Sunday, September 09, 2012

Meeting A Boxing Fan

Do you recognize this guy?

Same guy.  Do you recognize him now?  His name is Bernie Kopell, and I met him at a Hollywood Show held out in the suburbs today.

Name doesn't ring a bell?  Okay.  For the benefit of those who aren't as old as me, or who have forgotten, Bernie Kopell is an actor who is known for his mastery of dialects.  The first photo above of him on the phone was when he was on the 1960's TV comedy "Get Smart".  Mr. Kopell played Sigfried, a German KAOS spy who often crossed paths with the hero of the show, Maxwell Smart.  Sigfried's character didn't appear in many episodes, but the character is one of the most memorable from that show.  "It seemed like I was on a lot because they've rerun that show so much," Mr. Kopell explained to me.  He had been appearing on that show, and episodes of another sitcom, "That Girl", at the same time.  Mr. Kopell went on to play cruise ship doctor Adam Bricker on "The Love Boat", a popular series that began in the late 1970's.

Why am I talking about Bernie Kopell on a boxing blog?  He asked me what I did for a living.  "I'm a church secretary by day, and an amateur boxer at night," I replied.  He looked at me with surprise.  "Really?  Women's boxing and women's MMA are really popular.  I love boxing.  My dad used to take me to fights when I was a kid," he said. 

We started talking about the Andre Ward-Chad Dawson fight that took place the night before.  I didn't see the fight, but I had read the results online.  Mr. Kopell had missed the initial broadcast, but was able to catch a repeat of the match this morning.  "Ward is a fantastic fighter.  Dawson is a great fighter too, but he wasn't a great fighter against Andre Ward last night," he said. 

"I worked at an event years ago with the boxer who broke Ali's jaw," he told me.  "Frazier? Foreman?" I asked, racking my brain.  "No, not them. . .," Mr. Kopell said.  "I know.  Ken Norton!" I said.  "That's who it was," he smiled.

I told him about sparring with men most of the time because most of the women who have come to the gym don't want to do that.  "Wow, that is something else!" he commented. Bill Mumy, who was a cast member on the old science-fiction TV series, "Lost In Space" came over to bid goodbye to Mr. Kopell.  "Watch out, she boxes!  She might knock you out, Bill," Mr. Kopell joked.  Mumy laughed, put his fingers up in a peace sign and said to me, "Peace!  Peace!"  I also met Barbara Feldon, who played Agent 99 on "Get Smart".  She had a table next to Mr. Kopell. 

Turns out that in addition to some celebrities who actually boxed when they were younger (Martin Lawrence, Robert Conrad, Jackie Gleason, for example), there appear to be a lot who are fight fans.  It always surprising to me to hear of celebrities who like boxing, as it seems so many promote the usual -- football, baseball, and basketball.  But it was very nice to meet another boxing fan who also happens to be one of my favorite actors. 

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