by Steven J. Canton,February 2, 2006
(As published in BOXING WORLD, February 2006)
Kellman, Referee Max Parker Jr., David Armstrong
     I called George Kellman on a recent Wednesday evening and said, “George, I have a fight for you on Friday.” George said, “Great, where is it?” I have called George at the last minute many times throughout the years, as other matchmakers and booking agents have, and he has always been available. George, just one month shy of his forty-third birthday, has not fought in almost five years. This was a choice made not by him, but by the Florida Commission which revoked his license, more because of his lopsided record than any punishment he ever sustained in the ring. He still runs every day, trains at the gym, and keeps his weight in check. I was joking with George when I called him, and he laughed when he realized it, but I know he would have jumped at the chance for another fight. George Kellman is one of a vanishing breed of fighters known as world-class opponents.

George was born in Antigua, on March 3, 1963, where he grew up with his older brother, Conrad. George did not play sports as a youngster, but he loved to run. He ran 5K and 10K races before building up his stamina with half-marathons. After losing his mother when he was twelve years old, George threw himself into kick boxing and martial arts, traveling throughout the Caribbean, where he compiled a record of 60 wins and 6 losses. George graduated from high school in 1979 and became a policeman; a position he kept for six years. After seeing films of the great Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali and Ray Leonard, George decided to start boxing as an amateur in 1985. His final amateur record was 51-22.

George always had a strong desire to make something of himself and decided to move to the United States to further his education. Wanting to remain in a warm climate, he migrated to Miami where he worked his way through college acquiring associate degrees in economics and business, and then bachelor and master’s degrees in economics. Working his way through school, he is especially proud of the fact that he never received financial aid. George became a math teacher, first as a substitute for two years at Miami’s JFK Middle School, and then full-time at Miami Central High School. In 2002, after nine years in education, he became a Florida State Corrections Officer, a position he still holds today. In addition, since 1993, he has worked in real estate, working as a broker and investing in fixer-uppers, doing most of the work himself.

All of this was sandwiched around a career as a professional boxer, which began on March 25, 1990. During his career he fought anyone from 135 lbs. to 160 lbs., although his ideal weight was around 140 lbs. He trained himself, many times never knowing who was going to work in his corner. He fought some of the best names in boxing and seldom failed to go the distance. He gave Lamar Murphy three tough fights. He also lost decisions to George Scott, Juan Arroyo, David Diaz, Rocky Torres, Raul Frank, Hassan Al, David Lewter, David Armstrong, and Saoul Mamby, among others. His final fight came on October 5, 2001. He is still upset that the referee stopped the fight, while he was still on his feet, against the tough and much bigger Charles Whittaker, at the 2:59 second mark of the sixth and final round. It was that night that the Florida commission revoked his licence.

George has great recollections of his ring career, calling Lamar Murphy the most skillful and quickest fighter he ever faced, Hall of Fame fighter Edwin Rosario as the strongest and, along with Juan Arroyo, the dirtiest. He remembers when he faced Roosevelt Booth, knocking Booth down in the second round, dominating the fifth and sixth rounds and somehow still losing a six round decision. He remembers going to Chicago and fighting Alfredo Cuevas, only to lose another close six round decision. He loved the cheers he received from that out-of-town crowd, after they loudly booed the hometown decision. I recall working George’s corner against an undefeated prospect, when after three rounds, the worried prospect’s manager (who shall remain nameless), came to our corner pleading, “Please don’t light a fire under George, I have so much invested in my kid.” We tried to light a fire anyway, but George still came up on the short end of a very close decision. Another time, we had booked George on a show in Tampa, but the local kid he was to have fought fell out. There was another fight on the show that also fell out. I told the promoter to match the two opponents with each other, that it should make for a good fight, and he agreed. In the corner, after a lackluster first round, I said to George, “You’re not the opponent this time, that guy was brought in as your opponent, so go to work.” George just said, “Oh, okay,” and promptly knocked down his opponent with a right hand. However, as all good opponents do, the other guy climbed to his feet and finished the four rounds, with George winning the decision in an exciting fight. Even though George Kellman’s final ring record is 9-53-1 (6 K.O.’s), he always put on a good show and was a crowd favorite.

Today, George still lives in Miami. He and his wife Jennifer have three daughters, Shaneba, ten, Shanaja, five, and Shandija, three. George helps train the young amateurs at the North Miami Beach Police Athletic League. He still follows the sport closely and attends all the live shows he can. George Kellman was a world class opponent, and he is a world class gentleman.


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Category: Steve's Corner

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