Family comes first. Michael Nunn emphasizes this often and he gets nothing but resounding agreement from me. It might have been Muhammad Ali who Michael idolized and whose boxing skills he emulated but he will be the first to tell you that his real hero was and always will be his mother Madies.
Contrary to public perception, Iowa is not all Midwestern farmland and cattle ranches. The largest of the Quad-Cities, four densely populated metropolitan regions of Iowa and Illinois on the Mississippi Riverfront, Michael’s hometown of Davenport can be a tough town, which often presented the Nunn matriarch with additional challenges to raising a devoted family. Yet I am told that Madies was a tough lady, affectionate yet fiercely loyal, who contributed to the community and almost single-handedly provided a loving environment in which to nurture Michael, his brother Evander, and sisters Betty and Sylvia, as well as the twenty-two grandchildren they bestowed upon her.
Born in Louisville, Missouri to Clayborn and Ollie Prince in 1936, Madies was a spirited eighty years old when she passed away on April 29, leaving Michael feeling not only heartbroken but helpless in the sense that he was obviously unable to attend the services and bid his own fond farewell. When he relayed the news to me in an email, it was only a few days away from the 19th anniversary of my mother Clare being taken from me and my brothers by cancer, so I can relate to Michael’s anguish on a profoundly personal level.
After taking some time to begin the healing process and collect his thoughts, Michael asked me to publicly share the following homage to his beloved mother Madies Nunn.
“I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with such a great mother and I thank him for blessing me to be able to be able to talk to her every day for the last 15 before she got sick. She will forever be in my heart. The world knows I am a mama’s man.
I want the world to know that my Moms always told me that I could be a world champion if I prayed and worked my butt off. She was my biggest fan besides my kids and brother and sisters.
It made my day to have my Mom at Caesars Palace that historic night that I knocked Frank Tate out to win the World Middleweight Championship. It was a big moment for me and the Goossen family. As you know, we made history that night. Coming into Las Vegas as the underdog and leaving Vegas with the World Championship in my arms, it was a special night for Moms, the family, kids, the Goossens, all the great fans from the Quad-Cities, and my fans throughout the world.
As you know, there is nothing like a mother’s love. She always inspired me to be the best and it was my duty to make her happy and honored to be my mother. She always instilled toughness in me and I thank God for blessing me with such a loving, caring mother. She has always been my leader, guide, and teacher. She will forever live through myself, my brother, sisters, grandkids, family, and all of her friends from around the world.
I am so proud to have had a loving mother that would forever love her kids and grandkids. The world will really miss a giant. I thank God every single day for giving me and my family such a strong, powerful, God-fearing mother that always taught me that there is nothing in the world that you can’t have with the right attitude and the right mind-set, God and a strong loving family, support and good folks on your team. I’m still getting letters in the mail. Moms was like a star in her own right. I have seen her work with women for as long as I can remember, women of all races. That is where I get my star and my smile from.
My greatest joy was knowing how much she was loved, not just by my family and kids but the folks in the community. Everybody in town knew who she was and I know that she is looking down on me and the kids, making sure that we are doing the things she taught us. I know that the women in the family have a big task taking over her position. My sister, nieces, and female family members have a hell of a job carrying on Mom’s name. She was all of our teacher and guide.
She has completed her mission, now she can rest in God’s merciful hands because she is the greatest. Forever loved and missed by myself, the kids, the family, and her many friends forever and always.
My mama, I love you. Kisses and hugs and love from our family. You have raised a great nation, all praises are due. Peace Moms.”