Joe Rein Writings


Jimmy Lennon, Jr. "There's no place I'd rather be than center ring"

The camera doesn't lie. If you're not genuine, you're gone. Jimmy Lennon, Jr., who brings fans to their feet with, "It's Showtime!" has been a ring announcer for 25 years.

He barely looks older than that in person. His slim build, fair skin and thatch of rust-blond hair instantly brings to mind his dad, Jimmy Lennon, California's voice of boxing for over 40 years.

I've heard an actor say if a celebrity wants to be recognized, he will be. If he doesn't, he won't. Lennon doesn't generate the need to be noticed. He was absorbed, taking notes in front of the dais before the Trinidad-Wright press conference started at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. There's not that something that puts one off. He's as instantly accessible as an old friend.

We spoke for a few minutes.


When you got started, were you always being compared to your dad, and what was the moment you made your mark on your own?

JL: I'm never disappointed when I'm compared to my father. He was a great man and a great announcer. I still feel I'm learning. It's been a long process. More and more people want me to do their fights. I found myself in demand. Getting paid is a further confirmation, absolutely. It's monetary symbol of that recognition.


Besides boxing, what other events do you do?

JL: I do a lot of events: martial arts, and some others, as well. At one point, I was doing over 100 shows a year, at least two a week. I've traveled as much as 200,00 miles a year. My goal is to do fewer fights, but bigger ones.


How much prep do you have to put in?

JL: Experience helps. It reduces some of the time. I show up early and interview every fighter, if he's on TV or not. I'm big on preparation. I hope it translates into doing a better job.


What fights stand out most in your memory?

JL: Julio Cesar Chavez fought Greg Haugen in Mexico City. 135,000 people showed up - an unbelievable event. Some of the fights in Europe have been terrific, too. The soccer frenzy brought to the fights in England. The event that really stands out for me - it was so odd -- unfortunately, is when Tyson and Holyfield fought and the ear bite took place.


What was the biggest gaff?

JL: The closest to a big gaff was when Jessie James Leja fought Azuma Nelson. They gave me the wrong score, with Azuma Nelson winning. Actually, it was a draw, so I had to come back and make the announcement. It looked like I made the error, but I didn't.


When people see you in the street, do they think they might have gone to school with you or maybe know you from someplace else?

JL: Yeah, I get everything. I get a lot more recognition in a fight city. At the same time I can walk around the streets and be anonymous. So it's a nice combination. People look at me and wonder: Where do I know you? It'll click in. Sometimes in surprising places: In Bali, walking around in street clothes trying to bargain with sellers, they said, "Hey, boxing boss! "

One time in the Olympic Auditorium, I was doing the Jorge Luhan-Lupe Pintor fight.... so, we're talking the '80s. Pintor won. The fans were so excited and happy, they had a riot. They stormed the ring. It became a serious thing. I backed out of the ring into the crowd.

Guys are running and throwing punches. They stopped and looked at me: "Hi, Jimmy, how'ya doin'?" Then they went back to their mayhem.


Do you ever get butterflies?

JL: I've never been nervous doing fights. I get excited... I get a focus of concentration. In big fights ... there's no place I'd rather be than center ring.

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