BOXING: Tributes to a Fine Man Who Loved Boxing

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), June 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

BOXING: Tributes to a Fine Man Who Loved Boxing


STUNNED disbelief gradually fading to a dull realisation that never again would my phone ring off and a warm Belfast voice say: "Alright, Muuretn, how's it going, good. Now listena" invariably followed by a right royal rollicking and a stern demand that I write a story about his beloved boxers is my reaction to news of my friend Joe Montague's tragic death.

Joe demanded respect but, once you accepted HE was the real gaffer, he was a lovely man, whose sparkling wit, enthusiasm, belief and sheer love of boxing, despite being only too well aware of the less savoury sides of the sport, made him a pleasure to know, despite our many rows.

I just hope I haven't got too many things wrong because I know he'll be waiting up there to rip into me when we meet again!

The memory that makes me smile the most personally is the last Christmas edition of Boxing News when my name was included on the list of freelance contributors.

I was second bottom on the list while Bob Mee, who covered boxing for many years at the Coventry Evening Telegraph until he had to give it up because he graduated to the post of boxing correspondent at the Daily Telegraph, was second top.

Joe ribbed me mercilessly about this (I was childishly delighted just to be on the list!) and compared it to the boxing ranking system, calling me the "New Bob Mee".

I'll never be as good at boxing writing as Bob but it's largely down to Joe that I've earned my small foothold in the boxing world and I thank him for that.

My phone didn't stop ringing last night as some of the most respected people in the boxing world made a point of paying tribute. Here are some of their words.

JESS HARDING (AUDLEY HARRISON'S PROMOTER)

"I really liked Joe, without him the Coventry boxing scene wouldn't have happened. I just can't imagine why anyone would want to kill him.

"For three years, from 1998-2001, I promoted shows in Coventry with Joe supplying all the Coventry boxers and it was a fantastic period in my boxing career. …

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