Anyone who spent time in New Bedford between the 1950s and 1980s has probably heard the name Jimmy Connors. If there were such a thing as a New Bedford Hall of Fame, Jimmy Connors would be enshrined alongside so many other local legends.

Jimmy Connors, Joe Jesus, Jack Custodio, William Saltzman, Stan Lipp, Gene Daniels – all legendary figures who were as much a part of New Bedford as the Whaleman's Statue, the fort at Clark's Point, the hurricane barrier, and the Zeiterion Theatre.

James E. "Jimmy" Connors, Jr. passed away on April 1 at the age of 84.

Get our free mobile app

A graduate of the old New Bedford Voc, Connors enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. According to Air Force Boxing.com, Connors won the Air Force Featherweight boxing title before being honorably discharged. The site says Connors "entered the amateur boxing ranks and won several titles, including the New England Featherweight Champion, World Contender (Lost Close Decision to Willie Pep, Feather Weight Champion of the World)." An obituary in the Standard-Times says Connors had an impressive professional record with "38 professional fights, 30 wins, seven losses, and one split decision."

But Jimmy Connors was as well known for what he did after he hung up his boxing gloves. Connors owned several businesses in the downtown area, most notably J.C.'s Office on Union Street. Others included The Main Event and Jimmy Connors' Lane Tavern.

But J.C.'s Office was the place to be in the day. Personalities from WTEV Channel 6, before it moved to Providence, and other notables in the community were known to frequent the place. It was the place to be and to be seen.

Legend has it that when Connors finally had enough of running bars, the new owners would pay him just to hang out and greet the customers. He was the kind of guy that everyone wanted to know. Connors was a proud Irishman and did his best to help those in need.

Like most legends, Jimmy Connors was larger than life. He was a good man, and he will be missed.

Rest easy, champ.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them