“Notes and Nuggets” from Thomas Hauser

What does a journalist do when he retires following a long and storied career that includes 25 years as sports editor for the Los Angeles Times? In Bill Dwyre’s case, he starts a publishing company.

When Dwyre was boy, he loved to read. The Hardy Boys and Chip Hilton (two popular series for young readers of that era) topped his list of favorites.

“But kids today don’t read as much as they used to,” Dwyer says. “I have grandchildren who are fourteen and twelve. They’re smart kids, good students. But they spend too much time on their devices. I’m afraid that children will stop picking up books and reading. And I’d like to do my part to see that doesn’t happen.”

Toward that end, backed by a venture capital investor, Dwyre has founded Back Story Publishing. His target audience is middle-grade readers from ages eight through thirteen. “The books will be challenging for an eight or nine-year old,” he acknowledges. “But I’m hoping to help them form good reading habits early.”

Dwyre is Back Story’s chief executive officer. Operating pursuant to a three-year business plan, he intends to publish three books in year one, five books in year two, and five more in year three. The template he hopes to follow calls for the author of each book to receive a flat $10,000 fee for all rights.

The books will be devoted to sports and, in Dwyre’s words, “tell compelling stories of sportsmen, sportswomen, and teams who have achieved excellence while overcoming challenges that might have stopped others.” The person who is the subject of each book will be asked to sit for three interview sessions. In exchange, Back Story will donate $5,000 to a charity of his or her choosing.

Dwyre wrote his company’s first book. Hard to Heart is a 17,000-word biography of multi-division champion Tim Bradley that was published in October. In a departure from what Dwyre anticipates will be the norm, a 70,000-word memoir by former Major League Baseball player Ron Fairly written for the adult market is in the pipeline. Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout will be the next young-adult subject.

It’s hard to make money as an independent publisher. But Dwyre is heartened by his experience to date. It’s difficult to get publicity for books. But recently, a local rotary club in Palm Desert offered him a platform for Hard to Heart at one of its breakfasts. The catch was that the organizers wanted Tim Bradley to appear at the breakfast too. And the breakfast was scheduled for 7:00 AM.

No problem. Not only did Bradley agree to be there; he arrived at 6:45 AM.

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The New York State Athletic Commission lost a valuable asset when Keith Sullivan resigned as a deputy commissioner on November 13.

Sullivan joined the NYSAC in 2012. A lawyer by trade, he brought an understanding of the sport and business of boxing in addition to his legal acumen to the commission. He knows who the players are, both at the commission and in the boxing community at large.

Before joining the NYSAC, Sullivan represented Joey Gamache in a lawsuit against the NYSAC that stemmed from irregularities at the weigh-in prior to the fighter’s February 26, 2000, bout against Arturo Gatti at Madison Square Garden. Gamache was brutally knocked out in that bout and suffered a career-ending brain bleed.

In the past, Sullivan’s has also represented fighters in contractual matters. His decision to leave his per diem position with the NYSAC was spurred in part by the desire to become more involved in boxing as a practicing attorney.

Sullivan is widely respected within the boxing community. The NYSAC’s loss is a potential gain for fighters and anyone else who’s looking for an honest competent lawyer with knowledge of boxing.

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I was going through some old files recently and came across several thoughts that Emanuel Steward shared with me that I’d never used in articles. Now is as good a time as any to relate them:

*           “There are no standards for being a trainer anymore. Just throw a towel over your shoulder and say you’re a trainer. It’s like being a writer for a boxing website. Anyone can do it.”

*           “I was watching a fight the other night, and the trainer kept telling his fighter to double-up on the jab. I wanted holler, ‘How can he double up on the jab when he can’t land the first one?’”

*           “In the dressing room before a fight, you can ask your fighter if he feels good. But he’ll always tell you ‘yes.’  So unless you know your fighter very well, you don’t know if he’s feeling good or not.”

Emanuel died five years ago. The day it happened, Larry Merchant told me, “I haven’t been this sad since my father died.”

Emanuel Steward was important to boxing. A lot of people miss him.

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Am I the only one who casts a jaundiced eye at the pro forma “Training Camp Notes” that are spoon fed to the media in the weeks leading up to every televised fight? Everything is always going well. Every fighter is highly motivated. Every fighter is in the best shape of his life.

Just once, I’d like to go online and read, “Training camp has sucked. I’m heavier than I should be and don’t think I’ll be able to make weight. I stopped sparring last week because my sparring partners were beating the crap out of me. And I’m sick of my trainer complaining that I’m drinking too much beer.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – There Will Always Be Boxing – was just published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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