Category Archives: History

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July 30, 2018
July 30, 2018
mike tyson

Action Images/Reuters/Peter Jones

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“MIKE TYSON was old at the time and I’m pretty embarrassed that I beat such a great fighter. It’s crazy.

I always say to people that if he’d have been the best Tyson, I wouldn’t have lasted a round.

Like everyone else I thought he was invincible back then. I remember there was a time when we didn’t even see him have a nosebleed. It was amazing. I thought he was made out of metal. But it started to go wrong for him: the money; the wrong people around him; too many girls; too much partying. There’s so many different factors. If he’d have gone on properly, with his old people around him, he could have beaten Rocky Marciano’s [49-0] unbeaten record and gone down in history as the greatest, but with all the people around him, it went wrong.

I’m not being disrespectful but Mike Tyson is not the most handsome-looking man, and with all that money, women he would only [previously] dream of having coming to him came to him. What was he going to do?

One hundred per cent I believed I’d win. I had a dream a few weeks before the fight was announced that I knocked him out. He went crashing over into the ropes in my dream, just like he did in the fight. So when the fight was announced I thought, ‘This is it.’

mike tyson

The key was to jab. But when I got into the fight I couldn’t get him with a jab because his head movement was so good. It was the second or third round when I just thought, ‘Forget it, I’m going to war with you.’ You see at that point I go to war with him.

His punching is crazy. I can’t even explain it. It’s the speed as well and the sharpness.
You don’t even see the punches coming. In the fourth round we had a little trade-up and he hit me with a massive right hand, absolutely massive, and when that had no effect, and I held on, and then started to push him back, I felt him get weaker. The crowd were chanting his name and they could feel him get weaker too. They could feel the fight coming out of him. About 30 seconds later I put the big barrage of punches on him.

He was the type of fighter who was great when he was winning but he could never come back from the brink – like Evander Holyfield – and win. With Tyson, if he was winning he’d won, but if he was losing he’d lose. It’s sad to say but that attitude was in him.

Me and [trainer] Jimmy [McDonnell] stayed up all night [after the win] talking, talking, talking. I don’t think I slept –
I was just buzzing. The phone didn’t stop ringing. It was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had.”

July 29, 2018
July 29, 2018
kostya tszyu

Action Images/Reuters

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IN the 1960s Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass recorded a sad, chilling instrumental called The Lonely Bull which movingly conveyed the cheering, blood-thirsty crowds and the brutality of the bull ring.

As horns blared and the brave bull is about to be butchered, you can feel the poor beast’s pain. That could have been the soundtrack to Julio Cesar Chavez’s destruction at the fists of Kostya Tszyu at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Pheonix, Arizona on July 29, 2000.

Overseas boxers in the UK

Chavez, Mexico’s Grande Campeon, was sent crashing to his knees in the sixth – only the second knockdown of his 115-fight pro career – and nearly belted out of the ring a minute later before his seconds leaped on to the apron to halt the shameful mismatch at 1-30 of the round.

“Chavez is a great warrior,” Tszyu said. “People know me now around the world because I fought a legend and won.”

30-year-old Tszyu, the Russian based in Sydney, made the second defence of the WBC light-welterweight crown he won against Mexico’s Miguel Angel Gonzalez in 1999.

July 28, 2018
July 28, 2018
rocky marciano

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  • A crowd of 31,118 produced a gate of $220,000.
  • Each fighter received 30% of the gate.
  • Rocky Marciano was a solid 2 to 1 favorite.
  • There was no radio, television or theater TV for the fight.

NOW that Rocky Marciano has disposed so summarily of Harry Matthews in their undoubted eliminator for the world’s heavyweight championship at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx (July 28, 1952), the International Boxing Club of New York has announced they will stage a title bout between Marciano and champion Jersey Joe Walcott in September at the same venue.

