I took this book off the bookshelf this morning. "The Uncrowned Champion" by Joey Giambra & Fred Villani. It was autographed by Joey Giambra. It was not autographed personally to me. I bought it a few years back on Amazon. I'm going to read it again starting tonight.
I only met Mr. Giambra once and it was almost forty-two years ago but he left a big impression on me. Some people you meet and the memory is fleeting, others, for whatever reason, stay with you forever. Joey Giambra stayed with me.
He was in his mid forties when we met. He still looked formidable and in good shape. We were introduced by my trainer Mel Epstein. Mel knew everyone from the glory days of boxing. I did not have a sense of history, boxing or otherwise, at that time, but as time passed I became more familiar with the man I met.
"He's going to referee your fight tonight!" Said Mel. "Oh" Says I. We sat down and had lunch and talked for a while. He was warm, well mannered and treated me like a professional athlete, despite the fact that it was only my second fight. I appreciated that. He had a friendly smile on his face. That more than anything is what I remember.
Adios Mr. Giambra and Rest in Peace! It was my everlasting honor to meet you and shake your hand.