For the better part of 20 years, Jimmy Glover used to send me handwritten letters on notebook paper every few weeks or so during boxing season.
The first time I got one I was 24 years old, fresh out of college and navigating my first job in journalism.
It was written in cursive and when somebody put it on my desk I recall saying something like “What in the world is this? I can’t even read it.”
Over the years I learned to read Jimmy’s cursive and how important those notes were to him and the community he served.
One day one of the notes, which were summaries of the Covington Boxing Club’s matches, never made it my desk. I’ll blame on it somebody working at the front desk but I never figured out where it went.
Anyway, when the boxing news did not appear in The Leader that week I got my first phone call from Jimmy. I don’t recall if there were curse words involved but he definitely let me have it.
I held that against him for a while but eventually I began to understand why those letters were so important to him.
As the founder of the Covington Boxing Club, along with his sidekick Jimmy Humphrey, Glover cared deeply about the kids he trained.
For nearly 50 years, Jimmy coached youth boxers, the overwhelming majority of which were Black and from some of Covington’s poorest neighborhoods.
Jimmy, who died last Thursday at 82, wasn’t the kind of guy to talk about race relations very often. A former boxer himself, he just loved teaching kids how to box while doing his best to usher them into manhood.
I wrote a feature story on Jimmy and his club five years ago and I reached out to a few of his former boxers and also asked him what people thought about an old white guy coaching Black kids.
“One time a guy made a remark that white guys couldn’t teach Black kids,” Jimmy said. “My answer to him was that he was an idiot.”
His former boxers clearly thought of him as more than a coach.
“It kept me away from the streets,” said Kenny Anthony. “There was less time to just hang out.”
“Being around good people, both Jimmys helped me grow up,” said Chris Rudd.
When asked about Rudd at the time, Jimmy Glover said, “Our relationship has developed with these guys to the point that Chris calls me ‘Pop’ and his kids call me ‘granddaddy.’ It’s a relationship that you couldn’t compare to anything or replace it with anything else. There’s been a lot of guys like that.”
There have not been a lot of guys, if any, like Jimmy Glover.