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Tributes: Championship-contending boxer Earle Keel, longtime hoops official Don Garrison die

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience.
by Scott Munn Published: December 16, 2013

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:

*Earle Keel, 84, of Oklahoma City was a championship-contending boxer as an amateur and professional. He was a three-year boxing letterman in the 1940s at Chilocco Indian School, and then became an AAU and Golden Gloves star at middleweight and light heavyweight. Keel, who was known for a mean left punch, was an AAU state champion from 1947-49; a national AAU finalist in 1947 and '48; and an Oklahoma Golden Gloves titlist in 1948. He went on coach the Cameron Junior College boxing team in 1949, before turning professional. Keel had a 67-14 record on the pro circuit during an era when boxing was as popular as football is today. The Chickasaw Nation member served during the Korean War, then became a boxing official, often refereeing or scoring bouts that included Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Keel was inducted into the Chilocco Hall of Fame in 1986 and the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

*Don Garrison, 81, of Oklahoma City was a basketball official for 25 years. He called regular-season games at the high school level as well as All-Star games and state playoff contests. The former high school baseball player was once offered a contract with the New York Giants. Also participated in fast-pitch softball. At age 14, he pitched in a men's league. Since Garrison was not old enough to drive, the softball team's sponsor gave him rides to and from the ball field. He later threw in four world tournaments. By trade, Garrison held several positions with the state, including the Department of Health and director of jails inspections.

*Billy Hyde, 83, was a right-handed pitcher in the St. Louis Browns organization. Hyde spent seven years in the minors, his best season coming in 1950, when he was 17-5 with a 3.69 earned run average for the Marshall Browns of the old East Texas League. Hyde, who was born in Van Buren, Ark., spent his post-baseball days living in Oklahoma City, where he founded Hyde Auto Service at NW 12 and May Avenue. An avid golfer who followed the OU football team and Oklahoma City Thunder.

*Mark Merveldt, 57, of Yukon was a cattle buyer and commodity trader. As a youngster, he excelled at wrestling. He was the first state champion in Okarche High School history, winning the Class 2A title at 123 pounds in 1974. Merveldt continued to compete in the intramural program at Oklahoma State, where he was selected All-University wrestler three consecutive years. An avid outdoorsman.

*Rex Privett, 89, of Norman played football and basketball at Pawnee High School. Privett was the point guard on the Black Bears' Class B state championship basketball team in 1941. The World War II veteran was a rancher and worked in government, including 16 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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by Scott Munn
Sports Assistant Editor
Scott Munn joined The Oklahoman/Oklahoma City Times sports staffs in October 1982. He spent a year as a formcharter, three years on the desk and 16 as a reporter. Scott has spent the last nine years as an evening assistant sports editor. Scott's...
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