Updated December 26, 2018 - 8:09 pm
Royce Feour, the boxing writer who covered the sport’s most iconic fights for the Review-Journal over nearly four decades and whose career led to enshrinement in at least four halls of fame, died this month after a long illness. He was 79.
Kind and gentle aren’t words often associated with boxing, but those were the words most often used to describe Feour by his family, friends and former colleagues.
“I never knew a person in boxing who had a bad word to say about Royce Feour,” boxing promoter Lou DiBella said Wednesday. “That’s unusual for any place in the sports world, but that’s highly unusual in boxing.
“He was really a kind and gentle soul in a world that could use more of them.”
The Las Vegas native was honored in 1996 by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the prestigious Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He was a member of the inaugural class of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Feour was inducted into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2011, the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2005.
He retired from the Review-Journal in 2004 after 37 years, during which his loud laugh reverberated through the hallways.
“What I’ll remember most is him lighting up the newsroom with his laughter. We used to call it the Royce Roar,” former RJ sports editor Jim Fossum said. “Even when he was in the other room, you could hear Royce’s laughter down the hall. He made every day a joy, no matter what the news was.
“As great and outstanding a journalist he was, he was a better man.”
Feour began dreaming of becoming a sports writer at the Review-Journal when he was a fourth-grader at Fifth Street Grammar School. His first byline in Nevada’s largest paper was in 1954 as a 14-year-old high school sophomore correspondent.
He worked five years at the Las Vegas Sun before joining the Review-Journal in 1967, where he eventually became sports editor.
He attended UNR on journalism scholarships from the Las Vegas Press Club and Las Vegas Sun. He was sports editor of the student newspaper and correspondent for the Nevada State Journal and Reno Evening Gazette.
In Feour’s farewell column published in the Review-Journal on May 17, 2004, he displayed his sense of humor as he recalled that the paper had sent him to Reno to cover the state high school track meet when he was a senior at Las Vegas High School.
“To show how far I advanced in my career, last year (2003) I was assigned to cover the state track meet at Foothill High School,” he wrote. “That’s 46 years between state track meets.”
But Feour didn’t mind covering prep sports. In fact, despite having Muhammad Ali’s home phone number and being friendly with countless other famous people, Feour had a passion for high school sports in his home state. When he retired, he regularly attended prep games, mostly at Bishop Gorman, his adopted school.
“No one knew more about Nevada sports or covered more Nevada sports than Royce Feour,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “His contributions to sports journalism are unmatched. But Royce was equally renowned in our profession for maintaining his countless friendships and always reaching out to compliment a colleague, ask how children were doing or chat about the most recent big fight or big game. He was one of the finest people to ever work at the Review-Journal, and he’ll be greatly missed.”
Feour covered countless major championship fights in Las Vegas, dating to the Sonny Liston-Floyd Patterson heavyweight title bout in 1963 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“Some of the most notable include Ali’s seventh-round stoppage of Jerry Quarry in 1972 at the Convention Center; Leon Spinks’ upset victory by decision over Ali at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1978; and Holmes’ 11th-round TKO over Ali in 1980 at Caesars Palace,” he wrote in his farewell column. “I covered 16 (Mike) Tyson fights, including his two losses to Holyfield at the MGM Grand, one of which was the 1997 ear-biting fight.
“After 16 Tyson fights, I deserve to retire.”
Kevin Iole, a Yahoo Sports combat columnist who covered boxing for 14 years alongside Feour at the RJ, presented him for induction into the SNSHOF.
“He was so nervous that day. He didn’t like speaking in public,” Iole said. “He said, ‘I’m a journalist, and I’m not supposed to be the story.’
“I always saw his love of journalism, and he always went the extra mile to make sure his story was 100 percent accurate and had all the facts. That’s something that’s lost today in the world of Twitter and social media. Everyone in boxing respected him.”
Said longtime promoter Bob Arum: “I always remember how fair he was. And very accurate. Everybody really liked him. I never met anybody, particularly a journalist, who nobody ever said a bad word about.”
Feour, whose Twitter handle was @GiantsLV, also was a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants and baseball in general. And he loved animals, especially dogs, with his final three tweets pictures of pets he hoped would find “loving homes.”
“I’ve never seen him angry,” Iole said. “All of us get mad and say things we might later regret. But Royce didn’t have regrets because he never said a bad word about anybody.”
Feour’s niece, Deronda Milisits, said she had fond memories of her uncle.
“He taught me the love of sports, and he taught me sportsmanship,” she said. “I remember we used to live on Charleston, and we would do walk races, like they do in the Olympics, to Panorama Market.”
Milisits’ daughter, Brittany, posted on Facebook: “RIP Uncle Royce. You had the loudest laugh of anyone I knew, and it cracked me up. Your stories (and laugh) will be greatly missed.”
Funeral arrangements and memorial services are pending.