Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eugene Crawford, physiology/biophysics professor, boxing champ

I love Gerry Hostetler's "It's a Matter of Life" column that runs in the Charlotte Observer.

In her Aug. 30, 2006, column about the late Eugene Carson "Gene" Crawford Jr., a retired University of Kentucky physiology and biophysics professor and Golden Gloves Hall of Fame boxer, Gerry chooses a fascinating subject and uses quotes that make you want to smile.

She writes: Gene was well-known in the Carolinas for his boxing ability, but even better known nationally for his physiological research. . . His academic career is stellar.

Crawford studied with eminent physiologist Knut Schmidt-Nielsen at Duke University.

"He spoke glowingly of going to Australia with Schmidt-Nielsen and studying camels and ostriches," said son-in-law Tracy Campbell.

Early in the piece, Gerry quotes Carl Holt, a Golden Gloves HOF board member: "Looking at him, you didn't think he was a boxer, but he was a good little ol' fighter."

She gives a detailed record of Crawford's impressive (30 wins, 1 draw, four losses) but brief (1949-1952) boxing career. More than half of his wins were by knockout.

Gene joined the Navy and promptly fought and defeated the brigade champion. After his discharge, he fought four professional fights and won them. He was invited to try out for the 1952 U.S. Olympic trials, but did not accept. He was about to marry sweetheart Helen Suggs, whom he spotted at a public park in Durham.

Then comes this nifty quote from Crawford's sister: "He was about 18 and she was ... very pretty."

Later in life, Crawford's wife developed Pick's disease, which cost her the ability to speak. When Gene began losing his sight, folks asked how they would manage life together. "I will take care of Helen and Helen will be my eyes," he answered.

And so she was, until her death five years ago. And Gene was a good little ol' fighter, right up to the end.

Excellent ending, Gerry!

No comments: