Highlight 2 | History | Issue | Long read | Premium | Jan 28 2020

The tragic tale of Terry Young

Carlos Acevedo tells the story 1940s lightweight Terry Young, a successful New York city boxer who led a hold-up gang
Terry Young

“Now he lives at home with his mother. He can’t get a job no place and fathers of kids all up and down the Avenue say, ‘Stay away from that Terry Young, he was a bad one. You hang out with him, and you’ll come to no good.’ Terry’s punch is punched out, and now when even kids run away from him on the block, he don’t care much what happens. In the old days, it was the kids who used to call him Tough Terry and tag behind him when he done road work down by the river. It was Terry who gave me his money and let me wear his clothes and who made me a fighter. Tough Terry! That was the only title he ever held.”Rocky Graziano

IN the late 1930s, Terry Young was locked up in Coxsackie — a reformatory in upstate New York run like the prison in King of the Damned — along with two future legends: his boyhood chums Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano. Out of this remarkable trio, Young was the only one who never won a title. And he was the only one who could never succeed in the straight world.

Rocky Graziano and Jake LaMotta were childhood friends of Terry Young

Even LaMotta, after a withering stretch on a Florida chain gang in the late 1950s, was a peaceable if somewhat seedy citizen when Raging Bull brought him back to fame. For his part, Graziano spent roughly a third of his life incarcerated before transitioning into one of the most controversial and popular fighters of his era and then into a beloved television actor with a zany comedic touch.