New Nevada Boxing Hall of Famer Harry Reid once saw Bob Arum’s volcanic temper up close at ring-side

SONY DSC

Former Senator Harry Reid (2nd from right) meets with boxer Manny Pacquiao (center) and Bob Arum (far right).

The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame announced a 14-member class on Thursday, and it includes some of the greatest fighters who ever lived. Of fighters from more recent vintage, Shane Mosley, Chris Byrd, Laila Ali and Kevin Kelley are going in as part of the Hall’s sixth annual induction class, on Aug. 18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

But the class also includes Henry Armstrong, one of the top five fighters who ever lived; Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor, who staged two of the most fearsome fights I was ever privileged to witness; Earnie Shavers, one of the sport’s all-time hardest punchers; and Don Minor, the quintessential local fighter.

One name on the list, though, may have stood out: Harry Reid.

Yeah, it’s that Harry Reid, the former Nevada senator and the former Senate majority leader was elected to the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame (Editor’s note: For full disclosure, I am on the board that votes on new inductees, and I was inducted into the NVBHOF in 2014).

Reid was elected as a contributor, and he was ringside at many major fights.

I’ll never forget seeing him at the Oscar De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas the night before. I broke a story in Saturday morning’s paper on fight day that De La Hoya had been cut on the hand the day before as his cut man was removing his hand wraps, and there was a question whether he’d be able to fight.

The pay-per-view undercard began at 6 p.m. local time and there were rumors in the arena even as late as 5 p.m. that De La Hoya wouldn’t be able to fight.

About 15 minutes before the PPV went onto the air, I walked to ringside with Dave Cokin, a local sports talk show host, and a reporter I won’t name because there is no need to embarrass him. Arum was angry at that reporter and boy, did I find that out.

When I got to ringside, I didn’t have much time. I knew we’d be kicked out of that area at least five minutes before 6, so I had to work fast. But when I got to ringside, Arum was speaking with three fairly prominent politicians: Reid, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

It’s hard to interrupt that group, but duty called. So I walked over, with Cokin and the other reporter behind me.

“Bob, can I talk to you,” I shouted to Arum, as I stuck my head in between McCain and Richardson.

Arum looked at me and calmly said, “Yeah, I’ll talk to you.” But in an instant, his volcanic temper erupted, and he added, pointing angrily at the unnamed reporter, “But I’ll never talk to that son of a bitch!”

This was in front of three of the most powerful politicians in the country, as well as many more rich and influential people sitting nearby. Everyone was startled, but Arum never missed a beat.

Arum drove a lot of people crazy in boxing, but there has never been another like him. He’s got his share of faults and foibles, but he’s also frequently a kind and generous man who has done many amazing acts of charity without being asked or expecting anything for it in return.

On that night, though, newly elected Hall of Famer Sen. Harry Reid got a close-up look at just what made Arum one of the best to ever do it.

Leave a Reply