History Podcasts

Bronze Plaque Showing Cupids Wrestling & Boxing

Bronze Plaque Showing Cupids Wrestling & Boxing


Goal: $3.5 million Dollars

2020 - 2021

In this campaign we also seek a benefactor to endow the subject of BOXING which will acquire the ROCKY #3 statue and other material for the Boxing collection. This campaign is designed to immediately raise funds to acquire this famous statue and also to fund IISOH operations for 2-3 years by opening our first office, hire staff, publish more sports posters, conduct more research and publish more on our website. This will fund the IISOH for 2-3 years while we add hundreds of educational pages to our website, collect more books for the library, and open our first office to the public.


Official Medals and Badges of the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games

Preparation for our next auction of Olympic memorabilia and philately in June 2015 is well under way, and in the mean time I thought that each week I would share with you the wealth of attractive and interesting memorabilia available to collectors from the various Games over the years. None are as famous (or notorious perhaps) as the Berlin Games of 1936, which seemed like to best place to start.

A collection of memorabilia from the 1936 Berlin Games could easily consume a vast amount of space, in no small part due to the Hitler propaganda machine which was in full swing at the time. However for this week we will focus on the official medals and badges listed and described in the Official Report and the Official Guide Book produced by the German Olympic Committee.

Winners’ Medals

Designed by Giuseppe Cassioli, the design for the 1936 Berlin prize medals was the same as that used in 1928 and 1932, with the only modification being that of the legend. They were struck by the B. H. Mayer mint in Pforzheim, Germany. The medals were presented in a brown leather case with a gold coloured Olympic bell on top.

Metal: Gilt Silver Diameter: 55mm Weight: 71.5 grams
Thickness: 3.1mm Quantity: 320

Metal: Silver Diameter: 55mm Weight: 72 grams
Thickness: 3.1mm Quantity: 320

Metal: Gilt Silver Diameter: 55mm Weight: 74 grams
Thickness: 4mm Quantity: 320

Participation Medals

This medal was awarded to Athletes and Officials who took part in the Games. Designed by Otto Placzek, showing on one side five athletes representing the different continents, all of whom are engaged in pulling the rope of the Olympic Bell, and the other side showing the Olympic Bell in relief. The medal was cast by four different foundries: Heintze & Bath, Sperlich, Noack and Martin & Pilzing. The medals produced are by each foundry are distinguishable by their colour, but only those by Noack are marked on the edge. The medal was presented in a circular red paper box with a gold coloured Olympic bell on top.

Metal: Bronze Diameter: 70mm Weight: 114 grams
Thickness: 7mm Quantity: 20� *

* 5� produced by each of the four foundries

The following medals were given to participants of the aeroplane, autmobile and bicycle rallies, as well as a medal for the carrier pigeon breeders who offered their birds for the festivities of the opening day. Twenty thousand pigeons were transported to the Stadium. Otto Placzek was also the artist for these medals, all of which measure 70mm in diameter.

Official Badges

Badge showing Olympic Rings above the Brandenburg Gate with inscription and ribbon below

International Olympic Committee badge
Inscribed “I.O.K.”, gold plated, with short Olympic coloured ribbon in front of longer white ribbon

International Olympic Committee Jury of Honour, Executive Commission badge
Inscribed “I.O.K.”, gold plated, with short Olympic coloured ribbon in front of longer white ribbon inscribed “Ehren- / richter”

National Olympic Committee President’s badge
Inscribed “N.O.K”, gold plated, with dark blue ribbon inscribed “Nationales / Komitee”

National Olympic Committee General Secretaries and Members badge
Inscribed “N.O.K”, silver plated, with dark blue ribbon inscribed “Nationales / Komitee”

Chefs de Mission’s badge
Inscribed “N.O.K.”, silver plated, with dark blue ribbon inscribed “Chef / de Mission”

International Federations President’s badge
Inscribed “I.V.” (looks like J.V.), gold plated, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below) and inscribed “Intern. / Verband”

International Federations General Secretaries’ badge
Inscribed “I.V.” (looks like J.V.), silver plated, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below) and inscribed “Intern. / Verband”

Olympic Committee members’ badge
Inscribed “O.K.”, gold plated, with short Olympic coloured ribbon in front of a longer light grey ribbon inscribed “Organi- / sations- / Komitee”

Olympic Committee Active Members, Commissions badge
Inscribed “O.K.”, silver plated, with short Olympic coloured ribbon in front of a longer light grey ribbon inscribed “Organi- / sations- / Komitee”

Attachés’ badge
Inscribed “ATTACHÉ”, silver plated, with short Olympic coloured ribbon in front of longer dark blue ribbon inscribed “Attaché”

Referees’ badge
Inscribed “RICHTER”, silver plated, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below) and inscribed with the name of the sport

Team Leaders’ badge
Inscribed with the participant’s number, bronze, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below) and inscribed with the name of the sport and “Mannschafts- / führer”

Active Participant’s badge
Inscribed with the participant’s number, bronze, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below) and inscribed with the name of the sport

Press badge
Inscribed “PRESSE”, bronze, with red and yellow striped ribbon

Film badge
Inscribed “FILM”, bronze, with red and green striped ribbon

Photographers badge
Inscribed “FOTO”, bronze, with red and blue striped ribbon

Radio badge
Inscribed “RUNDFUNK”, bronze, with red and white striped ribbon

Badge with Olympic Rings above the Brandenburg Gate suspended from a bar and ribbon
Organising Committee Executive Officials’ badge
Inscribed with the name of the Official at top and “O.K.” at bottom, silver plated, with Olympic coloured ribbon

Organising Committee Officials’ badge
Inscribed with the name of the sport at top and “OBERLEITUNG” at bottom, silver plated, with ribbon coloured according to the sport (see below)

Organising Committee Bureau badge
Inscribed “STAB” at top and “O.K.” at bottom, with light grey ribbon

Olympic Village badge
Inscribed “STAB” at top and “OLYMPISCHES / DORF” at bottom, with light grey ribbon

Physicians
Inscribed “STAB” at top and “ARZT” at bottom, with a white ribbon with a red enamel cross

Ribbon Colours

Athletics: Orange
Fencing: Deep Lavender
Wrestling: Canary Yellow
Weightlifting: Sand colour
Football: Tomato Red
Hockey: Dark Green
Modern Pentathlon: Light Lavender
Polo: Light Brown
Yachting: Medium Green
Handball: Pink
Cycling: Rust Brown
Shooting: Olive
Rowing: Light Blue
Swimming: Cornflower Blue
Basketball: Light Green
Gymnastics: Raspberry Red
Boxing: Bordeaux Red
Canoeing: Light Grey
Equestrian Events: Dark Lavender
Gliding: Ochre
Baseball: Stone Grey

Participant Badges for the International Camps and Demonstration Teams
The following badges show the Olympic Rings above the Brandenburg Gate, with a coloured rosette for the different participants blue for the International Students Camp, salmon for the Gymnastics Demonstration Team, green for the International Youth Camp, and for the Encampment of the German “Fachämter” it was yellow for the first week and a dark red for the second week.

Workers’ Badges
Made from Bakelite with silvered inlay Olympic Ring above Brandenburg Gate logo, measuring 68mm in diameter. Red is the Service badge, blue is the Management badge, and yellow is the Sale and Delivery badge. The metal plaque inserts are known with “ZUR ERINNERUNG” instead of a number.

Visitor’s Badge
This badge was for sale to the visitor’s of the Games. It was designed by Professor Raemisch, Berlin, the same designer as for the official badges. It is made of iron plated with tombac and ivory enamel. 675� were produced.

Automobile Plaque
The same design was enlarged to 77x72mm, in order to form an automobile plaque. However the sale of these were restricted to limited circles.

Honorary Badge for Previous Olympic Winners
This badge was given to previous Olympic Winners and shows an athlete holding wreath aloft with coloured Olympic rings behind and two white enamel bars below. The Organisation Committee held a reception during the course of the Games for previous winners and this badge was given out, with the two enamel bars for the engraving of the victor’s name and Olympic Games. It was made by Poellath in Schrobenhausen, 27x33m, silvered.


Later years [ edit | edit source ]

In his later years, Jeffries trained boxers and worked as a fight promoter. He promoted many fights out of a structure known as "Jeffries Barn", which was located on his alfalfa ranch at the southwest corner of Victory Boulevard and Buena Vista, Burbank, California. (His ranch house was on the southeast corner until the early 1960s.) Jeffries Barn is now part of Knott's Berry Farm, a Southern California amusement park. On his passing in 1953, he was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

The city of Burbank embedded a small bronze plaque in the sidewalk at the site where James Jeffries died. The plaque was located on the southeast side of Buena Vista

150 yards south of Victory Boulevard. Where the plaque is today is a mystery.

