I just found out about John’s passing today, when I was looking up his address online. My mother met him in 2000, when she was visiting me in New York, met John and his wife Jo and has been asking about him ever since, and so did John. Whenever I called him, his first question was always “So, how is your mother?”
John was a mentor and father-figure to me. I first met him when I moved to New York in 1998, where he was the famous old-school boxing coach at Gleason’s Gym. “What I am teaching is a lost art. Get it now while you can, because when I am gone, you will not be able to learn that again. Nobody else is teaching it any longer.” His favorite fighters were Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson.
“Is your trainer coming late today?” was John’s question to me when I finished a two-hour workout by myself. “I don’t have a trainer,” was my answer. “Show me how you throw a left body shot,” John told me. And so I did. And he corrected me. “I will train you,” he said. “I don’t have any money I can pay you. I just moved to this country,” was my reply. “Don’t worry about that,” was John’s answer. And for the next several years, he was my trainer, never asking for anything, always there as a friend. Heck, he even served as my best man at my wedding.
He had three daughters but no son, so he would always tell me “You are like a son to me. You are my son.” And he treated me that way. John was color-blind (I am white) and never had a negative thing to say about anybody, except for modern day fighters, whom he considered inferior to the old school boxers like Louis and Robinson.
John would vouch for me and helped me get started in New York, even setting up a career opportunity. I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for this man. A pure soul, a family man, a great boxing trainer.
I left New York seven years ago and haven’t seen John since. I was planning another trip to the Big Apple next summer and was looking forward to seeing him then. To me, there was no question he would be around. But first, I planned on calling him for his birthday, sending a tailor-made card with photos of the two of us through the years. So, for me to find out he is no longer around, one day before what would have been his 90th birthday, is devastating. On a positive note, the memories live on, and so am I, a man changed for the better because I have met John. Thank you, John, for all you have done for me.
With lots of love.
Service: Wednesday, July, 25, 2018 at 1:15 pm
UFT Lakeview 2
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 @ 1:15 pm
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