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Her dad's power of persuasion

Morning briefing

June 23, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

In honor of undefeated retired boxer Laila Ali being inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, Johnny Ortiz, another inductee, told a story about her father at the luncheon.

Ortiz, former co-manager of the Main Street Gym with Carol Steindler, recalled one day in 1980 when Muhammad Ali was there training for his fight with Larry Holmes.

"We had a doorman, Thomas Roseboro, who had been there forever," Ortiz said. "Everyone called him Rip and he was about 90 years old. Ali came up to him and asked, 'Rip, who's the greatest fighter of all time?' Rip looked up from his chair, thought for a moment and said, 'Jack Johnson.' "

"After Ali finished his workout he went over to Rip again, handed him a $100 bill and asked, 'Who's the greatest fighter of all time?' Rip again looked up from his chair, thought for a moment and said, 'You're the greatest.'

"I said to Rip, 'You sold out,' and Rip said, 'If a man wants to give me $100 to tell him he's the greatest, I'll tell him he's the greatest.' "

Trivia time

Laila Ali retired in February 2007 with a record of 24-0 with 21 knockouts and now lives in Woodland Hills with her husband, a former USC and NFL receiver. Can you name him?

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Another inductee Saturday was Pat Connolly, former chief of police at UCLA, Huntington Park and Chino, who has been a boxing referee since 1978.

He said he learned a valuable lesson early in his refereeing career.

"It was after a fight at the Olympic Auditorium," he said. "The crowd booed the two fighters, booed me and I think even booed themselves.

"In the dressing room afterward, two of the biggest name referees at the time, Dick Young and Larry Rozadilla, came in and told me that with some fights it doesn't matter how you do, you're just not going to look good.

"After that is when I started shaving my head."

Calling the shot

Kareem Adbul-Jabbar announced the Dodgers' lineup on the Fox telecast Saturday, and Fox host Chris Rose, a Cleveland native, did the same for the Indians' lineup.

Rose, after announcing pitcher C.C. Sabathia, predicted he would hit a home run in his first at bat. And he did, which enabled the Indians to send the game into extra innings and win the 11th, 7-2.

Rose, an Indians fan, said, "Next time they ask me to do this I will make that prediction for the whole lineup."

Ouch

ESPN is attempting through an interactive search to determine "TitleTown USA." Los Angeles last week became one of the 11 finalists named so far. There will be 20 in all, with the winner announced July 27.

Good thing NBC's Jay Leno doesn't get a vote. Here's what he said the other night:

"So let's look at our wonderful city: The Lakers choked, the Dodgers are nowhere -- if we could get a professional football team that sucks, we would have the trifecta."

Not all ducky

University of Oregon wrestlers are suing to prevent the school from dropping the sport to make room for a baseball program, prompting Greg Cote of the Miami Herald to write: "Both of the school's wrestling fans are said to be outraged."

Trivia answer

Curtis Conway, who married Ali on July 22, 2007.

And finally

More than 4,000 Chinese children have been given the name Aoyun -- meaning Olympic Games -- in honor of Beijing's playing host to this summer's big event, BBC News reported.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, noting that the name "does have a certain five rings to it," added: "Just be glad that China never landed the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl."

--

larry.stewart@latimes.com

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