Johnny "One Of A Kind' Bos

San Francisco, CA– The passing of legendary matchmaker Johnny Bos over the weekend in Florida was a sad ending for one of the boxing games last Damon Runyon type of characters. Born John Bosdale, he was known globally in the boxing business simply as “Bos” or “Johnny,” a native New Yorker and part of Malcolm “Flash” Gordon’s inner circle hawking the ground breaking publication, “Tonight’s Boxing Program,” on fight night in front of Madison Square Garden.


There are several ways you can go with this story, but I think I’ll go at it the way Johnny dared me to for years. Unofficially banned by the New York State Athletic Commission in what was in Johnny’s mind a witch hunt, this culminating from a lawsuit stemming from Arturo Gatti not really weighing in for Joey Gamache, a fighter out of Lewiston, Maine, now a respected trainer who held WBA titles at 130 & 135 lbs. Even before this happened, Bos was at odds with the commission.


Ironically, the case would have more ups and down than an elevator. But at an appellate level, there was a ruling that agreed the weigh in was a sham, but still the jurists did not think a monetary settlement was warranted. According to Bos, and I’m going to give him a soap box now for he surely won’t get another opportunity to explain himself, the New York judges neglected to include any money in their 2009 judgement for Gamache because the cash-starved state would have lost millions and received yet more negative publicity.


Bos is also credited with bringing WBA 147 lb. guy Paulie Malignaggi into world class status by carefully building the Brooklyn native’s career one fight at a time until they parted ways. Bos said a New York based promoter gave him a cut of one of Malignaggi’s fights and then stopped. Extremely frustrated at being unable to apply his trade in New York, Bos claims he was run out of the Big Apple and that’s the reason he ended up in Florida where he died.


Since he first left New York almost 20 years ago, Bos has worked for a number of promoters mainly in Florida and has said because of the New York fiasco, that he was living in poverty as he occupied a Tampa area condominium. Having had “congestive heart failure,” Bos often railed on how he had no “health care” insurance and was slowly dying as a result. Bos, who has been predicting his imminent demise for years, told me that the heart condition was brought about by the use of “uppers.”


Back in 1988, telephone bills for us in the boxing business could range anywhere from $1,000 for a writer, to $4,000 for somebody in the “booking agent” role that Bos played so well. Johnny knew what time it was at any given point of the day and anywhere in the world. Simply put, outside of Hall of Fame member Teddy Brenner, whom Bos claimed was the driving force behind his being a matchmaker, and a few others, Johnny Bos was near the mountaintop when a drinking problem all but ruined his life.


I remember being with Johnny in Florida circa 1988-1989, once the nastiest drunk in boxing, Bos didn’t like being around people that were drinking. After he kicked the bottle, his not drinking helped him do some “damage control” to his career which had all but went down the drain because of the booze.


That being an understatement regarding Johnny Bos, the tale I will recount for you before we closeout this article is from February 1989. Most of the boxing world had gotten into Atlantic City for the memorable Roberto Duran-Iran Barkley clash before snow shut down the New Jersey Turnpike/Expressway that ran from AC to Philadelphia, PA. With the exception of that one young reporter who rented the last four wheel drive vehicle at the airport, a lot of people ended up stuck in Philly.


The genius behind “Sugar Ray” Leonard was Maryland attorney Mike “Top Cat” Trainer. While we at the press conference post fight, Trainer saw Bos wearing a raggedy imitation fur jacket from the Black exploitation movie era of the 70s, one that had obviously seen better days. “I hate that jacket” said Trainer in between puffs. “I’d like to burn it.” Joking? No, Top Cat was serious and offered me $1,000 cash to take the sweaty garment that was now laying over the back of a chair and trash it. “You take it, I’ll pay you and send him some money to buy a new ******* coat,” said the laughing attorney. I declined and Bos’ famed white coat would to the chagrin of some, make it to many more press gatherings.


Sans the Internet, I don’t know if Bos would have made it to 60 as he was happy being online all night until like 10 AM, before sleeping past 6 PM. When I last talked to him a few weeks ago, he brought up his failing health, lack of health insurance, how he got screwed in boxing, in other words, Johnny Bos was in true form. That’s the way I prefer to remember him.

Pedro Fernandez


  • Pedro, we gave the WIZARD of BOS.. a kind & proper send off, this Saturday past, in Hudson, Fl. Florida Boxing Hall of Fame members present; Tyrone Booze & bride, Pinklon Thomas, & Mrs. Thomas, Steve Canton, Walter Flansburg Pres., and Kathy his VP.. Rick Folstad, myself, and the Good Phyllis. Along with Francisco ‘El Tigre’ Arreola, ‘Silky’ Wilkey and his lovely Pro-Pug lady friend. Phil Doherty of FNWS,a few young and coming local Fl Fighters.. Bosdal family plus an Atlanta Boxing scribe.. I didn’t catch his name.. Many great stories prevailed.. pics of the BOS, from days gone by.. the Rev’s final words from the “Good Book”.. and as a final touch.. we all took the inflated celebatory Helium filled Baloons out side of Dobies Funeral parlor, saying a prayer, everyone released, sending Johnnny’s Soul off to Heaven..The Lord will have to limit the Bos-Meisters Long distance card..
    Good Time Johnny Long Gone… SEE YA…! ‘Your Third Man in the Ring’.

  • Shock to hear the news! RIP Johnny.

  • Pedro Fernandez

    Thanks Mike..

  • Miss you already Buzz Bos. Brings me back to the days of Flash Gordon, Eddie Cool, KO JO, Jeff Jowett. Those days in the early 1970’s were so special, with Duran, MonzonAli, Frazier,Foreman, and Jerry Quarry. I remember talking to Johnny at venues such as Felt Forum, Sunnyside Garden, and Philly Spectrum. He was a walking encyclopedia of boxing. The last several years were hard on the Buzz Man. He should rest easy free from pain and anguish.

  • Nice piece on Bos. I talked to him after the 11/30/13 fight Dhafir Smith from Philly was on in FL. Dhafir put Bos on saying he got robbed. Bos agreed but said don’t print it. I guess he either was covering for Dhafir or meant it. I gather no one can hurt him now. He was a really likeable guy whenever I met him. To call him a “character” would be like calling the Pope “Catholic”.

  • No sooner do I mention Bos in a column for the first time in more than 30 years of penning pieces than he dies. The power of the pen? Lindy Lindell

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