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July 11, 2014

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, JULY 11,2014 ,aW Mickey Finn, the Man Who is Ring 4 Mickey Finn The Ring 4 Veteran's Box- ing Association is one of the oldest veteran boxing groups in the world. It is also thriv- ing, and in this day and age that is quite a feat. As docu- mented in the book "Bowling Alone" by Robert D. Putnam, these types of groups have been disappearing as the younger generation no longer takes an interest in such activities. So how does Ring 4 remain so vibrant? The answer to that question is Mickey Finn. Mickey has devoted his heart and soul to the club and has worked tirelessly to keep it successful. He has not only kept it going, he has pumped tremendous positive energy into it. The members are motivated and ~ active. They all pull together under Mickey's leadership which was quite evident at this year's annual banquet which had a sellout crowd with imany turned away. I caught uP with my long time ,friend recently at Vinny Marino's Brick House Caf~ in Dedham. Mickey was already seated at a table when I arrived and rose up with the energy of a man half his 70 years of age to greet me. You don't have to be an expert in boxing to be able to tell this is a guy who knows his way around a ring. He steps lightly on his feet and slides toward me with his hand extended to shake mine. He just as easily could have turned that friendly gesture into a right cross. Finn was raised in Dor- chester and South Boston and still lives in Dorchester. He is a no nonsense guy who can be a bit intimidating while at the same time exuding an ,air of kindness which is often shared in his daily life as he reaches out to help others. I ask Mickey when he first got involved with Ring 4. "In 1964 Bobby Quinn (Quinn was a boxer who fought Rocky Marciano) brought me to a meeting, but I didn't become deeply involved until the late '80s. Eddie Bangs and former World Featherweight Cham- pion Sal Bartolo were very influential in motivating me to put more effort into help- ing the club. Eddie had origi- nated the final ten count, a tribute that is given to fel- low members who have passed on. I am very proud of the fact that I have brought that back." The final count is a beau- tiful ceremony. At either the funeral home or graveside Mickey usually joined by Ring 4 Recording Secretary John O'Brien say a number of touching words about how we all will answer that final bell some day. This is followed by the club motto that Mickey, a student of William Shakespeare, has put together, "We few, we happy few, for he who sheds his blood with me will forever be my brother." The bell is then rung ten times while the count is given ending with the words, "The fight is over, may he rest in peace." I have witnessed and taken part in this ceremony many times, and it always brings tears to my eyes and to those in attendance. Mickey has done his share of boxing and competed in the 1977 Naval Tournament in Winter Harbor Maine. "I was 33 ~rears old at the time and made it to the finals. Guy Consolo worked my corner. As much as I enjoyed getting into the ring, my real passion was in being an official. I am very proud of my time as a time- keeper and also as chairman of the Boxer's Fund Board. I also am very honored to have been named President Emeritus of Ring 4, and I want to thank you, Bobby, for nominating me as a Life- time Honorary Member of Ring 4, a distinction I share with a very select group." For many years Mickey has been close friends with former great Welterweight Champion Tony DeMarco. Mickey takes a right from Tony DeMarco. "I will never forget in 1995 when we had a time for Tony at the American Spaghetti House. Tony was given a cash award, but immedi- ately donated the money to Ring 4. That's the kind of a guy he is. Tony has always been a true champion both in and out of the ring. I am so lucky to be able to call him my friend. It's an absolute disgrace he is not in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. They should be ashamed of themselves." Mickey still works out both at home and at Peter Welch's Boxing Gym in South Boston. I have seen him in action, and I can tell you, this guy still has the moves. He is fast and accurate with old time footwork that is rarely seen today unless you are watch- ing the greats on YouTube. "I love to hit the speed bag and make it talk. I have Mickey slugs it out with Paul Doyle. no use for the punch pads, which for some reason have become very popular. Hitting them is no different than practicing for a fight that is in the bag. The speed bag, road work, and stretching are a very important part of a boxer's workout. Also, shadow boxing, which develops foot- work to a great extent. My father, who is a Pioneer Member of the Ring 4 Hall of Fame, was dedicated to the sport and taught me the true way of how it should be. Very different then what is being taught today." In recent years he has had a couple of gym matches with fellow Ring 4 members Paul Doyle and Vinny Marino in which he proved he can more than hold his own with the best of them. As we finish up the evening, Mickey reflects on his years in boxing~d Ring 4. "One of the great thrills of my life was when I met and got to spend some time with Don Dunphy. I have been lucky to have made friends with so many wonderful people. There are way too many for me to mention all of them, but I would like to name two, one old friend, and one more recent. Eddie Fitzgerald and I go back many years; Eddie was one of the great referees and has always had my back. The other is Deputy Boxing Commissioner Bobby Bower. Bobby is the future of Ring 4 and will continue to build on the work I have done with many others. I am proud of how this organization has always been there for so many. We saw to it that both Jake Kilrain and Sam Langford had headstones placed at their graves. We are always there for each other. I also take great pride in knowing I have brought this club to its proper place, and that the members treat it. and each other with respect and dignity. I will not tolerate anything less. Also, I get a kick out of the fact that my name is the answer to a trivia question. I am the only person to have been president of three different rings. Rings 4, 7, and 99." Ring 4 is lucky to have a man such as Mickey at the helm. We are all lucky to have him as a friend. As world-class referee Dick Flaherty said at this year's banquet, "With Mickey it was never about Mickey, it was always about Ring 4." How very true. