Andy Watters files his final postcard from New York
JIMMY’S CORNER, my final stop in New York before leaving last Sunday, was a quick pilgrimage from Brooklyn into Manhattan to seek out a boxing Mecca.
Jimmy’s Corner on 44th Street is Jimmy Glenn’s place and Jimmy Glenn is a genuine NYC boxing legend - friend of Ali, trainer of Floyd Patterson and cut man for Mike Tyson and many other stellar names. His bar is an island of calm round the corner from the technicolor wonderland of Times Square.
It’s nothing fancy. Jazz tinkles soothingly in the background as regulars sup beers in the narrow front bar that leads to the lounge and out to restrooms at the back that are covered with hastily scrawled names of fight fans from around the globe who’ve also made their way here to see the place and, if they’re lucky, get to meet Jimmy.
It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of boxing memorabilia. Fight posters - Hearns v Hagler, Tyson v Holyfield, Ali v Frazier - and photos of the greats, from Sugar Ray Leonard to Carmen Basilio and Arturo Gatti, adorn the walls from the floor to the rafters. Muhammad Ali was a regular visitor.
‘The Greatest’ called in when he was in town to shoot the breeze with Jimmy, who was in Floyd Patterson’s corner when he fought the champ for the heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden in 1972. That turned out to be Patterson’s last fight, but Jimmy was involved in plenty more - he also trained Terence Ali and Mark McPherson, but is better known as a cut man.
“It’s hard to keep track because he’s worked with a lot of people,” said Jimmy’s grandson Kareem, who was tending the bar.
“He worked in Tyson’s corner, Pacquaio’s corner, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya… Hey, I can’t remember all the names.”
Unfortunately, the great man wasn’t there when I dropped in - he comes in at night for a drink and a chat with the customers - but Kareem explained some of its history: “Jimmy’s had this place for 43 years now,” he said.
“He used to run a pretty famous gym two blocks from here - the Times Square Gym. Ali came here and Joe Frazier but, mostly when they came here, it wasn’t for a drink, it was to say hello to Jimmy. We get boxing fans from all over coming here, especially if there’s a big fight at Madison Square Garden.
"Before and after, we’ll get a lot of fight fans in because they like the ambience of the place.”
Did he watch Frampton and Santa Cruz?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” said Kareem, “he watches all the big fights.”
Some day soon, ‘the Jackal’ will have his picture on the wall in the pantheon of boxing greats.