in this mostly male business. That was one of the best things about him. He never saw gender, color, age or religion. If he liked you, that was good enough for him. When others gave me a hard time, he would give me a big hug and say, “Hang in there, Kid. You’re doing a great job.”
I have never heard anyone utter a single negative word about Angelo Dundee. He loved his boxers, enjoyed meeting new people, and adored his wife Helen and their family. No matter where he was, if someone came up to talk to him, he turned his full attention on them and treated them all as friends. He never met a stranger. From the first “hello,” he was everyone’s friend.
If I needed Angelo to appear somewhere or help me with something, he was just a phone call away. I have worked with former “Contender” Jimmy Lange for almost eight years and when we asked Angelo to join our corner, he was only too happy to agree. He loved the trips to Virginia and the adoration of the fans there, who flocked around him like ants to sugar. When Angelo worked your corner, you felt as special as Ali or Leonard.
Angelo would sit in the lobby of whatever hotel we were at and tell stories and talk boxing until the wee hours of the night. He never tired of accommodating the fans who asked him to repeat his famous line, “You’re blowing it, son.” I never saw the man lose patience or say a harsh word. He was always a complete gentleman.
The only consolation is that Angelo lived a full and rich life. He did what he loved and was one of the happiest people I knew. I can imagine him up in heaven now, sitting with his beloved Helen and his brother Chris, talking boxing and reliving old times.
R.I.P. my friend. There will never be another Angelo Dundee.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen
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