Former fighters get a tremendous kick out of the annual induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. It’s a thrill to be reminded that, in the minds of many hardcore fans, you are still a marquee name. And you're still a champ, even if the belly protrudes over your waistband a bit more and your hairline isn’t what it used to be.
So it was on Sunday, June 9, for inductee Mills Lane, the referee known for his stern demeanor which insured fighters would be on their best behavior when he was the third man. OK, apart from that one time when Mike Tyson got hungry.
Lane, 76, voted into the hall last December, made the trek from Manhattan to a town just east of Syracuse with wife Kaye, and sons Terry and Tommy.
Lane had a stroke in 2002, and is still affected by the incident. His family wasn’t certain he could make the trip, or how it would go if he did. I asked son Terry how the trip went. “It went great,” he said. “It blew my expectations out of the water. We were still unsure how my dad would do throughout the weekend, but he had a ball. He particularly loved seeing some of the old fighters he used to work with, Marvin Hagler and Danny Lopez in particular. Although he can't express how he feels with words, you can tell just by looking at his face that he was extremely honored and happy. This was very much needed for him and my family.”
Last April, Mills fell and broke his hip. He spent two months in hospitals and rehab facilities and nobody knew if he would stand, much less walk, ever again. “It was an awful time,” Terry said. “He was released from the rehab facility just about a year ago exactly. To think where we were then, I would've never have expected that we would have this happiness a year later.”