Piece Of Early Local Radio Sports Broadcasting, Amateur Boxing History Surfaces

Friday, January 7, 2022 - by Earl Freudenberg

It was 62 years ago that Gene T. Reese defeated Richard Bachus in the Chattanooga Golden Gloves classic bout at the Memorial Auditorium. Mr. Reese had won the 1949 and 1950 Chattanooga Golden Gloves  Heavyweight Championship.  The Jan. 29 event was labeled by some as his comeback bout.

Retired broadcaster Jerry Lingerfelt said he was at the event pulling for Reese. Mr. Lingerfelt said, “It was a tremendous fight.  Bachus was built like a Greek God and Reece was a tough, well-trained fighter.”  

City Court Judge Russell Bean said he listened to the fight on WAPO radio.His brother, Crawford Bean, attended the fight.

Chattanooga Funeral Home Associate Gary Goodwin was 14 and watched from the upper section of the auditorium as Reese defeated Bachus. Mr. Goodwin shared a tape recording of the radio program featuring Frank Hubbs as color announcer and Gus Chamberlain as sportscaster.

He acquired the recording from his very close friend, the late Skipper Fairbanks. They were being sold for $10 each.

The broadcast has special meaning to me. Mr. Hubbs gave me my first job at WAPO, which was helping Mr. Chamberlain with the Lookouts away games that came to the studio by ticker tape.

Richard Bachus was the golden gloves champion at the time, but Gene Reece beat him in the final bout at the Memorial Auditorium. 

Gary said he was only 14 and was at the boxing match. He said it was one of the most exciting things he had ever witnessed. 

He acquired the recording from his very close friend, the late Skipper Fairbanks. They were being sold for $10 each.

This is special to me since I knew Gus, Frank and had met Gene.  This is one of the few existing recordings of Gus Chamberlain longtime Chattanooga sports announcer, including the Chattanooga Lookouts. 

Gene T. Reese, of Harrison, died in 2017 at the age of 86.

He was a 1950 graduate of Kirkman High School. Gene was on the baseball team and the boxing team at Kirkman. He won the Chattanooga Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championships in 1949 and 1950. He then won the Southern Golden Gloves Championships in 1950 that was conducted in Nashville.

He would have advanced to the National Golden Gloves Championships, but his father talked him out of going by saying, “Son, those boxers at the Nationals box year-round and you only box a few months a year."

After Gene graduated from Kirkman High School in 1950, he married his high school sweetheart, Cherrie McDaniel. They were married to for 47 years until her death in 1997.

Later that year Gene was drafted into the Army and served his country for two years until his discharge.When he returned home he worked with his father in his grocery store business. His father started building houses and Gene got the idea from his father and began building a few years later. He built houses in Gaylan Heights Subdivision and started a rental business. He built two houses in Lake Hills subdivision and later bought property in Harrison and started building duplexes for rental property with his son and grandson. Their business grew and later became the Reese Family Partnership.

Gene regretted not going to the National Golden Gloves in 1950 so 10 years later at age 29 he decided to make a “comeback”. He won the Chattanooga Golden Gloves in the “Classic Bout” with Richard Bachus that was fought at the Memorial Auditorium on Jan. 29, 1960. Many folks remember this famous bout that was talked about as being the “Greatest Bout in Chattanooga”. He then advanced to the Southern Golden Gloves in Nashville, but lost in the first round.

Gene began his career as a referee/judge in amateur boxing in 1962. He was an International referee/judge from 1986 through 2003 and continued as a National referee/judge until 2014 having served for 52 years as a referee/judge in amateur boxing.

Gene traveled to 24 countries representing the United States Amateur Boxing. Among these countries he worked as a referee/judge were Russia, Africa, England, Puerto Rico, Cuba ( five times), Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Canada, Peru, Greece, Indonesia, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Romania, Mexico, Thailand, Hungary, Argentina, Venezuela and Norway.

Gene also worked the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as a timekeeper.

He was inducted into the Chattanooga Area Old Timers Association Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also named Official of the Year of USA Boxing at the National USA Convention in Augusta, Ga., in 1998. He was inducted into the National Golden Gloves Hall of Fame in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2013.

Some of the amateur boxers that Gene officiated their bouts then later became professional world champions were Aaron Pryor, Frankie Liles, Frankie Randall, Marvin Johnson, Ray Mercer, Riddick Bowe, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones and Mike Tyson.

Gene truly loved amateur boxing. In the many years that he devoted himself to this sport, he was determined to abide by the rules in the Rulebook and his officiating reflected this principle to the fullest. He called the bouts as honestly and fairly as he could with no partiality or prejudice toward either boxer and with safety for both boxers as his ultimate objective.

Gene was an active member of Bayside Baptist Church of Harrison and the Faith/Jubilee Small Group Class. He was also a member of Harrison Masonic Lodge 114, a retired member of the IBEW Local 175 having worked as a journeyman electrician at several electrical shops and at TVA, from which he retired in 1993.

This is the actual broadcast on WAPO with the late Gus Chamberlain and late Frank Hubbs.

Click here to listen.


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