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Jimmy Lennon Jr. on Mike Tyson and proper pronunciation in the squared circle

January 25, 1998|Jon Regardie

When the world learned that Mike Tyson had been disqualified for snacking on Evander Holyfield, it was through the tuxedoed eminence of JIMMY LENNON JR. Lennon, 39, of Bel-Air, has been boxing promoter Don King's exclusive ring announcer since 1991 (he's also done a Doritos commercial and an episode of "Webster"). And he carries on the family business--his father, Jimmy Lennon, announced boxing and wrestling matches for 43 years.

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Q: Tell us about the Tyson-Holyfield fight.

A: When we got to the decision, I walked into the ring, talked to referee Mills Lane and said, "What is the ruling?" He informed me that Tyson bit [Holyfield] a second time. The TV audience knew this, but the live audience couldn't see the replays. People were calling on cell phones to find out what happened. I gave the facts.

Q: Was that your career highlight?

A: The highlight and the low-light. I was so disappointed with what happened that I really questioned my involvement in the sport.

Q: How often do you work?

A: Eight to ten times a month. About 100 events a year.

Q: How do you prepare?

A: I talk to every fighter and ask for any special requests, like a nickname or hometown. I check the pronunciation if it's difficult.

Q: That sounds, well, pretty uncomplicated.

A: It only appears easy when it is done right. When someone makes a mistake, it stands out. I've heard wrong scores read, wrong winner, mispronunciation of names...

Q: What do you do outside the ring?

A: I'm a social studies and government teacher at West L.A. Baptist School. My dad always encouraged me to have a business outside boxing.

Q: Did he influence your announcing style?

A: Before him it was a rough man's sport, a bar atmosphere. He brought an element of class to announcing. He wore a tuxedo, had a classy way of speaking.

Q: How was it growing up with a ring announcer?

A: I would mimic him around the house. If my mom dropped a pot and it sounded like a bell, we would break into "Fight fans, here we go!"

Q: Is there a Jimmy Lennon III?

A: He was born October 22, 1996.

Q: Have you taken him to his first fight?

A: We took him to Las Vegas when he was 13 months. I put him in the ring before people got there and he immediately started walking around, yanking on the ropes.

Q: And?

A: Yeah, he was loving it.

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