Storyville! The Romance and Tragedy of Boxing.

May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
I though I would create a thread sharing interesting articles on Boxing, with others who like myself were attracted to the sport by its Stories of Success , Tragedy and Inspiration.

Amongst the unsung heroes of American Urban culture, is the neighbourhood boxing coach..And there was a time when every neighbourhood had a gym. The Local Coach acted as a lighthouse, guiding young men away from the darkness of the streets and a potential life of prison and gangs towards success.

The following is one such story of the legendary neighbourhood coach from Harford connecticut Johnny Duke, it is written by "Ice Man" John Scully, I spoke toJohn some years ago on a forum he said the article was part of a book he was planning to write call the 'Ice Man Articles' unfortunately nearly a decade later it still does not seem to have been published, and John Scully has loads of interesting stories. so Here goes.

By John "The Iceman" Scully.

Johnny Duke story...
Duke was a guy from here in Hartford... passed away last year at, I think, 83... he was a REAL character of thegame, unlike ANYONE I have ever met...I have several stories on him inmy book...here is one of the favorites:

Johnny Duke Story #3:
At the Bellevue Square Boys Club you had some of the toughest guys ever to grow up in Hartford coming through there on a regular basis and boxing is one of those activities that for some reason just attracts people of all kinds. Mark Jennings was a kid from Bellevue Square who was in the gym in the late 80's and early 90's almost everyday, so often that he became an expected fixture at the gym each day even though he wasn't a boxer. Not that he didn't want to be one but the fact that he is permanently confined to a wheelchair made that impossible. That's not to say he couldn't compete physically, though. Johnny Duke made sure of that,

I am actually not even sure how this all started because I came around in the middle of Mark's run but I got used to Duke throwing up challenges on behalf of Mark to almost every guy that came to the gym, especially the bigger ,tougher looking guys. One thing about a boxing gym, especially with new guys looking to check it out, everybody thinks they are tough and that they are strong. Bellevue Square was certainly no different.

From his years and years of wheeling that chair around Mark had developed unusual arm strength and the proof was in the fact that we couldn't find anybody, no matter how big or tough, that could pin him to the wall using their arm strength against his. What would happen is that a couple of us would lift Mark out of his chair and steady him up with his back against the gym wall where he would wait for his designated challenger to come and take his turn. It went down like this: Mark would be there with his back to the wall and he would put his arms, bent at the elbows, straight out in front of him so that his opponent was able to grab a hold of Mark's forearms, wrapping his hands around Mark's wrists. When the person with the stopwatch would yell "Go!!" you had thirty full seconds to try and pin Mark's arms against the wall behind him and these matches got to be such a big thing that Duke would be like Mark's agent or manager or something and when someone new walked into the gym, especially a big and tough looking guy, Duke would be all over it.

"Oh, so you think you're a bad mother ------, huh?? Coming in here like you're Clint Eastwood or somebody, gonna' take over the gym. You're a tough guy? Well, I got a kid in a wheelchair that would kick your f------- a--, OK?? What do you think about that?"

And then Duke would call Mark over and everybody in the gym would stop what they were doing and come over, too, so they could start cheering Mark on while trash talking the new guy. It was like a circus sometimes and if you didn't know what was going on you would think we were all crazy. And the new guys, sometimes 250 pounds (including Clay-Bey and "Terminator" Earl Anderson) would have a look that said everything was all fun and games and he didn't want to hurt the kid so he would go along with the charade for the fun of it.

Duke would explain the rules and get everything in order, sometimes previewing what was about to take place like he was a ring announcer. Then, on cue, the guy with the stop watch would yell "Go!," and after a few seconds of trying to casually push Mark's arms behind him against the wall you could practically see the big guys saying to themselves "Wow, this little dude is stronger than he looks."

They would put extra juice into their push at that point and with the decibel level rising by the second all around them it was soon apparent that the big man was in trouble and almost as quickly as it started it was over and the ensuing celebration, each and every time, was as joyous as just about any world championship celebration that you have ever witnessed. Mark's smile was so big and wide, a good 3000 or so watts worth of teeth and happiness, that you didn't think he would be able to contain himself for much longer before he would collapse from sheer excitement. I promise you now that seeing and hearing all these guys, myself included, yelling Mark's name out loud as they cheered him on after one of his victories are some of the best memories I have from all my years in the boxing gyms. In all my years in the square I never saw him get defeated, either, no matter how big the opponent and, believe me when I tell you, these big dudes were trying as hard as they could to pin this kid. Mark just would stay so focused and determined and if he was going to fight for anything in this world it was going to be to stop them from pinning him.

After it was all over Duke would go over to his note book and, in front of everybody, check off another victim biting the dust, keeping track of Mark's career record. I am telling you, and I am willing to bet cash money right now on it, that the feeling of joy and accomplishment Mark felt each and every time, from the beginning of the negotiation all the way to the recording in the book, was equal to that of any world champion that you ever saw capture his belt on Pay-Per-View.

Johnny Duke gave Mark Jennings the amazing gift of feeling alive more times than I could remember or count.

So today (October 27, 2006) I am driving down Broad Street in Hartford with Mike-Mike (nine years after the gym closed and a good eighteen years after first seeing Mark in action) and we are literally on our way to the weigh-in at Foxwoods for his fight tomorrow with Adam Carerra for the USBA 122 pound title when we happened to see Mark (now about thirty years old) pushing himself along the sidewalk in his chair. So we pull over and stop to talk, telling him where we are headed, etc. Mark had been in the gym on hundreds of days with Mike-Mike all the way back to the 1980's and it is obviously a great source of pride for him to know that he comes from that gym with Duke and Mike-Mike and all the guys and he enthusiastically lets us know he is pulling for us and that he is going to let everybody know that he saw us on our way to the big battle.

As we are driving away I remember the battles he himself used to have on so many occasions at the old gym and I slow down the car and yell out the window back at him, just for fun, just to remind him of the old days one more time. "Mark, what was your final record at Duke's gym??," I loudly ask.

And as we slowly continue driving I, along with the rest of the block, can hear him happily and excitedly reply, with a huge smile on his face and his arm pumping into the air, "A hundred and seventy-two and oh!!"
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Some people might not know that Rocky Balboas coach, Mickey Goldmill is based on the real life character of the legendary boxing coach Freddie Brown he trained many great fighters including Roberto Duran...Here is a good article by William Nack for Sports Illustrated when Duran was preparing for his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.

From Hard Punches, a Life of Ease (part 1)

The hands that cradle Pedro the bunny on a patio in Panama will rock welterweight champ Sugar Ray Leonard in Montreal—says Roberto Duran

By William Nack



VIEW COVER

JUNE 16, 1980




ORIGINAL LAYOUT

Early of a morning five years ago, while training for a fight in New York, Roberto Duran put on his sweat suit, joined his perpetual shadow, Trainer Freddie Brown, and started out of the Hotel Mayflower to do his roadwork in Central Park. But it was raining when they hit the street. Not wanting to expose his fighter to the chill of the elements, certainly not on the eve of a fight, Brown waved Duran back inside.

"If it stops raining," Freddie said, "I'll call you."

Duran returned to his room, Brown to his. Half an hour later Brown peeked out the window and saw that the rain had stopped. He went to Duran's room.

"No rain," said Freddie. "We go."

Duran waved the trainer away. "No," the fighter said. Duran was overweight, as usual, and needed the work to trim down to 135 pounds, the ceiling for the lightweight division. Over the last few years—ever since Duran had pounded Ken Buchanan loose from his lightweight title in 1972—Brown had served not only as Duran's chief cut man, counselor and chaperon, but also as his conscience, a stern reminder that Roberto must work to win.

"Come on," said Freddie, "ya gotta go, ya gotta run."

Duran was standing at the door of the room, facing it, when he exploded in a rage. He suddenly threw his awesome straight right hand into the door. The thwack resounded like a thunderclap. On the adjacent wall a framed picture fell to the floor, its pane of glass shattering. Saying nothing, Brown left the room and headed for the lobby. Duran soon joined him and set out on his run.

"Duran's a funny guy," says Brown. "Hard to work with. He's definitely got a mind of his own. But he listens. He does. He listens."

Now it is May 1980, and Duran is still listening. It is midafternoon at Grossinger's in New York's Catskill Mountains. The fighter is moving around a ring in the middle of a circular wooden structure that serves as the resort's ski lodge in winter. There are flowers in the fields now, and on this drowsily warm spring day sweat beads the fighter's impassive face. Duran is preparing for the night of June 20, when he will climb into the ring in Montreal's Olympic Stadium to fight the World Boxing Council's welterweight champion, Sugar Ray Leonard, for the title. Duran is sparring, after a fashion, with one Simon Smith, who is throwing feather duster punches and running from Duran. Brown stands on the ring apron, his arms resting on the top rope, watching with mounting dismay.

Duran has already gone four rounds with Teddy White, a Leonard look-alike, pursuing him from one corner of the ring to another and howling like a hoot owl as he throws his punches—"Hoooo! Hoooo!"—but now he is slowing; the owl in him is asleep. He turns his back on Smith and walks away. Facing him again, he jams his thumbs into his trunks. He leans back, bends side to side, ducking and slipping whatever Smith throws. He shrugs. He dances a step or two. He raises his hands palms out, and parries. Brown snorts and stalks away from the ring as the round ends. Had someone offered him a pan of water, he surely would have washed his hands of this.

"Another round?" inquires Luis Henriquez, Duran's longtime friend and his interpreter.

"No," says Brown, waving the thought away. "The hell with it. He's not doing anything anyway."

Brown finds a wooden post 10 feet from the ring and leans against it, scowling at Duran as the fighter spars desultorily through another round. "He says he wants to measure the guy," Henriquez tells Brown.

"That's not the right way to do it," says Brown. "He leaves himself open that way. Do you think the guy he's fighting next month will let him do that?"

None of this is lost on Duran. He leans across the ropes and hollers at the audience in Spanish, "What a trainer I have! He wants me to throw everything without thinking. To hit me, Leonard has to throw punches. Leonard isn't going to fight me the way this guy fights. He's not going to run away from me."

"That's his way of resting," Henriquez says to Brown.

"I'd rather have him go two rounds on the heavy bag than do that," Brown says. "That's just wasting time...."

And the time was coming when there would be no time to waste. Brown is from the old school, and what annoyed him most was the failure of discipline, the fighter's casual manner. There was no doubt in the trainer's mind that in Sugar Ray Leonard, Duran would be meeting the toughest opponent of his life—a fast, crafty, intelligent and ambitious fighter. "The toughest without question," Brown says. And here, with the days dwindling down, Duran was sparring as if preparing to fight on an undercard.

Brown had been through these afternoons with Roberto Duran before. He had suffered the Panamanian's temperament, off and on, for nearly eight years—the arguments, the recriminations, the work stoppages and slowdowns, the broken training rules. On a number of occasions in Duran's years as a lightweight, Brown had to bring the fighter's weight from 165 to 135 pounds. "In the beginning it was harder than it is now," Brown says. "I had to watch him all the time. He did things he shouldn't do before a fight, like, you know, eating something he shouldn't."

