Lee Groves

10: Best memories of lifelong boxing fan

Every person who devotes his or her life to boxing – whether as a fan, as someone involved in the sport’s inner workings or as a fighter – has a story that begins with a unique introduction. Was there a “thunderbolt moment” that ignited a decades-long passion or did the tale start with a long, gradual series of events that only could have been appreciated years after the fact? Did a family member or a cherished friend influence that person as a youngster or did the hype surrounding a particular superfight pique their interest? Did they stumble onto a fight on TV by chance only to be instantly hooked by what they saw or was their awareness sparked by something beyond the realms mentioned here?

The possibilities are almost endless but in many cases the ultimate result is the same: A fierce allegiance that transcends time and supercedes the countless disappointments, betrayals, fiascos and fits of illogic that otherwise would have caused them to run screaming into the night.

Once the boxing bug bites, the effects remain for life – and joyfully so. As the days, months and years fly by, a boxing fan’s memories of major life events are often linked to the sport in some way – at least that’s the case for me. For instance, I recall that my high school graduation took place shortly before Larry Holmes’ unexpectedly difficult tussle with Tim Witherspoon in May 1983. To this day I often associate the current date with its proximity to the next big event.

At age 47 – I’m just a few weeks older than the recently-deposed Bernard Hopkins – boxing continues to consume me. I wake up every day looking forward to executing the next set of boxing-related tasks and challenging myself to push farther ahead than I had originally planned. I do this because that’s what my childhood boxing heroes did every weekend on ABC, NBC and CBS.

The following paragraphs will relive just 10 of the many events that spawned, then fueled, my 38-year love affair with “The Sweet Science.” It is this eternal flame that led me to assemble “The Vault” – my massive collection of sports videos, books, magazines, autographed photos and other assorted memorabilia. It gave me the desire to chase after, then establish, my later-life professional associations that led to my current gigs with CompuBox and RingTV.com. It pushed me to publish a 738-page book entitled “Tales From the Vault” in May 2010 and it helped me cope with innumerable snafus during my many travels. Finally, it propels me to write the best articles I can for this web site every week – even if their contents occasionally cause bouts of indigestion.

The events I write about here, all of which took place between ages 9 and 18, will be presented in chronological order, for ranking them by the intensity of feeling is next to impossible. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did writing about it.

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