Published: July 11, 2004
July 7, 2004
Lying in a potter’s field, in an unmarked grave is a fate that no man deserves. But when that man is Kid Gavilan… one of the most loved and respected fighters of his era? that fate becomes a crime.? –Ring Announcer/Ring 8 Member Joe Antonacci
A year-long campaign by Veteran Boxers Association Ring 8, to provide the late all-time great welterweight champion Kid Gavilan with a proper burial site, became a success this week with the help of several generous donors including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
We just got some very good news,? said delighted Ring 8 member Ron Ross. Mike Tyson has agreed to put up the final $5000.?
One of the oldest (over 50 years old) benevolent boxing organizations in America, Ring 8 began the quest to help Gavilan after learning the beloved Cuban warrior, who died in February 2003, laid in an unmarked grave in Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Miami, Florida.
According to Ross, what started out as a simple project to provide a fallen fighter with a commemorative headstone turned complicated after it came to light that the cemetery section Gavilan was buried in didnt permit any standing monuments.
When we discovered The Kid had no headstone, we started working toward getting one for his grave site. Ring 8 of New York raised the $4000 we needed, originally. But then we were notified the part of the cemetery he was buried in did not permit above-ground monuments of any sort and that we would have to move him to another section of the cemetery if we wanted him to have a monument. They gave us a price of $8500 to do it. Thats when we started reaching out.
Ross, who along with fellow Ring 8 members Tony Mazzarella, Bobby Bartels and Hank Kaplan, spearheaded the cause, says he was happy to see so many get involved in the project. In addition to Tyson, a diverse group from all across America helped out. Among them, Ring 8 member and author Bill Tate donated $1000. The Teamsters Union also contributed generously.
Kid Gavilan was a wonderful athlete and a fine human being and it was only fitting to honor his life and accomplishments. Three years ago in Long Island, he presented Billy Grahams family with an Uncrowned Champion? belt at the Ring 8 Annual Awards Dinner (in 1951, Gavilan successfully defended his National Boxing Association World Welterweight Title against Graham by a decision that is still hotly disputed to this day). It was a very emotional moment and what a great thing for him to have done.?
Ross says that Ring 8 would like to have Tyson step forward at the monument dedication ceremony in light of his kindness and generosity. In yet another virtually unreported example of Iron Mikes considerably charitable nature, he was unavailable for comment. Manager Shelly Finkel explained that Tyson wasnt interested in any publicity from his commendable actions.
By Andre Courtemanche and Lisa Scott