In boxing, success isn’t always measured in how much hardware you have, or how many championships you’ve won.
The impact and legacy you leave behind, and how you pave the way for future boxers defines the success you achieve inside and out of the squared circle.
On Thursday, November 8, 2012, former heavyweight knockout artist Lou Esa’s service to the boxing game will be honored in the strongest way possible; his induction into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
Inside the ring Esa put together a record of 19-6 with 16 KO’s, establishing himself as a hard-nosed fighter who never shied away from any opponent.
When Esa banged gloves in his day, boxing was a different game; it wasn’t about fighting for money, or for endorsement deals, or accumulating millions of Twitter followers.
Lou Esa went to battle for one reason, and one reason only—to see who the better fighter was on that given night. He left it in the ring each time he stepped between the ropes, and through his career he had the opportunity to work with the game’s best, including Angelo Dundee, Murray Gaby, Dwayne Simpson and more.
About being elected into the boxing hall of fame, Esa commented, “I think it is really cool that I am being recognized by my peers. It’s an honor that people in this game are noticing that you really did something in this sport, that you made a difference, and that people know who you are. I think it’s really nice that I was part of the game, and I was always in it to win it.”
Since retiring from the sport in 1981, Esa has been an active figure in the boxing world, training amateur Golden Glove champions, managing and training pro fighters, and lending his time as a referee and judge to the NJ Amateur boxing association.
Boxing has always been a part of Lou Esa, and he is adamant about continuing to give back to the sport that has given him so much.
Reflecting on various parts of his career, Esa shared, “I once fought a guy by the name of Tom Prater. It was my first eight rounder, and I got a draw. I thought I won the fight, and so did Angelo Dundee. He was arguing with the boxing commission and the judges; everybody thought I won the fight.
"So in the weeks after I was training for the rematch, and I sustained a rib injury during training, preventing me from taking the fight. Well, Tom Prater went on to getting a fight against champion Larry Holmes aboard the USS Lexington aircraft carrier, so I missed my chance.”
Despite the adversities Esa faced inside and out of the ring, he was always well respected due to his demeanor and work ethic.
Esa touched on another time in his career that stands out. “One time I came to the weigh in, it was my second fight, against a fighter by the name of Clarence “King Kong” Morris. I saw my opponent, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, he is enormous.’ When we touched fists at the weigh in, his hand was four times the size of mine.
"I was avoiding him the first round, so scared, and he swung at me; I ducked under and hit him with a left hook, which dropped him to the canvas. The whole building shook when he hit the ground, and I remember thinking, ‘please don’t get up, don’t get up.” Esa won the fight by first round knockout.
“One other time, I was fighting for the first time out of Orlando. They set up the ring on top of a stage, and when we got into the ring and started moving around, everything was shaking. When I hit my opponent, he hit the ropes, and the whole ring collapsed, and we ended up on the ground.”
Years since his experiences within the ring, Esa still smiles as he recounts the stories, showing his true love for the sport.
Anybody that has had the opportunity to work with Esa can attest to his genuineness and selflessness when it comes to helping out beginners or even veterans of the sport.
As a trainer he is unlike the majority of those out there looking to benefit themselves, as Esa thrives on being able to pass along technical advice that was given to him by some of the sports finest. As a manager he goes out of his way to help out up and coming athletes, ensuring they don’t get into bed with the typical promoters/managers who are solely looking out to line their pockets.
“There are so many nice people and legitimately good people that I’ve met through boxing,” Esa added. “It’s a shame that boxing has such a bad rap. There are good and bad people in everything; it’s just that you have to know how to dodge the bad people.”
Always willing to lend an ear to a green boxer or share advice about his experience, Esa closed with the following, “When you get your start in the game, you have to pick yourself a good trainer, someone who cares about you. You have to have a connection, someone you care about and someone that cares about you.
"He doesn’t only tell you to run, but he goes out of his way to take you and be there with you. If you’re gonna start boxing, you have to break your butt. It’s not an easy game. You have to trust the people you are working with. Find the right people; it’s hard to do but they are out there.”
Lou Esa is a testament to the good that exists in boxing, and maintains the roots of what the sport once was, and what it can be again.
It’s been an honor to know Lou Esa, to have the chance to learn from him inside the ring as well as out, as he has taught me much about life, and has been there through the good and bad.
And it’s a true privilege to see him honored the way he is being honored November 8 when he is inducted to the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame. Nobody deserves it more than Lou.
Since first meeting Lou I’ve been proud to call him my trainer, a business associate, and above anything else…a true friend.
Tickets are still on sale to honor Lou Esa’s induction into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame at its 43rd Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremonies, to be hosted at the Venetian located at 546 River Road in Garfield, New Jersey.
For tickets contact Lou at 973-885-7962.
Again, many congratulations to one of the truest warriors to every lace the leather up. We love you Lou!