By Sean Crose
“People forget quickly in boxing,” Lou DiBella has said of fellow promoter Cedric Kushner, who passed away of a heart attack on Thursday at the age of 66, “but for a decade-and-a-half, he (Kushner) was one of the biggest promoters in the world.”
Indeed, the rotund, mustachioed Kushner was an enormous figure in boxing around the turn of the century, in both the literal and figurative sense. Promoting fighters such as Monte Barrett, Shane Mosely, David Tua and former heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman, the South African accomplished what many in his shoes never could or will – he rose to the top of the fight game.
DiBella offered details of his friend’s final moments.
“I got a call and I had to go to the hospital because he had a massive heart attack,” DiBella claimed. “His brain had been affected. I knew he wouldn’t have wanted to live like that. I got in the car and by the time I got to the hospital, he had passed.”
“Ced and I went back to my first week in boxing over 25 years ago,” said DiBella. “We have a lot of history. He was a dear friend and one of the great characters in boxing.”
Although he was once on top of the fight game, ESPN.com claims claims that Kushner “had fallen on hard times in recent years as his promotion business crumbled and his health began to fail.”
According to ESPN, Kushner “had Parkinson’s disease, which forced him into an assisted living facility.”
Thursday marked a sudden, tragic end for a man who was once powerful enough to take Don King to court. Yet, like so many who have hit pay dirt in the fight game, Kushner ended up with little to show of his success – at least not in the financial sense.
Still, Kushner’s success in the boxing biz was very real. What’s more, he left people truly saddened at his passing and admiring of his achievements.
“This guy sounded like he went to Oxford,” DiBella claimed, “with an accent that sounded so noble and regal, but who basically never got out of grammar school.
“He was a completely self-made man, and he rose all the way to the top. He was on top of the world at one point and was a major figure in this point. He lost it all late in life, sadly, but . . . he told me he wanted to take one more run at it and come up with another big thing. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance.”
Aside from being a fight promoter, Kushner was also involved as a promoter in the music business at one time, working with acts as iconic as Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones. In headier times, Kushner was driven around in a red limousine.
As DiBella said: “He was a true character.”