Brown is sitting in his room in Duran's cottage at Grossinger's, about an hour after the training session with Simon Smith, and he is still nettled, but more subdued. "I'm not too worried, though," he says. "The fight's too far away. But he can do so much better. It's not a game. I don't play games. When he boxes good, I tell him. When he boxes bad, I tell him. We get into fights all the time. There were times when I was about to give it up. You try to help him, try to help him throw punches right, to do things right, and sometimes he says, 'Let me alone.' So you walk out. One day he's one way, one day he's another. Some days you can get everything out of him, some days you can't get nothing. You never know. You just have to leave him alone and go along. He listens, but he wants it his way."


There is a sharp rap on Brown's door. "Come on, Freddie," says the voice of Roberto Duran. "Let's go eat."

Brown rises from his chair and smiles. "He knows he did wrong," Brown says as he goes to the door. "He apologized. Like I was saying: sometimes you love him; sometimes you want to kill him."

Roberto Duran has been doing it his way, for the most part, since the street-urchin days when he surfaced as the resident roughneck of Panama City. Duran grew up in Chorrillo, a windblown slum of narrow streets and tumbledown two-story houses that lies on the east side of the mouth of the Panama Canal, across from Fort Amador. He is one of eight children. Roberto's father deserted his mother before he was born. As a youngster, with a sack slung over his shoulder, Duran used to swim the two miles to Fort Amador for daily raids on its bounteous mango trees. He would climb the trees, load the sack with the fruit and swim the two miles back. One day he almost drowned. Three hundred yards from the shore, encumbered by a particularly splendid harvest, he started to sink. "About three of us grabbed him and dragged him to shore," says Ruben Wallace, a friend of Roberto's. "He wouldn't let go of that damn sack."

Roberto sold the mangoes to help his mother raise the family. He shined shoes, too, and painted rooms and peddled newspapers. A natural entertainer, he danced and sang in the streets for passers-by. "I could dance and sing good," Duran says, "and I was great on the drums. I got pretty good tips."

He was less accomplished as a student. Practicing the overhand right was not part of the curriculum in his elementary school. "I remember in school one day, a kid came over to hit me and I moved. We exchanged positions, so his back was toward the steps. I hit him and he fell backward down the steps. And they threw me out." That was in third grade; he was 13. Duran never went back.

By then he had already met the two men who would develop him as a fighter. Duran first encountered Carlos Eleta when he was 10, at the foot of one of Eleta's coconut trees, whose fruit Duran was poaching. Eleta was a millionaire sportsman—a former tennis champion of Panama, the owner of a large stable of thoroughbred horses and an entrepreneur with holdings, at various times, in Latin American baseball, basketball and soccer teams. Eleta invited him into his elegant house, gave the youngster some money and sent him home. "He was such a cute little boy when he was young," Eleta says. Like Sugar Ray Leonard, whose interest in boxing was inspired by an older brother, Roberto first found his way into a gym by tracking his older brother Domingo. When Domingo quit, tiring of the routine, his trainer, Nestor Qui‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬±ones, urged Roberto to stay on. And he did. He turned pro at 16.

Duran brought to the ring everything he had learned in the schoolyards and streets. When Eleta bought his contract in 1971 for $300 from Panamanian Jockey Alfredo Vasquez, the young man's boxing experience had taught him a law that seemed as universal and immutable as that which grew hair on the coconut: when he let fly with his right, somebody went down. In school it was children sailing down staircases; in the prize ring, it was the other fighter. What applied in the streets, Roberto perceived, applied in the ring. He had few defensive skills and he used his left sparingly. He fought his way through the ranks, going undefeated in his early days as a professional on the strength of his raw talent. He doubtless would have continued to be more brawler than fighter had not Eleta, in 1971, persuaded 72-year-old Ray Arcel to come out of retirement and offer a hand in shaping Roberto.

Arcel had been one of the most respected conditioners and ring tacticians in American boxing. In more than 40 years in the fight game—until he grew tired and disillusioned with the direction the sport was taking and quit the ring in 1956—Arcel had handled 16 world champions, from Barney Ross to Tony Zale to Ezzard Charles. To these men, and to Duran, he preached the virtues of learning dexterity with both hands, and taught how the left sets up the right, how the two work in combination. Arcel had seen Duran fight and had liked what he saw. He agreed to help him, though only on a part-time basis. He didn't want to leave his job as a purchasing agent for an alloy company in New York City. Arcel suggested to Eleta that he hire his old friend Freddie Brown to assume the day-to-day job of preparing Duran for his fights; Arcel would join them near fight time to offer assistance.

All hands agreed. Brown, eight years younger than Arcel, had worked the corners of hundreds of fighters in a long and distinguished career; he was the cut man for Rocky Marciano in all his title fights. His four-point credo for Duran was: 1) The left is as valuable as the right if used correctly; 2) Boxing is the art of hitting and not getting hit; 3) It is not how hard you hit a man but where you hit him that matters; and 4) The speed at which you cut up an opponent is related to how efficiently you cut off the ring.

Roberto resisted taking advice, of course, and on the point of ambidexterity the trainers and the fighter argued vigorously. But he acceded to Brown's counsel, point by point, over the years. By the time he fought Buchanan for the lightweight title, Duran had learned the mechanics of cutting off the ring and the art of the jab. He was no longer a mere clubber. His only loss came soon after the Buchanan bout, by a decision to Esteban DeJesus in a non-title fight, but he was sick at the time. He met DeJesus twice after that and battered him senseless both times. In each of his first two fights against DeJesus, the Puerto Rican had dropped him with a left hook in the first round. Approaching the third fight in January of 1978, Arcel and Brown exhorted Duran to do what DeJesus least expected: to box the first few rounds. "We tried to explain to him," Arcel recalls, "that if he ripped and tore into DeJesus, Esteban would be waiting to nail him with the left hook." So Duran boxed, bewildering DeJesus, and worked inside, battering him with shots to the body. He knocked him out in the 12th.

That fight was Duran's last as a lightweight. In his championship years he had achieved a celebrity in Panama usually accorded diplomats and generals. On his return to Panama after winning the title, a crowd of 5,000 greeted him at the airport, including high officials of state. To the throng, he said, "El campeonato mundial pertenece al pueblo panameño." "The world championship belongs to the people of Panama." Thousands more lined the streets as Duran, waving from an open car, headed a parade that bore him to Chorrillo's slums.


The fame and money that began flowing to him in time elevated Duran and his family from poverty to relative splendor. Five years ago he bought a sprawling $150,000 home, with a stream flowing through his backyard, in the poshest and one of the most expensive communities in Panama, Nuevo Reparto El Carmen. He lives there with his wife, Felicidad, and their four kids. One of his neighbors is Arístides Royo, the president of Panama, who stops by once a week to visit Roberto and his 3-year-old, 680-pound pet lion, Walla, which he received as a gift from Rigoberto Paredes, the former head of the Panama racetrack. Duran was once observed leading the beast around the neighborhood like a dog at the end of a leash.

Duran owns two Pontiac Trans Ams, a Lincoln Continental and a Fiat; Felicidad has an Alfa Romeo. Duran also has a $25,000 van equipped with a stereo, television and telephone, which he uses to shuttle his entourage to and from the training gym. General Omar Torrijos, the Panamanian chief of the national guard, gave him the van after he knocked out DeJesus in their third fight. Duran is exempt from paying taxes in Panama, one of his rewards for being a champion, so what he takes in he takes home. He has money in the bank and has invested in real estate, his chief holding being a $250,000 apartment complex in Panama. His mother lives in a three-bedroom house he bought for her.

Duran has never lost touch with his roots. Though he moved from Chorrillo to Nuevo Reparto El Carmen, he didn't forsake the old neighborhood, which he visits frequently. His cook, a Frenchman, is from Chorrillo, and so are his three maids and the man who keeps the cars clean. "When he is home, Roberto goes to Chorrillo every day and hangs out with the guys," says Henriquez. And every Sunday he goes to Farfan beach, near Chorrillo. Duran "owned" that beach as a kid, in the way that ruffians own city blocks, and he owns it yet. Early on Sunday afternoon, after attending Mass, he packs his van with food and drink and drives to the beach, where whoever comes along may join the picnic. "Rice and peas, salad and wine and beer, but no liquor," says Henriquez. "And plenty of fruit juices and fried fish. He sets it on tables. He and his wife cook. When he gets there, the party starts." Duran plays dominoes, listens to salsa music and presides over the further greening of the legend he has created for himself.

He has come to be regarded, pounding for pounding, as perhaps the most dangerous fighter in the game, a ferocious and relentless master of attack. He dominated the lightweight division by means of paradoxical qualities: fury and finesse. This surely accounts for much of his mystique—that and his fearsome physical aspect. Duran is a cholo, a man of Indian and Spanish descent, and it is the Indian heritage that has shaped his countenance. His eyes are a lambent brown and his hair as black as the plumage of a crow. When he perspires in the ring, the hair mats, and as he lunges and bounces, it flaps like wings. Duran is built like a linebacker, with squat, powerful legs which are slightly bowed and seem too short for a disproportionately long torso, and broad shoulders riveted together by the bolt of a powerful neck.

It wasn't Duran's battle with weight that drove him to give up his lightweight title and become a welterweight, Eleta says, but rather the lack of opportunity to make as much money in the lighter division as in the 147-pound class. He had, quite simply, pounded the division into his own Tortilla Flat. So on Feb. 1, 1978 he abdicated his crown and joined the welters. Duran had a 62-1 record, with a remarkable 51 knockouts, but since he became a welterweight he has had but four KOs in eight fights. That fact raises one of several questions about Roberto Duran on the eve of the Leonard fight—to wit, is he as hard a hitter against bigger men? "I think a few boxers lost respect for me," says Duran. "Some said I lost my ability to punch with power. But let me tell you something: if a man is born with a good punch, a change in weight makes no difference."

Perhaps so; perhaps not. He dropped the former welterweight champion, Carlos Palomino, in their fight last June, but couldn't keep him down in what became a war. Duran takes a magnificent punch, but so does Palomino. "In the lightweight division it seemed like he was a tremendous puncher," Palomino says now. "But I didn't find him to be that kind of puncher as a welterweight. He's a good puncher, a strong puncher, but not a devastating puncher. He's good inside, very good, strong physically. The one thing that surprised me most about him was his quickness. And his defensive ability. He moves his head a lot, feints a lot. He's not an easy man to hit."

In the last eight years, Arcel and Brown both say, the sharpening of Duran's skills has been dramatic. "He's learned a lot," Arcel says. "He has developed tremendous ring sense; that's what makes him what he is. He's not just in there to throw punches. He knows what to do and when to do it. If he has to jab, he can jab. If he has to move, he can. If he has to take a punch, he can. When he's really in top, top shape, he's a devastating puncher. From the long layoff before the Palomino fight he might have lost a sharpness, the perfect coordination that he usually has, in his punches. And who knocks Palomino out? Duran might come close to knocking Leonard out.

Part 2 below
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
From Hard Punches, a Life of Ease (part 2)

By William Nack.



