30 Years Since Plane Crash in Warsaw Carrying Olympians Boxers
Ken Hissner (March 16, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
In talking with Ted Palac, one of USA’s best trainers the other day he reminded me of the 30th anniversary of the horrendous plane crash in Warsaw, Poland. There were 14 boxers and 8 officials from the USA team on the plane that went down taking 77 passengers and 10 crew members overall in the worst air crash in Poland’s history on that 14th of March in 1980.
Palac was a member of the 1966 Polish team that travelled to Sweden. Palac never returned to Poland staying in Sweden for 2 years. He would come to the US in 1968 and later produced 2 sons that would become National Champions. There was David in 1995 and 1996 and Arthur in 1999 and 2000.
In spite of President Carter boycotting the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia, tournaments were still being held with US boxers throughout Europe and Russia in 1979. On the flight were boxers Tyrone Clayton and Lonnie Young from Philadelphia. Young had a recreation center in the Germantown section of the city named after him. Clayton took the place of Robert “Bam Bam” Hines who would later become a world light middleweight champion. Marvis Frazier was another Philadelphian who did not make the trip due to his father, “Smokin” Joe Frazier advising him not to go. Nearby Coatesville heavyweight Jimmy Clark showed up late and missed the train. Former world light heavyweight champion bobby Czyz had once told Clark “you’ll even be late for your funeral someday!” How right he was.
State of Washington’s Davey Armstrong would also miss the plane due to a lost airline ticket. Armstrong was a member of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic teams. Speaking of the 1976 team, Tom “Sarge” Johnson, their coach also was on the plane. Another Washington boxer was not so fortunate in Chuck Robinson of Port Angeles. Others on the flight were Lemuel Steepels, from St. Louis, Andre McCoy, of New Bedford, Mass., Paul Palomino, who was the brother of Carlos Palomino, the former world welterweight champion. Kelvin Anderson, like Young, had a recreation center named after him in Hartford. Walter Harris, of San Francisco, Byron Lindsey, of San Ysidro, Byron Payton, George Pimental, David Rodriguez, Pamona, Jerome Stewart, US Army, Sgt. Elliot Chavis, were among the boxers. Col. Bernanrd Callahan, Carlisle official, Junior Robles, coach, Yrenio. Delores Wesson, physician’s wife, Dr. Ray Wesson, team physician, Joseph Bland, John Radison and Steve Smiegel were others.
Not only should we not forget the 1980 team that didn’t compete in the Olympics, but more so the 14 boxers whose lives were taken before they had a chance to compete for the team.