James J. Jeffries was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.


Wording Samples for Plaques and Trophies

Here are some great appreciation wording ideas for your plaques. When you are ready, see our complete selection of Award Plaques, Engraved Corporate Plaques and Award Certificates.

SERVICE AWARD Presented to
(Name)
In Appreciation for
10 years of Loyal & Dedicated Service (Date)

(COMPANY NAME)
TEAMWORK AWARD

Presented to (Name) (Date)


LEADERSHIP AWARD Presented to
(NAME)
For Outstanding Vision,
Dedication & Commitment to Excellence

Million Dollar Club (Name) (Date)

Civic Leader Award Presented to (Name) For your generous commitment of time, support & inspiration to our endeavors.

(Company Name) Presented to (Name)
For your generous donations,
time and continuous support

Award of Excellence Honoring (Name)

Award of Excellence Honoring the few who gave their time and love to those in need.
(Name)
(Date)

(Company Name)
Honoring you for your
Talent and Vision
(Name)
(Date)

Award of Prestige
Recognizing
(Name)

(COMPANY ) Presented to you for your dedication and loyalty 25 Years Name (Date)

In appreciation for your years of dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments (NAME) (Date)

Customer Appreciation Award
Thank you for your outstanding commitment to our customers
(Name)
(Date)

(Company Name) EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
Congratulations to (Name) (Title)
In recognition of your
exceptional performance
(Date)

Leadership Award Presented to
(NAME)
For his/her dedicated service and commitment
to excellence
(Date)

Distinguished Service Award Presented To (NAME) In Recognition of Exceptional Leadership and Devoted Service
to

(COMPANY NAME)

Presented to (NAME) (Company Name) IN RECOGNITION OF
VALUED PARTICIPATION AT
(Company Name)
(Event)

SALES ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Presented To
(NAME)
For Quarterly Sales Exceeding
$250,000
(Company Name)


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Bronze Plaque Showing Cupids Wrestling & Boxing - History

Since those long-ago days when a Navy ship organized the first spontaneous "smoker," replete with boxing matches, or ran climb-the-rigging races over the bounding main, sports and athletics have been a highly important part of the Navy scene.

In a short time in the life of the youthful U.S. Fleet, it became apparent that, with a minimum of athletic and recreational gear, a lot could be accomplished in promoting a good time, good morale and esprit de corps.

It was far from an organized effort in the beginning-more of a "Hey, you guys on the USS Neversail, our whaleboat crew can beat yours across the bay any old time" type of thing. Or, the "Our old man can lick your old man" bit-which meant, in Navy lingo, something like, "We've got a fireman in our black gang who can whip the bell-bottoms off anybody you've got aboard."

But it was a beginning, and from it has evolved the Navywide undertaking we know today as the Navy Sports Program.

Some of the early sports activities came more under the heading of shipboard drills than actual sporting events. For instance, on a lazy day aboard a Navy frigate in the Caribbean in the early 1800s came the boatswain's call -- "All hands reef topsails!" Sailors swarmed on deck. A reefing match was in the making.

"Man the top-gallant clew-lines and jib down-haul." shouted the first lieutenant through his speaking trumpet. "Stand by to furl top-gallant sails. Keep down, keep down there forwards! Not a man of you lay aloft till I give the order."

After a succession of rapid commands, the match was over and the winners announced.

If such an activity could not be called a "sport," it was certainly exercise -- a physical conditioner that served also as a drill in seamanship flavored with the salt of competition.

At that time, boxing or just plain "slugging" bouts were clandestine affairs staged contrary to shipboard regulations and sometimes used as a means of settling personal grievances.

Boat races were held both for money and ship prestige. Challenges were rarely left unanswered. Typical was one issued by the U.S. store ship Relief, at Callao, Peru, in June 1841: "We the crew of the United States Ship Relief's first cutter, challenge the United States Frigate Constitution's lifeboat to run tomorrow at 4 p. m. for the amount of 11 dollars. Our commander has granted us his permission. Marshall Garth, Coxswain."

The ship's companies backed their teams to the hilt. Sometimes the ships themselves raced each other -- a real feat of seamanship.

Early Navy sports records are quite vague, but we do know that at the beginning of the 1800s, "rigging races" were held. These races required contestants to scramble on a predetermined course through the mast and sail equipment.

But officers began to be concerned over the lack of athletics in the Fleet with the advent of steam and the end of the vigorous sailing ship days toward the end of the 19th century. Sailing ship sailors had to be as agile as stuntmen as part of their duty, while the steamship sailor was much more of a technician and less active physically. Sports-minded flag officers began to set up in their squadrons a series of sports and recreational pastimes with proper committees, rules and prizes.

In one squadron, around the turn of the century, a baseball league was formed between battleships. Out of it came an exciting and rugged schedule, with a series of 21 games played in a little over a month's time.

Competitive sports like these. Navy commanders felt, made physical conditioning more pleasant than compulsory drills which were usually engaged in half-heartedly and considered by the men to be more work than play.

To further these early beginnings of organized sports, a special appropriation of $5000 for "athletic exercises and sports," was included by Congress in the Navy funds for the fiscal year 1904. With the appropriation, the groundwork had been laid for a full-fledged Navy sports program.

At the same time, the Navy started to establish permanent athletic facilities ashore. The first athletic field now known to be completed was at the Norfolk Navy yard. It was part of a Bureau of Navigation (now BuPers) plan started in 1903. Norfolk's athletic plant consisted of a football field, baseball diamond, grandstand, cinder track, swimming pool and recreational hall.

Many trophies, symbols of supremacy with oar or sail, have come and gone. A few of the better remembered old awards are the Neese Trophy, a challenge cup for Atlantic Fleet whaleboats under sail the Harriett Cup, donated by Major General Barnett, one time Commandant of the Marine Corps, for winning cutter crews the Thanksgiving Challenge Cup, for whaleboat sailing among Asiatic Squadron crews and the President's Trophy, at one time presented annually by direction of the President to the winner of the Winter Pulling Regatta of the Atlantic Fleet.

There was also the Chapin Racing Cup, given in memory of CAPT F. L. Chapin, USN, and the Coffin Cup, donated by Daniel M. Coffin for prize racing cutters. Still another was the San Pedro Cup, donated by the citizens of San Pedro, Calif., when the U.S. Fleet, in its voyage around the world stopped in San Pedro harbor in April 1908.

A cup which made its debut in 1906 and became the oldest trophy in continuous competition in American naval sports history was the Battenberg Cup. In May 1906, Rear Admiral Prince Louis Battenberg, R.N, commander of England's second Cruiser Division, donated the massive trophy to the U.S. Navy. Although the name appears nowhere on the trophy, it almost immediately became known as the Battenberg Cup.

Sometimes also referred to as the "British Challenge Cup," this trophy posed a perpetual challenge for racing cutters of the Atlantic Fleet. Under the agreement, whenever a ship holding the cup would fall in with a British man-o'-war, she had to give the Englishman a chance to compete for the prize.

If the British ship won, her name would be engraved on the cup -- but the cup was to leave the U.S. Fleet only once. As it turned out, only two British ships ever challenged a U.S. Navy ship to a Battenberg race and only one won. She was H.M.S Argyll.

The first U.S. ship to win the cup was Illinois (BB 7), in September 1906. She held it until May 1907 when Argyll won her victory. Louisiana (BB 19) took over in September of that year and the cup was thereafter held by U.S. Navy ships.

Finally, after West Virginia (BB 48) won the trophy in August 1940, the Battenberg Cup was taken out of competition. When that ship was placed out of commission in January 1947, the cup was taken into custody by the Special Services Division of BuPers.

While the Battenberg Cup was strictly a one-sport award, two equally famous but younger trophies are the Navy Department's pair of Iron Man Trophies awarded for general excellence in athletic competition.

The first Iron Man originated in 1919. It was originally known and inscribed as the "Navy Department General Excellency Trophy for Capital Ships of the Pacific Fleet." Because of the trophy's design, it was soon nicknamed the "Iron Man Trophy." When the second trophy came along nine years later, the well-known nickname was included in its inscription. Oddly enough, no comparable Iron Man has ever been inaugurated for ships of the Atlantic Fleet.

