Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

In, out of ring, Angelo Dundee's mark is indelible

Angelo Dundee saved a young Cassius Clay when he was in trouble in England, convinced Sugar Ray Leonard he could overcome the fearsome Tommy Hearns. He worked thousands of corners and had just as many stories about fighters and the games they played in the ring.

The best work of his life, though, may have been selling a sport that was often tough to sell. Anyone who met him was his friend, whether in his corner or across the ring. To those who wondered why, Dundee always had the same reply: "It doesn't cost anything more to be nice."

"He spread goodwill for a sport that often doesn't have a lot of goodwill," retired Associated Press boxing writer Ed Schuyler Jr. said. "What he did to promote boxing is his greatest contribution to the sport."

Dundee, who lived in Palm Harbor and died in a Tampa Bay area assisted living facility Wednesday at 90, was a master motivator who shared the world stage with the greatest fighters of his time. But it was his 53-year relationship with Muhammad Ali, nee Cassius Clay, and the way they shocked the world that will always be his legacy.

Ali didn't need anyone to tell him how to box. He came by it so naturally that Dundee wasn't going to teach him much about technique to help him become legendary. What Ali needed was someone in his corner shouting motivation, someone in his corner who always had his back.

"There was a time you couldn't tell Ali anything, but Angelo knew how to motivate Ali," promoter Bob Arum said. "Without Angelo, Ali doesn't get out of the 'Thrilla in Manila.' … (Ali) needed someone like that in his corner."

So did Leonard, who was taking a beating in his epic first fight with Hearns in 1981. His face was swollen by the thunderous right hands landed by Hearns, and he seemed baffled when Hearns began boxing him from the outside instead of trying to slug it out as he had in the early rounds.

After the end of the 12th round, Leonard came back to his corner, exhausted. "You're blowing it, son!" Dundee yelled at him. "You're blowing it!"

Leonard rallied in the 13th round before stopping Hearns in the 14th of a fight he was trailing on all three ringside scorecards. It was a masterful performance by a great fighter, but without Dundee in his face, many believe Leonard would have come up short.

"He really knew how to motivate a guy," Arum said. "He was a good trainer, but … he was the greatest cornerman I've ever seen."

Dundee wasn't above resorting to a few tricks if that was what it took to help his guy win.

British fight fans still talk about the night at London's Wembley Stadium in June 1963 when their great hope, Henry Cooper, floored Ali — who had yet to change his name from Clay — in the final seconds of the fourth round.

Dundee got his fighter to the corner when the bell rang, but Ali didn't know where he was. Thinking fast, Dundee pointed out a small split in Ali's glove to the referee, sending officials in search of new gloves and gaining time for Ali to recover and stop Cooper in the next round.

Dundee, though, couldn't claim credit for Ali's greatest strategic move, when he used the "rope-a-dope" to stop George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle." Though popular lore was that Dundee had the ring ropes loosened so Ali could lay against them and make Foreman tire himself out, Dundee had gotten the ropes tightened just before the fight began and was screaming at Ali to get off them as Foreman unloaded punch after punch before running out of gas.

Dundee was still in relatively good health when he traveled to Louisville, Ky., last month for Ali's 70th birthday. "I've had a lot of great fighters and a lot of great times," Dundee said then. "But the greatest time of my life was with Muhammad Ali."

Comments
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

RALEIGH, N.C. — The  Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard from the Senators on Friday night in a three-team deal that sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Golden Knights.The Penguins announced the deal...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Can the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?

Can the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?

When it comes to the Tampa Bay Lightning these days, there's only one question that really matters:Will the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?That's it. That's the big question. That's the only thing on everyone's mind.Will it or won't it?Does this ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 23

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 2, Crystal River 0BaseballCalvary Christian 9, Countryside 2Northeast 15, Tarpon Springs 1
Updated: 4 hours ago
Erik Karlsson-to-Lightning talk won’t die down until deadline is over

Erik Karlsson-to-Lightning talk won’t die down until deadline is over

MONTREAL — Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson sure seemed chatty with his Lightning friends as he left the Canadian Tire Center on Thursday night.Karlsson, 27, took his time talking up several members of Tampa Bay's staff in the hallway out...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Girls basketball: Rematch doesn’t go as planned for Tampa Catholic

Girls basketball: Rematch doesn’t go as planned for Tampa Catholic

TAMPA — Tampa Catholic thought about playing in Friday night's game — the Class 5A region girls basketball final — for an entire year. The Crusaders never forgot how much it hurt to lose in the same game to Oxbridge Academy in 2017....
Updated: 5 hours ago

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: Rinnai 250 qualifying9 a.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 200 qualifying10:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: Rinnai 2502 p.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 2004:30 p.m.FS1Baseball, spring trainingRays at Red Sox1 p.m.MLB;620-AMWhite Sox at Marine...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Girls basketball: Clearwater runs into a juggernaut

CLEARWATER — Without a doubt, Clearwater had the will to win. Unfortunately, Fort Myers had the skill, plenty of it.With talent filling every Green Wave role, nothing short of perfection would have kept the host Tornadoes competitive in Fr...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Girls basketball: Lakewood returns to state semifinals

Girls basketball: Lakewood returns to state semifinals

TAMPA — New season, same result.For the second straight year, Lakewood traveled to Robinson for the Class 6A region final. And like last season, the Spartans overcame a slow start to blow past the Knights, 83-52.Lakewood (26-4) will play on Wed...
Updated: 5 hours ago