Boxing trainer Bill Slayton, who was in the corner of two heavyweight champions and countless disadvantaged children, died this week in a Culver City hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
Slayton is best remembered as Ken Norton's trainer, joining the former heavyweight champion after Norton defeated Muhammad Ali in 1973. Slayton, whose own ring career never advanced beyond the amateur level, also trained former heavyweight champion Michael Dokes.
And when actor Mickey Rourke needed to look the part of a fighter for the movie "Homeboy," he turned to Slayton as well.
But Slayton, who died Tuesday, seemed to take as much pride, if not more, in training youngsters who were never going to perform in front of a camera, either as fighters or actors. For two decades, Slayton operated the Broadway Gym in South Los Angeles, where he schooled children in boxing and much more.
"I want a kid," said Slayton in a 1996 Times interview, "who I can teach a little about life, not just boxing."
Slayton grew up in Boyle Heights. His early athletic success came on the football field. A running back at Garfield High, he was first team All-City in 1940.
In later life, it was boxing that brought Slayton accolades. He was voted "manager of the year" by Boxing Writers Assn. of America in 1977 and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Golden State Boxers Assn. last year.
He is survived by two sons, Howard and Randell; and two daughters, Norma Ward and Penny Pinkston.
A funeral will be held Nov. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 S. Crenshaw Blvd., L.A. 90008.