Dr. Donald Romeo touched thousands of lives in Las Vegas over the course of his 85 years.
On Saturday, approximately 400 family and friends filled Christ the King Catholic Community to pay their respects to Romeo, who died Feb. 15 after a lengthy illness.
Romeo’s 90-minute funeral Mass, which featured a touching video tribute and was followed by military honors in the church courtyard, had plenty of representation from the boxing world. Fellow doctors, commissioners, judges and journalists paid their respects to the man everyone called “Doc.”
“One of the nicest guys I ever met in boxing,” longtime judge Jerry Roth said of Romeo, who was Las Vegas’ first ringside physician and served in that capacity for 30 years. “He had a heart of gold.”
Said Dr. Al Capanna: “(Flip) Homansky and I sat at his foot when I began working pro fights in 1983. He had such a keen insight into boxing.
“We would see a fighter who we thought was in trouble, and we would be ready to rush to him, and Doc would say, ‘Nah, he’s all right.’ Doc always knew.”
Former Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Dr. Tony Alamo couldn’t make it to Saturday’s funeral. But he fondly recalled his relationship with Romeo, which went back to when Alamo was a teenager contemplating going into medicine.
“What always struck me was how friendly he was,” Alamo said. “I always tried to pick his brain, and even though I was just a kid, he treated me as if I were an adult. And he was that way with everyone he came in contact with. Doc was a pleasant man who treated everyone with respect.”
■ LANE HONORED — Former referee Mills Lane has been named the recipient of the “Gold Whistle Award,” presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the officiating profession.
Lane is the first boxing referee to be accorded the honor, started in 1988 by the National Association of Sports Officials. He was nominated by Marc Ratner, former executive director of the NAC.
“It’s not because he worked big fights, it’s because he shined a positive light on officiating and he made us proud,” said Barry Mano, publisher of Referee Magazine.
Lane’s son, Terry, said his father, who suffered a major stroke in 2002 in his Reno home, was appreciative of the award, which he will receive in July.
“Anything that puts a smile on his face is worth it,” Terry Lane said. “It’s also a good thing for boxing to get this kind of positive exposure.”
■ PETER CHANGES TEAMS — Former world heavyweight champion Sam Peter has changed management and trainers in an attempt to resurrect his career following a beating by Vitali Klitschko in October in Germany.
Peter (30-2, 23 knockouts), who is from Nigeria and lives in Las Vegas, is being promoted by Dino Duva and trained by Pops Anderson for his return to the ring March 27 against Eddie Chambers in Los Angeles.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.