As a champion boxer, Hutchins taught young fellas to fight. As a wry club owner, he coaxed couples to dance. And as a beloved "daddy," he showed his blithe daughters how to stand on their own two feet.
Hutchins grew up in Richmond in the post-Depression era, when almost everybody was poor. Fighting with gloves was free. It's how Hutchins made a name for himself as the "most popular boxer" in a 1940 Golden Gloves tourney in Richmond, a win that was followed by a 32-bout winning streak. But coming of age for a good ol' boy meant the marriage of dropping out and signing up. Hutchins joined the U.S. Navy, but he kept on boxing.
He returned to Richmond with wins under his belt and a new kind of confidence. He fancied life as a prizefighter. His class: flyweight. In 1946, he took his chances, training hard in New York City with Chris Dundee, a big-time fight promoter. A broken hand brought Hutchins home. His career of pro and amateur fights boasted 79 wins and just five losses.
"You never get the whole package," Hutchins was fond of saying, as if shrugging off regret, good-humoredly, were the only way to truly live. When he could no longer fight, he began teaching local boys, opening the West End Athletic Club at Second and Broad streets.
Out of the ring, he was anything but regular. He got a hair transplant to mask his baldness, then took great joy in shocking people when it turned out horribly. He played pranks on the unwitting. He had an imaginary friend, Links McFadden, whom he jokingly invoked until his death.
Spanning five decades, Hutchins and his brothers owned and ran some of the most legendary restaurants and clubs in town. First, there was Piggy's at Mulberry and Cary streets. Then there were ventures with his brother Ernest Lloyd "Sonny" Hutchins, a former race-car driver. They included Dino's, The Tiki and The Hut. Most famous, perhaps, and most recent was Piggy's Attache, a restaurant and after-hours club on West Broad Street near Libbie, where Hutchins relished greeting customers in his barbershop-style chair. Piggy's, which started as a tavern in 1968, remained in business until 2002.
"He was just a hell of a boxer and a hell of a guy," says John "Siggy" Chapman, 68. Hutchins taught Chapman how to fight. Throughout his life, people of all sorts gravitated to Hutchins, Chapman says.
Hutchins is survived by his wife, Lottie Loftis Hutchins, and his daughters, Vicki Turner and Toni McCracken, a senior account representative at Style.
Grown men cried at his funeral last week. Friend Hazel Childress smiled. Childress, 80, remembers their last kiss. It was a few weeks ago at the nursing home where she had visited Hutchins twice a week since he'd been ill, she says. Leaving, she bent to kiss him on the cheek, but he stopped her. Childress recalls: "He told me, 'Kiss me on the mouth because I'm telling you goodbye.'" SClick here for more News and Features