The summer of 2014 was a lonely one. The phone didn’t ring nearly as often as it once had. The corny jokes and the bad impersonations ceased.
Just a few weeks after he promoted a heavyweight title bout between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on the campus of USC, Dan Goossen fell ill.
He had liver cancer and succumbed to it on Sept. 29, 2014. He was gone before most in the boxing community knew he was sick.
With his passing went the end of an era. Goossen was a promoter in every sense of the word. He loved boxing and he loved putting on a show.
It’s remarkable that in the five years that he has been gone there hasn’t been a movement to push for his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He remains one of the greatest promoters of his era, who succeeded at every level of the sport.
He began working in a family-owned business that put on fights at Reseda Country Club in Reseda, California. The company was called Ten Goose Boxing after Goossen and his nine siblings, who all participated in it.
He took largely unknown and unheralded fighters like brothers Rafael and Gabriel Ruelas from the amateurs and helped guide them to world champions. He signed gold medalist Andre Ward out of the 2004 Olympics and helped him become one of the sport’s biggest stars.
At varying times, Goossen promoted big names like Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and Ward, but perhaps his best work was done with James Toney.
Toney was one of the best fighters of his era, but by the time he signed with Goossen Tutor Promotions, he seemed at the end of the line. He was not in demand and was regarded as difficult to work with.
Goossen, though, believed Toney had much more to give. Toney is one of the best pure boxers I’ve ever seen, and Goossen knew that guys who could box like Toney didn’t forget how to box. He just needed to be motivated and have something to point toward.
Goossen loved to use the phone and called reporters regularly. When he first signed Toney, he was relentless in pushing Toney and his agenda. Goossen was looking for someone to take Toney seriously and to give him the credibility he needed to get another chance on one of the premium cable networks.
Together, Goossen and Toney worked to build the one-time middleweight champion into the cruiserweight champion and a shot at the heavyweight crown.
He was a character who loved to kibitz and swap stories. He was open to new ideas. He was friends with the actor, Mister T, and once had T as his ring announcer. For a lengthy period of time on his Fox Sports Net cards, he used Amy Hayes as his ring announcer in a period when it was rare for women to be involved in boxing at any level.
“Dan had an unusual knack for being able to promote fights on a major-league level with elite fighters and make it a real fun experience for the fighters, the media and the fans,” said Rich Marotta, a long-time boxing broadcaster and a classmate of Goossen’s at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. “When he promoted a show, they were just a lot of fun.
“Dan was an extremely human and funny person and he fought his way from the bottom rung of the boxing ladder to the top. He got things done. He started on those tiny shows at Reseda Country Club, and then he went to do mid-level shows and then he went to Top Rank and did a lot of good work there and then he started his own company and had many major fights. He was successful at every level he was at.”
Goossen was one of the few promoters who worked in favor of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, and he testified in favor of it in front of both the Senate and the House.
During his House testimony on June 29, 1999, he pointed out the need to work on behalf of the fighters, who were often exploited because they didn’t have access to any business information.
“We did that because we do care about the sport, and we do want it run properly, and we do want the protection of the fighters,” Goossen testified. “But it is fair to say we all need protection: The managers, the trainers, the promoters. There are good people in this business. It is a great business. We have just got to make sure that from the standpoint of the [Association of Boxing Commissions], which I have had many conversations with the president, Greg Sirb, and some of the other vice presidents of the ABC, that we -- the time is now for us to police ourselves and supplement everything that Senator McCain and this committee has established.
“But we need to get uniform contracts, uniform rules and licensing, uniform medicals, and most importantly, last but not least, an officials school that you touched on before, Mr. Chairman. That is the integrity where the fans and the fighters have trust in our judges and our officials.”
The Ali Act passed in 2000 and has helped protect boxers ever since, though it is in need of strengthening.
Goossen long tried to get an official’s school to train judges and referees and he was working on a manual to do so, but he didn’t get that done.
Still, he was one of the dominant figures of his time and his absence from the International Boxing Hall of Fame is a slight that needs to be corrected.
Dan Goossen deserves to be part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.
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