The three-foot Iron Man is a bronze athlete standing on the World and holding aloft a laurel crown, the ancient symbol of athletic victory.

The First Iron Man was awarded by COMSERVPAC on a system of points figured on the basis of participation and standings of athletic teams of ships of the Fleet.

The first to win it was USS Mississippi (BB 41) in 1919. She held the trophy until 1924 when California (BB 44) took it over for three years. Succeeding ships to win the trophy were (in this order): Tennessee (BB 43), Mississippi, West Virginia, Maryland (BB 46), Tennessee, West Virginia, Tennessee, Nevada (BB 36) and Tennessee.

The Iron Man was withdrawn from competition during World War II. After the war, competition-minded Pacific Fleet sailors began to ask what had happened to the Iron Man. It was a tough question to answer.

Meanwhile, a government storehouse near the Nation's Capital had become the resting place for a sundry cargo of "homeless" pre-Pearl Harbor cups, plaques and other athletic awards. In early 1948, the thought occurred to someone that possibly the missing Iron Man might be among this collection. After a long and somewhat dusty search, not only this Iron Man was discovered, but the second one also.

Iron Man trophy Number One was dusted and polished and restored to Pacific Fleet competition. This time, though, the regulations governing competition for it were modified to include not only battleships, but any vessel of the Pacific Fleet.

As if in answer to the 21-year "capital ship" monopoly of the Iron Man, the trophy was won the first year of the new competition not by a "big ship," but by the destroyer tender USS Dixie (AD 14).

This was in 1949. In 1950, the first submarine ever to win it took possession when USS Sea Fox (SS 402) came through on top. On the books, Sea Fox remains defending champion, for the trophy was again withdrawn from competition when the Korean conflict broke out. For the time being, the Number One Iron Man is at COMSERVPAC headquarters at Pearl.

The Number Two Iron Man had been placed in competition in 1928 among cruisers, destroyers and aircraft squadrons of the Pacific Fleet. This trophy is now in the possession of the BuPers Special Services Division.

Then there was the Dryden Trophy for shooting. It was presented about 1903 by U.S. Senator John F. Dryden of New Jersey for annual competition under the auspices of the New Jersey Rifle Association and was open to teams from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and National Guard units of the states, territories and District of Columbia.

The most elaborate of all Navy-trophies, old or new, is probably the Amoy Cup. Made of solid gold, it is valued at more than $5000. This vase-type cup of Chinese workmanship was presented by the Imperial Chinese Government at Amoy, China, on 3 Nov 1908 in commemoration of the visit of the U.S. Second Squadron of battleships during the cruise around the world.

It became a football trophy (and at times a baseball award) hotly contested for by Navy teams. Today, it is among trophies encased at the Naval Academy.

The President's Cup, donated in October 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge, was awarded annually to the winner of a football game in Washington's Griffith Stadium between teams representing the Army and Navy. This was distinct from the yearly West Point-Annapolis gridiron series.

Football stars from various naval and military establishments were selected to form the two service teams. Army won the cup the first year of competition with a 12-6 victory. The Marine Corps was permitted to enter competition after this, and for the next three years the Leathernecks from Quantico won the trophy -- 20-0 in 1925, 26-7 in 1926, and 14-0 in 1927. Records of further President's Cup football games are out of circulation and the, final disposition of the trophy is also unknown.

Another trophy that deserves mention is the Leech Cup, presented by A. Y. Leech, Jr., through the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association for annual competition between teams composed of officers and men of the Army and Navy. In 1948, the Leech Cup gained a third competitor -- the Air Force.

Leech Cup statistics show a total of 10 victories for Navy, four for the Army, and one for the Air Force. The Leech Cup competition was suspended in 1950. Many of these Navy trophies met a patriotic fate early in World War II when they went into melting pots throughout the country.

Competition for all these trophies was spirited. The honor a ship gained when it won a baseball, football or rowing championship was second only to the prestige that came if it won top honors in target practice and engineering competition.

In 1900, Navy Regulations made the following mention of athletics. In the section dealing with duties of commanding officers is the statement that COs "shall encourage the men to engage in athletics, fencing, boxing, boating, and other similar sports and exercises. Gymnastic outfits will be furnished by the Department to vessels requesting them."

Later, quarterly allowances were authorized for ships to use in purchasing athletic gear. In the 1920s, as sports and sports trophies came into their own in increasing numbers, the Navy Department announced that profits from the canteens (ships' stores) could be spent for the amusement, comfort and contentment of the "enlisted forces" and for the purchase of athletic equipment.

As for shipboard organization of sports, each captain was directed to appoint an athletic officer to be in general charge of all ship athletics. The captain also could appoint an officer-in-charge of each of the following sports: boat racing, football, baseball, track, swimming, basketball, boxing, fencing and gymnastics. Such officers would be assistants to the athletic officer and act as coaches for their respective teams.

In the early days, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, championships, especially in boxing, changed hands at the drop of an anchor. "Champeens" sprung up overnight. They became champs by virtue of having bested all comers in their own squadron, division or ship.

Ships' boxers gave exhibitions ashore whenever possible. It was considered (as today) that such bouts did much to publicize the Navy among young men. Shore activities also conducted boxing championships.

The Atlantic and Pacific Fleets enthusiastically conducted competitions, but All-Navy tournaments as we know them today were unheard of. Air transportation, of course, was still a thing of the future and our two fleets were separated not only by the North American continent but by some 14,000 miles of ocean via Cape Horn (the Panama Canal was not put into regular operation until 1914).

In 1908, during the cruise of the Great White Fleet, one of the largest athletic events in Navy history was staged at Los Angeles. It was a field day which included almost every sport popular at the time.

The nearest thing to our present All-Navy championship in any of the early Navy sports events occurred during fleet concentrations. When the ships got together for maneuvers, the athletes got together to prove their mettle.

In 1916, football championships of Atlantic naval activities (both ship and shore) were beginning to be held. Although varsity sports were the big thing, there was also competition for novices. This was the beginning of today's intramural sports program.

Also in 1916, a spirited Far Eastern baseball championship was conducted among Pacific Fleet units. The Torpedo Flotilla team from Manila traveled to Shanghai where they battled the team from the cruiser Brooklyn (AC 3). More than 30,000 fans watched the games, which saw the Brooklyn nine emerge the champions in the best-of-five series.

Although the U.S. was not to become actively involved in World War I until April 1917, ships and personnel had begun much earlier to concentrate on military preparedness. Emphasis on competitive athletics lessened proportionately. However, the entry of the U.S. into that conflict saw the influx of collegiate athletic talent into the Navy along with the active affiliation of many great names in the sporting world.

Despite the pressing attention to World War I matters, some of Uncle Sam's ships found time to engage in sports in foreign ports, much to the enjoyment (and often the amazement) of our allies.

The Navy is credited, for example, with showing the Egyptians their first football game. When the cruiser Des Moines (C 15) put into Alexandria, two elements from that ship went ashore to put on an intra-ship contest. But Des Moines sailors didn't restrict themselves to one sport. Some months later, the ship's athletes startled Egyptian sportsmen by winning that country's field hockey championship.

Navy teams were also instrumental in introducing and popularizing baseball in China, Japan, Hawaii and the Philippine Islands.

After the armistice in 1918, the Navy took a deep breath and settled down to take stock. The prewar physical conditioning had paid off in many ways.

It took a couple of years to get the ball rolling again, but 1920 came up a sparkler in Navy sports. It was an Olympic Games year. Many Navy eyes were turned toward the highly competitive berths on the U.S. squad.

The greatest Navy sports news of the year spread around the world under headlines announcing that for the first time in Olympic history an American crew had captured the eight-oared shell rowing event of the Olympiad. The winning crew was that of the Naval Academy-and it was the first time a Navy crew had been entered in the competition.

Not only did the Academy oarsmen sweep to their win by a good quarter-length, but they covered the course in a new Olympic record time of six minutes, two and three-fifths seconds. Another winning Navy crew was to show this prowess 32 years later as it won the rowing championship in the 1952 Olympics.

BY 1921, the Navy Department had come to realize more and more that livewire athletic ships not only stood high in morale and ship spirit, but the same ships that habitually won top sports honors usually carried off the prizes in gunnery, engineering and navigation, too,

For example, in 1919, when Mississippi was in her heyday as a battleship, she became the first vessel to win the Iron Man Trophy. Mississippi defended the trophy successfully through 1923 and again held it during the 1929-1930 season. During all these years, Mississippi also won the fleet target and battle practice awards.

