The Void and George Kimball

By Robert Ecksel on July 7, 2011
The Void and George Kimball
Kimball was a rumpled, gnarly bear of a man, the wayward son of a career Army officer

A boxing legend, George Kimball, passed away at his Manhattan home Wednesday night. He was 67 years old.

Kimball may have been the last of the great boxing writers. He was old school, newspaper trained and nurtured. He was a different breed of cat who didn’t suffer fools gladly. He loved life, but was a serious man with serious objectives.

Kimball was sports editor and covered boxing for the Boston Phoenix, a lively alternative newspaper, before he was hired by the Boston Herald, where he wrote about boxing for 25 years.

He authored or co-authored four books: Kimball’s classic, “Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing,” which was published in 2008 and strode into the canon; “Manly Art: They can run—but they can’t hide”; “At The Fights: American Writers on Boxing”; and “The Fighter Still Remains: A Celebration of Boxing in Poetry and Song from Ali to Zevon.”

Kimball was a rumpled, gnarly bear of a man. The wayward son of a career Army officer, he was all for law and order, but wasn’t your typical law and order guy. He believed in right and wrong—there was something Old Testament about Kimball—and he was pure counterculture.

An energetic, restless character, Kimball moved between Manhattan, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, and Ireland the way most us move from chair to sofa.

Kimball knew there were two ways to do things—his way, the right way, or the wrong way. That applied to the way he lived: fully, morally, totally engaged. It also applied to his writing. 

Kimball had other interests besides boxing. Boxing was the bread on which he spread his butter, but his erudition was broad and wide ranging.

Recognized as one of the premier boxing writers of his generation, in 1985, while still a pup, Kimball was awarded the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Writing from the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Kimball’s absence leaves a void not to be filled. These are different times, it’s a whole new world, and just they don’t make them like they used to.

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