10 Bells For Leavander Johnson
By Rob Scott (September 24, 2005) 
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
I have always loved the sport of boxing. As far back as I can remember I have appreciated the artistry of this sport that is deservingly called ‘The Sweet Science’.  Even with seeing the artistry of the sport, I never lost sight of the brutality of this game. The reality is every time a fighter steps into that squared circle, they are literally risking their very life. That reality became real in every since of the word for Leavander Johnson on Thursday, as he lost his life from injuries suffered last Saturday night while making the first defense of his IBF lightweight title.

The loss still has many in the boxing world in disbelief. There’s a certain sorrowful domino type effect going thru the sport, as everyone from the networks, the organizations, the promoters and all sort of media are expressing their grief over this tragedy. I find myself in that long line of domino pieces as I can’t help but express my sorrow and thoughts.

I remember years ago when I was an on-air talent for the South Jersey/Philadelphia area television show hosted by Roy Foreman called ‘Foreman Boxing Magazine’, which later changed to ‘Foreman on Boxing’; this was when I first met Leavander. He was a guest of ours on the show a few times and one thing that stood out, even back then, was his high confidence level. He knew within his heart-of-hearts that one day he would be champion. Even though it took him 16 years to officially become a world champion, to me that 16-year journey proved that he was a champion just by his perseverance alone. Even after coming up short in other attempts at the title, he never gave up

I had the pleasure of interviewing Leavander for this site this past July, a little while after he received the key to the city for his title winning effort in May. It was one of Leavander’s last interviews, and it’s one that I am very proud of. The confidence he had still existed from yesteryear, but as I remember this interview, I recall it being filled with a sense of pride.

He had a lot to be proud of and his family still has a lot to be proud of. I said this much to his brother/manager Craig Johnson the day after Leavander’s death, when I called to convey my condolences. His voice was filled with pride and sorrow as he and the whole family knows that the wound of their loss of Leavander can only be healed with time and prayer. He asked that we all keep Leavander and the whole Johnson family in our prayers. 

Now other A.C. fighters, like up and coming, Shamone Alvarez have some big shoes to fill, but the fellas at the Atlantic City P.A.L. have got to know that Leavander is watching over them and he would want them to keep on keeping on.

The same can be said for Referee Tony Weeks and Jesus Chavez, two who may never be the same; they must keep on keeping on. The Johnson family; keep on keeping on. The boxing world; keep on keeping on. To Leavander up there, you too must keep on keeping on.  Rest in peace champ.
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