Bob Arum: 80 Years Young

By Robert Ecksel on December 8, 2011
Bob Arum: 80 Years Young
Arum tends to say what's on his mind, but his loose lips have sunk no ships (Robert Ecksel)

Looking back over the last half-century, who could have imagined he’d be where he is today?

Bob Arum was born in New York City on Dec. 8, 1931. He grew up in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn and attended New York University and Harvard Law School.

Before he got involved in boxing, Arum worked as an attorney in Bobby Kennedy’s Dept. of Justice. One thing led to another, as it often does but sometimes does not, and he found himself promoting fights on the mid-1960s.

The omega to Don King’s alpha, the yin to King’s yang, Arum become became a driving force in the sport. Rather than focus on the heavyweights, on which King had a lock (and threw away the key), Arum had the foresight to concentrate on the lower weight classes, and ended up promoting iconic bouts like Hagler-Hearns, Hagler-Duran, and Hagler-Leonard.

While King did his thing and never learned how to properly delegate, Arum created a cohesive promotional entity to carry on the fight. He promoted bouts featuring Muhammad Ali, Alexis Arguello, Donald Curry, Michael Carbajal, Oscar De La Hoya, George Forman, Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and many, many others.

And he’s is still going strong.

Bob Arum’s career has not been shenanigan free, he’s been accused of this, that, and the other thing, but what boxing promoter hasn’t? It’s boxing after all. Those who want rosebuds and celestial music need to find themselves another sport.

Arum speaks his mind, a tendency that has grown over the years, but his loose lips have sunk no ships (but have gotten him into trouble on occasion).

But a birthday is a birthday is a birthday, and we don’t need any surprises, a la Some Like It Hot, jumping out of the birthday boy’s cake.

“I’m just thankful to the Lord,” said Arum Sunday morning in New York City. “A real milestone, because I never really pay much attention to birthdays. But the big 8-0 is the big 8-0. King made it earlier in the year, and you know, he is not going to out-do me.”

Arum may have been joking, but make no mistake about it: the competitive juices are still flowing. 

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