What will I always remember about the late Harold Lederman, who passed Saturday at the age of 79 from cancer? It was his voice.
I know, he was a beloved boxing TV personality. He was HBO’s unofficial boxing judge from 1986 until the network left the boxing business this past December. His daughter, Julie, is now a talented boxing judge in her own right.
A certain sector of the boxing community may not remember, but Lederman was a fine boxing judge of over 100 championship bouts starting in 1967 until 1999. He juggled that with a pharmacist career for years before boxing won out.
And good for the sport that it did! Boxing needs more Harold Ledermans, but sadly, there ain’t many.
It was his voice I’ll always remember. It wasn’t a deep baritone of a Barry White variety. It was more of a screech — a loud, annoying screech — but I loved every syllable.
You couldn’t over look his knowledge of the sport and you couldn’t ignore that voice.
It was like trying to separate Muhammad Ali’s boxing excellence from his braggadocio.
A Columbia University graduate, Lederman was so good he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2016. Among his many accolades, the Boxing Writers Association of America awarded him the “Good Guy Award” in 2006 and the Sam Taub Award for Broadcaster of the Year in 2008. But my memories are closer to home — and funny.
I remember working a Prince Naseem Hamed fight vs. Paul Ingle from Manchester, England for HBO International Television in April 1999. The fight was for Hamed’s WBO featherweight title and I was the TV analyst.
The day before the fight, I was walking the streets of Manchester with Mike “The Greek” Randolph, one of the International TV staff, when we went into a store. Before we left the hotel to get some air, I told Randolph that his job was to warn me when Harold was near, because I knew Harold loved to talk and I didn’t have the time for a long conversation.
I wanted to get back to hotel to go over my notes for the fight.
As we left the store, Randolph told me to wait a minute. I thought he was checking to see if the coast was clear when he motioned me to come out and I did … and right into a smiling Harold Lederman.
“Hello Tony, let me ask you something…, “said Lederman with that voice. All the while Mike Randolph stood off to the side — laughing and pointing at me.
Another time, I was hired to work a boxing card from Lehman College in the Bronx. I was going to do the play-by-play and when I asked who my color analyst was, I was told it was — yes — Harold Lederman.
We had a blast working the fight with that voice in my headset. It was even fun when Harold was on a roll and couldn’t stop talking.
Don’t get me wrong, whether talking with Harold in Manchester or working with him in the Bronx or picking his brain in New York, Atlantic City or Las Vegas, he was always a joy. He will be missed.