Even before Eddie Cotton officiated the Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis fight in 2002 in Memphis, Tennessee, he was legend in Paterson, New Jersey.
Cotton, who served as the first black president of the Paterson City Council, died early this morning at the age of 72. He had been hospitalized for more than a week after contracting the coronavirus.
Paterson public historian Jimmy Richardson says Cotton was extremely popular in town.
"We grew up on the same street, Governor Street, and remained friends since the early 1970's. We had a lot of things in common. Ed Cotton was one of the most popular men in the City of Paterson. He was a great sportsman and a great friend of the people."
Cotton's wife Ruby is a current councilwoman.
Cotton supported Andre Sayegh's run for mayor in 2018. Richardson says Cotton was most recently a consultant on Mayor Sayegh's team.
In May of 2013, Eddie Cotton was a guest on SportsJam with Doug Doyle and candidly talked about the Lewis-Tyson bout, which is still considered a controversial boxing match by some analysts. Richardson says Cotton's referee career began in Paterson.
"Cotton got his start in the boxing ring at one of the last matches at Hinchlifee Stadium, which was an all sports arena at that time. He did it through Golden Gloves."
Click above to hear that show now posted to honor the boxing referee and public servant.