There’s not a lot to admire in modern sports, with “heroes” failing us at every turn, and scandals galore. Boxing, the fight game of the 20th century had one gem that did not fade: Arthur Mercante, Sr. I profiled Mercante in this post in 2007: Inside the Ropes: Mercante tells his story.
The New York Times announced this morning that the final bell has tolled on Mercante’s life:
Arthur Mercante Sr., boxing’s most prominent referee of the past half-century and a presence at more than 140 championship boxing matches, including the 1971 Ali-Frazier “Fight of the Century,” died on Saturday at his home in Westbury, N.Y. He was 90.
Referee Arthur Marcante directed Joe Frazier to the ropes after Frazier knocked down Muhammad Ali during the 15th round of their 1971 fight.
His death was announced by the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Mr. Mercante’s career reads like a who’s who of boxing history. He refereed many of the greats. From my review:
Mercante was "inside the ropes" for some of my greatest boxing memories, including some of the best known championship bouts of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Arguello, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Wilfredo Gomez, Donald Curry, Tommy Hearns, Hagler, Hector Camacho, Fenech, Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, Buddy McGirt, Roy Jones Jr, and Lennox Lewis.
If you are a boxing fan, or a student of fight history, you’ll join me in celebration of his career, and regret at his passing.