Inducted on November 15, 1985

John Condon - PictureThere are many basketball fans who think that John F. X. Condon earns his living as an announcer for basketball games in Madison Square Garden.

Not true.

Yes, basketball is very close to Condon’s heart but boxing is his first love. Always has been. So why has he spent almost two decades calling games in the Garden? He calls it “cheating on my first love, boxing.”

Actually Condon is still not sure if he has the announcer’s job permanently. In 1947 they asked him to try out for the job at a Knicks-Boston game and told him they’d let him know after the game whether he had the job or not. When the game ended Condon sat there until the Garden’s stage hands chased him so that they could remove the microphone and table to get the arena ready for the next event.

“I just kept coming back,” says Condon. “I don’t even know who was to give me the O.K.”

Until 1960 Condon had a sports publicity business that included such dignified clients as the New York Athletic Club, Adelphi College, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Iona College and many others.

That year he became the director of Publicity for Madison Square Garden Boxing, Inc. He progressed to the vice presidency of Madison Square Garden Boxing, Inc. Later, he became Vice President of Public Relations and Promotion for Madison Square Garden. In 1981, he was appointed President of Madison Square Garden Boxing, Inc. and currently holds that post.

Since 1960, he publicized and promoted every major fight held in the Garden including such outstanding fights as the first and second Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali world heavyweight title fights. Frazier-Ali I was voted the most outstanding event ever held in any of the four Madison Square Gardens.

Condon started his career in the Garden as the announcer for New York Knickerbockers professional basketball games in 1947-48 and for college basketball games in 1952, an extra curricular job he still holds. This year, he is celebrating his 38th year as the Garden announcer. He is the dean of announcers in the National Basketball Association and was once voted the best announcer in the league by a group of referees who work the games.

He has also been the announcer for New York Giants football games in the old Polo Grounds and in Yankee Stadium, and did color commentary on radio for Giants games as well as new York Knickerbocker games.

Besides doing the announcing for Knicks and college games in the Garden, he is also the color-analyst announcer for boxing on the Madison Square Garden Cable Network and has done this same job for major network fights emanating from the Garden.

His broadcasts are squeezed into an active professional life as a boxing expert, and the total effort takes up seven days of each week for most of the year.

Among the many awards he has received are the James J. Walker Memorial Trophy, the same award that was presented to the late great Joe Louis, for outstanding service to boxing, and an award by the Detroit Press as the outstanding publicity man of the year, the Cartoonists Society Distinguished Service Award and the Press Photographer’s Man of the Year Award. In his current capacity at the Garden, he is the only man in the lOS-year history of the Garden to progress from his original capacity as Publicity Director to the President of Boxing.

Some of his promotions included running a lO-car motorcade and parade down Broadway which included 32 world champions and a 175-piece band to promote a fight. The Police Department would not give him a permit because he wanted to do it at 8 p.m. on a Friday night when, as the police explained, people were trying to get to theaters and restaurants. He did it anyway and for four days he ran from the police who wanted to arrest him. He also “stole” a car from Hubert Humphrey, who was running for President of the United States at the time, in order to complete his motorcade.

For another promotion, he had six heavyweights train for a day on top of the marquee of Madison Square Garden which tied up traffic on Seventh Avenue but drew aobut 10,000 people. For this one he almost got fired, but the event made the front pages of every paper in the con try , and also the front pages of the Paris and London papers.

In another promotion, he pitched a boxing ring in the street in El Barrio section of New York, convinced then Mayor John Lindsay to referee the bouts and the events ended up on the front page of the New York Times. Up to that time, it was the first time that The Times used a sports promotion picture on the front page.

There are two questions Condon can’t answer when asked, (1) How many games have you worked and (2) who is the greatest player you ever saw?

“I never kept a count of the number of games. It’s in the thousands by now, I guess. I do remember working nine games in one day, however. Nine high school games in the old Garden and two professional games at night. The first games started at 9 a.m. and I guess it was after 11 p.m. When it was all over.”

When is it all going to end? “Not until I find myself saying, ‘hell, I have to work a game tonight.’ That’s when I will have reached the saturation point. Right now I’m still having a good time and, hey, how many guys get to know the great athletes I’ve worked with down through the years?”