"Look," says Arcel. "Leonard is an excellent boxer. He's a master craftsman. He can do almost anything, but we don't know one thing. Can he stand up under the body-battering that he's going to get from Duran in the early rounds? If Duran hurts you and you're backing up and on the ropes, I'm telling you, he don't let you alone. He sticks to you like a plaster. He's that vicious. And he has the unique ability to get stronger as the fight goes on. When he's in top shape, after the seventh round you got to watch yourself. He gets his second wind and he can go like hell. You can't avoid punches when you're in there.


"It's the highest form of individualism there is. You're in there all alone. When you take a punch to the belly, you can't say, 'Time out!' You've got to be able to weather the storm. Can Leonard stand up? Can he take what Duran has to offer? That's the question."

The question of Duran's condition comes up endlessly. Generally, his fights fall into two categories: a) those Duran cares about, and b) those he doesn't care about. He got up for the biggest fights in his life: Buchanan, the second DeJesus fight, Palomino. Those for which he wasn't in shape have been deceptive, inspiring premature speculation that the fighter in the man was gone. But Duran would come roaring back. "I had seen Duran fight before he fought me and he looked slow and sluggish," recalls Palomino. "I figured there was no way he could go 10 rounds with me. But he was in shape, and for 10 rounds it was a war."

Roberto Duran is lounging in a lawn chair in front of his cottage at Grossinger's. Freddie Brown has just escorted him back from dinner. The 29-year-old former lightweight champion of the world, whose weight is 153 pounds after four weeks of training here, dismisses with a shrug his listless sparring session against Simon Smith. "Gloves, gloves, gloves," Duran says quietly. "You just get bored. Imagine going a month without rest—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday—damn, you don't have the desire to throw punches anymore. They never give me a day off. I'm taking everything with calmness—at my pace. Everything is being saved for the day of the fight. If I do do things with ferociousness now, I won't have any sparring partners. What then? I do what my trainers tell me, but I also put in something of my own. It's not what they say only, but what I see in myself. Sometimes you don't want to fight. Understand? Sometimes the body wants to work and sometimes it doesn't. I have not yet started to throw hard. I should be in much better condition the day of the fight—not now. On June 20th I should be double what I am now—double!"

Duran clearly understands what is at stake. He has won important victories before, he says, but for this the world will be watching him for the first time in his life. Ken Buchanan was one thing. Sugar Ray Leonard, the American Olympic gold-medal winner and welterweight champion, is another. Duran could make $2 million from the fight—it will be shown on closed-circuit movie screens—to Leonard's $10 million. But the disparity, he says, doesn't bother him. "I'm not bitter over his good fortune," Duran says. "Why should I be?" If Duran wins, a return match would set him up financially for life. He knows this, too. But just as much at stake are pride and honor for their own sake. "I got into boxing to learn it," Duran says. "I'm not here to, to, to...climb up! No, no, no. I didn't enter the ring to get out of the gutter. Those are stories. I got into it because I liked it. I'm better than he is. I want to see him demonstrate, to show me, that he's world champion. For me he is not a world champion."

Leonard got where he is today, Duran says, without having really been in a fight. Leonard is living in a fantasy, Duran says, in a world in which he has yet to be tested. Wilfredo Benitez, who had been idle eight months before he fought Leonard, was no test, says Duran. Nor anyone before Benitez. "But he won't be living in a fantasy with me. Tell him, 'I never live in a fantasy. I live in reality.' To be where I am today, I've thrown many hard punches. Everybody has thrown some good blows at me. That is why I'm so strong. When someone throws a good punch, you feel it, but you try to shake it off—to assimilate it. You have to assimilate the blows. I've been hit by DeJesus, Hector Thompson, by Ray Lampkin, by Palomino, by a lot of fighters—but I'm still here. I assimilate. As the rounds go by I get stronger."

Duran's eyes are flashing now. "There is something in me. I'm Roberto Duran between the ropes! No one else! What I feel in the ring is to win." He laughs now. "Le quiero arrancar la cabeza!" Which is to say, "I want to tear off his head."

For Leonard he has no respect, Duran says, at least not as a fighter. "What is important to me is that he is going to have to fight with me," Duran says. "They say that he imitates Ali. They say he is the best in the world. I don't copy anyone. My ability is natural. I have always said that the person who copies another will always fall in the end. People are only going to see your copy. People will say, 'Look, he's a clown, he's nothing. He's doing the same as the other ones.' Forget it. But with an original, they will say, 'He's a natural, he created it.' Leonard's a braggart, a big mouth, a clown. I think this is going to be the first time in his life that he's going to really have a fight. Why should I respect him? What is he going to teach me? I've been fighting since I was eight. What is a kid born yesterday going to teach me? I was world champion for 6½ years. I've fought brawlers, speedsters, hitters and boxers. I know he's going to come to me and I'm going to take care of him. He thinks I am going to come out like I always do, but I have a few surprises for him; for me he doesn't have any surprises."



It has been said, Duran is reminded now, that he is vulnerable to three things: speed, the left hand and the man who fights a calculated fight. Duran sits up abruptly. "That is to say that nothing bothers Leonard?" he asks. He clasps his hands, as if in prayer, and looks skyward. "That is to say that Leonard is a god? We all have difficulties. Leonard has his, and I know what they are. The man who fights with one hand is dead. He does not have one hand, but he depends on one. His left. When he can't do what he wants, the fight is out of his control. Leonard has problems—in fact, many problems. But I don't intend to divulge them right now. I'm thinking about them and planning to take advantage of them. Arid I have not lost any of my spirit. I have not lost anything yet."


They call him Manos de Piedra, Stonehands, and for many he has been that. But this is in another city, in another arena, in another year against another man. They say this could be the prizefight of the decade and the decade has just begun. Once again, Roberto Duran will climb the steps to his corner of the ring. Behind him, draped in towels and carrying Q-tips and buckets, will come those two old men, fight trainers from another age—Freddie Brown, his thinning gray hair climbing in waves on his head, and Ray Arcel, slender and dignified. It will be out of their hands by then, all the plotting, all the calculating and the worrying, and in the hands of stone. "I have nothing to worry about," says Roberto Duran. "I am a man with two hands."
 
Reactions: Jdempsey85
Jan 6, 2013
5,470
2,735
EAST L.A
Great articles @Dynamito

''Duran's eyes are flashing now. "There is something in me. I'm Roberto Duran between the ropes! No one else! What I feel in the ring is to win." He laughs now. "Le quiero arrancar la cabeza!" Which is to say, "I want to tear off his head."

I love this quote
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Former light welterweight champ Saoul Mamby was one of Boxings fascinating characters, a Black Jewish guy from the Bronx managed by Don King and despit being managed by king he claims he still managed to remain financially stable ...stylistically he is what one would call a spoiler bamboozling and befuddling fighters, he even managed to get ranked in his 40's when causing a mild upset over contender Larry Barnes. He made history by fighting at 60...Despite being a journey man in the latter part of his career and suffering 34 losses he was stopped only once a testimony to his skills as a master spoiler.

Article originally published in USA Today ... https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwis6efW8PXNAhXKA8AKHZHYAGcQFggwMAE&url=http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/boxing/2008-03-12-1281354489_x.htm&usg=AFQjCNFgyuiyYgYsId_zifwyuEmbr43qLQ&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg

At the age of 60, Saoul Mamby fights on because that is what he does
Posted 3/13/2008 3:59 AM



By Tim Dahlberg, AP Sports Columnist
I guess I should be outraged, but somehow I'm not.
Saoul Mamby probably shouldn't be fighting, but he's been doing it for so long I'm not going to be the one to tell him to stop.

The grandfather of 11 first fought for money in 1969, a year he remembers well even if a lot of others don't. Once a world champion who fought on the same card as Muhammad Ali, he's fought around the world in places you'd be hard pressed to find on a map, but where he could always find a payday.

The other night he went 10 rounds with a man half his age down in the Cayman Islands. He took the fight on a few days notice, figuring that even a few months shy of 61 he could beat a guy who had lost 13 of his last 14 fights.

He couldn't, but at his age one more loss isn't going to deter him.


"I didn't get hurt or beat down. It's just that my tools weren't sharp," Mamby said. "Now that I've got 10 good rounds under me I'm ready to go again."

Just when that will be depends on the ability of his manager, Steve Tannenbaum, to convince a boxing commission somewhere that 60 is the new 30 and that a fighter shouldn't be discriminated against just because he's only a few months away from collecting Social Security.

That's been difficult in recent years, but Tannenbaum has a plan. He also has an opponent, though he still needs to find him.

"Give me a white guy with a decent record from the south," Tannenbaum says. "That's all I need."

In boxing, that's all anyone needs to sell a few tickets. Add a senior citizen to the mix, and start opening some more windows at the box office.

Just how Mamby got to this point should be a cautionary tale for anyone involved in the sport of boxing. The fact that he's now fought in five different decades and might be the oldest fighter ever to step into a ring should be cause for alarm.

I said should be, because you talk to Mamby and it all makes sense. Well, almost all.

His motivation goes back 40 years, to the jungles of Vietnam where newly drafted out of the Bronx he served in the infantry. He and his buddies would sit around, joke and laugh, and talk about what they were going to do after the war.

After seeing some of those buddies leave the country in body bags, Mamby made a vow to himself to lead the life he wanted if he got out alive.

"I don't want to be the shoulda, woulda, coulda," Mamby said. "Because when it's over, it's over. I made it out of a hellhole, so whatever I want to do I'm going to do as long as it's not hurting me or anybody else."

Sounds corny, sure. There's probably a dozen B movies in Hollywood based on the same principle, though no one got their brains scrambled while making them.

Mamby's brain isn't scrambled, either, which may come as a surprise for someone who's been in 85 fights, gone 15 rounds eight different times, and fought dozens of times in places when the only medical clearance needed was your ability to breathe and climb into the ring.

Mamby can do both, though his ring skills had deteriorated so much that he was suspended after a 2000 fight in North Carolina and fought only once, in 2004 in Thailand, before getting his comeback fight Saturday night against Anthony Osbourne in the Cayman Islands.

He lost a unanimous decision to a guy who can't fight, but he felt like a winner coming out of the ring when the crowd gathered to shake his hand and cheer him on after the announcer filled them in on his age.

It was another story to add to a collection that Mamby tells with little prompting and surprising eloquence for a man who has spent most of his life trading punches to the head. He'll tell you of defending his 140-pound world title in the fight just before Ali took on Larry Holmes in 1980, his fights in Madison Square Garden, and how he used to go into the backyard of opponents around the world to make a living.

The conditions weren't always great. But once when he took his title belt to Indonesia to defend against the local hero, and the fight organizers put him up in a luxury hotel and assigned a gorgeous young woman to take care of his every need.

Mamby smelled a plant. He had the girl wake him up for road work and drive him around, but nothing else.

"She was a beautiful woman, but I wasn't going to lose my title for one night of pleasure," he said.

That was a quarter century ago, and Mamby wasn't a young man then. The guys he fought are now all old and fat or dead, while Mamby walks around at 155 or so pounds and doesn't have a gray hair on his head. He eats steamed veggies, recently bought a juicer for his health foods and will talk forever about how important proper nutrition is.

"The man hasn't had a Dunkin' Donut in his life," Tannenbaum said.

Mamby is chasing a dream he shouldn't be chasing, but all boxers do the same thing. He wants to be a champion again, and feels that with a few fights he should be able to fight for one of the many titles out there.

