My boxing experiences/part
following article was posted by Jim on the
The Chip Board
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!
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
Nadia and my
wife Rena enjoyed each other’s company and would often go shopping to
the various malls when Nadia was in town.
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.
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.
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...
breathing beat him.
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
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.
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.
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
receptionist and former wife, answered the phone. I told her I needed to
speak to Joe because it was an emergency.
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."
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.
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.
Trevor numerous injections and a breathing treatment. He sent one of his
nurses back to the Hilton with a breathing machine and medication for
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!
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
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.
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
I told him I
would miss his infectious smile.
peace my friend!