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Tony Thornton passes

“The Punching Postman” Tony Thornton, died last night at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ. He had been riding on his motorcycle a week or so ago and was hit by a bus. His helmut was knocked off but there was no brain damage, just damage to his body along the road. “Tony was a solid pro, but I remember him more for being a solid person,” said promoter J. Russel Peltz. “He was a standup guy and we never had a written contract between us. When his manager Joe Gramby died in 1990, Tony came back to my office that day after the funeral and we sat around and talked about his future. I told him that all the money offered from other promoters would be “on the table” and that I would take 10% and the other 90% would be his purse. We shook hands and that was that. A few hours later I called him on the phone and told him I thought I had sold myself too cheaply. He said: ‘I thought so, too.’ What are the odds on another fighter saying that today?. So we agreed on 80% for him, 20% for me. No papers, just a handshake. And wherever we went, fighting Chris Eubank in Scotland, James Toney in Tulsa, or Roy Jones in Pensacola, he always told the lead promoter: ‘Just give all the money ! to Russell and he’ll take care of things.’

“Midway through 1994, some Philly guys approached Tony, telling him I couldn’t get him any more big fights and that he should leave me and go with them. So Tony called me for advice. I told him to ask these people to give him $5,000.00 to sign with them and if that happened, I would walk away. He called back a few days later and said the guys wouldn’t do it. So I told him to ask them for $2,500.00. Still, they refused. So we stayed together and I put him in with Lenzie Morgan and Darren Zenner, both fights at the Blue Horizon. He barely beat Morgan, then KO’d Zenner in 2 rounds for the USBA title, making him the mandatory for Roy Jones. His next fight, against Roy, was for $250,000.00 for the 168-pound title, his biggest purse ever. By that time, his brittle bones had gotten the best of him and his hands were constantly in pain, but he went through with the fight, lost, then retired.

“So when people ask me what I think of Tony Thornton, I always tell them he was a wonderful fighter, but he was a better person.”




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