H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president of Lowe's Motor Speedway and boxing fan extraordinaire, grabbed me by the forearm at Fight Night for Kids Thursday and pulled me to a bar. He said I looked as if I needed a drink and that there was somebody at the bar I needed to meet. There was -- Angelo Dundee.
Dundee trained some of the greatest boxers in history, among them Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. He was brilliant, one of the very best. He still loves the sport and loves to talk about the sport, and we talked for at least 10 minutes.
He talked about heart and courage, and said if you don't have that, you have nothing. He talked about a former fighter of his, a huge man and a superior athlete, who should have been a champion. But the man lacked courage, and therefor never came close to being a contender. Asked which of his fighters had the most courage, Dundee said what you would think he would say -- Ali.
As we talked, I looked around at the guys in tuxes whose companies had bought a table for Fight Night, and suspected that several of them had heard of Dundee and perhaps even recognized him. I apologized to Angelo for monopolizing his time, and thanked him the time he gave me.
"No, thank you," Dundee told me. "I mean it. How many sportswriters care about boxing anymore? How many want to even write about it? If you ever need anything, call me."
He handed me a business card and with a black pen wrote his telephone number on the back. Here I am, some guy Dundee has never heard of, and he's thanking me for my interest.
This was not the first time I left a gathering with a telephone number (a few of which actually worked).
But the others were not nearly as significant. This one I will save and savor.