Davey Pearl World Boxing Hall of Fame Chip

Davey Pearl World Boxing Hall of Fame Chip


Las Vegas, NV-When somebody in the boxing community passes, I always try and make note of it, be it here, or on the radio. When referee Davey Pearl passed away a few months ago, I had my own health woes, and thus didn’t give this fine gentleman the attention his death warranted. It all started one day some months after the Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns fight, of which Pearl was the referee, Im walking through the only Las Vegas hotel that fight fans knew at the time, Caesars Palace.



Knowing Pearl from his 14th round stoppage of the Leonard-Hearns fight that took place in September 1981, I pondered what I should do. Should I just walk up to this man, introduce myself, and then run off a couple of questions. Feeling bold, as soon as the people that were talking to Pearl began to inhale, in stepped Pedro. I heard you were the last manager of Sonny Liston, can you tell me how you think he died? Well, surely he didnt overdose himself, said Pearl.


Not looking to brush me off, Pearl, a Las Vegas tavern owner who came to Las Vegas and worked as a hotel bellman almost 50 years ago before running a 24-hour bar, Daveys Locker, as well as a Travel Agency. It seems I had struck a nerve, as Pearl was emotional in his defense of Liston. Ali made him a monster, and he didnt deserve being portrayed as a bad guy. Years later he would tell me, Sonny was murdered.


When he died on March 12 at the age of 88, it was a merciful passing for Davey had been stricken with Alzheimers disease. In the end, a life cursed by Alzheimers or Dementia, is not a life. I talked to him on occasion up until about two and a half years ago. Appearing on Ring Talk Radio, as pleasant as he was, Davey wasnt afraid to say something if asked. Like in 1990, after Buster Douglas floundered against Evander Holyfield, it was Davey that told me that the bouts referee, Mills Lane, thought Douglas took a dive, and that caused a rile within the Nevada Athletic Commission.


As a referee, Pearl worked 70 world title fights. Besides rescuing Hearns, who didnt utter a word of protest, in the 14th round, Davey was the third man when Leon Spinks beat Muhammad Ali. I asked if he thought Ali had tanked it, had he lost to Leon on purpose? I just think he was way out of shape. And Ali was old. That, and the fact Spinks was throwing and landing lots of punches. Ali was overwhelmed. Ive heard people say before that they thought Ali lost just so he could win the title a third time. I didnt think so then, and I dont now.


Being the first referee to give the two fighters their pre-fight instructions in the dressing room, Pearl started a tradition that continues today. When you hear a referee say, Ive given you your instructions in the dressing room, that move was a Davey Pearl original!


Pearl did a lot for Las Vegas. It was Davey, then UNLV Assistant Athletic Director, in 1973 that talked Californias Jerry Tarkanian into coaching the UNLV Rebels. Along with his living twin brother, Lou Pearl, Davey, Art Lurie, Thalia Dondero, Jack Kogan, Paul Endy, and Joe Delaney were the founding members of the Old Time Reunion, an event that started as a breakfast in the mid 1990s, and has now blossomed into a gala event at the Stardust Hotel & Casino. In 1997 Pearl was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Having been present that night is how I got the Davey Pearl poker chip that you see in this article.


At first, Pearl had good days and bad. In other words, sometimes he instantly recognized you, and sometimes he didnt. Through the tough times, and believe me nothing is more gut wrenching than watching someone you care about lose their grip on reality. When it came to Daveys decline, referee Toby Gibson is the one that cared for this fine man through the toughest of times.


While this is about my buddy Davey, one needs to recognize that it was Toby Gibson, and not anybody else, who was aiding Davey as the Grim Reaperslowly went through his ten count. The good news, Davey is no longer suffering. As for Toby Gibson, if only more people had friends that were as true as Toby this world would truly be a different place! Take it from me fight fans, Davey Pearl, was the kind of man youd be proud to have known. I know I am!

Pedro Fernandez

Note: Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, talk show host, TV commentator, former San Francisco Policeman, and four-time Golden Gloves champion. Comments regarding the above can be left below.


  • I though about Davey and Lou Pearl a couple of days ago after hearing about the passing of my great friend Dennis Bowmer on August 23. 2014. Dennis and I owned and operated Bowmer & Berry’s Showkase at Maryland Parkway and D I road. This was in the mid sixties. Most nights after closing up the store about 9:30, we would head across the street to Davey’s Locker and down a few martinis before going home. Sonny Liston was a customer of ours as was many other famous people from the sports and entertainment field such as Harry James and Betty Grable. Davey and Lou used to tell us about Dean Martin and his daily ritual while booked at the Sands Hotel. Those were the days, I even got a call from Ben Goffstein one afternoon that he and his wife needed a new washer and dryer. That very evening Dennis and I skipped Davey’s Locker and headed to Ben and Dotty’s house on the D I golf course with brochures about Whirlpool’s top of the line washers and dryers and of course, Ben had Dotty serve monster vodka martinis to us as soon as we arrived. In late 2013 while visiting my son and his family in Las Vegas, I drove by the spot where Davey’s Locker used to be and was amazed that it is still there, same front, same sign etc. Marvelous Memories. Aloha, GWB

  • wow pedro let me tell you firstly your article
    about davey pearl and toby gisbon
    both men were very close to me
    please email me if you want me to tell a great story about both great

    yours in boxing
    bruce mctavish

  • My dad grew up with him in New Jersey and said what a great guy he was…I’m sure both of them are in Heaven having fun now !

  • Nice to hear some good words about Sonny. We’ll never know what happened at the end but he was one tremendous fighter

  • Sad to hear about Davey Pearl’s passing,especially the same disease that took my dad’s life. Always enjoyed watching him referee a bout.

  • Hi Bob Murphy – Just so nice to see your comments. I knew Dave my entire life until his very end, and even then I kept in touch with his twin brother Lou, and I’d visit Dave’s wife, Janet, until she was gone as well. I’m now 63. Dave and Lou were from New Jersey and they grew up with both of my parents. Dave loved my mom and dad, and they loved him too. He was a very good guy and I also miss him. It’s just real nice to read your comments about him. Thanks for the warm words. Oh – and I played handball with him once, just once. He was twice my age at the time. I thought I was decent but wow, I didn’t stand a chance. He had me running ragged around the court as he barely had to move, incredible control over the ball, the court, and me. It was actually very funny as I think back to that, maybe 30 years ago, give or take a few. Well, thanks again for the very kind words. Jeff

  • I knew Dave from my early years as
    a UNLV student during the early 70s.
    We used to meet on the handball courts
    where he would thrash me on a regular
    basis. I remember Dave being in excellent
    physical condition; especially considering
    his age at the time.

    I never remember Dave’s connection with
    the boxing world. I never followed boxing
    so that was not unusual. All I remember
    about Dave was his constant instruction
    to push myself hard on those handball
    courts. I will miss him very much

    Bob Murphy

    I will miss him so much. He was a great frie

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