When he wasn’t being a pretty good two-finger clerk typist for the United States Maine Corps, Cpl. Kean Mc Gill was a better than average “Junior Welter Weight” boxer for the Corps.
He became a “Leatherneck” in September 1976, a couple of years after he graduated from high school.
“I wanted a challenge so I thought the Marine Corps was the place for me,” the 55-year-old North Port, Fla. resident said 30 years later. “After boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. I went to Administrative & Clerical School there, too. “Then I was shipped to Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“Besides my duties as a clerk typist I did a little boxing for the Marine Corps, too,” McGill explained. I was staying in the same barracks with the Marine Corps Boxing Team. I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I had some natural talent.
“The sergeant in charge of the boxing team was interested in me. During my initial tryout for the boxing team I did pretty well,” Mc Gill recalled. “Unfortunately, that week we had a sandlot football team that I got involved with. I broke my jaw while playing football.
“I spent the next month in the hospital recovering from my broken jaw. When I got out of the hospital I was immediately sent to Okinawa where I spent the next year in the Corps. I often wonder how my boxing career might have turned out if I had gotten on the boxing team at Lejeune.
At Okinawa, Mc Gill’s primary duty was serving in the office as a clerk typist. He got to box out there on the side.
He had six fights during his time in the Corps. He won four and lost two.
“When I first arrived at the Marine Air Wing on Okinawa the gunny sergeant in charge tried two of us out that had just flown in from the Sates.
“The other guy went in and typed for the gunny first. I could hear him trying right along using both hands. After he was finished I was invited in to type for the gunny sergeant. The sergeant hired me because he said I was more accurate as a two-finger typist than the other guy. I couldn’t believe it,” Mc Gill said with a smile.
While he was still at Lejeune, he got to meet Leon Spinks. He dropped in to see some of his buddies on the Marine Boxing Team he had served with several years earlier.
“Just before Spinks won his Olympic Gold Medal for boxing during the 1976 Olympics he was released from the Marine Corps because of a hardship. They let him out to fight as a pro because he told them he was his family’s sole source of support,” Mc Gill recalled.
“Shortly after that Spinks went pro, had three or four pro fights and then fought Mohammed Ali for the Heavy Weight Championship of the World and won. He won a 15 round decision against Ali. However, when he took him on a second time Ali regained the title,” he said.
“Spinks was a hard-headed, street type boxer. He threw everything he had at you. He was a tough, tough guy,” Mc Gill said. “What I remember most about him was he celebrated winning the World Championship of Boxing with the boxes on the Marine Corp Boxing Team at Lejune. It was really nice of him to do that.”
After McGills was discharged from the Corps in 1979, he decided to become a pro boxer.
“Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to get paid to be a professional athlete,” Mc Gill said. “Boxing was my sport, so I went pro in 1980.
“In my first prof fight I TKO’d the guy in a round-and-a-half,” he said. “Then I TKO’d another guy in my second professional fight. And I did the same thing the third time I fought.
“I never lost a fight when I was in shape,” he observed.
After four years in the professional ring, Mc Gill decided it was time to get an education. He used the G.I. Bill to further his education. He graduated from Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio and got a job at Southeastern Correctional Institute in Lancaster, Ohio.
It was a low security state prison. Before it was a prison the facility had been the Fairfield School For Boys. Its most famous student was Bob Hope. He ran away from the industrial school in 1915 and didn’t return until years later when he was famous.
“He donated a bunch of money to the school and paid for an Olympic-sized swimming pool for the boys,” Mc Gill said. “That’s a true story.”
After 27 years as a member of the prison’s staff Mc Gill retired. He started out as a correctional officer and when he retired he was running the gymnasium and recreational program at the facility.
He and his wife, Judy, moved to North Port two years ago. They have two grown daughters: Kelsie and Alisha.
Mc Gill’s File
Name: Keon Mc Gill
D.O.B: 25 March 1958
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Currently: North Port, Fla.
Entered Service: May 1976
Discharged: March 1979
Unit: 1st Marine Air Wing, Okinawa
Commendations: Rifle Expert Badge (2-Awards), Good Conduct Medal
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 and is republished with permission.
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