Ron Amos

Las Vegas Loses Sports Pioneer Ron Amos passed away Saturday, March 19 in Las Vegas following a lengthy illness. Amos was born in Bingham, UT (where the Bingham Copper Pits are now) on September 23, 1933. Son of a Utah dairy farmer, Cyril Spence Amos and Sybil Elmer, he was raised in Payson, UT where his early schooling took place. His mother passed away when Amos was in his teens and his father married Crista Helena Olson. After high school, he spent his freshman year at Snow College in Ephriam, UT and his sophmore year on a tennis scholarship at Dixie College in St. George, UT. where he met and married Helene Porter. There he participated in all sports and was the school's tennis champion. Following his graduation, he moved his name up on the draft and spent two years in the military. He graduated with a BS in Journalism at Utah State University, Logan, UT, and did his Masters Degree work at the University of Utah. He came to Las Vegas with his young family in July of 1958 and started with The Las Vegas Sun as Assistant Sports Editor. In August of 1960 he was promoted to Sports Editor and Columnist where he stayed until February of 1961. He also was a part time reporter for The Valley Times during this period. In February of 1961 he became Sports Editor and columnist for The Review Journal, where he stayed until March of 1966. A member of the National Sports Writers and Sportscaster Association, he received their Sportswriter of the year honor four years running (1961 - 64). He was also awarded the "Best Sports Story of the Year" by the Nevada State Press (1961 - 63). The Nevada State Press Club honored him with "Best Sports Column of the Year in 1963". In March of 1966 he became Associate Publicity Director for the Sahara Hotel. He moved to the newly-opened Caesars Palace Hotel in September of that year as Associate Publicity Director and shortly there after was promoted to Director of Public Relations. At this time, he was one of the youngest executives on the Las Vegas Strip. He had a goal of making Las Vegas a world sports capital and would soon bring and/or help bring a series of memorable sporting events that helped make his dream a reality. In December of 1967, the hotel hosted the famous Evel Knievel jump over the Caesars Palace fountains. During his early years at the hotel, he became the Director of Public Relations for the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States. In 1968 he represented the USA as the Director of Public Relations for the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Soon after, he played a critical role in bringing the "International Boxing Championship" between the USA - USSR to Las Vegas which Caesars hosted in 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1977. A friend of tennis great, Pancho Gonzalez, he brought this high profile tennis pro to the hotel as its Director of Tennis. This began a love affair with big time tennis in Las Vegas where the hotel would host the "Women's World Tennis Championship" in 1972 and soon after the "1st Annual Alan King Tennis Classic". The latter became an annual stop on the professional tour and was regarded by players and fans as one of the top 10 tennis tournaments on the tour during its run from 1972 - 1985. Renamed the "BNP Paribas Open", the tournament was later moved to Indian Wells, California where it is in currently the 5th largest audience-drawing tournament on the pro tennis tour. For his diligence in developing the "Alan King Tennis Classic", he was the only non-player invited to attend the organizational meeting of what would become The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). "The Alan King Tennis Classic" became the first official ATP tournament. Other memorable tennis events include Jimmy Connors vs. Rod Laver (1975), Jimmy Connors vs. John Newcombe (1975) and Jimmy Connors vs. Manuel Orantes (1976) to which he coined the phrase "Heavyweight Championship of Tennis" for these events. Feeding off, the then dating couple, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert, he helped create the "Love Doubles" event matching Connors and Evert against tennis great Billie Jean King and Marty Riessen which the hotel hosted in the fall of 1975. Later, Caesars Palace would go on to host several World Championship Tennis (WTC) events including the famous 1977 match between Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase. Until 1976, Madison Square Garden had long been regarded as the boxing capital of the world. Through his efforts, Amos jump started an effort that would soon make Las Vegas a major host to big time boxing. Beginning with the George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle Heavyweight Title Elimination fight in 1976, Las Vegas soon became the major force in the fight game. The fight was later regarded by many as one of one of the 10 best fights of all time and Amos was off and running, Soon after, he booked the Joe Bugner vs. Ron Lyle (1977) Heavyweight Title Elimination fight at the hotel. In the fall of 1977, in conjunction with the opening of their new sports and convention arena, and the success of sporting events while Amos was at the helm at Caesars, he was recruited by Barron Hilton to head The Special Events Section of the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. The hotel went on to host many famous title fights including the first Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks World Heavyweight Championship in February of 1978. Many of Mike Tyson's early Heavyweight Title fights were also hosted at the Hilton along with fights that included boxing legends Larry Holmes, Ken Norton and Ernie Shavers. The WTC Tour also followed Amos to the Hilton with it's "Tournament of Champions" which included tennis greats Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Amos was later hired by Playboy Resorts in Great Gorge, New Jersey to book, direct and supervise all phases of sporting events. Later in his career he started his own consulting business, Ron Amos Enterprises, putting on a series of events. During this period, Amos envisioned hosting "The Miracle Mile" which would pit the world's top drag racers against each other up the Las Vegas Strip. Running into an overwhelming number of road blocks along the way, he was unable to get this event off the ground. He also worked diligently on creating "The National Ballroom Dancing Finals" with Patsy Swayze (mother of Patrick Swayze), but again ran into several road blocks including sponsor issues. Ironically, "Dancing with the Stars" later would become the great success it is today, which is what Amos had envisioned for his event. As most who knew and worked with him said, "he was ahead of his time"! A member of several national and local associations and a well respected member of the local community. He was invited to be in the 1998 edition of Distinguished Men of Southern Nevada. Per his vision of making Las Vegas a world sports capitol, Mission accomplished!!! He is preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law. Amos is survived by his sons, Michael Ronald (LeeAnne), Layton, UT, Mitchell Porter (Charyn), and Mason Spence, both of Las Vegas, and grandchildren: Andrea (Chet) Brooks, Amber (Peter) Goff, Michael Paul (Holly), Kyle Amos, Crista Amos, Austin Amos, Jordan Amos, Chase Amos and Anjilee Amos and 10 great grandchildren. Surviving him also are brothers B. Elden Grendahl, Harwinton, CT and Martin Grendahl, Newark, DE. Also two nieces. Graveside services will be held in Payson, Utah. Arrangements are made under the direction of LaPaloma Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the LDS Church Missionary Fund or Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Education, 4842 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19129.