Probably the most significant sports event of 1921, as far as the Navy is concerned, was one which is now generally accepted as the most direct ancestor of All-Navy competition as it is known today.

It was this year that the top leather pushers of the Atlantic and Pacific fleets squared off in Balboa Stadium in the Panama Canal Zone to determine that year's "All-Navy" boxing champions. Although this event was unofficial as far as the Navy Department was concerned, it marked the beginning of an annual ring show that was staged every year (except for 1922 and 1928) until 1941. After the lapse during World War II, the staging of the annual fistic show was begun again in 1946.

From 1924 to 1941, Navy sports continued much along the same lines. Unofficial "All-Navy" contests became more numerous and Fleet units continued to acclaim their respective Navy-wide champs.

Not only was there an increasing emphasis on the encouragement of sports within the naval establishment, but more concern was being paid to the standards of performance.

During World War II, the progress of Navy sports from a competitive viewpoint was halted. The stress at training stations and in ships at sea, whenever practicable, shifted to physical conditioning. Athletic contests, because of their physical training and morale factors, were continued in so far as possible.

As in the first World War, there arose an urgent need for athletic specialists to carry out the Navy's physical training and welfare and recreation program. In April 1941, the Navy Department announced the appointment of CDR James J. Tunney, USNR, as Director of the Navy Physical Fitness Program, CDR Tunney is best known as "Gene" Tunney, the gentleman who won the world's heavyweight title from Jack Dempsey in 1926. Following Tunney, incidentally, as world champ was another ex-sailor, Jack Sharkey.

Tunney started his fighting career in the service as a Marine back in 1917. He was the unofficial light-heavyweight champion of the Navy before entering professional ranks.

Sharkey won the world's heavyweight title from Max Schmeling in 1932. Jack Sharkey also began his fistic career in the Navy, fighting for the battleship North Dakota (BB 29) and cruiser Denver (C 14) in fleet boxing championships.

Tunney and Sharkey were world champs, and down through the years, both before and since, the Navy has had its quota of top athletes. Lesser known perhaps, they have still demonstrated their prowess and sportsmanship at home and abroad.

A new crop is coming up in the widening field of Navy sports, and there are more opportunities for potential champions at various levels of competition.

At, the present time seven sports -- basketball, volleyball, boxing, bowling, tennis, golf and softball -- are included in All-Navy competition. Each is played according to recognized amateur rules. In addition to these, opportunities are present in numerous other programs.

Navy sports have come a long way from the days when sailors received their sports competition by clambering up and down the rigging of a ship.

Source: Adapted from: Lewis, Jim. "Sports in the Navy: 1775-1963." All Hands 557 (June 1963): 2-7.


Grondahl: Historian finds first grand slam in MLB history - in Rensselaer

2 of 53 Local historian Matt Malette at the former Riverside Park on what had been Bonacker Island, where Roger Connor hit the first grand slam in Major League Baseball history for the Troy Trojans on Sept. 10, 1881. Paul Grondahl / Times Union Show More Show Less

4 of 53 Matt Malette near the site of Major League Baseball’s first grand slam on Sept. 10, 1881 and there is now a softball field on the site (Paul Grondahl / Times Union) Paul Grondahl / Times Union Show More Show Less

5 of 53 Troy Trojans in 1881. Provide photo Show More Show Less

7 of 53 Buy Photo Matt Malette creator of the popular, and previously anonymous, Twitter feed Albany Archives, at his home Friday July 3, 2015 in Colonie,NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) John Carl D'Annibale Show More Show Less

Click through the slideshow to learn about more famous athletes with Capital Region ties.

Played here: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. The "Core 4" made briefer appearances than their teammate Williams, playing 62 games combined for the Albany-Colonie Yankees in the early 1990s.

Born here: Johnny Evers. The feisty second baseman was born in Troy in 1881 and immortalized in Cooperstown after 18 years in MLB, mostly with the Cubs.

Born here: Johnny Podres was born in Witherbee in the Adirondacks, then settled in Queensbury after a 15-year MLB career. He died in Glens Falls in 2008.

Skip Dickstein / Times Union Show More Show Less

Born here: Johnny Podres,

who won 138 MLB games and recorded the final out of the 1955 World Series for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first of four rings.

Raised here:Pat Riley,

show boxing out at left, attended and played basketball for Linton High School in Schenectady. Linton beat New York's Powers Memorial (and No. 33, Lew Alcindor) in 1961. (Photo courtesy of Bob Pezzanno)

Raised here:Pat Riley,

who has since forged a Hall of Fame career as a coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat. He has five championship rings as a coach, and is now the team president of the Heat.

Coached here: Phil Jackson,

who coached the Albany Patroons from 1982 to 1987 and guided them to a Continental Basketball Association championship in 1984.

Coached here: Phil Jackson,

who is the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks after winning 11 titles as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

Born here: Jimmer Fredette,

who set Section II scoring records for Glens Falls High School. (Times Union archive)

Born here: Jimmer Fredette, who was named college basketball's National Player of the Year in 2011 after leading all of NCAA in scoring for BYU. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Raised here: Sam Perkins.

Born in Brooklyn, but played high school ball for Shaker.

Raised here:

Sam Perkins, who went on to play 17 seasons in the NBA, averaging 15 points and 7½ rebounds a game.

: New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis grew up in Albany and played Albany Pop Warner football. He will be playing in Super Bowl LI.

: CBA graduate and Clifton Park native Joe Vellano is a defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons. In photo, Vellano poses with the NFC championship trophy Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, after his Atlanta Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers 44-21 to advance to Super Bowl LI in Houston. (Photo courtesy Paul Vellano)

: Josh Keyes, a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, is from Chatham.

Studied here

: New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia played for RPI and was a graduate assistant coach.

Born here:Dottie Pepper.

LPGA golfer born in Saratoga Springs won 17 official events and two majors.

Born here: Dottie Pepper.

Saratoga Springs native now works as on-course reporter on PGA broadcasts.

Raised here: Mike Tyson.

Found stability with Cus D'Amato's club in Catskill after rough upbringing in Brooklyn. Here he is shown at the Arbor Hill Community Center in 1989.

Raised here: Mike Tyson.

He fought (and racked up speeding tickets) in Albany before gaining international fame (and infamy).

Played here: Adam Oates.

The greatest player in RPI history led Engineers to NCAA championship in 1985.

Played here: Adam Oates.

After RPI, he scored 1,420 in 1,337 NHL games, earning induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

Played here: Patrik Elias.

The left winger from Czechoslovakia scored 133 points in 131 games for the River Rats in from 1996 through 1998.

Played here: Patrik Elias,

who has become the most successful River Rat by scoring 1,025 points over 1,240 games, all with the New Jersey Devils.

Raced here: Shirley Muldowney. She once dominated amateur drag racing around the Capital Region, both the legal, sanctioned and illegal unsanctioned varieties. (Courtesy of Shirley Muldowney)

Born here: Jeff Blatnick. The Niskayuna native won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Los Angeles Olympic games 1984, after battling back from cancer. He later was instrumental in popularizing mixed martial arts.

Born here: Abner Doubleday. Fifteen years after his death, the Ballston Spa native and Civil War general was declared the inventor of baseball in Cooperstown back in 1839, by the Mills Commission. Doubleday never made the claim while alive or advanced the theory in any way, and modern baseball historians generally consider it a myth. (AP Photo)

Born here: Gary Holle. After a standout baseball and basketball career at Siena College, the Watervliet native was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and spent six years in the minor leagues. He advanced to the majors in 1979 for five games with the Texas Rangers, playing his usual position as first baseman once and pinch hitting for the other four appearances. He later became the general manager for the Albany Patroons basketball team, subbing in as coach for one game in 1986 when Phil Jackson was suspended for yelling at a referee. (Steve Twardzik/Albany Patroons)

Born here: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. The professional wrestler retired in 2018 after a nearly 40-year career with the WWF/WWE, the WCW and various independent leagues. Along the way, the Glens Falls native won many titles, including United States Heavyweight Champion and one-time World Television Champion.

RENSSELAER &mdash Each time Matt Malette stepped across the sodden field, his brown leather Oxford shoes made a slurping sound as he picked his steps across a muddy expanse speckled with Canada geese droppings.

Sandwiched between the Hudson River and Broadway, near the Amtrak train station, this forlorn patch of low-lying real estate hardly looks like a spot where major league baseball history was made more than a century ago. It sits in the shadow of a Dunn Memorial Bridge ramp.

