Questioned . . .
Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg
TRAINER KEVIN ROONEY, right, pleaded his case in front of New York State Athletic Commission Chairman Ron Stevens, to Rooneys immediate right, while Steve Lott (holding videocamera) replayed the decisive blow in Friday nights Lenord Pierre-Manning Galloway match. Looking on are referee Benji Esteves, hidden behind camera, and other officials.
By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO October 11, 2005 In one of Sullivan Countys most successful sporting events in recent memory, professional boxers traded punches during a six-fight card in front of hundreds of people on Friday evening at Monticello Raceway.
Among those participating in the event was legendary trainer Kevin Rooney, who trained former world champion Mike Tyson for most of the 1980s. Rooney, who was a former fighter and assistant under Hall of Fame trainer Cus DAmato who was the head trainer of Tyson until 1985 was there with the star of the night, middleweight Lenord Pierre.
Five-time world champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame member Emile Griffith was also in attendance, signing many autographs and posing for photographs with fans. Griffith, one of the greatest fighters of the 1960s, was at the center of one of boxings most famous moments when he beat opponent Benny Paret to death inside the ring to regain the welterweight title. Aside from winning the welterweight title three times, Griffith also gained the middleweight championship on two occasions.
Griffith was all smiles and extremely pleasant with the crowd, which adored him and showered him with a standing ovation.
In the nights middleweight feature, which was viewed by an estimated crowd between 500 and 750, Pierre (17-1) left the ring with a no-decision after his opponent, Manning Galloway (62-18) claimed he was head butted unintentionally, and could not go on with the fight, as confirmed by Robert Sarreck, who was the doctor at ringside.
Galloway was barely ahead of Pierre on the scoring cards of the judges entering the fourth round. As the fourth round ensured, the younger Pierre picked up steam. In the defining moment of the fight, Galloway was ducking from a Pierre punch when he lifted his head and appeared to hit either Pierres glove, elbow or lower arm.
But referee Benji Esteves took the word of Galloway, and, in turn, so did the judges.
Steve Lott, Pierres manager and a member of the Tyson management team until Tyson switched to Don King, videotaped the event. After the decision, Lott played the tape over and over to Esteves and New York State Athletic Commission Chairman Ron Stevens and other officials to no avail.
Stevens ruled the tape inconclusive. He said that if the tape had clearly shown Galloways reaction to be the result of a punch, the decision could have been overruled and deemed a technical knockout.
Since it was ruled a no-decison, the bout will not count against either fighter.
Rooney was vividly upset with the call.
It was not conclusive, he said. A blind person could see it [was not a head butt].
The trainer called the actions of Galloway a trick.
However, Rooney also credited Galloway for being an experienced lefty.
The trainer also thinks his fighter can learn from the bout. He wants Pierre to stay calm, throw straighter punches and avoid tie-ups. Rooney said that Pierre packs a strong punch, can move his head very well and can be a skilled defensive boxer.
Hell come back from this very quickly, Rooney said.
Rooney trains Pierre and two other fighters out of Catskill, the same place where Tyson and Rooney learned how to fight at the home of DAmato. Rooney began his career under the hall of famer in 1975, after winning a Golden Glove championship. He called his mentor DAmato a great man, who was very tough yet compassionate and a genius. DAmato did not go to school past the fifth grade, but educated himself at the New York Library and eventually trained such hall of fame boxers as Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres.
Rooney continued to fight successfully while training Tyson. But eventually, Tysons success and busy fighting schedule left him with little time for fighting. At one point, Tyson was fighting every few weeks.
Rooney called Tyson, who scored first round knockouts in nearly every match in his first 20 victorious fights, one of the top five boxers of all time.
But eventually, their relationship soured after Rooney made a positive comment about the mother of Tysons former wife, Robin Givens, during a radio interview in 1988. At the time, the couple was estranged after Givens alleged that Tyson had beaten her.
Rooney said he did not believe the charges. If they were true, Givens would have been in much worse shape, he said. Rooney said that Tyson did not like the comments and decided to leave Rooney and manager Bill Cayton. Rooney said that he considered Tysons decision to leave and join King a major mistake.
As to what he thinks the future hold for Tyson, Rooney said people will always be curious of him.
I dont think he should fight. I dont think he has the desire, Rooney added.
But if Tyson ever came back to Rooney for one more fight, the trainer said he would help him.
In the opening fight of Friday nights card, light heavyweight William Jeter of Brooklyn made a stellar debut. He knocked out Terry Peacock at 25 seconds of the opening round.
Jeter, a Golden Glove amateur Champion, went after Peacock aggressively and quickly. He connected with an overhand right to the side of Peacocks temple. Peacock was completely dazed and disoriented and the fight was stopped.
In another bout, Jose Rodriguez beat fellow middleweight Kevin Johnson by TKO. Two of the other matches on the card ended in draws.
Among those taking in the fights was Harold Lederman, whose commentary and scorecard of feature boxing matches has become a staple of the sport.
Monticello Raceway Public Relations Director John Manzi said the racino was very pleased with the turnout and that Mighty M Gaming looks forward to scheduling another boxing card in the future.