Going to the fights, a personal anecdote: As good as it gets

Galt Ocean Mile Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 02/21/1986

Matthew Saad Muhammad v. Uriah Grant

A friend, “Rigger” working for the Florida Boxing Commission told me to buy a general admission ticket to the fight and he would see if he could move me up front. After I arrived he told me the fight was sold out and he couldn’t get me a better seat. I told it was OK, I’m fine, I just want to see the fight. A few minutes later he returned, grabbed me by the arm and brought me all the way up to ringside, pointing to the steps leading up to the ring, he said ‘sit there, you will hold the ropes for the round card girls.’ I said absolutely I will!

I couldn’t believe how lucky I had gotten. I watched the entire card squatting down on the steps just a couple of feet from one of the corners, when the bell would ring I would jump up on to the apron and do my job. It was wonderful, the view of the fights was nothing like I ever experienced. I even got hit with ‘big punch spray’ once, (I was hoping for blood but none came my way,) and when the main event came, I got to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in Mathew Saad Muhammad’s corner.

At the end of the eighth round Saad came back to the corner a beaten fighter, his corner was yelling ‘do this’ and ‘do that,’ but Saad cut them off with: “No, the kid’s too strong.” Saad didn’t say another word, but Saad’s people, who obviously had much respect for their fighter, just shut-up on the spot. They sponged him down, and got him ready for the next round in silence. The moment stunned me.

Saad spent the final two rounds just holding Uriah Grant at bay; it was impressive to watch how the experienced Saad ‘managed’ the young bull Grant. Though he was no longer trying to win, Saad didn’t run away, and he didn’t clinch either, he just controlled the action, never allowing the stronger Grant to find a rhythm; for the last two rounds Saad never let the fight turn into a ‘fight.’ He lost UD.

When it was over Saad was gracious in defeat, and as he was leaving the ring I jumped up on the apron and held the ropes for him, as he exited he turned, smiled and nodded a thank you in my direction. It was such a perfect night; it was ‘my best night ever’ at the fights.