Boxing says goodbye to West Coast legend Don ‘War-a-Week’ Chargin

Los Angeles-based promoter and matchmaker Don Chargin. Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles-based promoter and matchmaker Don Chargin. Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times

 

Hall of Fame boxing promoter and matchmaker Don Chargin sadly passed away last Friday, in San Luis Obispo, California.

 

Chargin, who had been battling lung and brain cancer, was 90 years old.

 

Age 90 is a good long run but it doesn’t make it any easier for friends, family or the boxing world to say goodbye and salute one if its true legends and lifers.

 

Chargin was born and raised in San Jose, California, and had been promoting and matchmaking for an incredible near-70-year run.

 

Beginning in the early 1960s, Chargin, along with partner Aileen Eaton and wife Lorraine, staged great fights all over the Los Angeles area, including the distinction of holding the only boxing match ever at Dodger Stadium.

 

(From left to right) Aileen Eaton, Lorraine Chargin and Don Chargin. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

(From left to right) Aileen Eaton, Lorraine Chargin and Don Chargin. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

 

Sadly Chargin lost his wife and best friend seven years ago to cancer and he had mourned her passing every day since.

 

He might be best known for his incredible, two-decade run of battles staged at the Olympic Auditorium in the mid-’60s to the mid-’80s that earned him the nickname “War-a-Week” Chargin.

 

Chargin created a fantastic stretch of legendary matches among massively popular Mexican and Mexican-American fighters like Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Bobby Chacon, Mando Ramos, Lupe Pintor, Pipino Cuevas, Alfonso Zamora, Gilberto Roman, Jaime Garza, Albert Davila, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and Richie Sandoval.

 

And the list goes on and on and on.

 

If you were going to fight on cards with a promoter with a nickname “War–a-Week,” you’d better be prepared to throw down, as Chargin was looking for action.

 

After hearing of Chargin’s passing, Top Rank CEO and fellow Hall-of-Famer Bob Arum told the Los Angeles Times this past week, “If you didn’t want to fight your ass off, he wasn’t interested.”

 

The matches that were staged at the popular Olympic Auditorium eventually led to it being dubbed the “The Madison Square Garden of the West.”

 

The word “legend” gets thrown around in sports circles on a regular basis. However in terms of his contribution to the sport and his incredible longevity in the game, the kind, gentlemanly Chargin was indeed a legend.

 

Twitter lit up after boxing’s participants and pundits learned of his passing and the tributes tell you just how loved and respected Chargin was.

 

“Just received sad word that Don “War-a-Week” Chargin, legendary HOF matchmaker, passed away today at 90. One of my heroes, mentor to me and @PeltzBoxing (J Russell Peltz) and (Golden Boy Promotions President Eric) @makeawar Gomez and (Golden Boy founder) @OscarDeLaHoya and so many others, including @BobArum. RIP War and thanks for all you did for us all.” – Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler

 

“I’m totally gutted w/the news of Don Chargin passing. He was & always will be remembered along w/wife, Lorraine, by all who knew them as true boxing HOF royalty! Now, they’re together again! R.I.P. Don & Lorraine.” – legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer

 

“Legendary matchmaker Don Chargin, known as “War a Week,” dead at 90 of cancer. Tough story to write for me. Don was a great guy and always so kind to me. When I moved to Las Vegas, I met three people who were unbelievably kind and helped me learn about boxing: Bruce Trampler, (trainer) Eddie Futch and Don Chargin. I’ll never forget any of them.” – Las Vegas sports writer Kevin Iole

 

“Gutted to learn of the passing of my mentor and dear friend, @IBHallofFame promoter Don Chargin. One of the last of a dying breed, they don’t make men like Don anymore (in or out of #boxing). I know he’s already happier, as he’s joined his beloved Lorraine.” – promoter Lou DiBella

 

“It is with a heavy heart we mourn the loss of our partner, friend, pal, and family member Don Chargin. We will miss you, especially the stories and advice. We are happy that you are reunited with Lorraine once again.” – Paco Presents Boxing

 

“RIP Don Chargin, a man who truly gave his life to #boxing and made great contributions to the game. He will be missed.” – boxing writer Steve Kim

 

“The most important lesson over the years I learned from Don was never get too excited about a prospect until he gets hit on the chin.” – Barranquilla Boxing

 

“Rest in Peace Don “War a Week” Chargin, Olympic Auditorium matchmaker for 25 years, boxing sage, and dear friend. #18thandGrand is dedicated to him.” – Olympic Auditorium Boxing

 

“Lost my best friend in boxing, maybe in life. Don Chargin, last of the great all-time boxing promoters/matchmakers who made a difference.” – J Russell Peltz/Peltz Boxing

 

“Oscar (De La Hoya) is the one who brought me into this business, but Chargin made me. He molded me, taught me how to negotiate, how to handle personalities, how to deal with the networks. He was so special to me. He opened up the treasure box into boxing and allowed me to understand everything.”  Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez

 

“A terrific boxing man, a tremendous matchmaker and knowledgable regarding what would sell to the public. He was a very valuable resource to me about what areas to place certain fights.” – Top Rank CEO Bob Arum

 

“Today, the sport of boxing lost a legend. For decades, “War a Week” Don Chargin was universally known as a titan of promoting and matchmaking. His events at the Olympic Auditorium were not to be missed, and along with his wife, Lorraine, he was the linchpin of boxing in California and beyond. But to those of us at Golden Boy Promotions, he was so much more. He was a partner. He was a mentor. And he was a friend. To say Don will be missed doesn’t come close to explaining the sadness we all feel today.” – Golden Boy Productions

 

“(On the loss of his beloved wife Lorraine and her induction into the Hall of Fame) Chargin was overjoyed at the occasion, believing his wife should have been inducted alongside him in the first place. He grieved for her every day. He missed her so much.” – veteran boxing publicist and longtime Chargin friend, Bill Caplan

 

Don, boxing – and your friends – thank you for all your contributions to the sport.

 

Lorraine and Don Chargin. Photo courtesy of Olympic Auditorium on Twitter

Lorraine and Don Chargin. Photo courtesy of Olympic Auditorium on Twitter

 

Rest in peace; God bless…and give Lorraine our love.

 

 

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.

 

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