There is no bronze plaque or anything to designate that herein lies the spot where Roger Connor became the first player to hit a grand slam in Major League Baseball history on Sept. 10, 1881, for the National League Troy Trojans in a game against the Worcester Ruby Legs.

"Connor's grand slam was the first in MLB history," John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball, confirmed in an email.

The grand slam is described in the definitive Society for American Baseball Research, but it erroneously listed Albany as the location.

"It took almost three years of sleuthing to get this all sorted out," said Malette, who maintains the popular local history Twitter feed @AlbanyArchives and produces history segments for Spectrum News, where he works as a graphic designer.

With the Major League Baseball seasons getting off to an early start when the Seattle Mariners face the Oakland A's Wednesday in Japan, Malette was in the mood to share how he uncovered the little-known nugget of MLB history.

The biggest obstacle for Malette was pinpointing the grand slam's location, which was cited as Riverside Park in Albany.

But Albany's Riverside Park, a small pocket park along the Hudson in downtown, opened in 1903, 21 years after the grand slam. "You've got the wrong Riverside Park," Albany historian Tony Opalka told Malette.

Malette found out there was a Riverside Park in Rensselaer, but Rensselaer did not get chartered as a city until 1897, 16 years after the grand slam.

Malette, who hosts local history trivia contests at area bars, dug deeper into the Riverside Park mystery. In 1881, the area that became the city of Rensselaer was the village of Greenbush and included two hamlets, Bath and East Albany. "Someone got it wrong 138 years ago by labeling the grand slam in Albany instead of East Albany," Malette said.

Riverside Park &ndash a popular late-19th century swimming spot notable for allowing bathing in the nude &ndash was situated on privately-owned Bonacker Island. The Bonackers were a prominent Rensselaer family who cut ice along the Hudson and stored it in an ice house on the island. The structure burned down in the early 1930s. The island was later covered with fill during construction of the Dunn Memorial Bridge, completed in 1969.

Malette uncovered a newspaper clipping from August, 1878 that mentioned a baseball field in Riverside Park on Bonacker Island. By overlaying historic maps with satellite views, he determined that the ball field was roughly the size of Yankee Stadium.

There was another aspect that stumped Malette. The Troy Trojans, a major league team in the National League, played four seasons from 1879 to 1882. Their home games were held on baseball diamonds in Troy or Watervliet. Why, then, did the grand slam occur at Riverside Park on Bonacker Island?

"I went to the newspaper weather reports and it rained heavily the day before, so their regular fields must have been unplayable," Malette said.

The Sept. 10, 1881 game &ndash a meaningless contest late in the season between two teams at the bottom of the standings &ndash was moved to Riverside Park as an alternate site.


Bronze Plaque Showing Cupids Wrestling & Boxing - History

Editorial: Rinsing Off The Mouthpiece

By GorDoom

Well, it's that time of year again and with summer blazing across the USA, the CBZ Journal is gonna take the rest of it off. But fear not dear readers, the CBZ itself will still be running on all cylinders. Fight reports, schedules and news reports will continue unabated.

Even though this will be the last regular issue of the Journal until after Labor Day, our founder/publisher Mike DeLisa intends to put out our annual August boxing history issue. For those of you with a historical bent for the sport - this is not to be missed!

I'd like to give our readers some advice on how to fully utilize the many areas of the CBZ:

If you bookmark the journal and don't explore the other areas of the CBZ you are missing out on a lot of good stuff. I strongly recommend that readers check out our news section on a regular basis. We have, in my not so humble opinion, the best news wire on the internet or anywhere else. We have cutting edge, daily reports from all over the world that you won't find anyplace else. Among the many well known boxing writers who contribute to these reports are Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi and Fabian Weber. We also have detailed fight reports on every major fight around the world.

Probably the most important function of the CBZ is our Boxing Encyclopedia, which I dare say is far more detailed and accurate than the old Ring Magazine Annual Record books. You can literally spend hours going through the history of boxing we've compiled that stretches all the way back to the 18th Century.

Since this is the last ish of the vernal equinox, we've decided to really load up on this one to give our readers something they can really sink their teeth into. Our stalwart crew has really come through and it must be noted that Katherine Dunn, Tom Gerbasi & Francis Walker do double duty by contributing two articles apiece.

This issue also marks the welcome return of one of my favorite boxing writers, Enrique Encinosa. The inimitably irascible Joe Bruno, also contributes and speaking of snarky, our former webmaster, Pusboil, checks in with his edgy view of the Sweet Science.

Our new Irish correspondent, Alan Taylor who debuted last month, weighs in with a moving piece that correlates boxing and the Irish "Troubles". Also not to be missed is a remarkable bio of the great "Boston Tar Baby", Sam Langford, by one of boxing's most diligent historians, Tracy Callis.

And finally I have the pleasure of introducing two new writers, Ed Vance & Rick Farris. Ed is our stalwart webmaster who pulls yeoman like duties for the CBZ. He's invaluable folks, he's the guy posting all the new info every day, not to mention coming up with cool stuff like our new search engine. Rick is a former boxer & current trainer who brings a different perspective to boxing journalism. This is how he put it in an excerpt of a letter he wrote to me:

"I'm a 47-year-old former pro boxer who fought in the Los Angeles area in the early-to-mid 70's. I started boxing at the age of 12 under Johnny Flores. After winning a number of amateur titles, I turned professional at 18 before graduating from high school and retired in 1976 after 38 pro fights (28-8-2 14 KO's).

I was never a top contender but got a lot of attention due to the fact that I was a white kid whose father was an executive V.P. for Bank of America. I was also in some very exciting fights on some major cards at the Olympic Auditorium, The Forum and other local venues of the era. I can validate all of this through news clippings including a feature story written about me by Alan Malamud for the Sunday Herald-Examiner on 2/71. I was very close to Danny Lopez, Bobby Chacon and many of the boxers who headlined in the L.A. area during that time.

After retiring from boxing I went to work in the film industry as a lighting technician and worked with Michael Landon for many years prior to his death. His co-star Victor French and I became very close friends. He had seen me fight on TV years earlier and was a major boxing fan. In fact, it was French who bankrolled Dan Goossen and family enabling them to begin promoting fights in the mid 80's and acquire Michael Nunn after the '84 Olympics. Through French, I returned to boxing and started training boxers.

Recently, I've relocated to Phoenix, Arizona where I'm currently working as a trainer at the "Ricky Ricardo Boxing Gym". This is the Gym where Mike Tyson has returned recently to begin training for his comeback. I'm not part of the Tyson camp but do assist when needed. Mike's not in any kind of shape at the moment and is very overweight. He has yet to start sparring and in fact, Al Williams, one of his sparring partners dropped dead of a heart attack last week at only 28 years of age.
I am not interested in writing news related stories or Op/Ed pieces, I think I'm best suited to write something more related to the human element of the sport (despite opinions to the contrary, there are actually a few humans involved in the sport!). I've a feeling I might be able to come up with something related to Tyson simply by virtue of my being close to him at the moment. You'll have to decide, of course, what will best suit your publication".

Yeah, well. I dunno about the rest of you, but I'm really looking forward to future articles by Rick. This month he kicks off with an excellent piece on the Main Street Gym in LA. This article has special meaning to the Ol' Spit Bucket as Howie Steindler, the legendary proprietor of the gym was a life long friend of my father's.

Before I end this editorial there is something The Bucket has to comment on: Roy Jones Jr.

Ever since Roy's waltz with Reggie Johnson, which annexed the IBF light heavyweight title to go along with Roy's WBC and WBA belts the mainstream media has anointed Roy as the 2nd coming. I've even read reports claiming that Roy is the greatest fighter EVER(. ) under 200 LB's.

Wow! Hype and Crap are definitely king . First off, Roy is NOT the lineal light heavyweight champion no matter how many spurious title belts he accrues. Darius Michalczewski is the champ until Roy beats him.

Darius is the man who beat Virgil Hill and Henry Maske and at one time was the holder of the WBA, IBF & WBO belts. He never lost any of them in the ring, instead he was stripped of his titles due to the political machinations of
the alphabets.

Roy first won the "interim" WBC title from the ancient and by then undeserving Mike McCallum. Lou Del Valle was hardly the 2nd coming of Bob Foster when Roy beat him for the WBA belt. Reggie Johnson won the IBF belt from the very forgettable William Guthrie before losing to Roy.

To the uninitiated boxing fan, Roy is seemingly the undisputed champ. If beating set ups & has beens who had been handed their titles by organizations with less credibility than Jerry Fallwell or the NRA constitutes an undisputed championship, then the inmates have truly taken over the asylum.

