By Jackie Kallen
Fifty Nine years old is not an age to die. It’s a middle-age number that should herald an era of grown kids, grandchildren, and new challenges and goals. For former Olympian Howard Davis, Jr. it became the totality of a life well-spent. His many fans and friends are grieving today at the news of his passing.
It seems like just a few weeks ago that I wrote about the foundation that wife Karla started in order help with their mounting medical bills and expenses. But it was, in fact, almost five months ago. At that point, the lung cancer that Howard had learned about earlier in the year had spread. He was getting chemo through a port implanted near his liver. He was upbeat and positive. But the prognosis was not a good one. He was given four months to live.
“This is really strange,” he said at the time. “I have never smoked or had a drink in my life. But it is what it is and I’ll fight this ‘til the end.”
In my August article, I mentioned that being one of 10 kids growing up on Long Island, Howard Davis jr. learned at a young age how to fight. He had to fight for attention, he had to fight for the things he wanted, and he had to distinguish himself among his siblings. He accomplished that. His father took him to the boxing gym, taught him to box, and his amazing journey began. Trained by his dad, Howard Davis, jr. went on to become boxing royalty.
Howard’s electrifying amateur career resulted in a Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympics in the lightweight division. No stranger to adversity, he had to fight for the gold just one week after his mother died of a heart attack. He dug deep, fought in her honor, and brought home the gold.
It was with that same determination and spunk that he fought the toughest battle of his life. Those close to him say he seldom complained and faced each day with hope and appreciation for the life he was given. He enjoyed every second with Karla and their five year old daughter.
In the past decade or so, David, Jr. had been working with MMA fighters, coaching them and promoting shows under his own Fight Time Promotions banner. He was beloved by everyone who ever knew him or worked with him. He was an amazing husband, father, trainer, friend and athlete.
Howard Davis, Jr. was the kind of champion that everyone could look up to. He wore his gold medal proudly and was a wonderful representative of the best America had to offer. R.I.P., Howard.