That's not going to happen, just as he's not going to be fighting in Las Vegas or New York or anywhere else where they regulate the sport. His best hope lies in his well-used passport or Tannenbaum's ability to find that hometown fighter somewhere in the south where they might look the other way when they see his age.

Boxing isn't pretty at times; actually it's not pretty most of the time. I've been around the sport long enough to see the effects it can have on guys who take one punch too many, and I've seen young men killed in the ring.

So, yes, I should be outraged not only that Saoul Mamby is still fighting, but that there are places that will still let him fight.

I should be, but somehow I'm not.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org

The Associated Press
 
Last edited:
Reactions: Chinny
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Many of the younger fans may have read the name of the James Shuler Memorial gym, in Philadelphia many great fighters have trained there over the last 30 years...Here is the story of James Schuler whose life was tragically cut short.

Boxer's Requiem: Shuler's Corner Is Empty Now


By Sarajane Freligh, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: March 28, 1986
By noon yesterday, the rain was falling in big drops that pelted the faces and washed away the tears of the hundreds who had gathered to bury James Shuler.

The cars queued bumper to bumper for many blocks and all along the crumbling sidewalk of 15th street as the people gathered in one great, grieving mass.

They filed into Second Pilgrim Baptist Church clutching handkerchiefs and tissues with which to dab their red eyes and bury their sad faces. They wound upstairs and through the sanctuary lined with the first flowers of spring, to where the body of James Shuler lay in a brass casket in front of the pulpit.

They filled the pews in the sanctuary of the church and the balconies above it, spilling out into the vestibule and along the staircases. They wanted to be comforted. On a Sunday, the church usually holds 1,200 people, but on this sad occasion, it held 1,500.

They came to bury James Shuler one week after he died at the age of 26 in a motorcycle accident on a city street not far from where he lived; seven days later, and still they wondered, why, why had it happened?

"Let us remember that only God has the answer to the question why," said the Reverend L. V. Johnson Sr., quoting from the book of Job. It seemed fitting that he had selected that text. Life had tested James Shuler, just as it tried the patience of Job.

It was a little less than three weeks ago that James Shuler fought Thomas Hearns in the arena at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas. It was what Shuler had anticipated his entire career: a famous opponent, a lucrative paycheck and a live audience of 15,000. It was his chance, his big break, he often said. It was to be the gold medal that had eluded him because of the Olympic boycott in 1980.

Shuler lasted less than a round against Hearns, who felled him at 1:13 of the fight with a right to the head. A little later, Shuler shook Hearns' hand and called him a great champion. He told him that, now that all that was over, they should get together sometime, go out and have a little fun.

It was the last time the two talked. Thomas Hearns flew into Philadelphia yesterday, and he brought with him the North American Boxing Federation middleweight championship belt he had won from Shuler. He planned to give it to James' parents, Paul and Betty Shuler.

"I think that he deserved it a lot more than I did," he said. "It's been in the family a long time, a lot longer than I had it."

Shuler had compiled a record of 22 victories and one loss. In death he was remembered as a man of courage and dignity who had made the most of his short time on earth.

"Man has but a few days to live," said Mr. Johnson. "James Shuler gave his best during the short time that he lived. He did what he could when he could."

He was eulogized by President Ronald Reagan, who sent a telegram to the family that was read aloud to the congregation: "Shuler will be remembered with affection and admiration as a boxer whose skills, determination and courage made him first an Olympian and then a middleweight champion. But perhaps his most lasting legacy will be in the hearts of everyone who knew him as a true champion in life as well."

He was eulogized by Norman Spencer, the principal of Benjamin Franklin High school, who recalled the afternoon in September when James had attended a pep rally in his honor in the auditorium of his alma mater.

"James preached to them about having a goal, about being No. 1, just like he was," Spencer said. The family has ensured that a student will have that opportunity, by establishing a scholarship in memory of James Shuler, to be awarded yearly to an outstanding graduating athlete.

He was eulogized by the presence of hundreds who bid him a reluctant farewell. When the long service was over and the last amen had been said, the mourners walked in a ragged line past the open casket. They patted Shuler's shoulder or kissed his forehead. They knelt and prayed. Some wept silent tears while others wailed aloud the grief they were feeling: "James, our James," they cried.

When the coffin was finally closed, it was borne by nearly a dozen dark- suited men. Some of them were fighters, men who had sparred with James Shuler and grown with him in dim Philadelphia gyms. As they began their sad processional, their faces barely masked the misery they were feeling. Why, they wondered? And only God had the answer.
 
Reactions: Chinny
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
TWEED SUITS AND GOLDEN GLOVES-FORMER BOXING CHAMP AL CERTO ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEAVE
MARCH 12, 2013 ADMIN


By Sally Deering


Al Certo in his Secaucus Tailor Shop with photo of himself and boxing legends


How many people can say Frank Sinatra’s mother brought them into the world? Born in Hoboken under the watchful eye of midwife Dolly Sinatra (she was a neighbor), Al Certo was raised in Hoboken where he dreamed of being a dancer but, instead, built two careers as a professional boxer and men’s tailor, Certo weaved back and forth between those two worlds until he eventually hung up his gloves and threw himself into herringbones and tweeds.

Certo’s Custom Tailors has thrived in Secaucus for more than 50 years. Back in the day Certo’s shop was two floors with eight tailors handling the orders; today, the top floor is now a pizzeria and Harsh Khindri who has been with Certo for 15 years handles most of the work.

“He’s one of the greatest tailors I ever met,” Certo says. “He has gold in his hands.”

Certo’s tailor shop is filled with sewing machines and along several walls are rows of hangers with yards of fabrics like cashmere, wools and cottons. Above the hangers is a line-up of photographs mostly of famous boxers who Certo knew from his years in the ring. Sometimes they came to Certo’s shop to talk boxing and sometimes they picked out a suit. That’s what boxing legend Muhammad Ali did.


Al Certo top row, right hand side of photo with many of boxing’s legends.
“I got to be very close to Ali,” Certo says. “He came walking in; I got all the pictures of the fighters on the wall and he says, ‘where’s all the black fighters?’ We hit it off good. Ali had a 34 waist and a chest like, I would say 50-52.”

Back in the day, Certo built a good reputation as a boxer, won the Golden Gloves in 1953 and turned pro in ’56. He owned a gym on Washington Street in Hoboken during those years, too, but there came a time when Certo had to flip a coin and make a career-decision.

“What do I do, let this thing go and devote full time to the boxing? “ Certo says, describing how he chose tailoring over boxing. Pointing to the 8 x 10 framed photographs that line the top edge of the walls, he says: “There’s a billion dollars-worth of talent on that wall.”

He’s right. Black and white photos of the biggest legends in the boxing world like Ali, Joe Louis, Jake LaMotta, Jack Dempsey, Chuck Wepner, Jersey Joe Wolcott and Rocky Graziano are hung next to superstars like a young Frank Sinatra, who Certo dressed in his custom-made suits. Sinatra had a 29-inch waist at the time, Certo says. There’s also a picture of Martin Scorcese, Joe Pesche, Ray Liotta and Rober DeNiro who visited Al while filming “Goodfellas”.

“DeNiro was doing research on his role as Jake LaMotta in ‘Raging Bull’ and he knew I was a fighter and fight promoter and wanted to ask me questions,” Certo says.

Certo is featured in several books including a popular new release “The Boss Always Sits in the Back” by Jon D’Amore who is a former Secaucus resident now residing in Hollywood. Friends since the 1980s, whenever D’Amore comes to the area for book signings, he hooks up with Certo.

“Since back in the late 1970s when I was 14 years old I’ve credited Al Certo with being one of the people responsible for my successful career as a musician that lasted until I retired from it in 1985,” D’Amore says. “He booked my first group, The Mixed Expressions, made up of 6 high school teens from Secaucus and Weehawken, for our very first paying job at The Plaza Arena. Al and I have stayed friends ever since and it’s been an honor to know him. Even now that I live in Hollywood, whenever I come back to New Jersey or New York City I always make it a point to stop by Al’s shop and have a cup of coffee.”

Although he built his custom-tailoring business in Secaucus, Certo’s a Hoboken guy who remembers “when rents were $5 or $6 a month”. He grew up on Monroe Street a block from the Sinatra family and it was Sinatra’s mother Dolly who supplemented her income as a midwife and brought Certo into the world. His father, Al, a trombone player and mother Nettie raised 12 kids – Certo was a middle-child — and when Certo was big enough, he worked as a shoeshine boy near the Hoboken docks that lined the Hudson. In his early 20s, he married Lee Bernacci; they are together 64 years.

“I never wanted to be a fighter. I wanted to be a dancer,” Certo says. “I was a good dancer with my sister Joanne. Once, we were at a dance in Hoboken and the whole dance floor got off and watched us dance. We were great.”

Dreams of dancing like his idols Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire are now stored away along with memories of his days as a pro boxer, Light on his feet and in good shape, Certo looks like he still could wow ‘em on the dance floor – an observation that he brushes away like a puff of lint on a lightweight wool.

“I’m 85,” he says. “I got two left feet now.”


Certo’s Custom Tailors

Article originally posted in Riverview observer. https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjLjZazgvjNAhUsD8AKHX4CAuUQFggcMAA&url=http://riverviewobserver.net/2013/03/tweed-suits-and-golden-gloves-former-boxing-champ-al-certo-on-choosing-the-right-weave/&usg=AFQjCNEdsB9EjNCNtHZmY_Ap3vclyKIR-Q&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
With all the talk of Eubank Snr and, Jnr... Here is an excellent and fascinating article from sports illustrated from 1995 it is pretty long but certainly worth the read on the story of Big Roy Jones Snr and Roy Jnr ... and there fractured relationship... Roy Snr in my humble opinion despite being a flawed character in many ways, is one of the best coaches in the business very underated today, I personally rate him higher then Floyd snr,...not many people know this but the likes of former champions Arthur Williams, Williamn Guthrie, Vince philips, Derrick Gainer all got their starts with Big Roy..."Ice Man" John Scully and the veteran coach Kenny Weldon both rate him very highly, John scully who spent time sparring with Roy Jones Jnr in the early years says he is one of the most unique boxing coaches he has come across.

ONE TOUGH BIRD ROY JONES JR., THE BEST BOXER POUND FOR POUND, WAS RAISED UNDER THE RULES OF COCKFIGHTING: WIN OR DIE
By Gary Smith



VIEW COVER

JUNE 26, 1995

Even with the three-inch steel spur running through his skull,
the rooster did not forget the secret. Even with the blood fever
making the dogs yip and the men close in howling, "It's over!
He's dead!" Even with the teenager's nervous fingers trying to
yank the metal from the rooster's brain, with the talons of the
other rooster at its throat. Even then....

The boy's heart was beating its way up his throat, but he
couldn't show his fear or sorrow for his bird. The boy's father
would smell it and carve it to shreds, for one thing, and for
another, the boy was 17 and planning to go to the Olympics to
fight the best fighters in the world. The triumphant rooster
flapped wildly, the blade on one foot ripping the air while the
other foot tried madly to extract its blade from the limp
bird's head. The teenager held his breath and tried again to
disentangle the roosters without getting slashed.