But that does not mean to say the fight will not take place, although such is highly probable. Any doubt on the subject is due to the fact that for the first time since the days of Tex Rickard, the fistic dictators have not got a stranglehold on the champion.

The return bout clause operated when Walcott knocked out Ezzard Charles; it was there when Charles made his abortive effort to win back his title. Victory for Jersey Joe meant the break in the return clause and for once he is sitting pretty.

This gives him an opportunity to do a bit of dictating on his own account and his manager Felix Bocchicchio, is going to see that Old Joe isn’t pushed around anymore.

For one thing he’s demanding 45 per cent. this time, pointing out that when Walcott fought Joe Louis the first time he only got 15 per cent. and for Charles at Pittsburgh a mere 17 ½ per cent. He is also asking for the fight to take place earlier than the proposed date, September 23.

The I.B.C. are not in a position to order Bocchicchio or Walcott about – in fact, the champion’s manager has already intimated that unless they get their terms for a fight with Rocky Marciano, they would be quite happy to give Johnny Williams a title shot instead.

Of course, this may be pure baloney, if we can be excused the contradiction of words, but it does seem that in American fight circles the British heavyweight champion has made a distinct impression.

Back in 1937, no one in America would have given Tommy Farr a chance of fighting for the world’s title until the late Sydney Hulls matched the Welshman with Max Schmeling in a contest he was going to label as for the vacant championship. The next thing we knew Tommy was on his way across the Atlantic.

A similar switch could happen with Johnny Williams. Walcott knows he must meet Marciano some time, so why not first a lucrative match with the British champion?

Walcott realises Rocky is a dangerous customer, and might prefer to risk getting outpointed by Williams, rather than knocked out by Marciano.

Not that Jersey Joe is likely to be beaten so easily as was Harry Matthews, who fought far below his noted form and was a great disappointment.

Matthews474

The Seattle boxer was at a weight disadvantage of 8 ½ lbs. and was probably affected by the New York heat. He started off well and scored with some sharp blows, but the first left hook landed by Marciano in the second paved the way to victory.

This was followed by two more on the chin, the last of which spreadeagled Matthews over the lower rope in his own corner. He raised his back of the boards at “seven,” was on his knees at “eight,” but could not get to his feet in time to beat the count.

July 26, 2018
July 26, 2018
Miguel Cotto

Action Images/Reuters/Sam Morris

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THIS fight had a tagline “La Batalla” (The Battle) that ultimately proved apt, although for the first five rounds it resembled more a scintillating procession as Miguel Cotto used speed and precision to dictate. However, Antonio Margarito gradually forced his opponent to fight at a pace he was uncomfortable with, creating his best chance for victory and an enthralling fight into the bargain.

miguel cotto

Cotto was the undefeated East Coast draw coming into his prime, having won world titles at two weights. Margarito was the gnarled, perennially underrated former IBF and WBO welter king who had lost to Paul Williams just three fights before. This was thought to be Cotto’s coming-out party in Sin City.

It certainly began in that manner, as the Puerto Rican hero danced and dazzled his way to an early lead but, ominously, the shots he’d used to destroy fighters in two divisions simply bounced off the durable Margarito.

“Tony” bullied his way back into an absorbing contest with a concerted body attack and intelligent aggression. His cutting down of Cotto’s space forced myriad exciting exchanges that Margarito gradually got the better of as his prey tired. Margarito hurt Cotto in the seventh and 10th before eventually knocking him down twice in the 11th to force Miguel’s uncle and trainer Evangelista Cotto to throw in the towel at 2-05.

“The game plan was to come out strong and to wear him down and knock him out. I got him with body shots, and then I hit him in the head, and then knocked him out,” said Margarito.

Miguel Cotto

The loser has enjoyed a brighter future, adding a light-middle strap and gaining one-sided revenge over Margarito, before halting world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in June this year to cement his place in history. Antonio was swathed in controversy after being discovered with doctored handwraps before his next fight, a loss to Shane Mosley, and he retired after Cotto battered him to defeat in their 2011 rematch.

