Ben Getty

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June 1, 2009 – Trainer Ben Getty, father of three, was found dead Sunday. When reached Monday, his son Chris was obviously shaken. “It’s a shock to everybody,” he said, his voice trembling. “It came as a shock to us. I’m holding on to his phone in case people call him and don’t know what happened. “It’s unfortunate, but all we can do is move on.” No official cause of death has been released. Ben Getty, 63, has worked with the likes of “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Olympic bronze medalist Kenneth Gould. More recently, Getty played an integral part in the young career of Clearwater’s Keith Thurman. The Vietnam War veteran began training Thurman at the age of 7, helping guide Thurman to two national Silver Gloves championships, a 2006 national PAL champion and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing trials appearance in which Thurman finished second in the 152-pound weight class. Thurman finished his amateur career with 101 victories. “Keith is a magnificent fighter directly because of Ben Getty.” Following the 2008 Olympic Boxing Trials, held in August 2007, Thurman turned pro and fought for Starfight Productions, until recently leaving to fight under promoter Shelly Finkel. As a professional, Thurman, 20, is 8-0, with each fight ending via a first-round knockout. His last fight in April ended with a no decision after a clash of heads in the first round.  Dan Birmingham, who trains St. Petersburg’s Winky Wright and has helped train Thurman, has known Getty for 20 years. “As a person, he was a very patriotic guy,” Birmingham said. “If he was your friend, he was a great friend. He’d do anything for you. As far as a trainer goes, he was a very strict disciplinarian. Very military like. He had a wealth of experience. “He was misunderstood easily by a lot of people, but really, Ben had a good heart and would do anything for his friends.” Thurman did not immediately return a call Monday.  According to Birmingham, Thurman has taken the news hard as well. “He’s very sad,” Birmingham said. “He feels like he lost his second father. Ben was dedicated to him. He’s very sad and he’s very upset.” Source: EDDIE DANIELS | The Tampa Tribune.