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Remembering George Kimball

It was almost 13 years ago when I met George Kimball at one of the first major boxing matches I covered at Madison Square Garden. It was tough to hear that he passed away after battling cancer for a half-decade.

But there others who knew George much better than I did.

Here's a story from The Sweet Science's Thomas Hauser on the passing of Kimball:

George Kimball was diagnosed with inoperable esophegeal cancer in the summer of 2005.

Many people engage in a flurry of activity when they’re in their sixties to make up for time lost when they were young. George was determined to make up for time that he knew he would lose at the end.

Over the next six years, George was living, not dying. He was as content and productive as most people are at any time in their lives.

He added to his legacy as a writer by authoring Four Kings (the definitive work on the round-robin fights among Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran). That was followed by Manly Art (a collection of George’s own columns about the sweet science). He also edited two anthologies with John Schulian (At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing and The Fighter Still Remains: A Celebration of Boxing in Poetry and Song).

On a more personal level, George’s wife and soulmate wife, Marge Marash, was a source of strength, comfort, and joy to him throughout these difficult years.

George confronted his illness with candor and courage, adding a measure of humor to the mix. Earlier this year, he asked me if I’d be available, if necessary, to cover for him at a reading of his work.

“I agreed to do an April 7th event,” George wrote to me on January 9th. “But I start a pretty heavy-duty chemo regimen on Monday [January 17th]. I've had all three drugs they'll be using before, though not in this particular combination. None of them were much fun. They'll do another PET scan in early March to see if it had any effect. If it hasn't, I imagine they'll discontinue treatment and just try to make me comfortable for as long as I last. In other words, there is a possibility that I won’t last until April, in which case you might have to do my share of the reading. I have every intention of being there on April 7th. But if I'm not, I'll have the best of all excuses. Cheers, GK”

George made it to the reading, as well as other readings including a celebration of his work at the New York Athletic Club. By that time, he was fortified by the knowledge that he would never go back to the hospital again regardless of how his illness progressed. He died at home last night (July 6th). In keeping with his wishes, there will be no funeral. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

A profile that I wrote seven years ago follows, so readers can learn more about this remarkable man.

George took pride in his writing. He was more than a chronicler of the boxing scene; he was part of it. He was one of the people who I knew would always be at ringside when I went to the fights. It’s sad that he’ll no longer be there.

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