Friday, January 30, 2015

Cedric Kushner, Noted Boxing Promoter, Passes!

Another one of the good people in the sport of boxing has left us.  Legendary boxing promoter Cedric Kushner passed away from a heart attack on January 29.  Mr. Kushner was 66.

Mr. Kushner, a native of South Africa, began business life as a very successful concert promoter, working for such successful acts as Fleetwood Mac, Journey and The Rolling Stones.  Once he made the transition to boxing, he continued to have success, especially promoting in the heavyweight division.  Mr. Kushner created the "Heavyweight Explosion" series and the "Thunderbox Fistful of Dollars" tournament.

The Thunderbox series was one of Mr. Kushner's connections to the Beltway region.  DC heavyweight Tony Thompson made it to the finals of the tournament, losing by decision to Maurice Harris. The ring announcer was Henry "Discombobulating" Jones and the blow-by-blow announcer for the tourney was the current play-by-play announcer for the Washington Pro Football Team, Larry Michael.

Mr. Kushner also promoted two of the Beltway's all-time greats. One was three-time world champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson.  Kushner gave the go-ahead for Johnson to make his first IBF Flyweight title defense in Washington, DC in February of 1998 at the DC Armory.  Johnson took a $30,000 hit in his purse to have the bout held at the Armory and Mr. Kushner really didn't think the card (which was televised by ESPN2) would do well.  The card, however, drew a raucous crowd of 10,000 as Johnson knocked out Arthur Johnson in the first round.

Mr. Kushner was the promoter of record of undisputed world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman when he pulled off one of the great upsets in boxing history, his knockout of Lennox Lewis in April of 2001.  Mr. Kushner was about to sign Rahman to a contract extension, however, Don King came in and signed Rahman.

Also, Mr. Kushner gave this reporter one of the first interviews he ever had with a major league boxing promoter.   I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Kushner during his time with Johnson for the "Boxing Spotlight" program.  I have never forgotten that Hitchcock-like voice of his and also how incredibly generous he was with his time.

Cedric Kushner was an exceptional figure in the boxing business and he will truly be missed.

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