Dan Goossen  (1949 – 2014)

When Dan Goossen telephoned, he would announce himself in a unique way. There was no “Hi, Tom” or “This is Dan.” Just . . .

“Aaaaaayyy !!!”

One time, I told him that he sounded like a beached whale.

“The whale is a noble mammal,” Dan responded.

I liked Dan. His death this morning from complications caused by liver cancer came as a shock. It’s unsettling when someone you’ve known as a healthy vibrant person dies suddenly from natural causes. And that’s particularly true in Dan’s case since he was such a strong, physically imposing presence.

Larry Merchant once said, “I like boxing people, and I like being one of them.”

Dan was a boxing guy; one of ten children (eight boys and two girls). His father was a Los Angeles cop, who later became a private detective. In 1982, Dan and his siblings started Ten Goose Boxing (named for the ten Goossen children) to train and manage fighters.

“Our first gym was the backyard of my brother Greg’s house,” Dan later recalled. “We had a speed-bag and heavy-bag hanging from a tree. One of the ring posts was on top of what had once been home plate for our family whiffle-ball games. Every morning, I’d sweep leaves out of the ring.”

Eventually, Ten Goose received a waiver from the California State Athletic Commission that allowed it to simultaneously promote and manage fighters. In 1996, Dan and Mat Tinley (who had sold international television rights for Ten Goose) formed America Presents. In 2002, Dan and Ronald Tutor joined forces to form Goossen Tutor Promotions.

At one point, Goossen was also the promoter of record for Mike Tyson. But it was an unhappy experience.

“Signing Mike Tyson was the worst deal I ever made,” Dan told me over drinks one night at the Parker Meridien Hotel in New York. “I’ve had to become somewhat indifferent to Mike’s conduct in order to survive emotionally. And financially, it hasn’t been a very good deal either. We get a fixed sum for each fight. The problem is, we’re Mike’s promoter of record, but basically all we are is a salaried name entity. The deal doesn’t allow us to be promoters. We’re not part of the decision-making process. There are a lot of things I’d do differently if [we were] really his promoter, but, in truth, we’re not. There’s nothing worse than being a passenger in a car and getting lost when you know that, if you were driving, you’d get to your destination. I don’t like being relegated to the role of hanging up banners at press conferences. But the way the deal is structured, we aren’t the ones who are directing the athlete.”

Dan loved the sport and business of boxing and he loved the action. He never quite made it to the top rung. David Tua and Chris Arreola (two of his fighters) had heavyweight championshp fights but fell short of boxing’s ultimate prize. Andre Ward ascended to the number two slot on many pound-for-pound lists, but seemed to forget Dan’s role in getting him to where he was.

Now the remembrances are flowing in. One of them comes from Seth Abraham, who was the architect and master builder of HBO Sports.

In mid-2000 (Abraham’s last year at the network), he and Goossen had a heated disagreement that stemmed from Dan withholding what Seth felt was important information about the physical condition of one of Dan’s fighters who was scheduled to appear on HBO. When the two men met at Abraham’s office, Seth refused to shake hands, saying, “Let’s just do our business and not pretend.” Dan responded, “If you won’t shake my hand, we have no business to discuss.” Abraham said that he’d decide whether or not to shake hands after the meeting, and Goossen told him that the meeting was over.

“I was wrong,” Abraham said this morning as he reminisced about Goossen. “The only fights that HBO’s subscribers care about are the fights in the ring. So I made arrangements soon afterward to have coffee with Dan at The Palace Hotel. We met. I shook his hand. And as part of our conversation, I told him, ‘You know; Don King and I have had many heated disagreements over the years. But one thing Don understands is that, when you have bad news to deliver, you do it promptly and directly.”

Goossen thought for a moment and responded, “I know you’re being serious with me, because no one has ever compared me unfavorably with Don King before.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His next book (Thomas Hauser on Boxing) will be published next month by the University of Arkansas Press.



-amayseng :

Good article. Hope to read more on Dan's life.

-Kid Blast :

Yes a good piece indeed

-Radam G :

Nice copy, T-Ha! Through your awesome copy, Dan lives on. His kind heart beats on in sweet harmony of the sweet science that he loved so much. From the Pearly Gates of God's Kingdom, one can see Dan's gentle grin. Right on, Dan! Much luv FORVER! Holla!

-StormCentre :

RIP Dan. All the best to your family and loved ones.

-brownsugar :

Ward posted a few good appropriate words in response to Goossen's passing on his Facebook page. I received about twenty notifications regarding Goossen on my page as well. It's evident that he was admired by many .... Even casual fans.

-The Commish :

Ward posted a few good appropriate words in response to Goossen's passing on his Facebook page. I received about twenty notifications regarding Goossen on my page as well. It's evident that he was admired by many .... Even casual fans.
Dan was such a good guy. When those who don't understand boxing and see it as nothing more than a couple of thugs bashing each other's face in and a bunch of crooks running around taking their money ask me "Why are you involved in such a business, I tell them "Dan Goossen." I tell them "Ed Derian." I'm also willing to bet their chosen business has its share of creeps and lowlifes, as well. But I do know this about the business they are in: They don't have anybody like Dan Goossen or Ed Derian. -Randy G.

-SouthPaul :

10 count for one of 10 Goosen's finest. Him and his brother Joe definitely brought class and style to the game. Both always sharply dressed!

-ArneK. :

Nice pieces on Dan Goosen by Thomas Hauser and David Avila. I didn't know the man, but I never heard anyone say a bad word about him -- very unusual in an industry overrun with hard-boiled characters. Bob Arum promoted some of Goosen's fighters and for a time Dan was a Top Rank executive. That relationship didn't last long. Arum can be abrasive and Dan Goosen wasn't the sort to take any guff, no matter how handsomely Arum was paying him. The Goosen clan was an interesting bunch and Dan was clearly the patriarch, although he was only one of the siblings. For a time Joe Goosen was the most prominent trainer/cornerman in California. That was before Freddie Roach became so big. Another brother, Greg Goosen, was a catcher who had a cup of coffee with the NY Mets. Anyone who goes into managing boxers can expect to someday have his heart ripped out. Dan Goosen promoted Michael Nunn beginning with Nunn's first pro fight. He brought Nunn's amateur trainer into the fold and treated the two of them like members of his family. The last I heard of Michael Nunn, he was serving 20-plus years for drug trafficking at a federal penitentiary in Texas. Nunn's sad saga had to hurt Dan immensely. If memory serves, the actor Gene Hackman purchased a piece of Nunn. Hackman appeared with the Goosens at several of Nunn's pre-fight press conferences. There were other Hollywood players who took an interest in the Goosens' boxing stable. In a sense, it was like the old (Depression era) days when the Hollywood crowd turned up for the weekly fights at the cozy indoor venue called Hollywood Legion Stadium. It didn't take a mega-fight to rope in a famous Hollywood personality. My condolences to all the Goosens.

-SouthPaul :

Good read, ArneK!