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Farewell To NYC, From Bos

BY Johnny Bos, as told to Michael Woods ON July 23, 2008
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To dismiss the man, if you are in the Market to hear some truths about the savage science,  merely because he sometimes dresses like a pale version of Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch (the elders here will get the reference, you young ‘uns Google it), that would be your folly.

Johnny Bos has more forgotten more about boxing than 99% of us pundits and experts know. So why has he had a hard time in recent years making a living in the red light district of sports? Hard to say. He’s had some health woes. His heart has been uncooperative at times, but basically, with meds, he manages to be out and about, at full steam, 24-7, despite suffering from congestive heart failure.

There is also the small matter of a situation that went down way back in 2000, before Bos’ guy, Joey Gamache was set to glove up with a comebacking Arturo Gatti. The two men had the customary weigh in the day before the bout, and it didn’t go smoothly. Just how screwed up the weigh in was, that is now a matter for a court to decide, some day.

Gatti, come fight night, had a 15 pound weight advantage over Gamache, and used every ounce to his advantage, as he blasted out the Maine native with 41 seconds elapsed in the second round of their bout held at Madison Square Garden. Bos beefed loud and long that the NY State Athletic Commission member who presided over the weigh acted improperly, and let Gatti step off the scale without determining if he indeed make the contracted weight, at or under 141 pounds. Loud and long Bos beefed. The man can talk, and talk he has, since then.

You know what sometimes happens when you try to hold a mighty institution, one backed by pols who are eager to keep their hands clean, and not get touched by any ancillary scandals, accountable? There can be a blowback. We at TSS aren’t saying that happened in this case. But we do know that Bos has a track record of speaking truth to power, and that Gamache is one of the gentlest, unassuming guys we’ve come across in the sport, and those count for more than something in our court of intuition. We’ll delve more into that detour in Bos’ life in boxing sometime in the future. But now, let’s hear from the man himself, who decamped from NYC to Florida on April 24. He was an NYC guy, through and through, Brooklyn born and bred, and he soaked up NYC fightgame knowledge and anecdotes since the age of 12. He’s in his sixth decade now, and he has plenty of tales to tell from each.

TSS, not long ago, told Bos  that NYC boxing isn’t really the same without him, and we inquired how Florida was treating him. Bos wrote back to TSS, to let us know how he’s faring in the land of stray gators and 4 PM blue plate specials. Here’s Letter 1, from Bos to TSS, “Farewell To NY.”

Woodsy,
First of all, this ain’t called “Farewell to New York.” New York farewelled me. NY said goodbye.

Man, that article in New York Magazine p----- me off. They said my furs were fake. One of ‘em cost $10,000, I got it for my first year of sobriety. The writer left out things I’ve accomplished. I wrote for boxing magazines, for one thing.

I used to sit on my dad’s lap and watch boxing. I grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I used to bet my weeks allowance, that was 15 cents back in 1957, 58. I remember my first fight in NY, I didn’t go in. It was Feb. 12, 1965, Hurricane Carter against Luis Rodriguez.  I was 12. I’d stand outside the arena, get autographs. I didn’t have money to get in.

I was in school then, I used to get caught playing hooky. In junior high, I got my picture in the paper, I was at a Archer-Griffith weigh in.

 I went to Gil Clancy’s gym on 28th and Ninth to box, I was probably 12 or 13. I was big, not mature or strong enough. I was 6-3, 190 pounds at 13. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ability, I wasn’t strong enough.

I started drinking at 15, I think it was a problem the first time I picked it up. I remember playing ball and going in to a bar after. I could pass for 18. I haven’t had a drink in 16 years, mind you. I said to myself, Why is anyone leaving? This is the greatest!

Anyway I was thrown out of school, for fighting all the time, at about 15. I never showed, and when I did, I had to fight the biggest guys in school. I got tired of fighting.

Hey, remember Flash Gordon? I was the first guy I brought him to a gym. I met him at Frazier/Bonavena at the Garden. In 1966. He was four years older. Everyone was older than me. I used to talk to Abe Attell, Dempsey, Charlie Goldman was a friend of mine. I’d listen and learn.

I was the president of the Charlie Green fan club. He was like a second father to me. He used to take me everywhere. We got along so good. He had money, he owned a place in Greenwich Village, Dom. Charlie got in some trouble for murder but with me there was no sick stuff. He didn’t want me to smoke. I was 16, 17. He took care of me.

So, you know I’m a pretty good matchmaker. A matchmaker is a con man. He has to con both sides, so they think they can win the fight. We’ll go back to the early days and stuff next time.

See ya!

Bos

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