Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ME ‘n ELVIS by Bill O'neill

This article reprinted here with the expressed permission of author Bill O'Neill

by Bill O’Neill
Did I ever tell ya’ll about my momentous, in-person meeting with Elvis Presley—the King of Rock ‘n Roll, himself?

Well, it happened at an arena called The Forum, in Inglewood, CA, on either Feb.15, 1970, or Feb. 28, 1973. Those were the dates of the two meetings between the great welterweight champion, Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles, and a crowd-pleasing battler from the Los Angeles area, Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez. I was there in the capacity of boxing writer, covering the fight for a couple of local newspapers. And Elvis was there as a spectator and fan, surrounded by his retinue of four or five good-ole-boy "bodyguards" known jokingly as the Memphis Mafia.

It appeared that Elvis may have been going incognito that evening, in that he was wearing spectacular, wrap-around dark glasses. However, the white "ice cream suit" he was wearing, combined with the presence of his phalanx of yes-man cronies, was a dead giveaway that he was somebody special.

Shortly after the bout ended, I walked into the dressing room area to gather post-fight comments. I jotted down a few quotes, then stepped into the "water closet" to take care of some business. And when I turned to leave, there he was, the Great Man himself, waiting his turn at the urinal. We came within inches of bumping into each other. I nodded, and so did he. My first impression was that he was a much larger man than I had previously thought. He probably went about six-foot-three, to begin with; and the high-heeled boots he was wearing sent him right on up into the altitude of the Los Angeles Lakers, who claimed the Forum as their home court in those days.

But that wasn’t the extent of our impromptu meeting. Ever the inquiring reporter, I spotted Promoter Don Fraser standing nearby and asked him to introduce me to Mr. Presley. And he did so, somewhat reluctantly.

I’m not sure exactly what I said to Elvis; but I think I probably blurted out that he and I were almost exactly the same age, that I was also a Southern boy, that I was a fan of his, and considered him to be a good American.

Elvis looked me briefly in the eye, gave me that lop-sided, one-corner-of-the-mouth smile, and uttered those immortal words for which he was justifiably famous.
He said, or at least mumbled those famous words:


brian said...

...sounds like Kid Galahad posing as Elvis..

Randy De La O said...

My brother Dennis and I have both been big fans od Elvis since we were kids. One of my regrets (on an entertaiment level anyway) is that I never saw Elvis perform live.

......You gotta love Elvis as Kid Galahad!

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