Reusse: A boxer fought for his life at HCMC while the rest of the world moved on

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The Buffalo Bills are playing host to the Miami Dolphins in a playoff game Sunday, and the celebration of Damar Hamlin's survival will continue on the telecast and in the stadium.

There's no such thing as overselling the joyous relief in the ongoing recovery of this 24-year-old from McKees Rocks, Pa., and the University of Pittsburgh.

Inestimable millions have watched and taken a strong interest in the Hamlin saga in this country. It might be only a few thousand who have taken note of another remarkable medical feat with an athlete that took place a few weeks earlier at Hennepin County Medical Center.

The sport was boxing, with its limited audience, and the athlete was a Kazakhstani with a difficult name for us Yanks to digest, Aidos Yerbossynuly.

The best the small fraction of the sporting public that had watched Yerbossynuly take the pummeling from David Morrell Jr. on Nov. 5 could offer was a rhetorical, "I wonder how that fighter's doing that got hurt in the Armory?"

There were updates early that he had been placed in an induced coma and undergone brain surgery, but this wasn't midfield early in a "Monday Night Football" game — it was a horrific situation witnessed only by 5,000 people in the Minneapolis Armory and Showtime's Saturday night boxing audience.

Promoter Tom Brown said this month from California: "My wife Sandi [Goossen-Brown] and I stayed around for five days. When I left the hospital on the last day, I thought, 'No way he's going to make it.'

"I know for sure, if we didn't whisk Aidos out of the ring, put him in an ambulance, and have HCMC a couple of minutes away and ready for us, there would've been no chance."

There were precipitous drops in blood pressure after the emergency brain surgery. Finally, after a couple of weeks, there came veiled reports of improvement.

And then, on Dec. 2, a brief video was posted with Aidos dressed in civilian clothes, ready to check out of HCMC, head to the airport and fly home.

Brown has been in boxing since the late 1980s. He had to go through the anguish of three bouts from 1995 to 2000 where boxers died:

1995, Jimmy Garcia, vs. Gabriel Ruelas; 1999, Randie Carver, vs. Kabary Salem; and 2000, Emiliano Valdez, vs. Teddy Reid.

"In this case, in Aidos' case, he was named as the compulsory opponent by the WBA for David Morrell's title," Brown said. "We didn't know Aidos well or the people on his team. There was an obvious language barrier.

"It's not our call, but we would've liked to see a towel get thrown in by the corner a couple of rounds before the finish in the 12th."

Brown was a football player for the legendary Stav Canakes at Edina West High in the late 1970s. He went to what was then River Falls State, transferred to Minnesota, got cut in spring ball and moved to California. He became an assistant football coach at Los Angeles Valley College.

"I had started dating Sandi Goossen," Brown said. "Her brother Dan was promoting club fights and had me bring players as security guards."

Dan and Sandi were married, and have beaten the odds in the wacky world of boxing by staying that way for 37 years.

The Goossen-Browns have five kids: Brittany (boxing executive), Jake (football coach), Justin and Josh (college and pro baseball pitchers) and Riley (current D-I soccer player).

Dan and Joe Goossen started Ten Goose Boxing as trainers and promoters. Brother Greg also did some training, after his big-league baseball career was over. Brother-in-law Tom became the matchmaker.

Dan died in 2014, a blow to the operation. Brown started TGB Promotions. Brittany is now his vice president. A main client is Premier Boxing Champions.

That brings Brown back home regularly, as PBC has been behind the televised cards since boxing returned to the remodeled Minneapolis Armory in the spring of 2018.

"The last time I had been in the Armory was for the Golden Gloves in 1972, and they had five rings going in that old place," Brown said. "What you have now is one of the best places anywhere to watch boxing."

An Armory card with a major title fight planned for mid-December was canceled on Nov. 17, with Yerbossynuly still in precarious condition.

The next card is anticipated for Feb. 25, with local contender Jamal "Shango" James as one of the headliners.

"There's always been a boxing crowd in Minnesota," Brown said. "We just started giving them a chance to come out on a regular basis to see good fights."

He had a pause and then the promoter said:

"Boxers are like all athletes. They love to do what they do. What's the first thing Aidos told us in that video? He wants to fight again."

He won't. But he'd love to.