R.I.P. Raymond Munson – Longtime Philly fight figure


Sonnyliston.jpgPHILADELPHIA (May 31,2010)— It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of another boxing legend – Raymond Munson, longtime assistant to heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 84. He was an integral part of the HBO Documentary on Liston. Muncie, as he is affectionately called, was a fixture for over 60 years on the Philly fight scene having worked with several fighters including Dorsey Lay, Hughie "Buttons" Kearney and for the past ten years as an assistant along with Frank "The Silk" Montgomery to trainer Charles Ramey and his fighters – Willie "The Gladiator" Gibbs, Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, Philip "The Mongoose" McCants and "Dangerous" Darrell Jones. You could always count on Muncie to be at the gym every day at 5 pm. In late 2008 he suffered a mild stroke that took him away from the gym. Like all great fighters he recovered and had adjusted quite well to the Ivy Hill Nursing Home where he was a celebrity. Everybody knew him. He missed the gym and always joked about me and Charles Ramey "busting him out" every time we visited.

Boxing was his life and everybody loved him. We would tease him that he was so old that he had his first amateur fight back in the late 1800’s with Jack Johnson. Muncie had a great sense of humor and would fire back.

However, if you wanted to raise Muncie’s blood pressure and get him heated you just had to say – "Muhammad Ali would have beaten Joe Louis." A perplexed look would come over his face, his brows would wrinkle and you had just started something that wasn’t going to end until he had you on the ropes. There is no way you could have convinced him that Ali had a chance against Louis. If you wanted to end the debate all you had to say is "Sugar Ray Robinson was pound for pound the greatest fighter of all-time." Instantly, the smile would return to his face and you were off the Ali vs Louis debate.

I met Muncie during my amateur days and we became friends. Over the years he has provided invaluable insight on boxing as well as countless stories chronicling his barnstorming days with Liston and a host of celebrities. I can recall numerous stories about Sonny Liston, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Billy Conn, Frank Sinatra and several others. In addition, he shared his vast collection of boxing memorabilia. I am the only person he gave a rare picture of Frank Sinatra, Sonny Liston and Sammy Davis Jr. engaged in a conversation. It is one of my most prized possession.

It is difficult to know that he is gone. Muncie was a good friend and mentor and we belonged to the same family that we love so dearly—boxing

A memorial service is being held: June 4, 2010, 10 am -Golden Star Baptist Church, 1635-39 N. 27th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Please contact Derrick Simms at 484-410-5805 if you would like to participate by saying a few words in honor of Muncie.

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