Farewell To the Center of the Goossen Family

LOS ANGELES-It was a farewell worthy of a Roman general, as many of the people from the close-knit world of boxing converged to honor the late Dan Goossen.

Services were held on Tuesday at St. Francis De Sale in Sherman Oaks and the Catholic Church was packed with friends, foes, fighters, and family. The seats were filled and people were forced to stand in the aisles and the back of the church.

Goossen’s family arrived last and their arrival filled the last spaces of the pews. A look around the gathering showed a who’s who of the boxing world. Bob Arum, Don King, Roy Englebrecht Ken Thompson, Sampson Lewkowicz and reps from Golden Boy Promotions gave their respects.

Prizefighters from Goossen’s stable, like Chris Arreola, Oscar Molina, Javier Molina, Shawn Estrada and former fighters like Gabe Ruelas, Rafael Ruelas and James Toney marched into the mass to honor their former leader.

The media was represented by most of the newspaper reporters, internet scribes and television sports announcers and executives from the West Coast. One television and radio reporter was chosen to give the eulogy.

Rich Marotta, who announces for Fox and other outlets, actually attended Notre Dame High School with Goossen and both graduated in 1966 from the school in Sherman Oaks. He’s known Goossen for more than 45 years so it was old home week for many in the audience.

Marotta talked about how the Goossens ruled the high school when he attended. The motto was “Don’t mess with the Goossens.”

Dan Goossen was proud of his brother Greg Goossen, who was a star athlete at Notre Dame High and was later drafted by the L.A. Dodgers.

Marotta said Dan would tell the other guys around the batting cage “hey, how about that” in that raspy voice of his. Sadly, Greg Goossen passed away in 2011 at age 65.

All of the Goossens were one big happy family, said Marotta. The saying was that if you were in with the 10 Goossens they would call you the 11th Goossen. Some who achieved that status quickly learned it was a status easily passed around. It was just Dan Goossen having fun.

“Dan wasn’t always the huge man he turned out to be. He was actually small,” Marotta said, adding that Goossen stretched out later. “He was the center of the Goossen family.”

Goossen was friends with baseball great Pete Rose, actors Gene Hackman, Mr. T and others. They all attended boxing events held by Goossen-Tutor Promotions and earlier, 10 Goose Boxing.

Everybody seems to have a Dan Goossen story. He was a straight-shooting man who knew who his friends were and who was not a friend. He was also a very religious parishioner who spent each Sunday at church, according to Fr. Michael Wakefield.

Once when Goossen had a press conference for Arreola at a Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks, some of us waited at the bar for a table. One of the barflies began talking to me and asked what the commotion was all about. I informed him it was a boxing press conference. He began saying he boxed and said he could kick everyone’s ass in the restaurant. “Really?” I said. He then said he could kick my butt too. “Really?” I answered again. Within a few seconds there was big Dan coming out of nowhere suddenly telling the barfly, “Get the hell out of here.” That drunk guy never moved so fast from that stool.

HBO’s Tony Walker remembered a fight in the 1990s when Goossen promoted Luisito Espinosa, who was fighting a Mexican in Texas.

“The crowd got real unruly and began throwing bottles with urine into the ring and around those sitting in the front,” said Walker. “Dan shut down the fight and made the announcer say the fight would not continue if the fans continued to throw things. They simmered down. But Luisito had to get the heck out of there after the fight.”

Goossen was awful loyal to his friends, family and fighters. He seldom seemed to hold a grudge and always kept his word when possible.

As Craig Goossen said, “my father appreciated those who supported him.”