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"Tammy, great news," he says. "I just met a gorgeous woman, a debutante, so don't try to compete."
On to the fight. He has $800 ringside seats. Complimentary, of course. He got a ticket for Janet. A fellow fight fan asks to be introduced to her "if you don't mind the competition." Pezim snorts, "I have no competition."
Another woman, this one triumphantly blonde, walks by and Pezim says, "Gorgeous outfit." She smiles appreciatively. He kibitzes with everyone. "The problem with you," another fan says to Pezim, "is you don't have any fun."
Having fun, to Pezim, also means being forgiving. A year ago, he signed former New York Jets star Mark Gastineau to a $70,000 contract to play for the Lions. Gastineau was awful. "Mark has got two problems," says Pezim. "He won't try, and he's not too bright." But, hey, that doesn't mean they can't be friends. Back in Vegas for the second Tyson-Ruddock fight, in June, Pezim meets Gastineau, and Gastineau says he has no shirt or tie. No problem. Pezim goes downstairs at the Mirage to one of the world's most overpriced stores, d. Fine, and buys Gastineau a shirt and tie. For $600. Pezim once planned to share his Vancouver home with Gastineau and his girlfriend of the moment, Brigitte Nielsen. But that romance fell apart, and now Gastineau is mostly in New York trying to learn to be a boxer. Pezim is toying with the idea of a bout between Gastineau and George Foreman. Gastineau, of course, would last something shy of 20 seconds, but who knows, maybe there would be money in it.
Says Pezim, "My philosophy is, Always invest before you investigate."
Additionally, Pezim is involved with two Russian fighters, one of whom is heavyweight Alex Zolkin. "He's the great white hope," says Pezim. "He'll be great, but he hasn't fought in the U.S. yet." Turns out, Zolkin has fought twice in Miami, which is generally considered to be in the U.S. But that's O.K. Pezim often doesn't get things exactly right.
This infatuation with boxing began in Pezim's youth. Back in Toronto, two of his friends started to fight one day in the street. Murray stopped them and said, "Come fight in my backyard." The change of venue allowed Murray to sell 80 tickets at five cents each. Everything worked out fine. Murray made money, the boys fought, and the fight concluded just as Murray's mother, Rebecca, started hollering out the window for the violence in her backyard to cease.
It's 7:22 a.m., and the wheels are up on the Cessna 421 Golden Eagle II. Pezim is on his way north from Vancouver to attend the official opening of his Gold-stream copper mine in Revelstoke. The snowcapped Coast Range is on the left; the Cascades, off to the right. It is glorious scenery. The Cessna is at 11,000 feet and is 262 miles from Revelstoke, where Pezim will switch to a helicopter for the rest of the ride. His mind is on mining: "This is a business of dreams, heartaches, luck. You have to understand that in this business you go broke occasionally."
Still, for Pezim, the thrill is in exploring for buried treasure, not in extracting it from the earth. Ed Yurkowski, president of Tonto Mining, who works on projects with Pezim, says, "The production end is more work than magic, and Murray is in the magic business." As one speaker at the ribbon-cutting ceremony says, Pezim "fires up the faint-hearted." Above all else, Pezim talks. He finds deals, preferably in mining (he is chairman of 63 mining companies), throws in some of his money and then talks brokers and others into raising or providing more cash. It was Pezim who made the Hemlo deal, discovering the largest gold mine in Canada's history (30 million ounces, eventually), near Marathon, Ont. Later, Pezim formed the company that discovered the Eskay Creek gold mine (five million ounces), near Thunder Bay, Ont. "If I don't work another day," Pezim says, "I'll still have $2 million a year coming in. That's enough. Unless, of course, gold does something ridiculous like plunge to $100 an ounce."
Seldom is Pezim cash-poor, and that's important to him. "Never," he says, "walk into a gunfight with a knife." He says he has spent some $23 million on mining exploration at 40 to 50 locations. Pezim's best friend, Vancouver high roller Joe Cohen, who owns Sony of Canada, says that anyone involved with his buddy Murray has to understand that his businesses are "quite risky. I've made a hell of a lot of money with him, and lost a hell of a lot more. You always have the opportunity to make money with Murray, if you can hold on long enough. He's a wonderful man with an open ear and an open heart."