PHILADELPHIA - Retired boxer Tony Martin was fatally shot in an altercation with a visitor at one of his rental properties and police are searching for a suspect, authorities said Monday.
The 52-year-old Martin, a former welterweight, was shot during an argument at the home in the city's Hunting Park section on Friday, police said. Martin's niece, Robyn Peete, said her uncle had gone to the home to collect rent and found a person who wasn't supposed to be there.
Peete said she didn't know exactly what happened, but that her uncle was a strict landlord who owned several properties in the city. He may not have approved of an unauthorized person being at the property, she said, adding that he was also known to be very compassionate with his tenants.
"He was a very good landlord as far as giving breaks to his tenants," she said. "It's just a matter of time before the person is identified and apprehended."
A native of St. Louis, Martin was 34-6-1 in his boxing career, with 12 knockouts. He lost his last fight, a decision to Julio Cesar Chavez in Las Vegas, in 1997.
A longtime postal service clerk after serving in the military, Martin transferred from his native St. Louis to Philadelphia to train in 1985, Peete said. He trained at Champs Gym in north Philadelphia, where the telephone rang unanswered Monday.
"The boxing was his love and that's what brought him here," Peete said.
Longtime manager Eddie Woods said he brought Martin to Philadelphia after hearing about his successes as a 22-year-old prospect in St. Louis. He called Martin a good family man who was not full of bravado or big talk.
"Tony was calm, cool and collected. He said 'I do all my business in the ring,'" Woods said. "The guy had a heart that was bigger than his body."
His career included numerous fights at the legendary Blue Horizon in north Philadelphia and he had wins over well-known fighters Micky Ward and Livingstone Bramble to his credit.
Woods said he had urged Martin not to take the last fight against Chavez, noting that he had been coming off a big victory at the time while Martin was on the downside of his career.
But Martin wouldn't listen and went to Las Vegas alone, he said, motivated by more than just the $15,000 in prize money.
"He said, 'Eddie, I think I can beat him," Woods said. "He wanted to be on record that he fought him."
Martin is survived by his wife, Donna, and four grown children. Funeral services were incomplete Monday.
"He was so devoted to his wife and family," Peete said. "He was the most happy-go-lucky person that you would ever meet."