He was a very southern thoroughly Irish man. he fought in his youth and how well he did was one thing, how well he coached as another. Asa swam in a world of tiny embellishments, small additions, blandishments perhaps, golden covering on the lily. You weren’t sure how authentic some of his recollections were, but in a ring, in the corner, in the heat of battle, he was a welcome sight.
He fought in World War II and was wounded and in the hospital, he received a new prosthetic portion to one of his legs. He did not limp, in fact he hopped around the gym vigorously. Asa was vocal, a tyrant of sorts. A lit cigarette dangled from him lip. He wore a suit every day I knew him. I can’t think of a single time I saw him in jeans or shorts or short sleves. Everyday he dressed like he was in a business meeting.
He smoked. He cussed. He was profane. He bragged. But he also was one of the first boxing coaches to teach American Karate champions how to throw a punch. He taught us how to avoid a punch, how to block a punch, how to weave under it, how to confuse an opponent, and how to hit really really hard.
Once in a while Asa would go to make a point and he would hang that cigarette in his mouth and mumbling out of te other side of his mouth, he would put his hands up and start moving like he was boxing. He might make his point by putting his skinny, bony knuckles on your cheekbone.
It was excruciating.
But I was lucky enough to be one of the earliest full contact Karate fighters and was even luckier to have Joe Corley and Asa Gordon teach me.