He could see that the men were right; the spur had entered near
one ear and come out near the other. But a shock went through
the boy's palms as he finally worked the blade loose: Crazy's
heart was still pulsing! "He's alive!" the boy called.

"Blow on him!" his father shouted. "Keep him warm!"

The boy blew up and down Crazy's spine and then set him on his
feet. Hallelujah, the damn rooster was still itching to fight;
the men stared in disbelief. Crazy struck and pulled back,
feinting, inviting his enemy in, remembering what most dead
cocks hadn't learned: the importance of distance, the
significance of space. The other bird lunged, exposed himself
... and suddenly was dead, and the boy was whooping, hugging
Crazy to his chest.

By the end of this story the boy will be a man, and there'll be
fighting roosters everywhere, hundreds of them in cages all over
his land. By the end he'll be known as the best boxer, pound for
pound, in the world, 28-0 with 24 knockouts, the super
middleweight champion whom some will call the best boxer since
Sugar Ray. Not Leonard. Robinson. "Forget Leonard," WBC light
heavyweight champion Mike McCallum will say. "This boy is faster
than Leonard. He hits harder, and he can knock you out when he's
going backwards. You'll see."

If you, the reader, are asking yourself, Roy Jones Jr.? The best
fighter in the world? Why have I barely heard of him? ... well,
that too, by the end of the story, you will see. You'll know,
like the rooster, all you need to know about distance.

To get there we'll have to travel way out into nowhere, deep
into the pine and oak and cornfields 25 miles north of
Pensacola, Fla. It's not a place for a fight story -- can you
name three American champions in the last half century who came
from forest and dirt? Boxing is the heart's cry for personal
space; everywhere out here there's space. You can't smell
desperation here. You won't find any boxing gyms.

Look closer. Smell again. It's 1979. Down by the washed-out
creek bed, in the clearing in the woods behind the little cinder
block house on Barth Road, there are pigs, dogs, roosters, a
bull, a horse ... and a homemade ring. There's a barrel of a man
with a dagger tattooed on his arm and a long piece of PVC pipe
in his fist. There's a skinny 10-year-old boy. Always remember
this: Nothing ever comes from nowhere.

The boy was five when this started. Big Roy on his knees,
cuffing and slapping at Little Roy, taunting him: "What's wrong?
Gettin' tired? Told you you were too little. Told you you
weren't quick enough. Oh, here we go. You cryin' again? Little
girlie-girlie cryin' again?" Yes, Little Roy was crying again,
crying rage and frustration at how easily his father dominated
him. He would promise his mother every day not to fight Big Roy
that night, but then his mind would start imagining new and
surprising angles of attack, shocking and unprecedented punches,
and by eight o'clock that night, fresh from his bath, he would
be flailing and sobbing in his pj's again. It wasn't fair. He
had to get close and risk, but his father didn't.

Now he's 10, with a fight coming up next week on Pensacola Beach
against a 14-year-old who's 16 pounds heavier. Nothing new. Big
Roy's always throwing him in over his head, daring him to be a
man, preparing him for the cruel sport that he, not Big Roy, has
chosen. Didn't Big Roy give him a shotgun at Christmas when he
was six, have him driving a tractor when he was seven? "Thought
I'd pass out cold when I saw that," the boy's mother, Carol,
says. Once when the two Roys were fishing, wading in surf up to
Little Roy's chest, Big Roy shouted, "Sharks! Two of 'em!" and
the boy dropped his rod and went thrashing for land. "What are
you doin'?" the father demanded. "Where's your rod?"

(Read the rest of the article here ... https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwivruDOh_jNAhVfOMAKHdIDAncQFggcMAA&url=http://www.si.com/vault/1995/06/26/204194/one-tough-bird-roy-jones-jr-the-best-boxer-pound-for-pound-was-raised-under-the-rules-of-cockfighting-win-or-die&usg=AFQjCNFN1ssBz78uwJaJVFkTMX6NM3eGEg&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg
 
Last edited:
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Incredible article ^
Yeah the article by Gary Smith ,on Roy Jones jr has to be one of the best boxing articles I have read...Almost hypnotic the way he has woven the Roy Jones story , together.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: Grant
Jun 4, 2013
37,218
11,687
Former light welterweight champ Saoul Mamby was one of Boxings fascinating characters, a Black Jewish guy from the Bronx managed by Don King and despit being managed by king he claims he still managed to remain financially stable ...stylistically he is what one would call a spoiler bamboozling and befuddling fighters, he even managed to get ranked in his 40's when causing a mild upset over contender Larry Barnes. He made history by fighting at 60...Despite being a journey man in the latter part of his career and suffering 34 losses he was stopped only once a testimony to his skills as a master spoiler.

Article originally published in USA Today ... https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwis6efW8PXNAhXKA8AKHZHYAGcQFggwMAE&url=http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/boxing/2008-03-12-1281354489_x.htm&usg=AFQjCNFgyuiyYgYsId_zifwyuEmbr43qLQ&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg

At the age of 60, Saoul Mamby fights on because that is what he does
Posted 3/13/2008 3:59 AM



By Tim Dahlberg, AP Sports Columnist
I guess I should be outraged, but somehow I'm not.
Saoul Mamby probably shouldn't be fighting, but he's been doing it for so long I'm not going to be the one to tell him to stop.

The grandfather of 11 first fought for money in 1969, a year he remembers well even if a lot of others don't. Once a world champion who fought on the same card as Muhammad Ali, he's fought around the world in places you'd be hard pressed to find on a map, but where he could always find a payday.

The other night he went 10 rounds with a man half his age down in the Cayman Islands. He took the fight on a few days notice, figuring that even a few months shy of 61 he could beat a guy who had lost 13 of his last 14 fights.

He couldn't, but at his age one more loss isn't going to deter him.


"I didn't get hurt or beat down. It's just that my tools weren't sharp," Mamby said. "Now that I've got 10 good rounds under me I'm ready to go again."

Just when that will be depends on the ability of his manager, Steve Tannenbaum, to convince a boxing commission somewhere that 60 is the new 30 and that a fighter shouldn't be discriminated against just because he's only a few months away from collecting Social Security.

That's been difficult in recent years, but Tannenbaum has a plan. He also has an opponent, though he still needs to find him.

"Give me a white guy with a decent record from the south," Tannenbaum says. "That's all I need."

In boxing, that's all anyone needs to sell a few tickets. Add a senior citizen to the mix, and start opening some more windows at the box office.

Just how Mamby got to this point should be a cautionary tale for anyone involved in the sport of boxing. The fact that he's now fought in five different decades and might be the oldest fighter ever to step into a ring should be cause for alarm.

I said should be, because you talk to Mamby and it all makes sense. Well, almost all.

His motivation goes back 40 years, to the jungles of Vietnam where newly drafted out of the Bronx he served in the infantry. He and his buddies would sit around, joke and laugh, and talk about what they were going to do after the war.

After seeing some of those buddies leave the country in body bags, Mamby made a vow to himself to lead the life he wanted if he got out alive.

"I don't want to be the shoulda, woulda, coulda," Mamby said. "Because when it's over, it's over. I made it out of a hellhole, so whatever I want to do I'm going to do as long as it's not hurting me or anybody else."

Sounds corny, sure. There's probably a dozen B movies in Hollywood based on the same principle, though no one got their brains scrambled while making them.

Mamby's brain isn't scrambled, either, which may come as a surprise for someone who's been in 85 fights, gone 15 rounds eight different times, and fought dozens of times in places when the only medical clearance needed was your ability to breathe and climb into the ring.

Mamby can do both, though his ring skills had deteriorated so much that he was suspended after a 2000 fight in North Carolina and fought only once, in 2004 in Thailand, before getting his comeback fight Saturday night against Anthony Osbourne in the Cayman Islands.

He lost a unanimous decision to a guy who can't fight, but he felt like a winner coming out of the ring when the crowd gathered to shake his hand and cheer him on after the announcer filled them in on his age.

It was another story to add to a collection that Mamby tells with little prompting and surprising eloquence for a man who has spent most of his life trading punches to the head. He'll tell you of defending his 140-pound world title in the fight just before Ali took on Larry Holmes in 1980, his fights in Madison Square Garden, and how he used to go into the backyard of opponents around the world to make a living.

The conditions weren't always great. But once when he took his title belt to Indonesia to defend against the local hero, and the fight organizers put him up in a luxury hotel and assigned a gorgeous young woman to take care of his every need.

Mamby smelled a plant. He had the girl wake him up for road work and drive him around, but nothing else.

"She was a beautiful woman, but I wasn't going to lose my title for one night of pleasure," he said.

That was a quarter century ago, and Mamby wasn't a young man then. The guys he fought are now all old and fat or dead, while Mamby walks around at 155 or so pounds and doesn't have a gray hair on his head. He eats steamed veggies, recently bought a juicer for his health foods and will talk forever about how important proper nutrition is.

"The man hasn't had a Dunkin' Donut in his life," Tannenbaum said.

Mamby is chasing a dream he shouldn't be chasing, but all boxers do the same thing. He wants to be a champion again, and feels that with a few fights he should be able to fight for one of the many titles out there.

That's not going to happen, just as he's not going to be fighting in Las Vegas or New York or anywhere else where they regulate the sport. His best hope lies in his well-used passport or Tannenbaum's ability to find that hometown fighter somewhere in the south where they might look the other way when they see his age.

Boxing isn't pretty at times; actually it's not pretty most of the time. I've been around the sport long enough to see the effects it can have on guys who take one punch too many, and I've seen young men killed in the ring.

So, yes, I should be outraged not only that Saoul Mamby is still fighting, but that there are places that will still let him fight.

I should be, but somehow I'm not.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org

The Associated Press

I'm sure I was reading through the week that Mancini's team wanted no part of Mamby.
I know I read something and it was either about Mancini
I though I would create a thread sharing interesting articles on Boxing, with others who like myself were attracted to the sport by its Stories of Success , Tragedy and Inspiration.

Amongst the unsung heroes of American Urban culture, is the neighbourhood boxing coach..And there was a time when every neighbourhood had a gym. The Local Coach acted as a lighthouse, guiding young men away from the darkness of the streets and a potential life of prison and gangs towards success.

The following is one such story of the legendary neighbourhood coach from Harford connecticut Johnny Duke, it is written by "Ice Man" John Scully, I spoke toJohn some years ago on a forum he said the article was part of a book he was planning to write call the 'Ice Man Articles' unfortunately nearly a decade later it still does not seem to have been published, and John Scully has loads of interesting stories. so Here goes.

By John "The Iceman" Scully.

Johnny Duke story...
Duke was a guy from here in Hartford... passed away last year at, I think, 83... he was a REAL character of thegame, unlike ANYONE I have ever met...I have several stories on him inmy book...here is one of the favorites:

Johnny Duke Story #3:
At the Bellevue Square Boys Club you had some of the toughest guys ever to grow up in Hartford coming through there on a regular basis and boxing is one of those activities that for some reason just attracts people of all kinds. Mark Jennings was a kid from Bellevue Square who was in the gym in the late 80's and early 90's almost everyday, so often that he became an expected fixture at the gym each day even though he wasn't a boxer. Not that he didn't want to be one but the fact that he is permanently confined to a wheelchair made that impossible. That's not to say he couldn't compete physically, though. Johnny Duke made sure of that,

I am actually not even sure how this all started because I came around in the middle of Mark's run but I got used to Duke throwing up challenges on behalf of Mark to almost every guy that came to the gym, especially the bigger ,tougher looking guys. One thing about a boxing gym, especially with new guys looking to check it out, everybody thinks they are tough and that they are strong. Bellevue Square was certainly no different.

