Don Chargin: “I still love boxing” – Part One
By Joseph Herron: In a time when boxing’s role in American sports has been transformed from a major contributing powerhouse to a fringe pastime with minimal coverage from the press, one of this country’s boxing treasures, 2001 Hall of Fame inductee Don Chargin, continues to be hopeful that boxing can make a resurgence to the sports limelight.
Article posted on 23.04.2011
This year, September 3rd will mark 60 years since Don Chargin first entered into the boxing industry as a matchmaker and promoter; and after all of these years, “War a Week” Chargin still has a passion for the “sweet science”.
“I guess you could say that I still have a genuine love for boxing,” states Chargin.
After losing his wife and longtime business partner, Lorraine Chargin, to cancer in April of last year, Don states that boxing has been his solace.
“I thought I would really cut back when I lost her, but I found that it was too tough just sitting around the house so I decided to really get busy, and Golden Boy had asked me to come back as a consultant.”
Don fondly recalls his professional life with Lorraine.
“We were always together,” recalls Don. “She was always with me since my days as an Oakland matchmaker for Jimmy Dundee in the late fifties. She was a heck of a “detail” person…it’s the only thing I’m finding to be difficult now with my shows.”
“I really miss her,” claims the eighty-three year old boxing enthusiast. “I always made the matches and helped with the publicity, but Lorraine took care of everything else…the tickets, the insurance, basically the “nuts and bolts” of the event.”
Lorraine and Don Chargin were the “dynamic duo” of west coast boxing, running the legendary Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium with Aileen Eaton.
“It was the Madison Square Garden of the West,” declares Chargin. “Being a part of the Olympic Auditorium with Lorraine were the happiest 20 years of my life.”
“It was built in 1928 for the 1932 Olympic Games, exclusively for boxing and wrestling,” recollects Don. “The way it was built, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and the fans would stay from start to finish…today, at a Casino fight card, the majority of fans only show up for the main event.”
Don and Lorraine were creating fight cards with Hall of Fame promoter Aileen Eaton at the Olympic Auditorium from 1963 to 1983 and were considered to be architects of modern day boxing. They created a model that promoters use today in cultivating fighters and producing fight cards.
“As a promoter, Aileen Eaton was so far ahead of her time,” observes Chargin. “She used to say that promotional contracts were unnecessary and didn’t give you the freedom to make the best matches possible.”
Eaton passed away in 1987 and became the first woman ever inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.
“We had so many champions and we cultivated so many great fighters during the twenty years we were at the Olympic,” states the boxing industry leader. “Fighters from all over the world…it was their career ambition to fight at the Olympic”
Fighters like Muhammad Ali, Julio Cesar Chavez, Pipino Cuevas, Lupe Pintor, Roberto Duran, Bobby Chacon, Mando Ramos, Danny "Little Red" Lopez, Pete Ranzany, Carlos Palomino and Tony (The Tiger) Lopez, all wanted to fight at the legendary venue.
Don Chargin misses boxing’s “glory days”, but is supremely hopeful that they will return once again.
“Boxing is the greatest sport on the planet,” believes the boxing hall of famer. “I know we’re in somewhat of a lull right now, but boxing can easily go to the forefront of professional sports with one great fight.”
“War a week” Chargin admits that the “aura” of boxing was much different when he was younger.
“When I was a kid, I used to take a bus from San Jose to Oakland, where Sugar Ray Robinson was fighting,” recalls Chargin. “I would travel to the gym just to watch him workout...it was a real privilege just to see him train.”
Chargin attributes this change in climate to a lack of local presence from promoters and fighters alike.
“Now everything is different,” admits Don. “There used to be so many clubs that catered to boxing back in the day where promoters used to cultivate fighters locally…this used to really get the fans excited about local fighters and fight cards in their area.”
“Now, promoters and fighters depend on the Casinos, site fees, and television revenue,” states the famed promoter. “The top fighters of the sport demand so much money that the promoters now depend on the huge site fees that only the casinos can generate and the deep pockets of network television.”
“Before the advent of television, it depended on the live gate and the fighters’ ability to draw fans,” admits Chargin. “If the fighter could draw a big crowd, he would get paid well…unfortunately, those days are long gone.”
Currently, Don Chargin is as busy as he’s ever been, continually producing quality shows on the West Coast with Don Chargin Productions, and his advisory duties with Golden Boy Promotions.
The Hall of Fame promoter and matchmaker feels that Golden Boy has been a real pleasure to work with.
“It has really been remarkable, the strides that Golden Boy Promotions have made in the relatively short time they’ve been in existence,” admits Don Chargin.
“To form a professional company like Oscar has done and to surround himself with such brilliant guys like Richard Schaefer and Eric Gomez in such a short amount of time is a testament to his character,” believes Chargin.
“They are very good for me to work with,” states the veteran matchmaker. “Eric Gomez is like a son to me. I helped him during his first few years while he was breaking into the industry as a matchmaker…he is going to be one of the great matchmakers in boxing.”
Currently, Don is hard at work trying to solidify a fight card for Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo series at the Reno Events Center in Downtown Reno, Nevada on Friday April 29th.
“It’s a fight card with Jesse Brinkley versus undefeated prospect Peter Quillin,” states Chargin.
“I still really enjoy producing great fight cards in different towns,” proclaims the Hall of Fame promoter. “I’m very blasé’ when it comes to the big casinos and those kinds of shows...I like to see and visit with the real, real fight fans.”
“They have and will always continue to represent the past, present, and future of boxing.”
To be continued…
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