Boxing loses one of its great trainers

Boxing trainer George Washington died in Brooklyn earlier this week of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.

Washington, whose home base for the last twenty years was the New Bed-Stuy Boxing Center on Marcus Garvey Boulevard, trained, among others, former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe and the most decorated amateur in New York history, Mark Breland.

Washington started boxing in Birmingham, Ala., before he joined the Marines, where he was a member of the USMC boxing team, and served in WW II and Korea. He was boxing champion of the South Pacific theater, and in 1945 and 1946 was sparring partner for the incomparable Joe Louis.

George Washington won 100 of his 114 pro fights, 80 of them by KO.

His right-hand man for three decades, Nate Boyd, remembers when he was a 12-year-old seeking guidance and first walked into Brooklyn’s Broadway Gym and met Washington.

“I heard him saying ‘Throw the left jab, right hand, left hook’ — the cherry tree special, that’s what he called it,” Boyd told the NY Times. “He put me in front of the mirror and taught me the basics. He really had a heart for everybody.”

Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, and another bighearted character in the fight game, described Washington as “an old-school fighter. Old-school fighters learn how to fight with the basics. That’s how he trained his kids; that’s something that’s lost on trainers today.”

RIP big fella. You’ll be missed.