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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire
Jun 2, 2001
Arnold Manning: Boxing Trainer -- Rest In Peace
By Katherine Dunn

This is good-bye to the learningest man I ever met—Arnold James Manning, a trainer of fit and competent boxers. He was a lean, raw-boned man with the look of the mountains about him. All his years in the North and West never peeled the tang of the South from his tongue. He looked like he’d spent a long life doing hard physical work and that was true enough. But he also had a searching mind that delighted in soaking up information about anything that interested him. And he was interested in damn near everything.

Arnold never boxed himself, but he loved the sport. When his son James turned six and was clamoring to learn, Arnold took him in hand to train him, and taught himself in the process. Along the way he worked with dozens of amateurs and professionals, but his son, bantamweight "Sweet Baby" James Manning was the one he spent the most time with, and was probably his most complete accomplishment in the sport. James Manning was a skilfull and popular favorite in the early to mid 1980’s in Portland, Oregon, and is now a successful businessman. He is also a trainer who assisted and worked with his father for years in the gyms.

Arnold worked with C.J. Brown, Guy Villegas, Kip Triplett, Rudy Nix, Tony Thomas, Doug Holiman, Charles "Machine Gun" Carter, and many more along the way. Most recently he’s been working with light-heavyweight Jeff Simmons and featherweight woman, Laramie Hinostroza, among others.

Arnold learned about boxing the way he learned everything, by watching and listening, reading when possible, and asking endless questions of those who knew. He said he studied other fighters and watched taped fights to understand the characteristic elements conveyed by particular trainers. He could clearly tell the difference between a fighter taught by Emmanuel Steward and one taught by Angelo Dundee or Ray Arcell, or Cus D’Amato, or a dozen other teachers he respected.

He was a demanding teacher, insisting on proper fitness and preparation. He devoted long hours and a lot of serious attention to anyone he agreed to work with and he expected the same kind of focus from his students.

Manning was a fair man and lacked stereotyped prejudices – racial, ethnic or gender---he didn’t care what or who you were if you were willing to work hard to be your best. He proudly trained one of the earliest pro women boxers in the region many years before the current popularity of women in the sport.

Manning strove to do what he thought was right. You might disagree with him, but once he’d made up his mind not much could stop him. He was also a straight forward talker. You knew what he was thinking because he told you, in no uncertain terms. If he didn’t like something about you, he wouldn’t wait til you’d left the room, he’d say it to your face.

In the early 80’s he ran a boxing gym funded by promoter Fred McNalley in Portland. Eventually he became the matchmaker for McNalley’s monthly shows at the Portland Mariott Hotel until they folded in 1984. Soon after he took on the matchmaking duties, this reporter wandered into his office to find him sitting in front of a manual typewriter, painstakingly teaching himself to type. He soon became proficient. Much later, in his 60’s, Manning also taught himself to work with computers. He never stopped learning.

Arnold’s life-long best friend was his wife of 44 years, Marvel. Marvel Manning is as short and curvy as Arnold was tall and lanky. Tender as they could be with each other, the pair of them made imposing opposition in an argument with any other force on the planet. I asked Marvel for some particulars of Arnold’s life and she obliged.

Arnold Manning was born on June 10, 1932 in Rome, Georgia and spent much of his growing time in Alabama. At the age of 18 he went to work doing pipeline construction and traveled all over the country on the job. He met Marvel in her Idaho hometown in 1957 and they were married within a week. They moved to Michigan where Arnold had played pitcher and shortstop for the Detroit tigers farm team in Ypsilanti. By the time they had three small children and another on the way, Arnold decided to stop traveling and settle down so he could be with his family. The Mannings moved directly to Eugene, Oregon in 1961. Arnold went to work in the sawmills of the area and retired twenty years later.

Before he began training boxers, Arnold took up archery and became a master bowman. Marvel says, "My husband never did anything unless it was competitive." As an archer Arnold won the Oregon state indoor and outdoor titles, the Northwest championship, the Southwest Regionals, and was ranked fifth in the nation. Trained on the recurve bow, Arnold lost interest when the compound bow and mechanical sites, "gadgets" as he called them, changed the sport to what he viewed as more mechanical than skill-dependent. After shooting three perfect games in a row with a compound bow he apparently thought the challenge was gone.

He also enjoyed playing golf, though never on a competitive level. "He loved playing golf with his grandson," says Marvel. He started the boy out at the age of four and the pair took every opportunity to hit the links together.

Until his health began to fail two years ago, he pitched competitive horseshoes and won many tournaments.

Arnold and Marvel have 5 children, 8 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. He adored the children and enjoyed making holidays special for them from Christmas morning to Easter egg hunts. He died on Memorial Day, Monday, April 28, 2001, of complications following heart surgery. At his simple funeral service, boxer after boxer got up to pay tearful tribute.

Marvel says, "He had a full life, and he enjoyed everything he did. He got to do the things he wanted to do, and go where he wanted to go. He truly enjoyed it."

Those who knew him best, loved him mightily. The rest of us could never do less than respect him.

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