Margarito made a comeback in March of 2016 with a lucklustre decision over Jorge Paez Jnr.

July 25, 2018
July 25, 2018
Vernon Forresst

Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports

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1. VERNON FORREST was born in Augusta, Georgia on January 12 1971, and he began boxing nine years later. The pinnacle of an outstanding amateur career was expected to be a medal at the 1992 Olympics (he had beaten American countryman Shane Mosley in the trials) but he lost to Great Britain’s Peter Richardson in the first round. Forrest claimed he was weakened by food poisoning.

2. HE turned professional in 1992, halting an overmatched Charles Hawkins in the opening round. Forrest made steady progress over the coming years, picking up minor belts, but it seemed for a while like he might not get the chance to shine.

3. IN 2000, he eventually got a shot at a world title when he fought Raul Frank for the vacant IBF welterweight belt relinquished by Felix Trinidad who had moved up to the light-middleweight division. The sharp-shooting Forrest was a big favourite to triumph, but the bout ended in round three due to a cut from an accidental head clash, and it was called a no-contest. The return was set for May 2001 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Forrest dominated as expected and took the title via unanimous decision over 12 largely one-sided rounds. Further up the bill was the aforementioned Trinidad, by now up at 160lbs, who battered William Joppy into defeat to claim the WBA crown. Also appearing was heavyweight Chris Byrd, who decisioned Maurice Green to land the USBA championship.

4. FOLLOWING a non-title win over Edgar Ruiz, Forrest secured a date with one of the game’s elite, Shane Mosley, in January 2002. The WBC champion was regarded as one of the finest in the game, came into battle with a glistening 38-0 record, and was favourite to win. But Forrest made a mockery of the odds, splattering Mosley all over the ring in round two and scored two knockdowns. “Sugar” Shane survived the onslaught and lasted to the final bell, but Forrest was declared a wide winner on the cards.

5. MOSLEY was eager for revenge and the rematch was set for July the same year. A record crowd of 15,775 turned up at the Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana to watch Forrest repeat his success, and in turn confirm his place among the best boxers on the planet. “The Viper” earned a handsome $3.42million for his efforts.

6. IN January 2003, the WBC king put his title on the line in a unification showdown with maniacal WBA boss, Ricardo Mayorga. Forrest was anticipating victory when he was dropped in the opening round. Mayorga, a wildly effective unorthodox fighter, landed a crunching right cross in the third and Forrest went down again. Although he gamely regained his footing, the fight was called off when referee Marty Denkin ruled the favourite was in no position to continue.

Vernon Forrest

7. MUCH like Mosley had thought after losing to him, Forrest believed his loss to Mayorga was a fluke and hastily organised a rematch. The sequel was much closer but the Nicaraguan won again, this time via majority decision. Vernon’s fall from the mountain top had been far quicker than his ascent.

8. HE opted to move up in weight to rebuild. He followed two stoppage wins with a controversial 10-round points victory over Ike Quartey in August 2006. The success secured a shot at the vacant WBC title the following summer, duly pocketed with a victory over the robust Carlos Baldomir.

9. MICHELE PICCIRILLO was ousted in Forrest’s first defence but he lost the title to awkward Sergio Mora in June 2008. The slippery Mora was able to dilute Forrest’s spidery attack to just single shots and claim a decision victory. The return came three months later, in Las Vegas, and this time Vernon got his tactics right en-route to a 12-round revenge. It would be his last fight.

Vernon Forrest

10. FORREST was killed on July 25, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. After pulling up at gas station to put air in his tyres, three men parked alongside him and attempted robbery. Forrest gave chase, and as he walked back to his vehicle he was shot seven or eight times in the back.

