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The Ring Awards 2021 – Most Inspirational: Bob Arum

29
Dec

Appropriately enough, Bob Arum spent part of his 90th birthday aboard a flight home to New York to promote his 2,120th card, which featured Vasiliy Lomachenko-Richard Commey at Madison Square Garden. He’s probably spent as much time in an airline seat as he has in a ringside seat.  He might have enough frequent-flier miles for a free ride into space alongside fellow 90-year-old William Shatner the next time Jeff Bezos decides to launch.

Despite all the mileage over the years, there’s never been any jet lag. No lag at all. Name the continent. Name the planet. Arum will be there, if the fight and the price is right. His longevity is perhaps the result of good genes.

“I know the questions,” Arum said when asked about how often – or even whether – he has ever considered retirement. “I understand them. But it’s like a guy who loves to golf. He loves to play, no matter how old he is. I love boxing. I love being around the fighters. I love promoting legends and prospects. For me, it’s like golf, except I also get paid. Why would I quit?”

It’s a love that was discovered about 55 years ago. Arum was an attorney working for the Department of Justice. He was part of an investigation involving Sonny Liston’s suspicious first-round KO of Floyd Patterson in Chicago in September 1962.



While investigating, Arum got interested in promoting. Jim Brown, a legendary running back for the Cleveland Browns, recommended that he jump head-first into the fray and promote Muhammad Ali. Intrigued, Arum negotiated a deal for Ali to fight George Chuvalo. “The Greatest” was supposed to have fought Ernie Terrell in Chicago. But controversy about Ali and his opposition to the Vietnam War had already erupted. The fight was forced out of Chicago and moved to Toronto, where Ali won a unanimous decision over Chuvalo in March 1966. If not for the controversy, Arum might have gone back to life as an attorney.

“I wouldn’t have stayed, but I was just so angry at what they were doing to Ali,” Arum said.

Turns out the controversy brought out the fighter in Arum. He stuck around. Went the distance. He promoted 26 more Ali fights in a Hall of Fame career that has continued for more than half a century… (The full story, written by Norm Frauenheim, will appear in the March 2022 issue of The Ring.)

Runners Up

Canelo Alvarez (donating money to children’s cancer fund)

Tyson Fury (donating money to Liverpool children’s hospital)

 

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