It's the same sitch as when Leg-Iron Mike held all the title belts in the 80's but was not the true heavyweight champion until he beat the lineal champ, Michael Spinks.

I will say that Roy is the greatest athlete to ever box - his reflexes & moves are definitely out of this world. The only fighters that I have ever seen that were even close to his athleticism are the young Cassius Clay, Ray Leonard, Michael Nunn and Naseem Hamed - but, he is not the greatest fighter. Hell, he ain't even a warrior, he's a safety first run and gunner with the killer instinct of an avocado.

Despite a recent, ludicrous, KO Magazine article which claimed Roy would have had no problems with ANY light heavyweight of any era - does anyone seriously believe that he could easily beat light heavy's like Gene Tunney, Billy Conn, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Harold Johnson, Bob Foster and Michael Spinks. At middleweight, do you think he'd walk through Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon or Marvin Hagler? At jr. middle, do you really believe he'd beat Leonard, Hearns, or even a prime time Mike McCallum? All of these guys were true warriors, a mind set that Roy doesn't even have a passing acquaintance with.

I've been either a fighter, a cornerman or a boxing journalist for 42 years. I think I can safely say I have a good perspective on the squared circle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these old farts that believes modern day fighters don't stack up against the old time greats because certain ones definitely do.

I've seen just about every fight of Roy's and here's my unsolicited take:

1-Bernard Hopkins. The "Executioner" was Roy's first real test. As with every fighter whose talent he respects, Roy went into a shell and beat Hopkins in one of the most unexciting & stultifying middleweight title bouts ever.

2-James Toney. The Toney who showed up that night had seemingly dug himself out from under a mountain of fast food containers. He barely slipped off the feed bag long enough to get in the ring. Faced with a Toney who was quite & very ready to be blown away, Roy did just enough to win. No more. No less.

3- The first fight with Montell Griffin. I watched a befuddled Roy get smacked around more than he ever has to the point where he was flinching off of feints! By the time he finally got to Griffin he was so out of his element he fouled out about as stupidly as a fighter can. Granted, in the 2nd fight Roy FINALLY (and for the only time in his career), fought with the stones you would expect from a great fighter.

4- His fight with a 39 year old, totally shot, Mike McCallum. Roy froze and got extended 12 rounds by a fighter he should have gotten out of there within 5 rounds. I say a prime McCallum would have taken him that night. And again, he was flinching off of feints.

5-Eric Lucas, Canada's favorite white meat. All I can say is the fight was a total disgrace.

6-Otis Grant. What was he doing in the ring with Roy? He was out sized, out skilled, out gunned and yet lasted 10 rounds?

7-Reggie Johnson. Reggie has always been a better than average fighter who froze against Roy & again we got a 12 round snooze fest because Roy seems more than willing to take the easy way out whenever he can.

These kind of performances make me wonder where anyone gets the greatest fighter under 200 in history thang.

I will say this: If Roy had his head on straight he DEFINITELY has the potential to be one of, if not the greatest - but he doesn't. In boxing, strength of mind, unbending will to win is what makes a great fighter. In my mind Roy, despite being the complete physical package, is a boxing hypocrite. He endlessly talks the talk, but he certainly doesn't walk the walk. He's got great moves but he's all style & absolutely no substance.

And lets be honest, with very few exceptions, Roy is almost as boring to watch as Pernell Whitaker. He has devolved into a by the numbers fighter who brings no great passion to the ring.

Passion, conditioning, and will is what makes a great fighter, not being a great athlete. Here is a perfect example: The first Ray Robinson-Carmen Basilio fight in 1957. Robinson is almost universally acknowledged as the greatest fighter pound for pound in history. Carmen Basilio doesn't even come close in that kind of historical ranking.

Basilio was a small, awkward welterweight, with a style similar to his contemporary, Rocky Marciano. Both were short armed fighters, tough as nails with limited boxing skills and an inhuman ability to absorb punishment. The main difference between them (other than weight class), was that Marciano was a devastating puncher, Basilio was not.

On paper, the Robinson-Basilio fight was a glaring mismatch. On one hand you've got arguably the greatest fighter of all time. On the other you had a a small welterweight champion with very limited skills . But that's why
they climb through the ropes, folks.

Sugar Ray put the "Big Hurt" on Basilio, but Carmen kept wading in, absorbing everything that Robinson threw at him. and incredibly, by sheer force of will he somehow won the fight by decision.

That's why Carmen Basilio was a great fighter and is deservedly in the Hall Of Fame. He had the heart of a lion & engaged in brutal wars similar to the modern day Arturo Gatti. He never flinched or took a step back and utilized every ounce of his skills to endure.

Something that Roy Jones Jr. will never do.

Now that I got that off my chest, I suddenly feel better. So much so I've got another burr in my saddle to vent about: Michael Grant.

One of the Ol' Spit Bucket's pet theories about heavyweights is that there never has been and never will be a great heavyweight over 6'3. Big 'n tall guys work for B Ball & Football - not boxing.

Ali, George Foreman and Larry Holmes are the three biggest heavyweights to achieve greatness and they were all 6'3. Holyfield is 6'2, Sonny Liston & Jack Johnson were 6'1. Joe Louis & Jack Dempsey 6' . Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano & Leg-Iron Mike were all well under 6'.

My theory goes like this: Fighters over 6'3 lose a certain fluidity of movement and with the lone exception of Riddick Bowe (6'5 & he hardly qualifies as a "great" heavyweight champion), they've all been arm punchers telegraphing their punches from here to Tehachapi. Lennox Lewis is a perfect example of this. These big guys are seemingly incapable of snapping off punches or having any real mobility.

Think about all the giant heavyweight champions: Jess Willard, Primo Carnera, Riddick Bowe & Lennox Lewis, all of them were stiff, slow and ponderous. Even former and present contenders like Abe Simon, Buddy Baer, Ernie Terrell and Henry Akinwande all over 6'5 & every one of them basically a tomato can.

Which brings me to the sculpted body beautiful that is Michael Grant. Somehow the media has bestowed upon him the mantle of being the next great heavyweight. Gimme a freakin' break! Michael Grant is nothing more than the Ernie Terrell of the 90's.

His recent fight against Lou Savarese (another big stiff), is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. Grant's best offense was clinching with Savarese & leaning all his weight on him in a dispirited effort to tire him out.

Ernie Terrell must be proud of his stylistic clone.

Great heavyweights whack guys out, they don't screw around. & for a guy so big and ostensibly powerful, Grant is really a wank. I watched a tape of his fight with David Izon in which Grant hit him with 44 unanswered punches and Izon was never in danger of going down!

And I'm supposed to believe that the living statue that is Michael Grant is gonna be the next great heavyweight.

Well, that's it for now, I'm done venting & as the old song said" "I'll see you in September".

The Main Street Gym, in the heart of skid row, was the rattiest workout venue in the city (maybe the world), but it was also one of the most famous. "World Rated Boxers Train Here Daily" read a sign above the entrance. It's where young boys with little education and lots of heart came to train, and listen hungrily to boxing tales from the old men who had spent more than half a century of their lives there. I remember it well, I was one of those little boys more than three decades ago.

The grimy little gym, where the bell rang every three minutes and the old wooden floors creaked, drew some of the greats and not-so-greats who didn't know a left hook from a fish hook. It opened in 1933 at 321 So. Main St. as the successor to the Spring St. Newsboy's Gym. The building burned down in 1951 (while the night watchman slept), and the gym moved across the street to 318 1/2, atop the old Adolphus Theater.

There were other gyms in the city, but none had Main Street's reputation. At various times, fabled champions Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay), Joe Frazier, Jim Jeffries and Sugar Ray Robinson trained there. One afternoon in 1969, when I was a 17-year-old amateur boxer, I arrived at the gym early for my workout and only one boxer was working out- Sugar Ray Robinson, who had retired four years previous but would still workout at Main Street to stay in shape. While punching a heavy bag right beside the great Sugar Ray I watched him nearly fold the bag with a left hook and between rounds I asked him if that was the hook he flattened Fullmer with. Robinson just laughed and when I said "I wish I could throw a hook like that", he took a moment of his time to give me a couple of pointers. It has to be one of the greatest moments of my life.

But it was the gym's proprietor, Howie Steindler, who ran the place with unquestioned authority - like a drill sergeant in boot camp - and kept it going with the help of two savvy sidekicks, Arthur "Duke" Holloway and Rip Roseburrow.

