CANASTOTA, N.Y. – Referee Mills Lane can’t say much after suffering a major stroke in 2002. If he could, he would tell you he’s in seventh heaven.
Those familiar with Lane’s condition wondered whether he would make it to the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend in this village in upstate New York, across the country from his home in Reno, Nev.
Yet here he is, moving slowly and quietly but enjoying every moment.
“When we got word that he was going in (the Hall) and he said he wanted to go, it kind of surprised us because he usually doesn’t want people to see him in this state. He’s a proud guy,” said son Tommy Lane, who has watched proudly as fans here have showered his dad with affection since their arrival.
“… It’s been gratifying for my mom, my brother and I because this is the happiest we’ve seen him since the stroke. I haven’t seen him smile this much in a long time. It’s been a tremendous experience.”
Lane, a former Marine and boxer, is known in part for his vigor. That makes his condition all the more difficult to accept.
He can still talk a bit. For example, Tommy Lane said his dad has been thrilled to see some of the fighters he refereed during his long career. That included Iran Barkley, to whom Lane smiled and yelled, “Barkley.” He’s not capable of conversation.
Don’t feel too badly for him, though. His son says he still finds happiness.
“This is about how he is going to be (long term),” Tommy Lane said. “The things that improve are his mood, his joy in life. Like this Hall of Fame.” He paused, reflecting on the moment, and then added. “I can just tell he’s loving this.”