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Monday, August 23, 2021

An Unimportant Encounter with the Champ

This is the second boxing-related memory of my grandma who passed away a year ago. The first is here.

My grandmother's other connection to boxing is something to roll out at cocktail parties. It was 1940 and my grandmother was 12 years old. Her brother Kenny, alternately nicknamed Dinky and Lefty, ran with the same crew as Jake LaMotta, the oldest living world champion boxer at the time of his death on September 17, 2017 at the age of 95 and the subject of the Oscar-winning flick Raging Bull.

LaMotta, 19 at the time, was an amateur boxer and married to his first wife, a Jewish woman. ("My first wife divorced me because I clashed with the drapes," LaMotta would say.) The crew attended parties, enjoyed dancing and drinking. My grandmother even remembers him coming over to her house once.

"Wow, that's amazing, Grandma!"
"No it isn't. It doesn't matter. It means nothing to me. It isn't important. You mentioned boxing, so this is what I thought about, but it isn't important."

At the time of this conversation, my grandmother didn't like to think about the past; she'd rather focus on the present and finding ways to make the aging process as comfortable for her as possible. But one woman's discarded memories are sometimes another man's treasured family history.

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