All of that Florida sun must be getting to Maine snowbird Roland Fortin. The 91-year-old has laid down a challenge to box fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who's 92.
Fortin, a former "cut man" for retired boxing champ Joey Gamache, said the idea for the four-round bout was hatched at the Tropical Gym in Pompano Beach, where Fortin works out during the winter in Florida.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale ran the challenge in a half-page ad that gym owner Troy Eckonen took out for Super Bowl Sunday. The purpose, he said, was to let seniors know it's not too late to get in great shape like Fortin.
"Florida is like the waiting room to the casket," Eckonen said.
So far, the publicity stunt is working for the Tropical Gym, where membership is up. But LaLanne hasn't taken Fortin up on the challenge to enter the ring.
LaLanne's spokeswoman learned of the boxing challenge when she was contacted Tuesday by a reporter from the Sun Journal newspaper in Lewiston.
"That's not quite his cup of tea," Liz Cardenas said Wednesday from California. Besides, she said, LaLanne is too busy traveling for public appearances, and he no longer performs athletic feats for which he was known earlier in his career.
Despite the rebuff, Eckonen has not abandoned the idea. He said he plans to deliver the ad to fight promoter Don King to see if he's interested.
"It'd be a gentleman's fight, obviously," Eckonen said.
Fortin, a widower who has wintered in Florida since retiring from the funeral business decades ago, doesn't think either man would get hurt in a brief square-off. "He'd knock me down, I'd knock him down," he said.
Fortin works out an hour a day while in Florida, lifting up to 200 pounds. The rest of the year, he keeps fit by riding an exercise bike and carrying caskets in Lewiston.
"I feel it keeps me healthy and limber for my age," he said of his exercise regimen. "It's not always pleasant," he said, but he does it anyway.