Dan Goossen dies at 64; boxing promoter produced world champions

Los Angeles boxing promoter Dan Goossen, whose fighters included the Ruelas brothers Gabriel and Rafael, has died of liver cancer. He was 64.
Los Angeles boxing promoter Dan Goossen, whose fighters included the Ruelas brothers Gabriel and Rafael, has died of liver cancer. He was 64.
(George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times)

Boxing promoter Dan Goossen, who transformed his family’s vacant San Fernando Valley field into a business that produced world champions, died Monday of complications from liver cancer, his family announced. He was 64.

“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. No other details were disclosed.

Goossen’s large San Fernando Valley-based family of eight brothers and two sisters, reflected in the naming of his original company, Ten Goose Boxing, included his older brother Greg, a former major league baseball catcher who died in 2011, and brother Joe, a respected boxing trainer who supervised the late world champion Diego Corrales. All of the siblings were involved in the business.

One day a pair of youthful brothers, Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, came by the makeshift North Hollywood gym the Goossens built selling candy. They asked about learning to fight, and thus began the pair’s ascent to lightweight and super-featherweight world titles.

Dan Goossen’s momentum continued with Michael Nunn, Terry Norris and James Toney, all the while packing the Reseda Country Club with monthly fight cards that continued the tradition of the now-closed Olympic Auditorium.


Born Oct. 3, 1949, in Los Angeles, Goossen was the son of Al Goossen, a former Los Angeles police detective who investigated the Black Dahlia murder. A salesman before he switched to the boxing arena, Dan Goossen was known for his work ethic, arriving early at his Sherman Oaks office each morning, working to make deals and recruit talent.

The proud, sharp-dressed career handler also advocated for his close friend Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball for admitting to gambling on games, to be allowed into the sport’s Hall of Fame. He also managed bodyguard-turned-actor Mr. T at the height of his career.

Goossen’s longtime friend, publicist Steve Brener, said, “Dan liked to dabble with Don King, and later battle with [promoter Bob] Arum in negotiations and the fight business, going head to head … started from the ground up, the guy was a battler.”

Goossen had been in a prolonged legal battle with the best fighter of his career, Andre Ward (27-0), the super-middleweight world champion who hasn’t fought since November 2013. The California State Athletic Commission recently sided with Goossen in his fight to remain as Ward’s promoter, while others tried to separate the two.

“My thoughts and prayers have been with Dan and his family since I received the news of his illness last week,” Ward said in a statement. “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.”

Longtime boxing publicist Bill Caplan said Goossen’s push to maximize his fighters’ success was a constant, especially with recent heavyweight contender Chris Arreola of Riverside.

Goossen’s push to make Arreola the first world champion in the division of Mexican ancestry helped the heavy puncher with suspect skills land a 2009 shot at heavyweight world champion Vitali Klitschko at Staples Center.

Klitschko dominated Arreola, and in May Arreola lost a second title shot at Bermane Stiverne.

“Look at all the mileage he got out of Arreola … a street fighter who became a tough club fighter … by Danny’s hard work, he got him two world title fights,” Caplan said. “That was his hard work, knowledge, determination and grit.”

Goossen is survived by his wife, Debbie; their sons Rex and Max; sons Craig and Chris from a previous marriage; two grandchildren; his brothers Gordon, Pat, Mike, Larry, Joe and Tom; and his sisters Ellorie and Sandra. Services are pending.

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