|The Harder They Fall: Lou Duva
By Sunset Thomas, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 18, 2009)
I first met Dino Duva at the venerable Madison Square Garden back in February of 2000. I was attending the Arturo Gatti/Joey Gamache bouta fight that ended Gamache’s career. Anyways, we met through a mutual frienda Little Italy impresario who went by the name Cha Cha.
After that bout Dino and I stayed in touch. In 2004, when my associates at Reno Ring LLC promoted their first fight at Caesars in Tahoe, why it was Dino and Duva Boxing that put the card together. In fact it was during Dino’s card the following year at the Reno Events Center that I first met my ghost of a gumbahFrankie Gambino. Needless to say, Dino and the entire Duva family are family to Frankie and I.
So when Dino recently called and told me he’d be in Vegas for some meetings, of course we simply had to get together.
Frankie insisted that we go to the Winners Circlea joint with old school charm that simulcasts the main thoroughbred tracks from across the country, but also serves Pizza and the potent stuff as wellwhich suits me just fine.
Stephen Rafferty is the barkeep at the Winners Circlewhen Raff’s not working the planks there he’s pouring Guinness at our favorite Las Vegas Irish pubFado.
Frankie had placed a couple of bets at Calder and Aqueduct and so he had us hunker down at the bar so he could catch both tracks at onceI never mind sitting at a bar. Hey, I hate to see anyone have to travel too far just to bring me, well, bring me good news in a shot glass!
Dino could hardly hold back his enthusiasm. There were big deals in the works, and not just for him, but for his dadone of the fight games greatest iconsLou Duva.
The mention of Lou got the fixated Frankie off his 4-legged fantasies and back to boxing. See Frankie loves Lou. Heck, if Frankie was living, rather than just a loveable apparition, they’d be damn near the same age. Plus Lou was born in New York and raised in Little Italy and as you well know, Frankie is partisan to paisans.
“Let me tell you kids something,” Frankie began to prattle. “Lou Duva is a legend. The greatest living ambassador the sport of boxing has. Hell, he was managing guys like Joey Giadello back in the dayCarlos Ortiz too!”
And of course Frankie was right. See when most folks think of that shock of silver hair and hear that gravelly voice connected to that fire-hydrant frame of his, they think of the not-so-distant past. The period of the sports last renaissance (thankfully, we’re heading into a new one).
Folks rightly associate Lou with Evander Holyfield, and Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Mike McCallum, Tyrell Biggs, Vinny Pazienza and Livingstone Bramble (I’ll never forget Lou’s story of how he caught Bramble in bed with 3-girls the night before his victory over Ray ManciniFrankie always said, they should have called the Jamaican “Boom Boom Boom” Bramble). Heck, it was Lou’s crew that promoted the first Leonard/Hearns fight. Lou became so friggin’ popular that he worked the corner for Rowdy Roddy Piper in one of those fabled WWF television specials.
“I love that Lou,” Frankie said again, grabbing a slice from Dino’s just arrived pie and then pinching Dino’s cheek before taking a bite. “You give him my love, capisce!”
Dino nodded and smiled as Frankie wedged his slice New York style.
With his mouth full of mozzarella and mushroomssausage too, I took to talking. I wanted to know what was in the works. What it was that brought Dino here to Vegas.
He told me.
See, Dino was in Beijing with his friend Richard Davimos for the last Olympics. The fact that China won its first medals in boxing was not lost on either of these entrepreneurs (2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze). Now Dino knows a good thing when he sees it. And the two D’s (Duva and Davimos) quickly went to work with their Chinese counterparts. The result? A deal which has D and D Global developing boxing in China. And I mean developing on a world-wide scale. They’ll be the one’s promoting and managing the Chinese combatants as they make their way into the ranks of the pros.
How does Lou fit in? Easy. From Anhui to Zhejiang Lou is a recognizable fixture. And frankly, he looks a little like a Buddha to boot! In fact, the Chinese sent their vaunted heavyweight, Zhang Zhilei (all 6’7” 260 lbs of him) to train with Lou in the Poconos this past July.
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“Lou is the Lefty O’Doul of boxing.” Frankie boasted. “Lefty brought baseball to Japan and Lou is bringing boxing to China!”
“It’s a great opportunity,” Dino said, “We will create an amateur powerhouse from the world’s most populated country. We’re going to develop and promote the greatest amateur program anywhere. When the right fighters are ready, we’ll turn ‘em pro…”
Frankie wagged a knowing finger at Dino, “So that’s why you’re here in Vegas. Not for the pizza more like the Pai Gow. Can you imagine the fan base if one of these Chinese kids makes a name for hisself? What casino property wouldn’t want a piece of that action?”
We were all sitting there nodding like a trio of bobble-head dolls when Frankie broke up the serenity of smiles by pounding the bar top with his fist and letting out a whoop that had Rafferty looking for his shalaly.
Frankie hit an exactaa long-shot coupled with a lukewarm favoritea nice ticket to cash. Dino was reaching for his wallet to pay the tab. I’d have nothing of it. I turned to Frankie and smiled. He looked at the bill and then to his ticket before grabbing it all in his fist and saying, with a resigned shrug of his shoulders, “It’s just money. You can’t take it with you.” He ought to know, I thought to myself as we bid Rafferty a farewell and the three of usFrankie, Dino and Iwalked arm-in-arm towards the exit….
To find out more on Frankie Gambino - Please click the link: The Harder They Fall: How I meet Frankie Gambino.
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