From his years and years of wheeling that chair around Mark had developed unusual arm strength and the proof was in the fact that we couldn't find anybody, no matter how big or tough, that could pin him to the wall using their arm strength against his. What would happen is that a couple of us would lift Mark out of his chair and steady him up with his back against the gym wall where he would wait for his designated challenger to come and take his turn. It went down like this: Mark would be there with his back to the wall and he would put his arms, bent at the elbows, straight out in front of him so that his opponent was able to grab a hold of Mark's forearms, wrapping his hands around Mark's wrists. When the person with the stopwatch would yell "Go!!" you had thirty full seconds to try and pin Mark's arms against the wall behind him and these matches got to be such a big thing that Duke would be like Mark's agent or manager or something and when someone new walked into the gym, especially a big and tough looking guy, Duke would be all over it.

"Oh, so you think you're a bad mother ------, huh?? Coming in here like you're Clint Eastwood or somebody, gonna' take over the gym. You're a tough guy? Well, I got a kid in a wheelchair that would kick your f------- a--, OK?? What do you think about that?"

And then Duke would call Mark over and everybody in the gym would stop what they were doing and come over, too, so they could start cheering Mark on while trash talking the new guy. It was like a circus sometimes and if you didn't know what was going on you would think we were all crazy. And the new guys, sometimes 250 pounds (including Clay-Bey and "Terminator" Earl Anderson) would have a look that said everything was all fun and games and he didn't want to hurt the kid so he would go along with the charade for the fun of it.

Duke would explain the rules and get everything in order, sometimes previewing what was about to take place like he was a ring announcer. Then, on cue, the guy with the stop watch would yell "Go!," and after a few seconds of trying to casually push Mark's arms behind him against the wall you could practically see the big guys saying to themselves "Wow, this little dude is stronger than he looks."

They would put extra juice into their push at that point and with the decibel level rising by the second all around them it was soon apparent that the big man was in trouble and almost as quickly as it started it was over and the ensuing celebration, each and every time, was as joyous as just about any world championship celebration that you have ever witnessed. Mark's smile was so big and wide, a good 3000 or so watts worth of teeth and happiness, that you didn't think he would be able to contain himself for much longer before he would collapse from sheer excitement. I promise you now that seeing and hearing all these guys, myself included, yelling Mark's name out loud as they cheered him on after one of his victories are some of the best memories I have from all my years in the boxing gyms. In all my years in the square I never saw him get defeated, either, no matter how big the opponent and, believe me when I tell you, these big dudes were trying as hard as they could to pin this kid. Mark just would stay so focused and determined and if he was going to fight for anything in this world it was going to be to stop them from pinning him.

After it was all over Duke would go over to his note book and, in front of everybody, check off another victim biting the dust, keeping track of Mark's career record. I am telling you, and I am willing to bet cash money right now on it, that the feeling of joy and accomplishment Mark felt each and every time, from the beginning of the negotiation all the way to the recording in the book, was equal to that of any world champion that you ever saw capture his belt on Pay-Per-View.

Johnny Duke gave Mark Jennings the amazing gift of feeling alive more times than I could remember or count.

So today (October 27, 2006) I am driving down Broad Street in Hartford with Mike-Mike (nine years after the gym closed and a good eighteen years after first seeing Mark in action) and we are literally on our way to the weigh-in at Foxwoods for his fight tomorrow with Adam Carerra for the USBA 122 pound title when we happened to see Mark (now about thirty years old) pushing himself along the sidewalk in his chair. So we pull over and stop to talk, telling him where we are headed, etc. Mark had been in the gym on hundreds of days with Mike-Mike all the way back to the 1980's and it is obviously a great source of pride for him to know that he comes from that gym with Duke and Mike-Mike and all the guys and he enthusiastically lets us know he is pulling for us and that he is going to let everybody know that he saw us on our way to the big battle.

As we are driving away I remember the battles he himself used to have on so many occasions at the old gym and I slow down the car and yell out the window back at him, just for fun, just to remind him of the old days one more time. "Mark, what was your final record at Duke's gym??," I loudly ask.

And as we slowly continue driving I, along with the rest of the block, can hear him happily and excitedly reply, with a huge smile on his face and his arm pumping into the air, "A hundred and seventy-two and oh!!"

Great thread mate.:clap:

Scully told me years ago his book was ready to go.
Sadly,I don't think he can get the backing he wants.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
I'm sure I was reading through the week that Mancini's team wanted no part of Mamby.
I know I read something and it was either about Mancini



Great thread mate.:clap:

Scully told me years ago his book was ready to go.
Sadly,I don't think he can get the backing he wants.
That surprises me, John Scully is a very good writer and great story teller hopefully some publishing company will give him the support he needs.
 

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,765
Read the whole of Tris Dixon's The Road to Nowhere, that'll sort you out for tales like these.
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Quarrymen: The Not-So-Sweet Science
By Robert Mladinich on August 20, 2012

Boxing is “a one-on-one confrontation with your life," Jerry slurred, "that you


In the early 1990s my first wife, who passed away in 1996, encouraged me to get back into boxing writing after a 10-year hiatus. Realizing that it was a good idea, I booked a flight to Las Vegas for the heavyweight title bout between Lennox Lewis and Tony Tucker in May 1993. I got there about three or four days early to take in all of the pre-fight hoopla.

The Internet had not yet been discovered and I remember being in awe of the boxing beat writers in attendance. I thought that guys like Michael Katz, Wallace Matthews, Bernard Fernandez, Ron Borges, Ed Schuyler and Pat Putnam, all of whom wrote about boxing for a living, had the best jobs in the world.

I made quite a few contacts and embarked on the second phase of my writing career, but the highlight of my trip was meeting Jerry Quarry. Although he had been enormously popular a few decades earlier, he entered the arena relatively unrecognized. When I introduced myself to him, he told me to take a seat and we chatted for several hours.

He was cognizant of his surroundings, extremely articulate and engaging, and a pleasure to be around. Little did I know that that night would set the stage for me becoming inexplicably linked to the Quarry clan, who would unwittingly provide a cautionary tale about the not-so-sweet science.

Jerry Quarry was unquestionably the most popular heavyweight boxer in history to never win a world title. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was an icon, the Great White Hope who battled such legendary champions as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton and Floyd Patterson in compiling a record of 53-9-4 (32 KOs).

Although Quarry never became a champion, his immense fame enabled him to secure high-profile product endorsements, as well as appearances on Bob Hope specials and guest-starring roles on such top-rated 1960s television shows as “Adam-12” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”

Besides being as handsome as any Hollywood heartthrob, Randy Gordon, the former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, said that as a young man Quarry could not only “fight like hell, he could complete the New York Times crossword puzzle in 15 minutes.”

Boxing historian Mike Silver recalled that in the late 1970s, after the first of several ill-fated comebacks, Quarry worked as a CBS boxing commentator and was “sharp, witty, charismatic and insightful.”

But the countless punches Quarry absorbed during a whirlwind 17-year career, as well as problems with cocaine and alcohol, eventually took their toll. Just three years after I met him, it was widely reported that he was suffering from pugilistica dementia, the medical name for severe brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. The insidious disease, which is similar to advanced Alzheimer’s, had reportedly turned the once intelligent, vibrant, charming and good-natured fighter into a confused, childlike man.

In the spring of 1995, I interviewed Jerry at length at his brother Jimmy’s home in Hemet, California. Jerry was living there because he was unable to care for himself. Jimmy, who was a loan officer at a bank, said Jerry would awaken each day and go for a long walk, which kept him near his peak fighting weight of 210 pounds. During his daily strolls he would engage gardeners or UPS drivers in conversations, all of which started and ended the same way.

“Jerry will ask them if they are boxing fans,” said Jimmy. “Regardless of the answer, he will ask them if they ever heard of Jerry Quarry. If they say no, he will ask them if they ever heard of Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier. They all say yes. Then Jerry says, ‘Well, I fought them both.’”

While that sounded harmless enough, Jerry would inevitably get lost and have to be driven home by the police.

That same week, I also visited Jerry and Jimmy’s brother Mike, who had been a top-rated light-heavyweight during a 13-year career that ended in 1981 and saw him compile a record of 62-13-6 (16 KOs).

At that time, another boxing brother, Robert, who was 17 years Jerry’s junior and 12 years younger than Mike, was incarcerated in a state prison for theft and drug charges.

Robert fought professionally as a heavyweight from 1982 to 1992, compiling a record of 9-12-2 (6 KOs). His most notable opponent was Tommy Morrison, who stopped him in two rounds in Las Vegas in 1992.

In his heyday, Mike had resembled a teen idol but in 1995, at the age of 44, his once boyishly handsome face was battered beyond recognition. His eyelids were hooded, his nose was smashed, his once animated eyes were a dim blue, and the slabs of facial scar tissue gave him the look of a fire survivor.

He was working as a groundskeeper at the same church in which he worshipped in La Mirada, California. On this day he was lamenting over his misplacing of a lawn edger. Although he would have to make good on it, he was grateful that the church would “only take a little bit out of my check each week until it’s paid for.”

Most troubling, however, were his problems with short-term memory.

“My thoughts didn’t synchronize well,” he explained when describing why he had enrolled in a memory retention class. “I drive my wife to church, forget where I took her, and [try to] pick her up at the Anaheim Hilton. I couldn’t remember anything. It has gotten better since taking classes, but I’m still no rocket scientist.”

In better days Mike had done his share of broadcasting and product endorsements, and had hoped to parlay those experiences into a more lucrative and respectable post-fight career. But like so many fighters before and after him, he lived off what was left of his name for too many years and too many fights.

No beating was worse than the one he took from longtime light heavyweight champion Bob Foster in June 1972. Unbeaten in 36 previous bouts, and depending on one’s perspective, blessed or cursed with youthful feelings of invincibility, Mike took the fight right to the much taller Foster, only to be knocked cold by a left hook in the fourth round.

“I did very good for three rounds,” said Mike proudly. “I was doing the Ali shuffle and making him miss. In the fourth he hit me with a left hook that ranks with the best of all time. People say he got lucky. But he was a great champion, and I truly believe that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity; when you get paid back for all those extra miles you go. That just wasn’t my day.”

“That was the only time I was concerned I might have killed somebody,” Foster told me a few years later at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. “I hit him with a left hook, and his eyes weren’t moving. Then they moved in his head, and I only saw white. I said, ‘He’s dead!’ My manager said, ‘Business is business.’”

A few weeks before my visits with the Quarrys, brother Jimmy, then 50, had publicly announced the formation of a nonprofit organization called the Jerry Quarry Foundation. The foundation would raise enough money through fundraisers and corporate donations to pay pensions and provide health care coverage to disabled fighters. His poster boy, of course, was Jerry and, to a lesser degree, Mike.

