Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jack Obermayer, Legendary Boxing Scribe, Passes at 72!

Jack Obermayer, a long-time and award-winning boxing scribe for more than 50 years, passed away from liver cancer on Saturday, June 25 at his home in Lindenwold, NJ.  He was 72 years old.

From the first time he wrote about a boxing card (Muhammad Ali vs. Doug Jones on March 13, 1963), Mr. Obermayer would attended 3,514 cards in 49 states (only Alaska did not have the pleasure of his company) and visit more than 400 cities, including the Beltway on countless occasions.

"KO-JO" as Mr. Obermayer was known, wrote for a number of publications during his tenure, including Ring Magazine, Boxing Illustrated/Boxing Digest and USA Boxing News.  His "KO-JO Says" column would chronicle his travels and his favorite diners along the way.

Mr. Obermayer, a native of Staten Island, NY who was a Vietnam War veteran, was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame this year.  He also was the recipient of the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2010.

He is survived by a daughter, Ellen Kaplan, 44, and two granddaughters, Alexis Clawans, 18 and Sydney Clawans, 15. Obermayer had been living with Darlene Dontonville for the past 16 years.

The viewing will be held on Thursday at the Harmon Funeral Home at 571 Forest Avenue in Staten Island, New York from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. There will be a Friday funeral mass at 10:30 a.m., also in Staten Island with the location details to follow.

So, you may ask why Jack Obermayer, who is not from the Beltway, included here.  Two reasons.  One, Jack was a dear friend and in many ways, a mentor to me.  And two:  His writing and coverage of many bouts in the Beltway area helped us establish a media base in the boxing business well before Boxing Along The Beltway was even thought of.

I first met Jack in the mid-80's covering cards in DC.  From the very start, Jack was incredible to me with great conversation, stories and giving away the latest copies of magazines and newsletters that included his stories.  Jack, along with his right hand man, JR Jowett, were a duo that I always look forward to seeing at a show and they would come to the club shows as well as the big shows in the Beltway area and that helped establish my mindset about covering local cards going forward.

This picture was taken in November of 2014 at the Jonathan Ogden Foundation Boxing card at Martin's Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, MD.  It was a reunion of myself and the four guys I spent covering boxing in the Beltway in the eighties and early 90's.  From left to right: (Eric Bottjer, who actually was doing a print version of this blog during that time and is now one of the top matchmakers in boxing; Jack, JR Jowett,  (seated) who is still going strong writing about amateur and pro boxing; John Scheinman, who was a legendary boxing writer and now an Eclipse-Award winning horse racing writer; and me.  To Jack, we all had nicknames -- Eric was "The Creep," JR was "Jowett-Boy, John was "The Midge" or "Scheinie."  I was "Dig."

Jack made his last trip to the Beltway on May 14 for a card in Timonium, MD.  His last overall assignment was in Bristol, PA on June 4.  The main event featured a Beltway Boxer as Lenwood Dozier lost a six-round unanimous decision to Derrick Webster.

Jack was a wonderful person who was so important to this business.  No card was too big or too small for him to cover.  I couldn't begin to count the number of world champions he saw in person.  He will be missed terribly by me and the numerous boxing writers around the country who learned from him and was fortunate enough to laugh with him.  Thank you for everything, Jack!

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