Friday, January 23, 2009

Larry Holmes, Smokin' Joe Frasier Backing Judge Jack Panella in State Supreme Court Fight

Larry Holmes Ringside Restaurant, located in downtown Easton, was the setting for last night's first round in Judge Jack Panella's fight for the state supreme court. At least two hundred supporters crowded the bar, an impressive roster of local leaders that included Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Easton Mayor Sal Panto, DA John Morganelli, Senator Lisa Boscola, Judge Leonard Zito, state representative Bob Freeman, former County Exec Jerry Seyfried, future Judge Sam Murray and future mini-judge Tony Sortino.

Judge Panella was delighted at the turnout. "You all showed up for me. I can't thank you enough."

Of all the luminaries, two stood out. Larry Holmes, the former heavyweight boxing champion known as The Easton Assassin, is still a giant of a man. He's impossible to miss. He was tending bar and sneaking drinks while his wife's back was turned. Sitting at the bar was none other than Smokin' Joe Frazier, who brought his devastating left hook from the City of Brotherly Love.

When Larry got up to introduce Judge Panella, he mentioned that he was once Smokin' Joe's sparring partner. "Joe broke my ribs. I didn't even know it. But I got my revenge. I beat up his son." (Holmes pummeled Marvis Frazier in a 1983 title bout). At this point, Frazier made his way to the podium, but since Don King was nowhere to be found, there was no fight.

When Panella first decided to be a judge, he mentioned his interest to his client, Larry Holmes. Larry was none too thrilled. "What the heck are you thinking? We won't be able to go to the bars or hang out anymore." But he ended up liking the idea, noting the similarities between a Lehigh Valley judicial candidate and heavyweight boxer. "You're going to get hell beat out of you and people will say you can't do it. But I did it. Not by myself. I can't do it myself. And neither can Jack."

After all the introductions, Judge Panella finally spoke for himself. For the first time, I saw the passion he hides so well on the bench. He talked about his parents. His dad, a big man, supported his family by rolling carpets, hard physical labor. After being stricken with a heart attack on the job, workmen comp "experts" persuaded a referee that his father was fine. Three months later, he was dead. Jack also mentioned his mom, who was there to see her son. Every day on his way to school, he would stop by his mom's shop to say hi, and was nearly always knocked over by the heat in which she was forced to work to make other people rich.

"Someone has to be there to protect your rights and to protect your access to the judiciary. If you want to know why I'm here, that's why I'm running for this job."

If Round One is any indication, Judge Panella is on his way to a knock out. His web page, Vote Jack Panella, is now up and running.

(Incidentally, if you've never been to Larry's restaurant, check it out. All the boxing memorabilia, by itself, makes the trip worth it.)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey BO any County Officials there? Stoffa? County Council?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:15, I did not see a single member of county council or John Stoffa, and I was looking. But I can't be positive.

I do know this much. Judge Panella and John Stoffa have a great deal of respect and admiration for each other. I am sure that John will do whatever he can do to help.

A.J.C. said...

Larry Holmes is an jerk. However, he is a celebrity. This should be a good boost for Panella, especially considering the turnout.

A.J.C. said...

*a jerk (not an)

Now I'm the jerk...

Anonymous said...

bernie
i believe it was the first a potential supreme was ever introduced by a ring announcer
it should be an interesting race, he sure was fired up last night.
ps. you gained some weight over the years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:22, Since you must know me, why didn't you come over and say hi?? Yeah, I was suffering from anorexia nervosa, but made a complete recovery.

Anonymous said...

Again, this R likes Jack. And don't feel bad Bernie, I used to be anorexic, made a full recovery, and now have more chins than a San Francisco phone book. The medium ain't always so happy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:15,

To be clear, there were some county officials there. DA John Morganelli was there. So was Controller Steve Barron.

I am also informed that later that night, people had to pry LC Dem chair Rich Daugherty away from Frasier w/ a crowbar.

Anonymous said...

A.J.C. yes, you are a jerk...Perhaps just because you have a blog you think you you are somebody. When you have done what Larry Holmes has done, maybe you will measure up to him. Until then, keep dreaming.

Anonymous said...

Bernie. Chairman Joseph Long has been working hard for Judge Panella. Why can't you give him any credit for his hard work ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The biggest favor Joe Long could do for Jack Panella is to stay in the shadows. Party chairs should not seek "credit."

A.J.C. said...

I'm a jerk, said the anon.

Anonymous said...

You are right they should get credit not seek it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Look, Panella is seeking the support of both parties. I saw Ds and Rs at his campaign kickoff. The last thing he needs is to be tied to one party.

Anonymous said...

Future mini-judge Sortino? Umm...don't think so.