Boxing promoter Dan Goossen, who first staged bouts at the Reseda Country Club and later walked one of his fighters into the Staples Center ring for a world heavyweight title bout, died Monday at 64 of liver cancer complications, his family announced.
“The sudden news of his diagnosis was very much a private matter and his final days were spent surrounded by his family and closest friends,” the Goossen family said in a statement.
“Sadness is difficult to escape as we grieve his passing. However, we are filled with pride by the fact that Dan Goossen battled this aggressive illness with boundless strength and the last days of his life were fought and lived with unflinching bravery, pure love and grace beyond measure.”
An official close to Goossen’s family said the promoter was hospitalized around Labor Day. He would have turned 65 this week.
Goossen’s large San Fernando Valley-based family, noted in the naming of his original company, Ten Goose Boxing, included his late older brother Greg, a former major-league catcher, and brother Joe, a distinguished boxing trainer who supervised the late Diego Corrales.
Dan Goossen, after working under veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum, identified talent and promoted a slew of world champions, including brothers Rafael and Gabriel Ruelas, who won world lightweight and super-featherweight titles, respectively, along with Michael Nunn and Terry Norris.
Goossen had been in a prolonged legal battle with the best fighter of his career, Andre Ward (27-0), the world super-middleweight champion who hasn’t fought since November 2013. The California State Athletic Commission recently sided with Goossen’s rights to remain as Ward’s promoter while others -- beginning with Ward -- angled to separate the two.
Ward released a statement on Monday, saying, "I was deeply saddened to learn the news of Dan Goossen's passing early this morning. My thoughts and prayers have been with Dan and his family since I received the news of his illness last week. While Dan and I recently had our professional struggles, he was a great man, father and husband. He will be greatly missed by the boxing community. I will continue to keep the Goossen family in my prayers."
The back-and-forth was pure Goossen, a proud and assured career handler who also helped manage his close friend Pete Rose and bodyguard-turned-actor Mr. T at the height of his career. He also promoted a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight after Mayweather left Arum.
Goossen’s intense push to help make Riverside heavyweight Chris Arreola the division's first world champion of Mexican ancestry helped the heavy puncher with suspect overall skill to a 2009 shot against world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko at Staples Center.
But Klitschko dominated Arreola, who also lost a title shot against Bermane Stiverne in May.
"Everyone at HBO Sports is saddened by the sudden loss of Dan Goossen," said Ken Hershman, president of the sports programming service. "Dan was a dedicated boxing promoter who we worked closely with for many, many years on some of the most important fights in the sport. But what was even more impressive was his total commitment to his family, who were always right by his side during fight week or wherever his business required him to be. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Debbie, and the entire Goossen family."
“Dan stepped into the limelight in the world of boxing and he liked to dabble with Don King, and later battle with Arum in negotiations and the fight business, going head to head with them in the world of promotion,” said Steve Brener, Goossen’s longtime friend and his former publicist. “He viewed himself as one of the top promoters ... started from the ground up; the guy was a battler. We’re all going to miss him.”