“Somehow, Vernon had his wallet out and the guy snatched his wallet and started running,” Forrest’s manager Charles Watson said. “Vernon pursued after him. The guy turned the corner and Vernon didn’t see him. He turned around to go back to the car. That’s when he started firing.”

A Fulton County jury in Georgia found Jquante Crews guilty of Forrest’s murder and a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole plus 10 years.

Prosecutors say Forrest was robbed at gunpoint by Demario Ware, who was also sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors say Ware fled with Forrest’s championship ring and Rolex watch. As he chased Ware, Forrest encountered Charmon Sinkfield, the alleged gunman.

Prosecutors say Crews drove the getaway car.

Vernon Forrest gave up much of his free time to help disabled and underprivileged children, he founded the nonprofit Destiny’s Child, providing group residences in Atlanta for people with mental and emotional disabilities: “The people I work with have been abused and neglected,” he said. “These are people that society turned their back on. Everybody needs help and everybody needs love.”

His loss remains sorely felt to this day. Forrest is survived by a son, Vernon Jnr, his publicist, Kelly Swanson, told The Associated Press. He was 38 years old.

July 24, 2018
July 24, 2018
arturo gatti

Action Images/Reuters/Teddy Blackburn

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1. LEONARD DORIN was fighting an idol when he challenged Arturo Gatti for the WBC light-welterweight title on July 24 2004 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “To me Gatti is a dream,” the transplanted Romanian said through an interpreter. “When I came to Canada and I saw him on TV, all I could think was ‘Wow – look at this great boxer’. He falls but he gets up to win. Gatti will remain an example to follow for many, many years.”

arturo gatti

2. GATTI, 32, was two years younger than his opponent but was infinitely more war torn – his 37-6 (28) record decorated with epic barnburners. Dorin, 22-0-1 (8), had not turned professional until he was 28 after spending several years chasing his dream – the Olympic gold. He had come close on two occasions, securing bronze in both the 1992 and 1996 Games.

3. UNDER trainer Buddy McGirt, Gatti had learn to temper his fiery style in recent fights, but following slugfests with Ivan Robinson, Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas, Angel Manfredy and most famously, Micky Ward, many wondered for how much longer “Thunder” would roar.

4. ON the eve of the fight Dorin was spotted walking on the beach, arm-in-arm with his wife. As Boxing News’ Jim Brady reported at the time, it was a pre-fight activity “which would have made old-time trainers cringe.”

5. GATTI entered the ring flanked by bodyguard, Chuck Zito (famous for his altercation with Hollywood action star Jean-Claude Van Damme), and old rival Micky Ward. The crowd cheered wildly for their hero, which was a sharp contrast to the reception the short and chunky Dorin received. When the action began, the challenger, fighting out of a squat, looked much smaller than Gatti and he struggled to make an impact as the champion pinged in shots from range.

6. DORIN’S nose was bleeding in round two. There was some alarm from Gatti’s camp when he grimaced after landing a right uppercut, but he neglected any injury and continued to fire accurately with both arms. The left hook to the body was regularly finding the target, as was slashing one-twos up top. With the round almost over, Gatti curled a powerful left into his rival’s midsection. Dorin slowly pitched forwards onto all fours, and remained there for referee Randy Neumann’s full count.

7. “GOOD punch,” sighed Dorin in broken English afterwards, his smile failing to mask his disappointment. “First time in my life I down. Very strong punch. I try to recover but my legs… [I was thinking] ‘what’s happening now’?”

arturo gatti

8. “I WORKED the body for 11 weeks,” said Gatti. “I was using my jab. Buddy told me ‘the body’. Once he went down, I knew he wasn’t getting up. It feels good that I didn’t have to go to the hospital after the fight.”

9. IN his next defence, Gatti dominated veteran Jesse James Leija, who was a surprise victor over ‘can’t miss’ prospect Francisco Bojado on the Arturo-Dorin undercard. It would be Gatti’s final world title victory. He would lose his title to Floyd Mayweather after that, before slowly eroding into retirement. He was killed in 2009.

