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Legendary promoter-matchmaker Don Chargin passes away at 90

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Russell Peltz: “What did we lose? The last of the all-time great promoter-matchmakers. From when boxing really mattered.”

LA Times via Getty Images

“War A Week,” they called him, and his good buddy Russell Peltz recalls on Friday afternoon, a few hours after learning Don Chargin was gone, nobody ever had a mean nickname for him.

He was 90 and had battled cancer. Russell said he’d gotten a good report from his doc in Cali, so Peltz was in LA when I called him. He was going to see Don Sunday, at the luncheon for the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame. Now, no. He is left with the fondets of memories of a guy who truly won’t be replaced, because the era he thrived in won’t be back.

“My first meeting with Don was in 1972, I was driving cross country,” said the Philly fixture, who is also a throwback, as Don was, to eras that young bucks can only ask or read about. He went to Don’s stomping grounds at the Olympic, and walked in there.

Russell was 25, had been promoting since 1969, and he was impressed because Don didn’t bigtime him. He treated him with dignity and respect. That’s why, Russell says he told his wife, he’s never known anyone who nobody, not anybody, had a bad word for — not in text or vocally. “Especially not in this business!”

They did business together then, Russell and Don, Don of course part of a dynamic duo with wife Lorraine. Russell saw him when Lorraine was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June. He’d flash back to fights they made and saw. Lupe Pintor beating Alberto Sandoval at the Olympic, February 1980. Russell thought back to that one.

“He sat me at ringside,” the PA man says. His Jeff Chandler also was a bantamweight ace at that juncture.

“We were very close. What did we lose? The last of the all-time great promoter-matchmakers. From when boxing really mattered. There’s nobody left from that era. Now, a lot of people get into it for business. Don got into it because he really loved boxing.”

Didn’t even need a handshake with Chargin, who boxed as a teen but quit because of a heart issue, his assent was enough.

“He believed in making good fights,” Peltz continued. Sounds like a no-brainer but not so; so many just want to stack Ws now.

“It’s an era you’re never going to see again. You can have eight thousand stations, if you’re not making good fights, forget about it.”

The 60s and 70s, so many of those cats would have cleaned up today, snagging belts like puppies collect smiles. Ruben Olivares, Mando Ramos, Sugar Ramos, Lupe Pintor, Alberto and Richie Sandoval, Chucho Castillo, Alberto Davila, Frankie Duarte, Alphonse Halimi, Jesus Pimentel, Carlos Zarate, they were in Wars of the Week.

Don’s first promotion, at the age of 23, was Eddie Chavez vs Manuel Ortiz on September 3, 1951. From 1964 to 1984, he served as matchmaker at the Olympic, working alongside fellow Hall of Famer Aileen Eaton.

Chargin got into the IBHOF in 2001. He then worked as an advisor to Golden Boy. His world took a hit when Lorraine died in April 2010. “There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage,” he said after, “but I think we had the closest thing to one.”

Peltz sounded slightly shocked. He’d been looking forward to the lunch. The event had been dedicated to Don, in fact, a while ago.

Peltz on September 30 will celebrate making his first card 49 years ago. One of his major influences, maybe his best buddy, period, won’t be there to congratulate him. “He was the best. The best. It’s a sad day.”

But here’s maybe an idea to cheer you up. Believe in heaven, then. ”I don’t know what I’ll do without my sweet Lorraine,” Chargin said in a statement after Lorraine died. “I can’t stop looking at her picture. The only comfort I have is knowing that my sweetheart is no longer suffering.”

They are together again.