Lou DiBella, the 17th recipient of the Boxing Writers Association of America’s James A. Farley Award, acknowledges that an award presented for “honesty and integrity in boxing” must sound like an oxymoron to the average fight fan. And it’s true, the Farley is not given to just anyone, or even given every year, candidates needing to keep their reputations unsullied for a long enough period to rise above the bull---.
And if there’s one thing DiBella, the grandson of Italian immigrants, hates, it’s b.s.
“I don’t like it, and it seems to be everywhere,” said the blunt-speaking and always-direct DiBella, who went from 11 distinguished years as the senior vice president of HBO Sports to launching his own promotional company in 2001, DiBella Entertainment, of which he continues to serve as CEO. “I like people who look you in the eye and tell you the truth, whatever it is.”
DiBella will receive his Farley at the 91st BWAA Awards Dinner, the date and site of which have yet to be announced. But he said he is honored to join an elite group that is comprised of past winners Harry Markson, John F.X. Condon, Murray Goodman, Barney Nagler, Marvin Kohn, Eddie Futch, Howie Albert, Angelo Dundee, Dr. Margaret Goodman, Dr. Flip Homansky, Ron Scott Stevens, Mills Lane, Micky Ward, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and John Sheppard.
“Wow. That’s some list. I’m in great company,” DiBella said, who noted that his late father, Louis, will be foremost in his thoughts when he steps to the podium.
“He’s not around anymore, but I know he’d be proud,” said DiBella, a Harvard Law School graduate who was born in Brooklyn and has never strayed far or often from his hometown of New York City.
In many ways, DiBella is like the person for whom his award is named. James A. Farley, a former Postmaster General of the United States, was the son of Irish immigrants who had a deserved reputation as a straight shooter and who also served as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1925 to ’33. It takes individuals of strong character to survive and even thrive in a sport that is easy to love but which doesn’t always love you back.
“This business will, at times, break your heart,” DiBella admits.
And sometimes, if you stay the course and hold firm to your values, it can gladden it, too.