The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire


JFK Jr: Joe Bruno


By Joe Bruno-- former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

Let me say right off the top, as nice of a person they say he was, John F. Kennedy Jr. was even nicer.

Iíd be lying if I said I knew him well. We belonged to the same club, the Downtown Athletic Club (Home of the Heisman Trophy) at the tip of Manhattan in New York City, so itís only natural that weíd come into contact from time to time.

The first time I saw him, around 1989, he was rollerblading down West Street in six lanes of traffic. The next day, I was heading into the elevator in the lobby of the DAC. The elevator operator, Tony Gomez, a friend from my old neighborhood, started to close the door. I heard "Hold it." Tony reopened the door, and JFK Jr. rollerbladed in, almost running over my foot. He muttered a quick apology. I looked up and was shocked to see the son of the former president of the United States of America; the celebrated number one hunk in America.

We both worked out in the seventh floor fitness center at around the same time each day, 5-6 pm. On occasion, he'd ask me to spot him on the bench press. I did, and he always returned the favor when I asked him to do the same. The thing I remember most is that for an average-sized guy, JFK Jr. had enormous calfs. It mustíve been from all that rollerblading.

On the eighth floor, we had a full court basketball gym; the same gym the Knicks of the 70ís used to practice in on occasion. Once every couple of weeks, Iíd go upstairs to shoot some hoops. One day JFK Jr. was there also shooting hoops. Letís just say basketball was definitely not his sport. I also saw him play softball in a dirt park on the corner of Monroe and Market Streets. Baseball was not his game either.

I knew there mustíve been a good reason for all those Kennedy family touch football games on the lawn.

Most DAC members end the day, after working out in the gym, with a few brews at the third floor sportís bar, at one time the longest bar in New York City, and some say, the world. JFK Jr. was no exception. I was never in his party, but he knew I was a sportswriter, and on occasions, heíd stop by and ask me my opinion of certain fights.

The one time that sticks in my head concerned the Evander Holyfield-Buster Douglass heavyweight title fight which was shown on closed-circuit TV at the DAC. I remember watching the fight with my good friend and attorney Matthew J. Mari. Joe DiMaggio was also in the room. I donít remember seeing JFK Jr. , but the place was packed and he couldíve been there too .

A few days later, I was bopping down a few Buds at the third floor bar. JFK Jr. sauntered over and asked me, "What did you think of the fight?" I said, "What fight? There was no fight. Douglas took a dive." He laughed and said, "Youíre probably right." Fast forward five years later.

I had given up my membership at the DAC. JFK Jr. had become an assistant DA in Manhattan. His office at Hogan Place was one block from the building I grew up in on the corner of Baxter and White Streets.

Instead of rollerblading for exercise, or maybe in addition to, JFK jogged almost every day through the streets of downtown Manhattan. I owned a parking lot for twenty seven years on Monroe Street, a desolate one-lane street two blocks long, directly between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Iíd see JFK jog past my parking lot about twice a week. Heíd always smile and wave at me as went he went past heading for the darkness of the next street, directly under the shadows of the Manhattan Bridge.

Here was probably the most watched guy in New York City jogging alone without a bodyguard, after dark for Christís sake, trotting straight towards the darkness of muggerís paradise. I lived on Monroe Street for 33 years, and I never once walked on that desolate dead-end street under the Manhattan Bridge.

One day, I couldnít take it any longer, and as he passed me I yelled at him, "Are you crazy? The next block is dangerous." He turned back, smiled and said, "I never had any problems." Probably the same thing he thought when he boarded his single engine plane that fateful Friday night.

Some people say, considering his sometimes reckless behavior, JFK Jr., had a definite death wish. He rollerbladed in traffic, he rode his bicycle after dark in Central Park, he took the subways at night, he hang-glided, and he even broke his leg hang-gliding. His cast was removed one day before he died.

I say, he was simply a regular guy staring life straight in the face while having some fun, whose luck just plain ran out.

JFK Jr. died at the tender age of thirty eight. But he lived a fuller life than most men twice his age. Not a bad axiom to write on a manís epitaph.

Good night Sweet Prince. We hardly knew ye. May you rest in peace in the company of your own King and Queen.

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The CBZ says Amen.

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