Friday, November 27, 2009

Jerry Quarry at Peace

This photo was taken at the memorial service for the heavyweight boxer Jerry Quarry.  I was there as a guest
 of the Quarry family, having become friends with Jerry’s older brother James, who hired me to develop The Jerry Quarry Foundation web site.

When I was growing up, Irish Jerry Quarry was one of my heroes.  He competed in a field of brilliant fighters that included Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Ron Lyle, Jimmy Ellis, George Foreman and others, during one of the sport’s best and most competitive eras.  Among the most popular boxers of the day, Jerry was a smart, classy fighter and a dangerous counter puncher with a granite chin.

For all his talent however, Jerry was also an insecure, erratic, and at times foolhardy competitor, who lacked the training discipline to back up the risks he took in the ring.  A crowd pleaser with a tragic personal life, Jerry never won the world championship, but during his prime, he lost only to the best. When George Foreman returned to boxing and regained a world championship at the age of 45, Jerry attempted his own comeback. His last fight, in 1992, left him impaired with the onset of Alzheimer’s. 

I never got to meet Jerry.  By the time I was involved, he was too ill to carry on a conversation. He died in 1999.  The funeral was a certified celebrity and media event.  I met a number of Jerry’s old foes, who had long since bonded as friends, including Mac Foster and Joey Orbillo, as well as the actor-boxer Mickey Rourke, whom Jerry helped train.

After the service, I stayed behind.  As the guests filed out, I was struck by the tranquility of the scene, and took this photo.  In it, you can see the many flowers as well as stacks of Coca-cola, Jerry’s favorite drink, and the shamrock wreath entitled “Champ”, sent by Muhammad Ali.

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