Every penny of Jerry’s approximately $3 million in career purses was gone, squandered by three ex-wives, child support, and no shortage of bad investments that included an office building in Inglewood, California, an apartment building in Orange County, and a condominium in Hawaii. At the time his sole income was $614 dollars a month from Social Security.

Although Jerry appeared all but comatose, Jimmy would regularly bring him to boxing functions where he would dutifully wipe drool from his mouth or tell reporters about Jerry’s inability to handle the most basic human functions. This was certainly the picture that was painted for me during my home visit. Jerry seemed to be the mental equivalent of an eight-year-old, and a slow one at that.

He continually wanted to play-fight with Jimmy, making such childish boasts as, “I can take you.” When Jerry offered crude, unconvincing arguments about his condition, it seemed that the words had been ingrained in his psyche because they spewed forth as easily as the jabs he could still throw on instinct alone.

“At least I can talk, man,” Jerry said. “I fought Ali and Frazier, and they can’t talk.” For the record, Ali was, and still is, battling Parkinson’s syndrome, while Frazier, who has since passed away but had taken his share of punches from the best in the business, was verbally adept at the time.

As kind and caring as Jimmy may have seemed to outsiders, many family members were simmering over his actions. One sister called the foundation a “ruse,” and said Jimmy was using it for his own book and movie deals. More compellingly, she accused her brother of intentionally overmedicating Jerry whenever he was to be brought out in public.

Not long after my visit, Jerry’s oldest son, Jerry Lyn, went to Jimmy’s house and, according to Robert, “kidnapped him” and brought him back to more benevolent family members. Under the care of a doctor, they helped wean Jerry off the drugs that had rendered him all but zombie-like.

Months later, when I saw Jerry on television talking somewhat lucidly I was aghast that I, like so many others, had been duped by Jimmy. Those suspicions were only reinforced during an August 2003 trip to Bakersfield, California, where I interviewed brother Robert, the baby of the family, and father Jack, who for many years had been demonized by the sporting press for the integral role he played in the meteoric ascensions and cataclysmic declines of Jerry and Mike.

“I don’t want to get down on a dead man who can’t defend himself, but come on,” offered Robert. “Jimmy and Jerry never really got along, and then suddenly when Jerry couldn’t take care of himself anymore, Jimmy was his best friend? Jimmy was just taking advantage of Jerry to highlight himself. He once told me, ‘This is how I can make my mark, the way Jerry and Mike made their mark.’ So he’s puts Jerry on Thorazine and shows the world how bad he is. He even sold his memorabilia and pocketed money from the foundation.”

Read the rest of the article on Boxing.com .heres the link .... https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjF_OGt-PjNAhUVM8AKHbgCDEIQFggjMAA&url=http://www.boxing.com/quarrymen_the_not_so_sweet_science.html&usg=AFQjCNH3okni1rql07Zg3bJfMv5es0_hpg
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Read the whole of Tris Dixon's The Road to Nowhere, that'll sort you out for tales like these.
The Road to Nowhere is based on a series of weekly articles Tris Dixon wrote for Boxing News years ago when Tris was living and travelling in America I read them back then...Subsequently compiled together and published as a book.
 
Reactions: Trail

Trail

R.I.P. Joe Rein
May 24, 2013
30,376
6,765
The Road to Nowhere is based on a series of weekly articles Tris Dixon wrote for Boxing News years ago when Tris was living and travelling in America I read them back then...Subsequently compiled together and published as a book.
Yeah, I know. Reads like a dream though. Love that book. The last chapter had me in floods (as did other parts).
 
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Before the internet age, there used to be full time boxing writers employed by the press and many of these guys were great story tellers writing for various publications and boxing journalism it self was an art form. In those days certain fights and fighters attracted you to Boxing but it was the writers who were the ones that turned you into a hardcore fan, not many of those Journalists are left and quite a few of them from Harry Mullan to Jim Brady are no longer with us...Now a days we get internet trolls like Scott Gilfoid or whatever his real name is posting on the net..or in the press we have Soccer reporters who dont have a clue about Boxing doubling up as Boxing writers when a high profile fight comes along. So in appreciation of all the great writers that have come and gone I thought I would just post this article Wallace Mathews a great writer who no longer writes about Boxing,.. posted a tribute to a former great in Jack Newfield, upon his passing.

Jack Newfield: Champion of the Underdog
By WALLACE MATTHEWS | December 22, 2004
AddThis Sharing Buttons
When Jack Newfield was preparing for what would turn out to be his last battle, his friend, the boxing trainer Teddy Atlas, offered to buy him a robe to wear in the hospital. Not a terrycloth, hospital-patient type robe, but the satin kind that fighters wear into the ring.

"What name do you want on the back?" Atlas asked. Newfield thought for a moment. He could have picked Sugar Ray Robinson, who, in his opinion, was the greatest fighter who ever lived; or he could have picked Muhammad Ali, a personal favorite; or he could have chosen Tim Witherspoon, a former heavyweight champion who became a close friend.

"Carmen Basilio," Newfield finally replied. "Toughest guy I ever saw." Tough. More importantly, an underdog, Jack Newfield's favorite cause. In his later years, Newfield, the veteran Sun columnist who died Monday night at 66, would be labeled a "liberal" and thought by some to be an anachronism, a relic of the failed movements and faded ideals of the 1960s.

In truth, Jack Newfield was an old-fashioned crusading journalist of the type that doesn't seem to exist anymore. He was wedded to no particular ideology or political party. If he was committed to any one thing, it was to standing up for the underdog, the little guy who couldn't stand up for himself.

Sometimes, the guys he fought for turned out not to be worth the effort, and as is often the case with people who fight the toughest battles, Jack Newfield lost nearly as often as he won. But he never stopped fighting those fights, because that is what guys like Jack Newfield do.

He was a man who understood that you can't fight City Hall, and yet still spent his life trying to. If Newfield had been a boxer, he might have been the type that Newfield the columnist crusaded for. That's what happens when you take on the likes of Don King and Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump and the fat cats of the New York State Athletic Commission.

Sometimes, like Basilio against Robinson on one glorious September night in 1957, you win. Most of the time, you get pummeled. All the time, you walk away knowing it was a fight worth fighting.

Those were the only fights Jack Newfield took on. He was a man with a great heart who loved boxing as a sport - "ballet with blood," he called it - hated it as a business, and cherished and respected the men who practiced it. He was a man who loved jazz and journalism, actors and activists, and was as comfortable with hit men as he was with police chiefs.

Newfield had only one consuming hatred: bullies. That was why he spent so many years exposing and writing about the misdeeds of King, who exploited fighters as if they were field hands.

That is why he tried so hard to bring down the Athletic Commission, which in its patronage-fattened ineptitude routinely endangered the lives of boxers and cheated the public. That is why he still held dear the memory of the Brooklyn Dodgers, baseball's greatest underdogs, while resisting the charms of the Yankees, the game's biggest bullies.

At heart, Jack Newfield was not so much a liberal as a sentimentalist. It may sound corny, but this is a world and a city that could use a little more corn and a little less cynicism, a few more softies, and a lot fewer bullies.

"The first time I heard Jack described as a liberal, I was shocked," Atlas said. "To me, liberals were celebrities who stood around talking about things that they never did. That wasn't Jack, that was just a label he fell under. I never heard him talk about a party or politics, ever. It didn't matter who you were; if he felt you were being treated unfair, and you needed help, he'd help you."

Indeed, Newfield's eclectic collection of friends crossed all ideological, racial, and social boundaries. At his frequent get-togethers to watch the fights in his West Village home, you would often find the likes of retired mob boss Sonny Franzese sitting near Budd Schulberg, of "On the Waterfront" fame, alongside Al Sharpton, and across the way a famous actor like John Cusack, or, on at least one occasion, Helen Mirren.

"He had his own rainbow coalition in his living room on fight nights," Atlas said. "He felt boxing was a great way station where everyone could find some common ground."

At Newfield's annual summer barbecue, you might find Jimmy Breslin rub bing elbows with Edward James Olmos or Omar Minaya deep in conversation with Fernando Ferrer. He knew how to be a friend and how to maintain a friendship.

If a friend of Newfield's was in trouble, he was there, not just to lend support, but to find a solution.

When I left my job writing a sports column for the New York Post in a flap over censorship, Newfield - who had been fired from there by Rupert Murdoch, a classic bully, for being a "liberal" - was among the first to call. Not to commiserate, but to move forward. He introduced me to Seth Lipsky, the president and editor of The Sun, and within a week I was writing a column again.

Jack Newfield loved to tell this one on himself: On the morning it was announced that the rights to his book, "Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King," had been purchased by HBO with the intent of making it into a movie, he found himself in the federal courthouse in Manhattan using a urinal adjacent to the one being used by none other than Don King, who was in the midst of being tried for income tax evasion.

King glanced at Newfield and let out that hearty, distinctive, sinister laugh. "Jack Newfield!" King bellowed in a voice that could be heard down in Foley Square. "I just read in the newspaper that I'm feeding your whole [expletive] family!"

Newfield laughed when he told the story because to a lot of people, and especially to King, that was what Jack Newfield was all about: Trying to "get" Don King, to make him his own personal Moby Dick, an adversary to feed off and ultimately destroy.

But that wasn't what it was about at all. It was all about standing up for the underdog and toppling a bully.

Carmen Basilio would understand.

Mr. Matthews is the host of the "Wally and the Keeg" sports talk show heard Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. on 1050 ESPN radio.

source ...New York Sun http://www.nysun.com/sports/jack-newfield-champion-of-the-underdog/6685/
 
Reactions: Twelvey
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Michael Olajide Jr

Back in the late 1980's there was a host of young middleweights gunning for the top position the likes of Frank Tate, Iran Barkley, Michael Nunn...But the guy considered to be the best of the crop was Michael "The Silk" Olajide, a fighter with silky smooth skills and bags of charisma and the looks of a model . Unfortunately things did not pan out that way, although he was involved in much hyped fights with Frank Tate, Iran Barkley and Thomas "Hitman" Hearns he fell well short of stardom. Forced to retire from Boxing with horrific eye injuries, and permanently blinded in one eye (he wears an eye patch to this day), for most Boxers that would have been the beginning of a downward spiral of depression and drugs, but Michael Olajide is not like most boxers, this was just a new challenge and a new chapter in his life.

Michael with bills to pay had to improvise to earn a living, so he developed his own version of Boxercise, he combined Aerobics with Boxing and called it Aerobox, released some fitness DVDs to go with it (you can watch snippets on youtube) and quickly developed a small cult following as a fitnesss instructor.

A Few years later he partner shipped, with a former client and ballet dancer Leila Fazel and opened a gym that has become iconic called the "Aerospace Fitness Center" in New York. That Gym has become the go to place for Supermodels,....Michael Olajide has by default become the Alex Ariza of the Modelling world, all the top Super Models based in New York train with him, and he has been featured in all the top fashion magazines, and in the Sunday Fashion supplements of various Newspapers, he is now celebrated as a Fitness guru to the stars.

