Boxing has lost a true ambassador to the sport.
Long time boxing trainer, Jimmy O'Pharrow, founder of Brooklyn’s famed Starrett City Boxing Club, died at Coney Island Hospital Sunday night of complications from abdominal, aortic, aneurysm surgery.
He was 85.
Referred to by friends as “Jimmy O”, O'Pharrow's list of accomplished fighters was as big as his heart, his grandson Kwani O'Pharrow recalled.
“His impact on the community was tremendous,” said O'Pharrow. "He always took time out of his schedule to help the kids."
Although credited with helping mold the careers of hundreds of fighters, it wasn't all about boxing for O'Pharrow.
“He always preached to be the best at what you do…Whatever it is,” said O'Pharrow. “He knew everyone he trained wasn't going to be a pro.
“He tried to help lift kids from the hopelessness of the high-crime and unemployment that plagued their neighborhoods.”
Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, current heavyweights Monte Barrett and Shannon Briggs, middleweight Dimitriy Salita, undefeated welterweight Sadam Ali and former welterweight title holders Zab Judah and Luis Collazo are just a few of the many boxers who trained under the guidance of O'Pharrow.
Salita was particularly hit hard by O'Pharrow's death.
"I have learned a great deal from Jimmy, lessons and experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Salita wrote on the Sweet Science website. “He was there from my first amateur fight until I won the Golden Gloves, from my first professional fights to a world title shot.
“We traveled together to the White House to meet the President and shared in the joy of my wedding day.”
O'Pharrow, a retired supervisor for a box company in Queens, opened the Starrett City Boxing Club in 1978.
O'Pharrow is survived by his wife Ailean, two sons Mark and C.J. and three grandchildren, Kwani, James III and Georgia.
A viewing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Guarino Funeral Home in Brooklyn.
The funeral is 10 a.m. Friday at St. Laurence Church in Brooklyn.