10. DORIN, heartbroken after his first and only defeat, did not fight again.

July 23, 2018
July 23, 2018
emile griffith

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HIS smile was infectious, his tears flowed unashamedly at sad movies or for the misfortunes of others. He was just as much at home on a sandlot teaching a group of scruffy kids the basic rudiments of playing baseball with equipment that he bought for them as he was on the stage of any nightclub where he would sing and dance the hours away. All memories now. Emile Griffith is no longer with us. This great champion passed away in his sleep in the early morning of Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at the age of 75 after spending the past two years in a near vegetative state in an extended care facility in Hempstead, New York.

The oldest of eight children, young Emile had a happy childhood growing up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, until his father, a local police constable, deserted the family. Emile came to New York with his mother Emelda, who hoped to earn enough money to bring over the rest of her brood that, meanwhile were left to stay with relatives in St. Thomas.

Emile had dreams of being a professional baseball player and was the star catcher for his high school team but had a rude awakening in his junior year when he was forced to leave school in order to earn money to help his mother make ends meet. After a short stint as an usher in a local movie theatre he got a job as a stock clerk for a millinery firm in the garment centre.

Time for a new dream, this one not of his own making. The owner of the millinery company was Howard Albert, who had nurtured a lifelong dream of being a prizefighter but sensibly realised that this dream could readily turn into a nightmare.

It was a scorching summer day when walking through his plant he stopped in his tracks as he caught sight of his new stockboy who had stripped to his waist because of the oppressive heat. That’s when Howard Albert decided that his lifelong dream was transferrable.

He converted his stockroom into a mini-version of Stillman’s Gym and tried convincing the youngster to consider a career as a boxer. But Emile was a sensitive young man. Hitting people and getting hit was not his thing. What he liked best about his job was that in his spare time he was designing hats – much more to his liking than throwing punches at someone.

Howard Albert was not a quitter and had more tricks up his sleeve than a crooked bridge player, among which was sending in an application for the Golden Gloves tournament, signing Emile’s name.

 

Emile Griffith090article

 

Realising that it was not a good idea to be Emile’s sparring partner, he brought him over to a local Parks Department gym operated by Gil Clancy. This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship for the three of them, forging ties as strong as a family bond. Emile Griffith now wanted to be a prizefighter, mostly to please his surrogate fathers.

Endowed with an athleticism that enabled him to excel at almost any sport or anything requiring movement, Griffith moved rapidly up the ranks, starting off his pro career with 13 consecutive wins. More important to Emile, who always had a strong sense of family devotion and responsibility, was that, from each fight he would earn enough money to bring over another sibling. In less than three years as a prizefighter, not only did he bring all seven siblings to New York – he also bought a large house for his family in Hollis, Queens.

Griffith went on to a career spanning 19 years, encompassing 112 fights on five continents. He fought any worthy opponent anywhere and fought more fights (28, say BoxRec) at Madison Square Garden than any other fighter – a record that may never be broken – winning six world titles along the way. He captivated the boxing world with his exciting style and a disarming personality. Enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a charter inductee, Emile Griffith’s place in boxing history as one of the greatest prizefighters ever to climb into a ring is assured.

It wasn’t always a smooth road, however. A tragic event struck early in Emile’s career. On April 1, 1961, Emile Griffith defeated Benny “Kid” Paret in Miami for the welterweight championship of the world. Six months later Paret recaptured the crown at Madison Square Garden on a hotly-disputed split decision with 18 of 22 ringside reporters calling it for Griffith. This set the stage for a fight that became a benchmark in boxing history.

On March 24, 1962, Emile and Paret had to be separated at the weigh-in for their third fight when Paret taunted Griffith and called him a “maricon” (faggot). Griffith was shocked and hurt to the core. They had been teenage friends when both lived in upper Harlem in the shadows of the Polo Grounds and played basketball together in the local schoolyard until Bennie moved with his family to Miami.

