RIP, Tom Lovgren

By Pete Ehrmann on September 28, 2017
RIP, Tom Lovgren
Lovgren helped promote Stander’s heavyweight title fight against champion Joe Frazier.

“I consider the years we spent promoting professional boxing as some of the most fun years of our entire life…”

Tom Lovgren bought his first copy of The Ring magazine in 1951 at Neary’s Drug Store in Sheldon, Iowa. A dismal foray into the amateur ring a few years later sparked the realization that “for me to continue in boxing with any success it would have to be as anything other than a boxer.”

After Lovgren moved to Omaha in 1956 he started writing up the local fistic news for The Ring and chronicling the history of Cornhusker State boxing. Later he, his wife Jeaninne and their four sons promoted club shows around the Midwest. “My family and I consider the years we spent promoting professional boxing as some of the most fun years of our entire life,” he said.

All this I recounted a decade ago in a piece titled “Nebraska’s Nat Fleischer,” which aptly describes Tom Lovgren’s status right up to his death August 29 at age 78, after a 48-year battle with multiple sclerosis as stirring as any his good friend Ron Stander ever put up in the ring. (Lovgren helped promote Stander’s 1972 heavyweight title fight against champion Joe Frazier.)

Two things kept him in the fight so long.

“Now I need help feeding myself,” he wrote me a few years ago, “and I am slowly losing vision. (But) I am not looking for pity because I have a great wife who does more to help me than any man deserves.”

The other was an impregnable sense of humor. Some years back a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald doing a piece about Mixed Martial Arts telephoned Tom for his opinion about the burgeoning sport. The resulting article quoted him correctly, Tom related in an email, but he was taken aback by a sentence that said, “The aging Lovgren is Omaha’s resident boxing historian.”

“I could not figure out how he came to the conclusion that I was ‘the aging Lovgren,’” wrote Tom. “That may well be the case, but I was surprised to see it in print from a guy who, to my knowledge, has never seen me. It’s hell to get old.”

It was disingenuous, since I knew Tom myself only through sporadic phone calls and correspondence, but I couldn’t help firing a letter off to the World Herald that I stand by today:

“Sportswriter Nick Rubek’s piece about Ultimate Fighting was enlivened by several quotes from Tom Lovgren, correctly identified as ‘Omaha’s resident boxing historian.’ But Mr. Rubek’s description of him as ‘the aging Lovgren’ was an odd and blatant editorial rabbit punch. To begin with, who isn’t aging? Secondly, everybody who knows Lovgren would call him ‘ageless,’ not the other. His contributions to boxing will live long after the aging Nick Rubek is gone.”

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  1. Jeaninne Lovgren 10:57pm, 02/27/2018

    This is the first time I became aware of this site.  I am so pleased that Pete Ehrmann wrote this about Tom.  That is so nice of Pete. Being married to Tom for 56 years was super!!

  2. Bob 12:05am, 09/28/2017

    I had the pleasure of meeting Tom about 12 years ago in Omaha. He was so enthusiastic talking boxing, especially as it related to the Joe Frazier-Ron Stander fight. He was a very nice man and a credit to the boxing game. I extend my condolences to his friends and family.

  3. Korla Pandit 07:20am, 09/27/2017

    Talk about fighting the good fight…..48 years going at it with MS! This great tribute says plenty about the writer too!

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