Jockbeat: José Torres, Friend to the Voice
Author, boxing official, champion prize fighter, and friend to the Voice José Torres died of a heart attack on Monday, January 19, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. RIchard Goldstein has a lengthy obit at the Times.
Torres's Sting like A Bee: The Muhammad Ali Story, published in 1971 with a preface by Norman Mailer, is one of the ten best boxing books I've ever read. Through his friendship with Mailer, Pete Hamill, and Jack Newfield, Torres was a longtime supporter of the Voice and always willing to supply a quote or give an insight to a writer in need of one. As chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1984-1988, Torres never failed to return a phone call or to answer a tough question.
There was, however, a brief tussle between Torres and the Voice that, in the interests of full disclosure, should be mentioned here. In 1988, we criticized José for cheerleading at ringside for Mike Tyson - who was managed and trained by Torres's own mentor, Cus D'Amato - while heading the state's athletic commission, a practice we thought to be a clear conflict of interest. Shortly after, we wrote about this, Torres resigned from the commission. (A year later, his book, Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, was published.) It took us about a year to reestablish relations, but Torres held no grudge and continued to be a valuable source on issues relating to the fight game.
On a personal note, I was the one who wrote the item that offended him, but he grinned and threw a mock jab in the air at me before autographing my copy of Sting Like A Bee. Then he told me it had better not end up at The Strand.
Descansar en paz.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.