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Two Goose : Another Wing of the Fighting Goossen Family Takes a Swing at the Big Time

October 30, 1994|MIKE HISERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He helped build a boxing business with his bare hands, investing hours of time and buckets of sweat only to take a hike right before his partners struck it rich.

Turning away at the wrong time can cost you. Boxing and gambling have that much in common.

You start pouring your savings into a slot machine, step away for a short break, and someone else saunters up and hits the jackpot.

Pat Goossen has been there, done that. He knows the temptation of wanting to duck your head, tuck your tail and bail out for the duration.

Yet here Goossen is, strutting back into town, acting as confident as a poker player with an ace up his sleeve.

Just maybe that's exactly what he has.

Pat Goossen never left the boxing game, he just regrouped. Now he's full-speed ahead again and look who's leading the charge:

His son.

P.J. Goossen is an unlikely looking warrior, lithe and a bit stoop-shouldered at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds with a shock of blond hair and a deep tan.

But he packs a punch--and a resume.

P.J., 24, has a professional record of 12-0, with 11 of the victories by knockout. On Wednesday, he will box in his first main event, a 10-round superwelterweight bout against a veteran tough named Pat Lawlor in the Warner Center Marriott hotel's Grand Ballroom.

Lawlor has 20 victories and three of his five losses have come against champions Terry Norris, Hector Camacho and John David Jackson. He has defeated former title-holders Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez and Rene Arredondo.

One false move and P.J. might wish he was back stocking shelves as a drugstore clerk.

Pat, 51, who trains and manages his son, has at least as much on the line.

A few months ago, he and his wife, Mona, sold the family's home of 18 years in Valley Village. They used part of the equity to purchase a home in Palmdale. The rest will help finance a small stable of boxers for what Pat hopes will be a run at boxing fame and fortune.

"I'm gambling that there's going to be money from boxing coming in the next year," Pat said.

How's that for confidence? Pat didn't just bet the barn. He bet the whole farm.

"I believe in him," Pat said of his son. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be working with him. He believes and I believe."

Money isn't the only thing at stake. So is family pride.

Back in the early 1980s, Pat and a younger brother, Dan, organized a family boxing venture. Including brothers, sisters, their father, Al, and mother, Anna May, there were 10 Goossens. And so the Ten Goose Boxing Club was formed on a vacant lot in North Hollywood where a thousand family whiffleball games had been played.

From those humble beginnings emerged the First Family of San Fernando Valley boxing. In the mid-1980s, Ten Goose signed Michael Nunn, an Olympic alternate who climbed through the ranks to become the International Boxing Federation's middleweight champion.

Ten Goose rose with him--an ascent made without Pat Goossen.

Citing philosophical differences with other family members, Pat, the only Goossen with any real previous boxing experience, walked away from the business just as Nunn was starting to bring the organization some recognition.

Why? "For reasons it would take a paperback novel to explain," Pat said.

Suffice it to say that Pat feels he has been ostracized by certain members of his family. "There were no crusaders for me (in the Goossen family) once money started coming in," he said.

Ten Goose went out of business a little more than a year ago when Dan was hired as executive vice president of Top Rank Boxing. But by then the club already had risen to international prominence on the wings of Nunn's success and that of Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, brothers who were trained and nurtured by another Goossen brother, Joe.

P.J. made his professional debut in May, 1992, on a Ten Goose-sponsored card at the Country Club in Reseda. However, Pat said, for the most part he and P.J. have been left to fend for themselves.

A 1991 Times story about the rise of Ten Goose mentioned only that Pat was a one-time boxer who was working as a Hollywood stuntman. Accounts in other newspapers and on television have focused on Dan as the founder--a sore subject.

"That's a bunch of baloney," P.J. said. "My father was the one who showed them how to throw punches, showed Joe how to do everything. He showed Dan the ropes."

Dan, 44, acknowledges Pat's contributions to Ten Goose, adding that he never considered his brother "split from the family."

It should be noted, however, that Dan isn't promoting Wednesday's card, nor has Joe offered to help in P.J.'s corner. Truth be told, it would not be out of the ordinary were both uncles to skip the bouts.

"They don't have any fighters on the card, so I really don't expect to see them," P.J. said. "But if they're there, I'll be happy. I still love my uncles. Outside of boxing, we get along well."

Dan said he will be there, just so long as travel arrangements that will take him to Las Vegas, site of the George Foreman-Michael Moorer title fight scheduled for Nov. 5, don't interfere.

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