Steindler was an amateur boxer in New York before drifting to Los Angeles in 1942, when he began working at the shipyards. Later, while working as a prop man for RKO Studios, he met a former featherweight professional, whom Steindler trained for a successful comeback.

Drawing on his years of experience, Steindler took over the Main Street Gym about 1960. The feisty, crusty and often sarcastic manager/trainer kept a lock on his phone in the gym's office. He cultivated a tough guy persona, but was known up and down skid row as a soft touch for a hard-luck story.

It was risky navigating the street in front of the gym with the Union Rescue Mission nearby. But Steindler kept a billy club hanging on the wall in case of trouble. Occasionally, a bum would find his way up the stained marble stairs, where Steindler or one of his assistants would eject him with a few harsh words- except on rainy days.

Holloway, a big man with a big cigar and derby, trained and nurtured some of the greatest, including Joe Louis, whom he trained back into shape after the champ was discharged from the service after WWII.

Routinely, young boys peered through a crack in the door, straining for a glimpse of their heroes, while others paid a dime or two for admission to watch sparring sessions and champs readying for a fight at the Olympic Auditorium, Hollywood Legion Stadium or other boxing venues in town.

Before Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, died in 1946, he hung out at the gym, flashing his gold toothed smile at the young tough youths. At different times, cocky heavyweights would coax the 60-year-old man into the ring. He'd take off his shirt and put on his 16 ounce gloves. Johnson never threw a punch. He just stood there and picked off with his gloves every punch thrown at him.

In 1977, Steindler, 72, locked up the gym, walked down the dirty marble staircase and got into his new Cadillac for the last time. On the street near his home in Encino, he was jumped by unidentified assailants. They beat him savagely and smothered him by pushing his face into the car's seat cushion, robbed him and threw him on the floor in the back seat. They then parked the car on the Ventura Freeway near the Laurel Canyon Blvd. off ramp in Studio City.

Theories of what triggered the slaying of the local character were numerous. Steindler had longed to manage a world champion, and he had finally achieved his ambition with featherweight champ Danny "Little Red" Lopez. He also managed Danny's brother, welterweight contender Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez, treating them more like sons than meal tickets. But not everyone shared Steindler's happiness, and there was talk of a contract hit.

Adding fuel to such speculation was the fact that Steindler had tried to contact a state senator the day before his death to discuss problems he was having with the State Athletic Commission.

The murder remains unsolved.

Steindler was the model for the old trainer played by Burgess Meredith, whose character managed Sylvester Stallone's character, Rocky Balboa, in the "Rocky" movies. Scenes for all of the first three films were shot in the Main Street Gym, as were for other movies and TV productions.

It was a place of bruises and dreams, spit and blood, and it's ambience for the movie industry was perfect. Life-size cutouts of champions and posters of boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling lined the peeling walls. A sign on the wall read: "Please don't bring children under 8-years-old in the gym. We don't want anybody smarter than us in here".

The demand for bi-pedal punching bags is so great that some booking agents, often called "Meat Packers," specialize in providing guaranteed losers in all sizes. An investigation published in February, 1997 by Oklahoma state boxing regulators reported that an Oklahoma meat packer named Sean Gibbons--a cousin of former lightweight champ and ex-USA cable boxing commentator Sean O'Grady--ran a revolving stable of bad-to-mediocre boxers who traveled the mid-west pretending to fight each other under phony names, creating fraudulent wins for fictitious fighters with "respectable" records, who could then fall down in front of protected
boxers, often on televised cards. Similar stables are based in California, Texas and elsewhere.


All of these forms of fix screw the ticket buying public, of course. But it is important to remember that the protected boxer is almost never responsible for choosing his opponents. His manager and/or promoter do that. In fact, the protected fighter is often screwed himself in the end.

Which brings us to one prominent example of the protected class-Washington heavyweight Joe Hipp. A plump, amiable southpaw power puncher, Hipp calls Yakima home, and is often billed as the first Native American heavyweight contender. His manager is the wealthy Roland Jankelson of Seattle who launched former world champ Pinklon Thomas to such success that Thomas was buzzed away by the big time Duva operation. Jankelson has nursed Hipp's career carefully. Hipp held the North American Boxing Federation Championship in 1994.


But Joe has a habit of losing the big fights. He was stopped by Bert Cooper, by Tommy Morrison, and, in a world title fight, by Bruce Seldon back in August of '95. Moreover, Hipp is fragile. He breaks. His knees, elbows, cheekbones, and hands have had repeated surgical repairs. After each set-back, his manager works intently to get him back into line for a top ten ranking and a big-money title fight. Recently this involved Hipp fighting tomato cans approved by his home-state commission. He won seven bouts after his loss to Seldon. This section of his record in Fight Fax looks something like this:
Joseph Thomas Hipp
DOB 12/7/62
Record: 37-4-0, 27 KO's
12-15-95, Martin Jacques, WA, KO 1
7-17-96, Anthony Moore, ID, TKO 5
8-4-96, Bill Corrigan, WA, KO 1
9-23-96, Fred Houpe, WA, TKO 1
10-5-96, Troy Roberts, WA, KO 2
12-13-96 Will Hinton, WA TKO 1
3-29-97 Marcus Rhode, WA TKO 1


Each of these opponents fits the mis-match pattern. Anthony Moore had two wins and five losses when he lasted five rounds with Hipp but that was in Idaho. Jacques Martin's record does not appear in the trusty Fight Fax Record book, even going back to 1993. Bill Corrigan had a record of 9-12-1 and had been KO'd in six of his previous 7 fights. Fred Houpe's record was 13-5 but he was 46 years old when he met Hipp, and had retired from the ring in 1978. Troy Roberts had a record of 7-3, 6 KO's going in, but most of his wins were in Canadian Tough Guy bouts. He'd been stopped in the third round in his last bout. Will Hinton had lost six of his last ten fights, five of the losses by stoppage.

Marcus Rhode--15-3, 15 KOs going in--looks like either a meat packers product or a classic example of the worst results of over-protection. This Missouri boxer had a long string of first and second round knockouts over unknowns as long as he stayed in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. When he left home he got creamed. His claim to fame was having been knocked out in the first round by HIV positive Tommy Morrison in Japan in November of 96. Joe Hipp knocked him down three times with body shots before the ref stopped the bout in the first round.


On the strength of this come-back streak, Roland Jankelson attended the IBF convention in Texas, lobbying futilely for a higher place in the rankings for Hipp. Mr. Jankelson has not returned our recent phone messages, so we can only speculate about the why and wherefore. But the rumor was that Hipp would not be allowed to move up in the ranks unless he fought somebody "real."

Then came word that Joe "The Boss" Hipp (38-4, 27 KO's)was signed for a June 15, 1997 match against a serviceable journeyman named Ross "The Boss" Purity (22-10-1, 20 KO's) of Arizona. An ex-college football player, the 31 year-old Purity is 6'3," weighing a sculpted and muscular 248 lbs. Hipp was his first southpaw opponent. Most of Purity's opponents are unknowns, but he stopped the Cuban, Jorge Luis Gonzales, in the 7th and he drew with Tommy Morrison (who stopped Joe Hipp in the 9th round). Few would claim that Purity is more than a mediocre heavyweight, but he has a definite pulse. On paper Purity looks like he's just real enough to help Hipp move up the rankings without being genuinely dangerous. The bout was to be broadcast on CBS television.


To our profound disgust, Portland's CBS affiliate, Channel 6, KOIN TV, decided to air a cheesy third-rate movie on June 15, 1997 instead of the fight for the right to be called "The Boss." We had to wait for a video-tape to be freighted from Seattle before we could see it.

The bout was the main event of a Top Rank show in Biloxi, Mississippi. The 34 year-old Hipp is 6'1" and, at 256 pounds, weighed 23 pounds more than when he was KO'd by Bruce Seldon in August of '95. Still Hipp has been weighing around 250 for all his fights since then, and he seemed to have plenty of stamina. He was busy from the opening bell, throwing a lot of punches and focusing his attack on Purity's body.


