Dan Goossen, president of Goossen Promotions based in Sherman Oaks, passed away from complications due to liver cancer, it was announced on Monday. He was only 64.
The jovial and likeable Goossen promoted Chris Arreola, Josesito Lopez and Andre Ward. His absence from a recent event at Pechanga Resort and Casino, when Austin Trout headlined the boxing card on Aug. 22, was the first sign that something was wrong.
It was the first boxing event that I could cover after suffering my own complications from a subdural hematoma. Dan Goossen called me during my month-long stay in a hospital and wished me well. “My family is praying for you,” he said, while never disclosing his own problems. “You have always been good to us.”
I was eager to see Dan Goossen in person to give him thanks for the call and kind words. He never showed at the event and I asked everyone involved with the promotion company where he was. No one could answer.
Many noticed his absence. He was not known for skipping fight cards in Southern California.
Henry Ramirez, trainer of Goossen Promotions fighters Chris Arreola and Josesito Lopez, said he often spoke with Goossen regarding many things. But lately, he was unavailable.
“He never showed any signs of being sick. I spoke to Rodney (Hunt) and he confirmed that Dan was sick. I talked to Dan probably three weeks ago and he still never said anything. He was attempting to get things squared away out of the ring. He helped out Chris beyond the boxing ring,” said Ramirez.
“I remember going into his hotel room before the Bermane Stiverne fight in L.A., I told Dan I want to win this fight for me, but I probably want it for you even more,” said Ramirez. “He said thanks, ‘Daddy-O.’ That’s what he used to say, ‘Daddy-O.’ I’m pretty sad.”
Arreola was promoted by Goossen from early on in his career. Through the various trials and tribulations Goossen supported the Riverside heavyweight in and out of the ring.
“Not only was he a great promoter to me, but he helped when I needed help! No matter what, he wanted to see me do well,” said Arreola on Facebook. “The boxing world lost a good promoter but the world lost a great man! We still have unfinished business to take care of! Rest in peace daddy-o!”
Goossen was always in pursuit of the heavyweight championship. Numerous heavyweights passed through his offices, such as Tony Thompson, Malik Scott, Lance Whitaker, and others. But only James “Lights Out” Toney managed to grab that title and then it was suddenly taken away.
When Toney defeated the great Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield by knockout to win at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in October 2003, it was one of the greatest wins for Goossen-Tutor Promotions. And it came right after Toney knocked out Vassiliy Jirov in a ferocious fight six months earlier. He then beat Rydell Booker for the vacant IBA heavyweight title but suffered a torn muscle in his chest. He underwent surgery and was prescribed steroids to help with the healing process. But in April 2005, after defeating John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight world title, a drug sample detected traces of steroids. Toney had been given the drugs by doctors and had been told that the steroids would be out of his system, but that was a wrong assessment and the title was stripped from Toney. It was another setback for Toney and another blow to Goossen’s dreams of a heavyweight champion.
For several years Goossen tried to make a fight between Toney and either Vitali or Wladimir Klitshcko for the heavyweight titles they held. Several times it seemed close to fruition, tantalizingly close, but it never happened.
“I’m in shock right now. He’s (Goossen) a soldier we lost on the battle-field and one of the pioneers in boxing,” said John “Pops” Arthur, a trainer and advisor for Toney. “I was just reaching out to James (Toney). I’m just in total shock.”
Farzad Tabatabai, an attorney and friend who represented Goossen on numerous litigations, said the real Goossen was a reserved family man who was loyal to his friends and former fighters.
“I first met Dan in 2007 over the Antonio Margarito vs. Paul “The Punisher” Williams WBO welterweight title fight litigation,” said Tabatabai, whose office is based in Los Angeles. “We filed a suit and had the trial in Puerto Rico.”
Ultimately Williams fought and defeated Margarito to win the title and proceeded to win the junior middleweight title as well. But a mega fight between Williams and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was derailed when the tall fighter from Georgia was left paralyzed from a motorcycle accident.
Williams and many others were never forgotten by Goossen, who kept tabs and assisted as much as possible.
“He was a very principled person. Every time someone screwed him it offended him. He was really a loyal person. He really cared. He asked me to help people from a long time ago that needed help. It never was about money. It was about principle. Very reserved, he was a really good, genuine, decent man,” said Tabatabai, who worked on numerous lawsuits for Goossen and became a close friend. “He genuinely cared about the fighters he worked with and he was a real family man. Fighters in the past he helped just because he was that kind of a guy. He cared about his fighters and was a very good guy.”
Craig Goossen, his oldest son, once told me and Steve Kim that his dream was to see his father win a mega fight. It was 2008, and Dan Goossen invited a number of reporters of various media to see Andre Ward’s fight against Jerson Ravelo in the Cayman Islands. One night, the three of us floated on the waters around 1 a.m. each with a bottle of beer and Craig Goossen told us about how he quit a well-paying job and worked for almost nothing to try and make his dad’s dream come true. His devotion to his father was truly inspiring and unforgettable.
The Goossen family was airtight and really supportive of each other.
“The last time I talked to him was a week or two ago. Just a close inner circle knew. It was a very aggressive and short illness. I knew his wife and I knew his brother Joe,” said Tabatabai. “It’s a serious loss. I’m deeply saddened by his passing.”
Rodney Cruz-Hunt, marketing director for Goossen Promotions, said Dan Goossen was capable of salvaging fights in zero degree weather in far off destinations like Kazakhstan. When a bout featuring Beibut Shumenov saw his opponent suddenly disappear, Goossen didn’t panic.
“I just remember sitting there in Kazakhstan in 28 degree weather and watching Dan still pull it together. The main event fighter just left. He had to make a quick decision and he replaced (Juergen) Braehmer with William Joppy to make the show still go on. Joppy was on another fight and Dan made the switch and saved the main event.”
Hunt, a reporter for a Southern California television network, became Goossen’s go-to-guy for different aspects of fight promotions and often worked closely with the head man. He believes that Goossen would want the company to continue.
Meanwhile, dozens of calls from current and former fighters of Goossen Promotions flooded the telephone line.
“Everyone that called was proper and respectful. I can’t quote what they all said, but I can say that boxing has been hit with a major blow,” said Hunt.