On a Wednesday night in November 1987, at the Larry Holmes Commodore Inn on U.S. 22 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, friends and relatives of the proprietor gathered in a ballroom for a surprise birthday party.
Holmes, who had turned thirty-eight, had come straight from his workout at the Larry Holmes Training Center in nearby Easton, Pennsylvania, thinking he was about to deliver an antidrug speech to a local youth group.
When the former heavyweight champion, dressed in a black Stetson, black satin jacket, and denims, stepped through the dimly lighted ballroom doorway, he heard the cry of "Surprise!" Momentarily transfixed, he tried to cover his sheepish smile with his hand.
While the motel at which the approximately 150 invited guests had gathered was part of Holmes's expanding business portfolio, the crowd--which included Holmes's wife, Diane, and his four children, Misty, nineteen, Lisa, eighteen, Kandy, seven, and Larry Jr., five--had come to honor not the young entrepreneur but the old fighter of the same name.
At each table a single pink rose blossomed from the grip of