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The Perlowski Files!

My boxing experiences/part 2

 

The following article was posted by Jim on the The Chip Board on May 5th, 2016

I first met Trevor Berbick in May of 1983 at the Showboat Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas. Trevor was scheduled to fight a canned tomato named S.T. Gordon who beat the living hell out of Trevor and won a unanimous decision. But that’s another story as to why Trevor lost, and I will bring out the reason as I develop this story. We met in the Showboat’s coffee shop. It is hard to believe it was over 30 years ago!

Trevor was accompanied by his attorney Marc Risman. A local entertainment lawyer, who from my many boxing contacts over the years, has become my good friend. We still speak today and keep in touch. Marc represented Trevor in our discussion involving Berbick’s tax responsibilities and obligations. Even though Berbick was a Canadian citizen he still had an obligation to pay US taxes on his fight proceeds. I made the withholding arrangement for the Gordon fight and any other fights Trevor may have. We all agreed and spent the next hour enjoying a cup of coffee.

All three of us “hit it off” with a developing professional relationship. Trevor and I became very good friends. His wife Nadia would often fly in from Jamaica and bring him sugar cane. Sugar cane was of Trevor’s favorite snacks.

Nadia and my wife Rena enjoyed each other’s company and would often go shopping to the various malls when Nadia was in town.

In March of 1986 Berbick beat Pinklon Thomas at the Riviera Hotel and casino in a unanimous decision. It was one of the best fights I've seen in my boxing tenure. Berbick took the fight to Pinklon and outscored him easily, winning the WBC heavyweight title.

During the period of time between March of 1986 and November, I got to know Trevor very well. I asked him about his various problems with the law. He told me many of them were his fault. However, he always contended he was innocent of his Florida conviction with the household baby sitter. He said she lied and wanted money but the jury did not believe him. I don’t know if he was innocent or guilty, but it didn’t matter, because I always judge people for what they do today and not on their past. We all make mistakes and so it is how we handle the future that counts.

Unlike the many fighters I knew, Trevor was much different. He did not have a "hanger on" unto rouge or “groupies” who tried to separate him from his space and/or money. He stayed to himself. He signed to fight Mike Tyson for a fight in November of 1986 to be held at the Las Vegas Hilton. The fight would be sanctioned by the WBC for the heavyweight title.

I believe I was one of the few individuals in Trevor’s life who knew of his asthmatic, allergy and severe respiratory problems he suffered from. His previous boxing losses were the result of this condition. I watched his fight with S.T. Gordon and could not believe Gordon beat him. Gordon did not beat him...

Trevor’s breathing beat him.

During October of 1986, Nadia had gone back to Jamaica and Trevor stayed in his hotel room at the Hilton, like a hermit. Visits by Marc and I were the only real contact he had with the outside world. He was not training or even exercising.

I brought him over to our apartment one evening to get him away from the reporters and individuals hounding him for an interview. I made three 18 inch smoked pork loins which was one of his favorite dishes. He would often say, “Bounty Hunter", I didn’t know you could make pork like in Jamaica”. Trevor would end up eating an entire loin and a half by himself. I would just send what was left with him back to the hotel. He hated the hotel food and often would not eat at all.

Angelo Dundee told me he did not know what was wrong with him, but something was definitely wrong. He said he'd go up to Trevor's room only to find him lying down in a weakened condition.

It was around a week before the fight. I finished getting the other fighter’s information on the event card and had a few minutes to kill, so I went up to see Trevor. I knocked on the door and received a very weak reply. I said, "Trevor open the door." A few minutes passed and he finally came to the door wheezing and out of breath.

I said grab your sweats and get dressed. I picked up the phone and called my Allergist/Surgeon doctor and good friend, Dr. Joe Tangredi. (Joe died in August, 2006).

Addie, his receptionist and former wife, answered the phone. I told her I needed to speak to Joe because it was an emergency.

A few minutes passed and Joe answered the phone. "Joe, I got the heavyweight champion of the world having an asthma attack in his hotel room." Joe said, "Jim bring him to the back door of the office and I will tell Mary Ann to watch for you."

We arrived at the office and Mary Ann let us in. She rushed us into one of the patient’s rooms. In a few minutes Joe walked in took one look at Trevor and said I have to call Homansky. Dr. ‘Flip” Homansky was the main doctor for the Nevada Athletic Commission. Joe and Flip talked for a long time behind closed doors. Joe came out and said Flip authorized him to treat Trevor.

It was either authorize him to treat Trevor, or the fight would be cancelled, because Berbick was in no condition to fight. I called Dundee and told him what was happening. Dundee’s only comment was “Shit, now what???” I told him I would get back to him as soon as I found out anything.

Joe gave Trevor numerous injections and a breathing treatment. He sent one of his nurses back to the Hilton with a breathing machine and medication for it.

I snuck Trevor back into the Hilton with the help of the bell captain and Angelo Dundee and got him back into his room. I called Nadia and told her what happened. She was concerned, but told me he would be all right, because this happened quite often. Apparently, Berbick did not receive any treatment for his condition because, “it would be a sign of weakness”. Go figure!

Over the course of the week I brought Berbick back to Tangredi’s office. He improved quickly. His breathing became normal and his energy seemed to be returning. He continued with his breathing machine right up until fight time.

It was now November 22, 1986, fight night. Did Trevor have a chance? I didn’t know. Joe said he was at about half energy and scheduled to fight the toughest fighter he would ever fight. I guessed the fight would go a few rounds and Trevor would run out of gas. It went two. Tyson knocked him out. Would the fight have had a different outcome if Berbick would have been allowed more time to recover? I doubt it. Tyson was the better fighter. Berbick was the better man.

I miss Trevor and his kindness. He was brutally murdered by his nephew and another individual in Jamaica. I don’t know what happened or why it happened. However, I do remember the last time I saw and spoke with Trevor. He gave me a big hug and thanked me and my wife for our kindness to both himself and Nadia. He told me he would miss my cooking and my friendship.

I told him I would miss his infectious smile. 

Rest in peace my friend!

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