I was shocked and saddened to hear the news yesterday that former boxer Gary Mason had died in a cycling accident on Thursday.
I always remember Mason as a brawler with a neck wider than his head, he was an ox of a man. He was unlucky in the fact that he lived in the shadow of both Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis, with Bruno’s popular personality and the up and coming Lewis’ undoubted talent continually getting more of the British public’s attention.
Reading all the obituaries this morning, I get the impression that Mason’s personality probably prevented him achieving more in the ring. That was also an impression I picked up from tributes paid to him on the radio yesterday by Colin Hart of The Sun and Bunbury founder David English.
All point to the fact that Mason was a bit of a character, a bit of a jovial jolly chap who didn’t take himself, or life in general, that seriously. I get the impression he was happier having a good time than really putting in the graft to be the best.
That’s not meant as criticism, it takes a certain type of serious single minded individual to show the type of dedication needed to make it too the top. It would appear that Mason just wasn’t that type of person.
The story of him getting fired from being a hospital security guard for flirting too much with the ladies seems to sum him up for me, it sounds like a typical example of Mason not taking things too seriously and just enjoying himself.
In the ring he had a massive heart, he would fight to the bitter end. He was as hard as nails and had a chin most boxers would swap their mothers for.
I have never forgot the sight of him fighting Lennox Lewis with just one eye open, it showed guts beyond belief. That was his only defeat and was no disgrace, and was as much down to the fact that Lewis ruthlessly exposed the eye problem that would eventually end his career.
He had a 37-1 record with 34 knockouts and was 48 years old.
RIP Gary Mason