It was later that night that Griffith pounded Paret with a barrage of right-hand power-punches, knocking him into an unconscious state from which he never recovered, dying 10 days later. Although it was disclosed that Paret told Manny Alfaro, his manager, that he wanted to postpone the fight because of severe headaches that began when, and had become progressively worse since, being knocked out and severely punished by middleweight champion Gene Fullmer less than four months prior, Alfaro said they could not cancel as there was a lot of television money on the table.

Griffith was inconsolable. “Yes, I was angry,” he told me, “but it was never hate.”

Emile did not want to fight anymore. It took months of coaxing and hundreds of support letters, many from people who had been involved in situations that accidentally precipitated the someone’s death, to get the reluctant warrior back into the gym and eventually, under the gentle reassurance of his fatherly trainer, Gil Clancy, to resume his career.

The real irony is that there may never have been another boxer who cared for and respected his opponents more than Griffith. After three historic savagely fought middleweight title bouts with the charismatic Nino Benvenuti, the two maintained such a warm, friendly relationship that Nino made Emile the godfather of his first-born son Giuliani.
Also, Nino, upon first hearing that Emile was having severe medical problems, flew over to visit him and opened a trust fund for the care and maintenance of his now-dear friend.

In 1972, a 33-year old Emile Griffith was in against undefeated Armando Muniz in Anaheim, California. Muniz, California’s Golden Boy, was a college student working towards his masters degree. By the eighth round, administering a steady pounding and having blood cascading down the youngster’s face, Emile lowered his attack to the body, refusing to damage the youngster any further while encouraging him not to give up and to keep punching.

Thirty-three years later, I attended the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles with Emile. Before a crowd of onlookers, Muniz smiled and embraced Emile, saying that even though it had been his first loss he was proud that it was to a great champion like Emile Griffith and thanked him “because, really, it was an education. I learned what prizefighting was all about that night.”

Other never-to-be-forgotten highlights of Emile’s career were his four epic battles with Luis Rodriquez, with Griffith winning three and his two victories over Dick Tiger – who Griffith dethroned for the middleweight crown in 1966.

Emile Griffith married Mercedes Donastorg, whom he met and fell in love with on a visit to St. Thomas in 1971. They eventually divorced but remained friends throughout the years. Emile had an adopted daughter, Christine, from the marriage as well as his adopted son, Luis, whom he befriended when working as a guard in a New Jersey youth detention centre in 1979.

He had a zest for life and lived it to the fullest. Where others “liked”, he was able to love.  Sadness could become deep sorrow and happiness, ecstatic joy. His world encompassed all. He never hid his life because, as he felt, there was nothing to hide. He simply chose not to flaunt it.

Unfortunately, his philosophy was not shared by everyone. In July 1992 he was attacked by a gang of homophobic thugs armed with baseball bats and chains outside a gay bar in midtown Manhattan. Battered and bleeding, he somehow fought them off and miraculously made his way home. He wound up in a hospital on life support. It was only because of his excellent physical condition that he survived but it was the beginning of a gradual decline in mental faculties and all-around health.

 

Boxer Emile Griffith waves to the photographers as he arrives for the premiere of 'Ring Of Fire - The Emile Griffith Story.'.  Boxer Emile Griffith poses for the photographers as he arrives for the premiere of the USA Network's boxing drama 'Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story' in New York April 13, 2005. REUTERS/Marion Curtis Reuters / Picture supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** RBBORH2005041400058.jpg

 

So, to my dear friend Emile Griffith: farewell Champ. You did it all and you did it your way. You showed the world what being a champion was all about – in the ring and out. You opened the door to a better, more accepting world not just for athletes, but people in all walks of life.

You’ll be missed, Champ, that’s for sure. You’ll be missed but never forgotten. Emile Griffith – six-time world champion in the ring and all-time champion in life.