LA Story: Positively Vine Street
He’s no Justin Bieber, but Bob Dylan, the exemplary old troubadour, visited Manny Pacquiao yesterday at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles yesterday to pay his respects.
Dylan has been blandly called a “boxing fan,” which hardly begins to describe Dylan’s connection to the sport of sports.
A glance at his discography is enough to put the words “boxing fan” to shame. In 1963 he composed “Who Killed Davey Moore?” in the aftermath of the Springfield Rifle’s fatal match with Sugar Ramos. In 1966 he composed “Hurricane,” on the case of imprisoned middleweight contender Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.
But Dylan is no boxing dilettante. He has a private boxing gym in LA and has traded punches with, among others, Will Smith and Mickey Rourke.
Quentin Tarantino, the renegade director, had the privilege of going a few rounds with Dylan.
“He wanted to play hard,” recalled Tarantino, “and he nailed me with a really good one. We were sparring together, and he got one in there when I wasn’t paying attention. I think it was a right jab. I let my guard down for a minute, and he just thumped it in… It was a good punch.”
Gina Gershon, who was preparing for a movie, also climbed through the ropes to exchange with the master.
“I watched a lot of Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood movies to get that kind of feeling of that maleness,” she said, “those who don’t show anything. I started boxing to get that distance and to get muscles. It was really wild because my boxing partner ended up being Bob Dylan! I hit him so hard and I thought, ‘Oh my god! I just hit Bob Dylan!’ and he was, ‘Oh, no, it’s okay. I need a good woman to do this every now and then.’”
To those that think Dylan only laced up gloves against showbiz types, former lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini sets the record straight.
“Bob has his own private gym,” he told Boxing.com’s Gordon Marino. “Best gym I’ve ever been in. On the wall there are pictures of Joe Louis, Ali, Frazier, Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones. The heavyweights of boxing and music. First time I was over there we were sparring and just to keep him honest I would tap him with a left or right. After a couple of rounds, Bob said, ‘Hey Ray. Could you take it a little easy on the head? I have a few songs left in there.’ I was like oh no—are you kidding? Sorry. But he was only joking. He wasn’t real fast or strong but he had his own way of moving and could get it done. Afterwards, we would always sit around and talk about the fights. He really knows his boxing. He loved Benny Leonard, Carlos Monzon, both Ali and Frazier.”
If that makes Dylan a “boxing fan,” I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.