JANUARY 17 was designated Martin Luther King day in the United States. It was also a day that had been eagerly anticipated by fans of actress Betty White, who in the end fell a few weeks short of reaching her long-time goal of making it to 100. Of course, for boxing fans the focus was once again on Muhammad Ali, who would have turned 80. What a birthday celebration that would have been.
Others in the industry sharing the same birthday as “The Greatest” are Oleksandr Usyk (35), Buddy McGirt (58) and Ann Wolfe (51). Cus D’Amato, who had been born 114 years before, is another. The one birthday scarcely mentioned was that of Steve Lott, who played a very important role in the Mike Tyson story. Lott passed away last November 6 in Las Vegas, where he resided. He hit his head after suffering a fall, due to a reported epileptic seizure. Lott would have turned 72.
Introduced to boxing by handball companion Jim Jacobs in 1972, Lott found employment working for his friend Bill Cayton’s film company (Big Fights Incorporated). Lott’s contribution was invaluable and saw him graduate from film editor to executive producer in the company. Many of the classic fights we see have his fingerprints on them.
The trust that Jacobs and Cayton had in Lott was unwavering. When he was not in the office, Lott served as camp coordinator for the fighters the duo managed Tyson, Wilfred Benítez and Edwin Rosario, among others.
Lott never looked to garner attention, but it was unavoidable being around Tyson during the glory years. For a while, they lived together. Lott’s job was to keep a watchful eye over Tyson, but his concern went over and beyond what he was paid to do. Tyson was his friend, whose legacy he was protective of.
The Tyson relationship was a complex one for Lott, who was fiercely loyal to Jacobs and Cayton as well, siding with them during those turbulent times. When Tyson moved on, Lott was heartbroken. They would reunite many years later, working together in an occasional business capacity. The relationship was not as tight as it had once been but the remnants of Lott’s affection for his one-time pride and joy remained intact.
Lott’s years of working on fight footage of the greatest fighters in history, resulted in him becoming a historian of the sport. At the time of his death, he was the CEO of the Las Vegas Boxing Hall of Fame. As a member of that nominating committee, I had the privilege of being able to witness first hand Lott’s devotion to boxing history.
Lott was as accommodating as they came. His loyalty extended outside of his inner circle to practically everyone he came into contact with. Which is why Eva Futch felt the need to do something special for her friend. She designed a large card titled “In Loving Memory.” In it were pictures of Steve with Joe Frazier, and one of him standing between Tommy Morrison and Sylvester Stallone during the filming of Rocky V.
When the card arrived, it came with a side note from Futch, which said, “I am doing this because I believe in loyalty and friendship and Steve did not get a proper send-off (or even an obituary). He deserved more, as much as he did for the sport of boxing.”
We honour Steve Lott here. Gone, but not forgotten.