EDITOR, The Tribune.
Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller is a name many more Bahamians should know. No, I’m not a member of his family, or in other ways related to him. I don’t even have his, or his family’s permission to say what I’m saying. I did, however, work with him briefly at C C Sweeting Junior High School many years ago. He impressed me as much then as he did with his pugilistic skills and bicycle riding abilities years and years before that. The fact that, even physical education teachers, in recent years, claim never to have heard of him is to me a big shame.
My earliest recollections of Boston Blackie came when I was very young. In those days, my good buddy and I would sneak into various venues to watch a night of boxing. We would go to the nearby Zanzibar Club, the Birdland Arena, and even the Nassau Stadium. Mostly, we would not have the money for admission, so we would either climb up on the lattice screens or high walls to peep inside. Once or twice we would find ingenious ways to actually get inside. When Boston Blackie was on the ticket we knew that we would get more than our “money’s worth” of excitement.
In those days, aside from his famous ‘bolo punch’, I was impressed with the ‘heart’ of this champion. No matter the size, skills or reputation of his opponents, Boston would give his best and satisfy the crowds. The pay could not have been that good -- perhaps a few pounds, shillings and pence. The bruises, on the other hand, would have given many others second and third thoughts. All the same, I enjoyed seeing his strength and courage, but must confess that Boston was not my favourite fighter. Because Muhammed Ali was my idol from the time I first heard of him as Cassius Clay, that smooth style of boxing captured my admiration most. Accordingly, Tidal Wave, Sugar Kid Bowe, Cassius Moss and others got my devoted applause.
Because my father was an avid bicycle racing fan, I came to know of and follow Boston Blackie in that sport, as well. The same enthusiasm that he showed in the ring transferred to the streets as he participated in race after race. As I saw it, win, lose or draw, Boston maintained his heart of a champion in those endeavours as well.
Years passed and his active life in both sports waned. The next time Boston came into the spotlight for me was a time of him defending himself against one of the greatest political giants of the time. Although I did not follow those particulars very closely, to my mind, Boston maintained his heart of a champion in that sphere, too.
In more recent times, I have suggested to certain individuals associated with organisations of note that Boston was worthy of being honoured in some way. I was assured that it was a good idea, and some actions along those lines would be considered. If, indeed, such actions have stirred in the least, I am yet to become aware of them. So, as the saying goes, “if ya want somethin’ done ...”. This can be considered my token effort to pay tribute to a great Bahamian. The example of Boston should shine as an inspiration to all; young and old -- about the spirit to fight for whatever is special or important to you. The sacrifice, dedication, sweat, hard work and endurance in giving one’s best efforts, regardless of the rewards, is a spirit we can use a lot more of these days in this Bahamas.
In high tide, and in low tide ... Boston deserves to be saluted.
September 6, 2019.