|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - November 13, 2015
Superstition says that Friday the 13th is supposed to be an unlucky day. However, for this web site and its effort to honor Mathew Saad Muhammad with a gravestone at his final resting place, this triskaidekaphobic day was one of good fortune and turned out to be a time for celebration. Saad Muhammad's gravestone was finally placed on Friday, November 13, 2015, after a brisk round of fundraising and an arduous production process.
Without dwelling on the negative, this project, the fifth gravestone for an area boxer by PhillyBoxingHistory.com, was a difficult endeavor. Perhaps fittingly, the arc of this task played out like one of Miracle Matthew's life-and-death battles at the Spectrum.
Like a Saad fight, things started well. Fans, friends and admirers of the great former light heavyweight champion stepped up and contributed the $5,000-plus necessary to pay for the stone. However, just like a one of Saad's fight's, things took a quick turn in the middle rounds.
We experienced a series of difficulties with the company hired by Matthew's family to produce the stone. The company missed numerous deadlines and projected completion dates, and eventually stopped returning my calls and e-mails altogether. The only way to make contact and to press them was to pay an occasional surprise visit. I did my best to twist their arm, but hope began to fade and a dreadful sense that the company would completely default on their duties began to set in.
Attorneys were consulted and then just before legal action was about to proceed, things got even worse - just like one of those great old Saad Muhammad fights.
So many times, I watched Saad Muhammad get knocked down, get cut, or be brutalized along the ropes. At times, it seemed like he'd never come off those ropes.
Our project hit the ropes and appeared on the brink of defeat when the local TV news presented a story about a monument company that had been failing to complete gravestones. It turned out they had done this to about 50 consumers. And yes, this was the same company that we were using.
It was always hard to watch my favorite fighter take the punishment, but his fights always came with a sense of hope and even a promise that he would turn things around - somehow. I had temporarily forgotten that everything connected with Saad Muhammad was an exciting ride, to say the least.
I had all but lost my hope that this situation would turn out okay. With 50 people ahead of us, how would even a lawsuit (by us) get our money back.
Then on lucky Friday the 13th, we came off the ropes, just like Saad Muhammad.
I received a call saying that Saad Muhammad's monument was completed and had been placed at his gravesite! Moments later, I confirmed this news with Ivy Hill Cemetery. Suddenly, our project had a Matthew Saad Muhammad-style finish. Everything was just fine in the end. What a relief!
So now Matthew has his gravestone and joins Tyrone Everett, Gypsy Joe Harris, Sugar Hart and Jimmy & Eddie Cool in our little club of gravestone recipients. What a great group of fighters. Matthew is in good company.
Matthew's was our fifth gravestone, but there are many more still to complete. A huge 'thank you' to all of those who contributed to the Gravestone Fund and made it a reality.
Matthew was a great fighter and his beautiful monument is fitting for such a Philly boxing history giant. Rest in Peace Matthew.