Meeting Ron Lipton

18.04.07 - By Adeyinka Makinde: All I can say is thank God for the internet. How else was I going to find Ron Lipton? By 2000 I had researched and written out a pretty substantial chunck of my manuscript for the book which would be entitled 'Dick Tiger: The Life & Times of a Boxing Immortal.' I had interviewed members of Tiger's family, boxing people and also extensively researched newspaper archives from Nigeria, the United Kingdom and North America. Yet, as with other periods since I had begun my reseseach in 1996, I had stalled; feeling that there was always something else to come to complete the jigsaw..

I found that last piece to be Ron Lipton.

Ron is by any standards an extraordinary human being -friend and foe recognise his formidability. After corresponding for almost seven years by telephone, e-mail and the occasional postage it was about time. And boy was I excited!

This is the man whose knowledge and experience of the fight game is virtually unparalled now that most of the 'old timers' have taken the last count. So intense and incisive is his knowledge of the game that Rocky Alkazoff, one of the great boxing writers of today, once asserted that "Ronnie knows every sinew" of the physiques of the fighters of the golden age of the 1960s. The legendary Joey Giardello is recorded as complimenting Ron as "knowing the styles of all the fighters" of note of that era. Not surprising given that Ron was perpetually camped at the likes of New York's Solar Gymnasium, The New Garden Gym and Ehsan's amongst several where he lived, breathed, ate and sparred with the likes of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, Dick Tiger, Jose Manon Gonzalez and others. Not surprising given that Ron was usually first row at many of Madison Square Garden's boxing bouts of the era.

Who else could have brought alive the excitement of Dick Tiger's bout with Frankie DePaula in 1968 as is recorded in my biography of Tiger for posterity? When the not too insignificant amount of late-middle-age-Americans e-mail me to thank me for bringing back to live the era of the fights on TV -I have to thank Ron for enabling me to do so.

When I finally earmarked a time to visit the United States, with Jersey City been my area of focus owing to my researching a biography of the late Frankie DePaula, I knew that I had to go and pay homage to Ron and his family at their Poughkeepsie, New York abode.

And so it was that I spent most of Thursday, April 5th 2007 with them. I took the Metro Line from Manhattan's Grand Central Station which terminates at Poughkeepsie station. I had been due to arrive at Marist College during Ron's accredited boxing class sometime around midday. Alas, I did not realise that trains departed only once an hour and had to wait until the 10.51 AM which meant that I did not arrive in Poughkeepsie until 12.30 (when the class would have been finishing) and had to wait for a taxi. Still, it was a great feeling to meet Ron and his son Brett. We had a studio booked at the Media Center of Marist College and for almost an hour and a half I conducted an interview with Ron which focused mainly on his experiences with Dick Tiger and Frankie DePaula. It worked like a dream as Ron gave anecdotes, analysed fights and personalities in his usual clear, erudite manner.

After the DVD was pressed, we embarked for Snoops Gymnasium which Ron manages and at which he trains up and coming boxers. It is a very large establishment and although we were there before the incoming evening crowd, one could imagine the atmosphere when the fighters take to the array of heavybags, speed balls, medicine balls and spar in the impressive ring. We went over to Ron's place where his lady cooked a hearty, healthy meal before we all took a trip to one of the beautiful reserve parks. In between all of this I had set my digital voice recorder to get more facts from Ron about his shooting and sparing sessions with Frankie and Rubin as well as his work as a detective for the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office; part of which involved investigating Frankie's shooting.

Well, I've often kidded Ron about "living next door to the Roosevelts" and I was intrigued to get a look at the grand estate where the patrician president grew up.

It was a day I'll not forget.

Article posted on 19.04.2007

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