Decades ago Napoleon Hill wrote in his book 'Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude'.. That, "Every adversity contains the seeds of an equal or greater benefit". Michael Olajide perfectly symbolises that quote, unlike many of his peers he did not allow the demons of self pity to overwhelm him, nor did he turn towards Drugs and Alchohol to numb his pain, instead he took stock of his situation and made himself a success, the world title might have eluded Michael Olajide jr, but he has nevertheless become an inspirational champion in more ways then one.

you can read the story of his rise from challenging setbacks towards Success in an interview he gave a few years ago at the following link... here https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjv_eSHq_rNAhXkB8AKHc8yDikQFggpMAE&url=http://fightnetwork.com/news/6375223:interview-with-michael-olajide/&usg=AFQjCNFIi8oVC4M-4ChHc31jhrI_AH9JeA&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg
 
Last edited:
May 8, 2016
2,089
1,887
45
Here is just one story from the Chaotic life of Leon Spinks.. originally posted in the New york times by the veteran journalist Phil Berger.

BOXING
BOXING; Death at Hands of Elusive Foe
By PHIL BERGER
Published: July 29, 1990

ST. LOUIS—
The sign at the rear of the Northside Bombers Boxing Club says ''In Harmony.'' When Charles Hamm, the 52-year-old plumber who has run the place since 1978, first saw the sign, he liked the sentiment so much that he made sure the lettered poster board ended up on that wall of his storefront gym.

Harmony is a nice notion, surely. But on West Florissant Avenue, where the gym sits, harmony is a pretty elusive objective these days. The street courses through blocks of boarded-up and damaged buildings, an urban landscape promising more poverty and violence than anything resembling harmony.

From the day he opened the modest gym, Hamm, who lives one floor up with his wife, Jeridean, recognized the trouble that was out there on the streets. And like a Pied Piper, he fought it by cruising the North Side ghetto in his van, urging the youngsters loitering on street corners to try boxing.

Some boys came to the Bombers gym for the challenge of the sport, others for the hamburgers that the mild-mannered Hamm would buy after a day's training was done. Leon Calvin was 8 years old when he first showed up in 1979.

For the next 11 years, Calvin was a regular at Hamm's gym, learning enough about the manly art to turn pro a month ago. But last Sunday morning, Calvin's career was cut short when he was shot to death on a bridge connecting East St. Louis, Ill., and St. Louis. Police found him in a car at 5:30 A.M.

The death of Calvin, the son of the former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks Jr., underscored not only the pervasiveness of inner-city violence but also the random nature of it, which makes the quest for success by the young inner-city athlete a bit of a roulette spin.

For Calvin, a 6-foot-1-inch light heavyweight who some thought had the potential to be a world-class boxer, the abrupt ending was, of course, a personal tragedy. But in the context of his famous father's difficult life, it stood as another sad twist in the chaotic Spinks tale. For Hamm, Calvin's death was a sorrow compounded by the time and attention he had invested in the fighter, a commitment that was never easy.

Back in 1979, when Hamm first encountered him, Calvin was a good-natured youth with a radiant smile, but possessed of a mischievous side as well. He tended to use the cuss words that Hamm forbade and sometimes hit other boys while just standing around. ''Even bigger boys,'' Hamm said, ''he'd hit 'em pretty hard, which irritated me. When you got a gym, you got to be careful. You can't let anybody get hurt.''

Hamm, a former boxer who does not drink, smoke or use profane language, had to order the boy out of the gym on more than one occasion. Calvin kept coming back, though. And somewhere in that first year, Hamm found out that Calvin's father was Spinks, who in 1978 was the heavyweight champion of the world.

His curiosity piqued, Hamm began watching more closely to see whether this boy from the 1900 block of nearby East John Street had his father's spark for fighting. Calvin proved he did. As an amateur trained by Hamm, he won two St. Louis Golden Gloves titles. But the promise Calvin showed as a boxer was threatened by what he did outside the ring.

Like his father, who had been called Neon Leon because of a tendency to party when he should have been training, Calvin was something of a good-time Charlie. He was an expert dancer, good enough to win formal contests.

''Around when he was 14, 15,'' Hamm recalled, ''that's when you'd look out the window and see a crowd collecting. You'd figure there was a fight going on. But no, it'd be Leon just dancing, with the music coming out of what we call ghetto blasters, those boom boxes the kids have.''

As Calvin grew older, he continued to dance, going to clubs and house parties. Hamm warned him about the late hours he was keeping, and the questionable characters, some of them gang members, who were part of that social circle.

Two years ago, while at a party, Calvin was shot in the abdomen by a friend who was aiming for somebody else. Surviving that, he was arrested this past year and charged with illegal possession of a handgun. The case was pending when Hamm persuaded Calvin to turn professional in June.

''At the time he turned pro, I set him down right in front of me at my house and talked to him,'' Hamm said. ''I told him, 'Back away from those parties.' He told me, 'Mr. Hamm, it takes time, I just can't stop everything.' I told him, 'Just start doing it. That's all the time it takes.' ''

On July 10, Calvin, 1-0 as a professional, fought Jordan Keepers in Merrillville, Ind. In the audience that night was his father. It was the first time that Spinks - who over the years had spent little time with his son - had ever seen him box. That absence accounted, in part, for the detached reaction Calvin had when Spinks stopped by the dressing room before the fight to wish him well.

But after Calvin scored a third-round knockout and a jubilant Spinks was the first man into the ring, the son was more receptive. He hugged his father and smiled.

Off that victory came an offer of a three-year promotional deal from Cedric Kushner, the New York-based promoter of the world-champion welterweight Marlon Starling.

At home throwing shadow punches, Calvin told his brothers Darrell, 17, and Corey, 12: ''They bring 'em here, I'll knock 'em out.''

On July 21, the 19-year-old Calvin had a late afternoon workout at Howell's gym just outside the city limits. That evening, he went to a party and, around midnight, returned home. Not for long, though. When Darrell Calvin saw his brother head toward the front door, on the way to a nightclub, he told him not to go. ''He had a fight coming up July 30,'' said the younger brother, ''and needed to get his rest. But he told me, 'I ain't gonna stay out long.' He left by himself.''

Leon Calvin never made it back to East John Street.

Zadie Mae Calvin grew up in the same Pruitt-Igoe projects in St. Louis that Leon Spinks Jr. did. Spinks was only 17 when Ms. Calvin gave birth to her Leon, the first of the three sons she had by Spinks, whom she never married. In 1978, when Corey was born, Spinks, married by then to another woman, would upset Muhammad Ali and become heavyweight champion of the world.

In some of his earliest interviews back then, Spinks would make pained references to his past and in particular to a disappointing relationship with his father, Leon Sr. Leon Sr. and his wife, Kay, were separated when Leon Jr. was young. The father's sporadic contacts afterward tended to disappoint and eventually to alienate the son. ''I remember I stayed with him one time and I did something,'' Leon Spinks Jr. said. ''He hung me on a nail and hit me across the face with some cord of some kind. It put a long mark on my face. He told me he was sorry. But ever since then, I didn't like him. O.K., I had done wrong. But why'd he have to scar me up?''

The father was, Spinks said, ''in and out of trouble all the time,'' and he affected Spinks's self-esteem, even from a distance. Like his father, Leon Spinks Jr., even as champion, would have his share of trouble. Within six weeks of defeating Ali, Spinks was sued by a motel for unpaid bills, was sued for back rent by his landlord in Philadelphia and was arrested for driving the wrong way on a one-way street in St. Louis.

That turmoil would be constant in a pro career that saw Spinks lose the title in his first defense of it and then fight on until 1988. By then he was a chronic loser, boxing for a pitiful fraction of the millions of dollars he had made and lost. In contrast, his brother, Michael, who won the heavyweight title from Larry Holmes in 1985, would go on to earn $13.5 million in a 1988 bout against Mike Tyson.

Through those years, the Calvins of East John Street struggled. Their welfare payments were supplemented by what Zadie Mae's mother, Aline Pickett, earned as a nurse's aide while she lived with them.

The relationship with their fighter-father was disappointing, Darrell Calvin said. Except for annual Spinks family reunions, Leon Spinks Jr. was rarely in touch with them. Then, two years ago, after Spinks invited his three sons to spend time with him in Detroit, the visit ended badly.

On his return, the story that Leon Calvin told was that when his father turned down his request for money and he pursued it with Spinks's latest wife, Betty, Spinks got physical with him. Calvin's attitude toward his father hardened.

''He'd tell me,'' Hamm said, '' 'My daddy was heavyweight champion, and we ain't got nothing.' I wasn't the type to give him ill feelings but I'd say, 'O.K., Leon, look at yourself.' ''

This was a reference to the two young children that Calvin had fathered and from whom he remained mostly distant.

What male guidance the Calvin boys and their half-brother, Steve, received, would come from Hamm, in whose gym all of them boxed. While Hamm was raising two sons and a daughter of his own - all of them in their 20's now - he was nurturing the Calvins. Likable though he was, Leon Calvin had an unpredictability, much like his father's, that seemed to invite hard consequences.

When, for instance, the police stopped a car he was driving and found a handgun inside - a weapon that, Hamm said, belonged to a friend of the fighter's - Calvin was drinking, in plain view, a large bottle of beer.

Hamm tried hard, though, to keep Calvin on the straight and narrow, hiring him as a plumber's helper so that he would have spending money. But in East St. Louis last Sunday morning, Leon Calvin got into trouble that Hamm could not fix.

Like the Illinois State Police, Hamm found the facts about Calvin's last hours difficult to ascertain. Questioning friends of the fighter who, he thought would know what happened, he encountered resistance.

''I'd ask for details,'' Hamm said. ''They didn't know.'' As he pressed for answers, the details of the final night began to emerge. Calvin, it turned out, was friendly with members of a street gang called the Crips. At a party on Saturday night, he had been present when a member of a rival gang, the Bloods, was badly beaten.

By Sunday morning, as the scene shifted to an East St. Louis club, there would be another fight involving the gangs that would be quelled, at least until the place closed in at 5 A.M. At closing time, as the youths spilled out into the streets, gunfire erupted. Calvin jumped into the car of a woman friend, who drove hard toward the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River.

''There were two other cars with friends of Leon's that were being shot at,'' Hamm said. ''Gunfire was ringing as they were going across the bridge. They forced the car Leon was in to the side of the road. The girl driving, she jumped out and ran, and the person in the other car went to shooting.''

A few days after the shooting, Capt. Phil Kocis of the Illinois State Police said Hamm's version of the events was basically correct.

Last Thursday night, Calvin's body lay in an open casket at the Foster Funeral Home in St. Louis, a Golden Gloves medal hanging from his neck, a pair of miniature boxing gloves on his chest. On the street in front of the mortuary, Leon Spinks Jr. did not want to go into detail about the relationship he had with his son.

''I loved him,'' he said. ''I'm glad I got to spend time with him. It's too bad it got cut short, though.''

Source.. New York Times ...https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiApqyCs_rNAhVqKMAKHcUmCy8QFggmMAA&url=http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/29/sports/boxing-death-at-hands-of-elusive-foe.html?pagewanted=all&usg=AFQjCNEaiacDs1FuJ0K7Th6swPWCipHgZg&bvm=bv.127178174,d.ZGg
 
Reactions: Trail