Past the prime of a career that never saw a world title but not yet near the prime of life we as human beings are given, the news that the exciting journeyman Julian Letterlough was gunned down this past week is something the words in this column will fail to hit the mark with. Those who were close to Letterlough - his wife and 15 year old son along with friends - and those of us who watched “Mr. KO” battle Julio Gonzalez, Richard Hall and Vassiliy Jirov through the years simply as fans will be affected in a way that no words in this column can describe. Whatever religion, belief, or idea of thought that you go about living your life in, may we all find the strength and courage to continue with our lives through the memories Julian Letterlough gave us all throughout his career.
Death in the ring is by far the most feared echo through a fighters mind, and while fighters do not wish to die, most understand the consequences that this brutal blood sport can leave you with. It is never easy to accept death, even if that death is by way of turning off the life support of an aging loved one. When it happens in the ring those who grow close to the fighter who dies can at least rest with the idea that he or she was doing what they loved to do - fighting until the fight was removed from their hearts.
The healing process is something that both the fallen fighter’s family and the fighter in the opposite corner can help each other with. No other fighter ever wishes to permanently damage another man, no matter what you hear from another guy’s mouth during the promotion of a big fight.
Julian Letterlough didn’t die between the ropes, instead he was shot in the back and killed at the scene in Redding, PA this past week. A bullet to the back, not a glove to the side of the temple, brought a man’s life to an end and for what? The reports are that Letterlough was trying to break up a domestic issue around 2AM when looked at his wife and son for the last time and turned his back only to die in the streets.
Julian Letterlough’s death is not a black eye on the sport of boxing. Instead it’s a black eye on the society that we all live in. Another man attempts to help out someone and in turn gets his life taken away. Perhaps Letterlough should have minded his business. Then maybe he would be sleeping next to his wife tonight - maybe he’d wake up to hear his 15 year old son’s voice once again. But anyone who knew Julian Letterlough or watched any of his fights knows that Letterlough wasn’t one to turn the other cheek if he felt he could change a situation for the best.
Maybe Letterlough learned the true value of life while he was behind bars early in his life, or maybe he was always the courageous heartfelt giant the people who were closest to him knew. Whatever the reason, Julian Letterlough was a compliment to most of the people on the streets who come from nothing and have to face decisions that seem to put their life in the gutter. Letterlough is proof that no matter how bad your life may be going, as long as you’re breathing there is a way for you to get your act together and have a positive affect on someone else’s life. It’s a lesson the man who shot Letterlough never understood.
There are plenty of questions as to why Julian Letterlough was killed, but we will never know the answers and no matter what happens to the murderer there will be no justice done for the family and life of Julian Letterlough. The only thing we can do now is hope that “Mr. KO” is resting in peace.