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss A LAST CHANCE FoR CHRIS BOURQUE? -- He's 28 now and in a sport where youth does matter, his age is getting a little north of the median. But Chris Bourque, one of two hockey-playing sons of former Bruins star defense- man Ray Bourque, will be back in the National Hockey League come fall after sign- ing a contract with the New York Rangers. He'll be attempting to jump start a career that has never really gotten under way at the top level but has been superb in the AHL. There have been two Chris Bourques in reality. There's the flashy forward that has scored 142 goals and has added 291 assists for 433 total points to go with an eye- popping plus 54 rating in 437 games in the American Hockey League. In the 2011-2012 season, for example, he led the AHL in assists (66) and in total points (93) en route to being named to the AHL All-Star Team. And he knows how to raise a cup -- as in the Calder Cup -- the trophy emblematic of the AHL Championship. Chris did that at the end of three separate seasons -- in the springs of 2006, 2009 and 2010 while playing for the Hershey Bears. In fact, dur- ing that third one back in 2010 he had a magnificent run, scoring seven goals and adding 20 assists for 27 points in 21 playoff games. That per- formance earned him the AHL Playoffs MVP trophy. But then there's the other Chris Bourque -- the NHL Chris Bourque. In 51 career NHL games with Washington, Pittsburgh and the Bruins, he has scored just two goals and assisted on six others for eight points. He spent the 2013-2014 season playing for two teams overseas where he had 12 goals and 11 as- sists in 45 total games (regu- lar season and postseason combined). So, ff the Rangers really did acquire the AHL Chris Bourque then the Blueshirts will definitely have a quality player up front. But if the former NHL Chris Bourque repeats himself, then it will be a downward spiral once more -- perhaps for a final time. IN MEMORIAM -- Remem- bering veteran Boston area sportswriter Bill Kipouras who passed away at his home in Peabody on July 2"d. Bill wrote for the Boston Herald Traveler for 17 years and later worked for the Salem News from 1974 until his retire- ment in 2010. Although Bill covered the pros when he worked in the Hub, his spe- cialty was the high school sports beat, first at the Her- a/d and later at Sa/errL He was 74. Also recalling Boston Herald sports columnist George Kimball on the third anniver- sary of his passing (July 6, 2011). George was a writer who loved the "sweet science" of boxing and wrote about it frequently. He was 67 when he died of cancer. In addition, it was 75 years ago this month (July 4, 1939) that New York Yankee star Lou Gehrig delivered his famous "luckiest man" speech at home plate in Yan- kee Stadium. His comments came less than a month af- ter a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, the disease prob- ably had begun to manifest itself much earlier. That would mean that Gehrig played the 1938 season, one in which he hit .295 with 29 home runs and 114 RBIs, while suffering from the ill- ness. He was best known for playing in a record 2,130 games in a row, a mark that stood until 1995 when it was broken by Cal Ripken -- whose streak eventually extended to 2,632 games. According to USA Today Sports Weekly, which featured an eight-page tribute to Geh- rig earlier this month, the New York City native deliv- ered his comments extempo- raneously, speaking from the heart and without notes. The most famous sentence was the second: "Today I con- sider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ball parks for 17 years and have never received anything but kind- ness and encouragement from you fans." Less than two years later (June 2, 1941) Gehrig would die from the complications of the disease -- an illness that still has no cure in 2014. For many decades ALS would be known in America as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Only in the last couple of decades, as Gehrig's prominence some- what receded with time, has the medically accurate term ALS come to the forefront. In a full-page ad in the tribute section of USA Today Sports Weekly, the ALS Asso- ciation noted that "someday we'll be able to name a cure after Lou Gehrig instead of a disease." May that day arrive as soon as possible. MAYBE WINTER NEVER LEFT -- That could be true in the minds of some people. After all, Lake Superior was not declared ice free this year until June 7th -- but that was via a satellite image. Some people said there were still small chunks of ice floating around in the world's largest freshwater lake that the sat- ellite didn't pick up. Which reminds us of the scene we witnessed near the Oak Grove T station over the Fourth of July weekend. We stopped at an intersection, only to see a pickup truck pass in front of us with com- plete snowplow apparatus at- tached. All the driver had to do was lower the blade a couple of feet to make contact with the pavement. Some- how, it seemed so out of sea- son. But hey, what's that old adage: "If you don't like the weather in New England wait a minute." Maybe the driver of the pickup was a true believer in-that statement: