Late Herald boxing writer George Kimball to get his Hall of Fame due

In June 2021, almost 10 years after his death, George Kimball will receive boxing’s highest honor.
Kimball, who covered boxing at The Herald for 25 years, is part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s 2021 class of inductees.
Kimball will be inducted in the “Observer” category, along with the late Jay Larkin, a Showtime executive.
The class also includes former world champions Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Ward, Wladimir Klitschko, Laila Ali and Ann Wolfe in the men and women’s modern categories, plus Davey Moore, a former featherweight champion in the Old Timer category and Jackie Tonawanda and Miriam Trimiar in the women’s Trailblazer category. Trainer and cutman Freddie Brown, trainer Jackie McCoy and ringside physician Margaret Goodman will also be inducted on the weekend of June 10-13 in Canastota, New York.
“Kimball came of age in a time which manufactured people like him, and I’m not confident that sort of age is returning,” said Michael J. Woods, who writes for and is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, which votes on the IBHOF inductees. “So, I voted for him to enter the Hall of Fame, and I encourage any youngster reading this, do some Googling and find some more superb stories by and about George Kimball. And if you are thinking of maybe going into sports journalism, consider absorbing some of those traits that made him a king among wordsmiths.”
After working as the sports editor at the Boston Phoenix, Kimball joined the Herald’s staff in 1979. He covered 400 world title fights and wrote a weekly boxing column that the Herald published on Sundays.
He left the Herald in 2005 and continued to write about boxing for The Irish Times, The Sweet Science and ESPN. In 1986, he won the BWAA’s Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism. Kimball died on July 6, 2011, from esophageal cancer.
His early days at the Herald coincided with the four-way rivalry between Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. He wrote a book about that rivalry, “Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing.” It was one of eight books he authored.
“He was a great boxing writer,” said Joe Lake, who trained former IBA middleweight champion Dana Rosenblatt of Malden. “I loved his book, ‘Four Kings.’”
Said Rosenblatt, “George was always very discerning about what he wrote. He always had the information that other writers did not and that’s what made George George.”
Ron Borges covered boxing at the Globe for 25 years, coinciding with Kimball’s time at the Herald, before going to the Herald after Kimball left.
“George was a character,” Borges said. “We were competitors and we both took that seriously. He was a terrific writer. He knew everyone in boxing.
“At the time, there were maybe six, eight, 10 of us who went to all the big fights. There were only six of us in Japan for the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas fight. The Globe sent me because they knew the Herald would send him and the Herald sent him because they knew the Globe would send me.
“I’m happy for his family that he got in. I wish there were some way he could have gotten in when he was still alive.”
While Kimball covered many big fights, he also paid plenty of attention to the local scene. Sometimes how Kimball got the job done was a story in itself.
“He was covering a fight at Madison Square Garden,” said former Herald copy editor Nate Dow. “He had checked in with me on the sports desk during the undercard when he filed a story to plug his column. He said he would get back to me in an hour or two when the fight was over. It ended but I didn’t hear from him.
“As it turns out, George, a chain smoker, had gone looking for a place to have a butt before the main event. He found what he thought was a utility closet off one of the hallways. Cigarette in mouth, he stepped inside the door and began to spark the lighter, only to realize he had in fact just stepped into an elevator shaft. He fell a few feet, before one of his legs caught in a ladder on the wall, flipping him upside down. In the process, he had dropped his cell phone, so he hung there for a few minutes until somebody could hear him yelling.
“When he finally called me from the hospital where he was being treated for a broken leg, George relayed the story to me. I told him it was a good thing somebody heard him yelling, and it was bad luck that he had dropped his phone. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I didn’t drop the cigarette or the lighter, and I was dying for a smoke so …’ I started laughing. Just the image of him hanging there like a bat, puffing on a cigarette, was classic George.”
“He didn’t care if it was a kid making his pro debut in a four-round fight at The Roxy or John Ruiz fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world, he took it just as seriously,” said publicist Bob Trieger, who represented Ruiz and former World Boxing Union junior welterweight champion Micky Ward. “He was really good at his craft.”
Said Patriot Ledger writer Jay N. Miller, “George had a real blue-collar sensibility with the way he covered it. He kept an interest in the local fighters.”
Said former World Boxing Association welterweight and super welterweight champion Jose Antonio Rivera of Worcester, “George Kimball fought to give a voice to boxing in New England and gained national recognition. He was well-respected by his peers and the boxers and athletes he wrote about.”
What he wrote didn’t always sit well with the subjects of his work, but they had a hard time staying mad at him.
“Over time we became friends,” said Rich Cappiello, who promoted more than 150 shows in the Boston area over the course of 25 years. “Regardless of the friendship, he still did what he felt was best for the business. He never let anything personal get in the way of doing his job. He always kept it real and always told it like it was, which he needed to do to have credibility.”
Said Woods: “George wasn’t much for settling, for capitulating, for choosing to not speak truth to power when the opportunity and need arose.”

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