Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 15, 2009 · Page 59
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 59

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Page 59
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EIGHT Atlantic City boxing has become a mere jab compared to the punch of the '80s m Bb Eil '"'fcu'ilv-'' SHIl. k ft Associated Press In boxing's biggest moment in Atlantic City, Mike Tyson knocks out Michael Spinks in first round. By BERNARD FERNANDEZ fernanbphillynews. com ATLANTIC CITY Butch Lewis was telling a story about the late, great comedian Richard Pryor, a story he found so amusing, you would have thought Pryor himself was relating it onstage to a howling-with-laughter audience. Pryor wanted a ticket to the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks mega-bout here in 1988, when boxing was booming in this boardwalk town. Atlantic City enjoyed a stunning golden age of boxing in the 1980s, an era that hasn't been seen since and likely never will be seen again. "It was the biggest event BALLYS in the ;'":;;:.. world 5: that time not just in this country or in boxing," said Lewis, who managed undefeated linear heavyweight champion Spinks, in recalling the June 27, 1988, showdown with Tyson, holder of all the major recognized titles, in Boardwalk Hall. "I'm talking the entire bleepin' world. If there was a Su-perdome in Atlantic City, we could have filled that sucker up twice over. The demand for tickets was just crazy. "I was getting calls from everybody you could think of superstar athletes, big-time entertainers, politicians, right up to the White House. 'Butch, you gotta get me in,' they all said. But there wasn't anything I could do. The place was as sold out as sold out gets. Ringside tickets had a face value of $1,500 remember, this is 1988 dollars we're talking about and they were being MOVERS & SHAKERS Donald TrumpMark Etess. Billionaire Trump always wanted to do things bigger and better and to generate maximum publicity for himself and his organization in the process. Aware of how much boxing had served to "brand" Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after its 1966 opening, Trump poured his considerable resources into doing the same for his casino properties in Atlantic City in the 1980s. Toward that end, The Donald made one of his more astute hires, Mark Grossinger Etess, to run a burgeoning boxing operation that featured, among others, the sport's biggest draw, undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Etess' death, along with those of two other Trump executives, in an Oct. 10, 1989, helicopter crash, had as much or more of a detrimental effect on Trump boxing as did the boss' worsening cash-flow problems. Bernard Fernandez scalped for more, a lot more, and that's only if the people lucky enough to have 'em were willing to sell, which they weren't. "Anyway, Richard calls and tells me he'll do anything to get in. Richard and me were close, so I had to try, right? I checked around, called in some favors and, somehow, I got him two tickets somewhere in the first three rows, right be hind Magic Johnson. "The fight happens. Slim Spinks gets knocked out in the first round. Even before he went down, Magic stood up. Boom, boom, the fight ends just like that after an elapsed time of 91 seconds. Richard calls me later and says he never saw a punch, all he saw was Magic Johnson's back. "Richard is yelling, 'Bleeperbleeper, I could just as well have stayed home!' " Lewis, cracking himself up, said in replicating Pryor's frantic, profane indignity. "But you know what?" Lewis said after he finally stopped giggling. "At least Richard was in the house. That was one night when Continued on Next Page PAGE 60 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15,2009

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