The relationship Scott Crouse had with Scott Wagner started almost by accident, thanks to a broken credit card machine one day several years ago.
Wagner had taken the concept of Ballroom Boxing at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Md., and helped it grow into something huge, seen regularly across the nation on ESPN, USA Network, Armed Forces Network plus many satellite TV groups across the U.S., according to long-time ring announcer Pat O'Malley.
But Wagner and Crouse really connected when the latter called the former's radio show -- 1300 AM, The Ballroom Boxing Report -- to renew season tickets to Ballroom Boxing. However, the credit card machine malfunctioned, and Crouse was stunned when Wagner, the man behind all of this, called him.
They talked for an hour and began a long friendship. The two were on the radio together for several years, and Crouse was happy to see Wagner inducted in the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame last month, albeit posthumously. Wagner, 49, died in February after an illness.
"Scott was probably the most generous human being I've ever known in my life," Crouse said. "He just never seemed to tire. Scott provided something locally that people didn't have. The people that called in [to their radio show] were very, very hungry for what he provided. He often invited callers to his own house to watch boxing."
The Hall of Fame ceremony, in an interesting twist of fate, was held at Michael's, where he made Ballroom Boxing famous.
Wagner didn't want the honor when first informed, according to his mother Carol Wagner, but he eventually agreed. The event was originally set for January but shifted to April.
Wagner would have been in attendance if the January date was kept, but there were still plenty of accolades for him, even if he was not there to hear them.
Carol Wagner said her son promoted 94 fights there throughout the years. Ballroom Boxing was held from 1995-2010, usually on Thursday nights, drawing good crowds.
"We would pack the house," Carol Wagner said. "He was the driving force. He just engineered the whole event. We supported Scott. He just planned the fighters and put the fights together."
At its peak, Ballroom Boxing became nationally known, and Wagner also did a long-running radio show. He paired with Crouse for several years, and their love of boxing helped make the show a can't-miss for die-hard boxing fans.
Crouse said they scored interviews with Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins, among others. Wagner would often travel to places like Madison Square Garden in New York to cover fights and report on it for the show.
But it was all about boxing, and Wagner was the driving force.
"Scott was always easy-going," Crouse said. "It made it easy for me. I never had to worry about was I going to make a mistake. It just wasn't a big deal to him. He just wanted to go on the air and talk boxing."
O'Malley worked as the ring-time announcer for 15 years at Ballroom Boxing and had nothing but praise for Wagner and his abilities to make fights happen. Wagner will have quite a legacy.
"I can honestly say that Scott Wagner was the best promoter that the sport ever had in the metro area," O'Malley said. "He was amazing in pulling shows together. Scott's contributions to boxing were immeasurable. Ballroom Boxing was known all over the country, and it was known as a first-class operation."
Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo
Issue 244: May 2018