Atlantic City Mayor Lornezo Langford talks about a major boxing tribute he is helping to plan for June.
What's your take on the comparison between die-hard boxing fans and fans of MMA?
I am a big fan of MMA as well. I mean I respect that stuff, man. I do think that some people who compete in that need to have their head examined. I say that facetiously, but I have awesome respect for those cats, man.
You are putting together a commemoration of sorts for all of the people that have played a part in putting Atlantic City, South Jersey and Philadelphia boxing on the map. I know it's in the planning stages, but can you give us a little insight on what the festivities will entail?
PHOTO: Just recently boxing icon Mike Tyson spent the weekend in Atlantic City, partying at Dusk (pictured) at Caesars and then attending a Tony Bennett concert at Caesars' Circus Maximus Theater. (Tom Briglia)
On Saturday, June 2, we're going to have an all-star boxing legends tribute. What we're trying to do is get together all of the boxing personalities. Whether they are boxers, managers, promoters, ring announcers, referees, you name it, we're trying to get together everybody to celebrate the contribution that they have made in making Atlantic City the boxing mecca that it is. It takes on an even greater significance because so many boxing icons are passing away. Within the last months we've lost Joe Frazier, Angelo Dundee and others, and it will be an opportunity for these guys to come together on one accord with camaraderie, [which] is waning. As time marches on and the older they get, there are fewer opportunities for these guys to bump into each other. Nobody out there seems to be trying to create these opportunities for them to come together and just enjoy each other's company and reminisce about what they contributed to the sport of boxing. So that's all I want to do is allow the folks in boxing to step back and smell the coffee, if you will, and allow these individuals to savior their contribution to the sport of boxing and making Atlantic City the [boxing] mecca that it is. So with respect to the event, it is still a work in progress and we still haven't formalized what the event will entail. I will say it will be a night where we give praise and adulation to all of those that deserve it.
Speaking of commemorating, Atlantic City has acknowledged its own in the past, such as having a street named after and a statue erected in the honor of A.C.'s own, and former world champion, Leavander Johnson. I was at those ceremonies, but moreover, was eating with a few IBF members that were in A.C. when the word came of his passing. I remember vividly our thoughts at that very moment. If I may ask, how did you feel at the moment of hearing that one of A.C.'s soldiers had died?
Well, you know what? Even more than that, with me it was personal, because I happened to know Leavander. My thoughts weren't on Leavander the boxer or Leavander the champion, but more it was Leavander, my friend. As with anybody when you lose a friend, it saddens you. It wasn't until a few days later, I suspect, that I even began contemplating what it meant to the boxing world and community — Leavander the fighter. For me it was personal and I was very saddened by that tragic loss of life.
Mr. Mayor, you do a great job, and I think I can speak for many in and around the sport when I say what you are planning is a great thing for the sport of boxing. I personally thank you, and I know others will as well.
Thanks and if I may impose upon you that any of the people you work with or boxing personalities that may cross your path, inform them of what we're trying to do. Tell them to save the date [June 2, 2012] and call the Mayor's Office [609-347-5400] for more information.
Oh, I definitely will, and once again, thank you.
What are your thoughts? Share your comments below.
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