Boxing promoter Dan Goossen passes away at 64 after battle with liver cancer

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Dan Goossen, a colorful, gregarious man who turned boxing promoting into a family business, died early Monday at 64 following a battle with liver cancer.

Goossen promoted many of boxing's top stars over the past quarter of a century, including James Toney, Michael Nunn, Terry Norris, Andre Ward, David Reid, Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, Chris Arreola, David Tua, Joel Casamayor, Paul Williams, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather.

Promoter Dan Goossen. (Getty)
Promoter Dan Goossen. (Getty)

"It is with overwhelming regret that we announce the passing of Dan Goossen, 64, from complications relating to liver cancer," the family said in a statement. "The sudden news of his diagnosis was very much a private matter and his final days were spent surrounded by his family and closest friends.

"Sadness is difficult to escape as we grieve his passing. However, we are filled with pride by the fact that Dan Goossen battled this aggressive illness with boundless strength and the last days of his life were fought and lived with unflinching bravery, pure love and grace beyond measure."

Goossen began in the sport when, along with his nine brothers and sisters, he founded Ten Goose Boxing, promoting regular shows at Reseda Country Club in Reseda, Calif.

His best work probably came after he founded America Present when he promoted David Tua, leading him to the brink of the heavyweight title. Goossen came up with the idea to create "The Tuaman" persona for Tua, pitching him as a Samoan warrior.

Always clever and willing to think outside of the box, Goossen once held a luau to promote a Tua fight, except that he called it a "Tuau."

Goossen moved Tua to the No. 1 contender status. When Tua walked to the ring to face Lennox Lewis for the title, there was a thunderous ovation to welcome Tua, as much a tribute to Goossen's brilliant work promoting him as it was to Tua's popularity.

Longtime Los Angeles Times boxing writer Steve Springer, who is now retired, was so close with Goossen that people jokingly referred to him as the 11th Goose.

He remembered Goossen as a fun-loving guy who began selling stationary in a boiler room and made it to the top of the boxing profession.

Springer said before all of the big fights, Goossen would arrange a softball game in Southern California that would feature his family members on one side and fighters, trainers and media members on the other.

"This was a guy who started literally from nothing," Springer said. "They had a part of the property in the back where they used to play whiffle ball. He put up four ropes around a canvas to make a makeshift ring out of it. He started with nothing; really, started with nothing.

"You think of guys like [Bob] Arum and [Don] King and all of the resources they had and here was a guy in the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood, with a backyard gym. It was not even a gym, it was a ring, and he became a major promoter. That was all Dan. His focus was always on moving ahead."

Springer noted that the Ruelas brothers got involved with Goossen after knocking on the door of the gym selling candy, while they were 12 and 13 years old.

Goossen allowed them to come in and watch sparring, and eventually, they both went on to become world champions.

"That's the evidence of how it really was the ultimate mom-and-pop operation," Springer said.

Goossen, who for several years worked as a vice president at Top Rank, was a passionate advocate for his fighters. He was popular among media because he was easily accessible, always a source of news and had plenty of quips and stories ready.

He was extremely close with his family and worked personally with many of them. His brother Joe became one of the sport's top trainers and they worked hand-in-hand on numerous shows.

One of his notable achievements was signing Reid and Ward, the last two American men to win Olympic boxing gold medals, in 1996 and 2004, respectively, to promotional contracts.

Under Goossen's guidance, Ward won Showtime's Super 6 tournament and managed to get all of his round-robin matches at his home in Oakland, Calif.

Dan Goossen, left, with Andre Ward after the win over Chad Dawson. (AP)
Dan Goossen, left, with Andre Ward after the win over Chad Dawson. (AP)

Ward and Goossen were locked in a legal battle at the time of Goossen's death, a dispute that frustrated Goossen immensely.

"I was deeply saddened to learn the news of Dan Goossen's passing early this morning," Ward said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers have been with Dan and his family since I received the news of his illness last week. While Dan and I recently had our professional struggles, he was a great man, father and husband. He will be greatly missed by the boxing community. I will continue to keep the Goossen family in my prayers."

Goossen's promotional company had a string of bad luck in the past several years in which his fighters couldn't win the big one to put them over the top. He helped Reid land a lucrative HBO deal coming out of the Olympics and win a world title in just his 12th bout.

Goossen positioned Reid for a mega-fight with Felix Trinidad outdoors in Las Vegas on March 3, 2000, which, had Reid won, would have made him one of the sport's biggest stars. Instead, he was knocked down four times and was never the same fighter.

It also happened to Goossen with Tua, who was routed by Lewis, and Chris Arreola, who lost a bout with Vitali Klitschko.

Goossen was predeceased by his older brother, Greg, a former Major League Baseball player. He is survived by his wife Debbie; sons Craig, Chris, Max and Rex; brothers Joe, Gordon, Pat, Mike, Larry and Tom; and sisters Ellorie and Sandra.

Arrangements are pending.

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