Heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson was recalled as a humble and giving man at a memorial service in the Hudson Valley Saturday.
About 200 people gathered to remember Patterson, who died on May 11 at age 71 after fighting Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.
The Reverend Dan O'Hare, who met Patterson shortly after the boxer retired to New Paltz in 1973, said, "I didn't understand how this gentle, kind person beat up people."
O'Hare said he later saw photographs of Patterson helping up men he had knocked out.
Patterson won the heavyweight boxing title in 1956 when he knocked out Archie Moore. He lost and regained the title in fights with Johansson and lost the title for good to Sonny Liston. Patterson retired in 1972 with a 55-8-1 record and 40 knockouts. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.
He became an ecumenical minister who visited the homebound and a generous helper to troubled youngsters at his 17-acre home and gym in New Paltz.
His last project, which wasn't yet finished, was to build a chapel for young people at a residential center in nearby Highland.
Those who attended the service included Patterson's children and current and former fighters including his adopted son, Tracy Harris Patterson, who won the super bantamweight and super featherweight titles.