Matchmaker and New York character extraordinaire Johnny Bos died May 11. Traditionally in our business, we will write about someone's death and then, a few days after, run one or two follow-ups about that person, if he or she was newsworthy. I've never been quite right with that structure. It's as if we have a quota to adhere to.
I'm here to admit that Bos' death is still on my mind, and I find I am not alone. He was a powerful persona in the game, within a tight sphere. Bos, who was 61, had an XL personality, was charismatic and passionate about the sport, and could push buttons on you.
One of his most enduring relationships, in the adviser-to-boxer realm, was with Queens native Chris "The Mechanic" Smith. Smith last fought in 2008 and finished with a 21-6-1 record. I chatted with him on the phone Thursday, and we shared memories about Bos. I asked Smith for his favorite anecdote about Bos. He paused, and it was clear he was having a hard time choosing one. "He used to tell me he was proud of me, and not for boxing," Smith said. "It was about not doing stuff, about staying in school. He wanted me to be successful. He was more like family, because you'll have a squabble with family and then always come back to each other."
HBO analyst Max Kellerman spent a good deal of time with Bos back in the day. Bos, a Sunset Park, Brooklyn, native moved to Florida in 2008, but Kellerman, a Manhattan native, will not soon forget the trail he blazed. He recalled that he and his little brother Sam would talk boxing in Johnny's bachelor pad, which was often decorated with laundry, and boxing memorabilia, strewn about.
"He was one of those guys, and Bert Sugar was another, I used to tell Brian Kenny [who hosted 'Friday Night Fights' with Kellerman] that when I was around them, that was the good old days," he said.
Bos had battled heart issues for about 20 years, but still, Kellerman said, Bos' death got to him.
It's been a brutal run the past couple of years, with some of the people most passionate about the sport, including Angelo Dundee, Sugar, Emanuel Steward and Bos, leaving us.