Purity stayed calm in the face of Hipp's steady offense, covered up a lot, and popped out with right hooks and an occasional flurry. Hipp, with no visible defense, ate everything Purity threw. A diet of right hands to the face had both of Hipp's eyes swelling early. By the fourth round Hipp's right eye was bleeding. In the sixth round we saw that rarity, Joe Hipp backing up. In the seventh, Hipps' mouth was oozing blood. At the end of the 9th, a Purity flurry landed six punches solidly and had Hipp hurt and staggering at the bell. Hipp rushed out busy as usual for the tenth. Purity uncorked a barrage climaxing with a left uppercut and a right cross that made Hipp's legs melt from under him. Hipp fell on his back with his legs in the air and his face a bloody mask. He took far too long to get up, and he won't be moving up the rankings on the basis of this fight. Referee Fred Steinwinder III called it a KO win for Ross "The Boss" Purity at 1:43 of the 10th round.


Hipp was never much on defense, but he's clearly been in with too many guys who didn't punch back. After that long string of stiffs he's completely forgotten how to duck.


The mis-match quandry is exaggerated by artificial notions of the value of the "undefeated" status for youngsters, "building" records, and the dangers of "stepping up in class." The hooey jargon doesn't protect the real victims--the protected fighters themselves. They are often the first to be fooled into thinking they are as good as advertised. Too many find out too late that you can't train for steak by eating pablum.

Q & A With Heavyweight Contender Shannon Briggs

By Thomas Gerbasi

TG-You're training for the Frans Botha fight on August 7 in Big Bear, California. How has the altitude helped you in regards to your asthma?

SB-I was on the Internet and I read a couple of things about altitude training and asthma, and it was all positive. It's gonna be a test. When I go down for the fight, I'm going to see how it affects me. They said it adds more red blood cells to your muscles. I feel good though. I was already training in Miami. So when I got here, I kinda felt like, "Damn, what happened to all the training I had already done?" But it was all there. It's just a little different here.

TG-So you notice a difference?

SB-Oh definitely. The first two to three days I got here, I was going strong as if I was still in Miami. But then all of a sudden it just hit me. The air is thinner, and it's a lot harder to run, and it's just different.

TG-How did you hook up with Emmanuel Steward, and what are your thoughts on working with him?

SB-I was told by my manager and by other people that Emmanuel always thought highly of me before the Lennox Lewis fight. And once I fought Lewis, and he saw my showing, I think he said "You know, this guy could be champion." Because I was one punch away from being heavyweight champion. So after that, he contacted my manager and we started working out for a while. I went down to Detroit for a couple of weeks, he came to Miami, and we meshed pretty good. We clicked together, so we said "Let's take it from there."

TG-You mentioned being one punch away from being champion. What went through your mind at that moment when you had Lewis hurt?

SB-Well, I was a little excited. Because again, here I was, one punch away from being heavyweight champion of the world. But I think that mentally going into the fight I wasn't as strong as I was going into the George Foreman fight. So in my mind, I was happy because it was like a blessing. I had him hurt, and I just wanted to get it over with as quick as possible. Because I knew that I wasn't in the best physical or mental shape going into the fight.

TG-Why was that?

SB-In the fight before Foreman, I had broke my left hand. I had a fracture and some torn tendons. The Foreman fight came as a surprise, and I couldn't turn it down. I needed the fight bad, so I took the fight with a broken hand and won. Then right afterwards, there was so much controversy that I didn't have much time to enjoy it. Then 3 or 4 weeks later they said I was fighting Lennox Lewis for the title. SO how do you turn down a heavyweight championship fight? So I didn't have enough time to repair the hand, and I went into that fight with the same injury, but it was a lot worse this time. So the training was a lot different. I knew that I couldn't really spar, and I couldn't hit the bag at all really. So these factors played a huge part in my thinking.

TG-What are the differences between working with Emmanuel and working with your ex-trainer, Teddy Atlas?

SB-Just the whole atmosphere is different. He's a much more positive person, and that's a huge factor to a fighter. We were just talking the other day about the word "spirit". He was telling me about different champions he worked with, and how spirit is what brought them through. When you feel good about yourself, and someone believes in you and in your best interests, it makes a difference.

TG-So Teddy brought a lot of negativity to the table then?

SB-Yes. I don't choose to really comment on him because that's my past, and I don't really want to give him anything, because he likes to feed off that. He's the type of person that likes to keep his name in the papers, talking about people. And if it's not me, it's somebody else. It's a thing of the past. I'm glad to be out of the situation. I'm happy. Losing to Wilson and then him going publicly dissing me was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly.

TG-Do you think your career would have progressed differently with Steward in your corner from the start?

SB-Definitely. I'm a talented fighter with a lot of skills, and they just had to be brought out. He allows me to be me, to be Shannon Briggs, to use my natural movement, my legs, and that was something that was taken away from me in the early part of my career. I'm using my boxing ability instead of trying to be someone else. Being Shannon Briggs, and not trying to be a Mike Tyson, a puncher. Knockouts will come. And I feel like now I'm coming more into my own, where I'm content with boxing a guy. My biggest assets are my speed and my legs, and I'm using those things now.

TG-What did you think of Botha's performance against Tyson?

SB-I thought it was a good performance. It wasn't much of anything though. It was Tyson's first fight out. He was rusty and he was coming forward at Botha, which made it a lot easier for him. But he did the best he could for 3-4 rounds. My whole mindset is different than Tyson's. I'm not a guy who is coming out of prison. I'm coming off a career that has been good up to this point, 31 wins, 2 losses. I feel good. It's going to be a great fight.

TG-Do you feel any pressure with this fight, like this is your last shot?

SB-There's definitely pressure added, but that's all good, that's part of being a fighter. It's a part of being successful. If it was that easy, everyone would be in my shoes right now. I'm taking it all in stride, and I'm just looking to be in the best shape possible. To answer your question, yes, it's the opportunity of a lifetime, and it's gonna definitely keep me on the top. At the same time, I feel great, and with heavyweights you're always one punch away. You can never write a heavyweight off. But I'm not thinking of tomorrow. I'm not even thinking about August 7, and well, if I lose I can comeback. This is to me like my last fight. I'm going into this fight to not only win, but to look great in winning, and to go to the next level, hopefully a fight with Mike Tyson will develop, or a fight with Holyfield.

TG-So you're the best of the Brownsville heavyweights then?

SB-Oh, by far. At this point. Of course Mike in his early career would have knocked me out in less than a second, but he's no longer the same Mike. Riddick Bowe was a great champion for a while. But right now, I'm the best of the Brownsville guys.

TG-Did you ever see those guys around the neighborhood when you were growing up?

SB-Nah, there was an age difference between all of us. Mike was out of Brownsville for a long time because he went to the Catskills, and Riddick lived on another side of Brownsville. He was already advanced in his career. He was doing a lot of travelling with the amateur circuit, and I was just coming up, so I really didn't get to see much of them.

TG-You mentioned your speed and your legs as your strengths. What are your weaknesses?

SB-Just developing as a fighter. Learning more, being in the ring, being more confident, more relaxed. Just that savvy, to get more experience in the ring.

TG-Why the long layoff after the Lewis fight?

SB-I finally got the operation on my hand after the Lewis fight, and there was more damage than we had thought because I had gone through with the fight. After that, I needed time to myself, honestly. The Foreman and Lewis fights were just too close. I wasn't really healed from the Foreman fight physically to jump into the Lewis fight. But like I said, it was the chance of a lifetime, and I couldn't turn it down, so I had to make the best of it. But I just needed some time to myself. For a while I was just living in training camps and stuff like that. So I got time to move, I had a son, and I got to spend time with him, and I just felt like it was a much needed rest. And now I'm at a point where I'm ready to resume my career and stay busy.

TG-I've never seen the press turn on anyone as quick as they turned on you. Why do you think that is, and how does it affect you?

SB-I know why it is. It had a lot to do with my first trainer. Once we went our separate ways, I think he had intimidated a lot of the press. Afterward they changed on me. It hurt me and it really affected me, but that was a great part of me growing up. It showed me that this is a business. For a time, you basically couldn't read anything wrong about me. And then for everything to change, it was drastic and dramatic for me. It was a great learning experience. It was actually what stopped me reading newspapers. I kept seeing so much negativity. One day I picked up the paper and some senator was even bashing me. My mother passed a couple of years ago, and I thought if she only knew how her son was even being talked about by senators. Who would have ever thought? It was hard because my family read a lot of the articles. It was difficult to go from being talked about so greatly, to being dissed all the time. It was a big change.

TG-Who's been the biggest influence on you?

SB-Honestly, I influence myself. Not to sound conceited, but with the ups and downs of life, I look at my own situations and say "Who would have ever thought?" I went from being a homeless kid to being not very liked, to being a very liked person. That affects you in a lot of ways. I look back and say, I could be here, I could be there, and I'm proud of my development. I could have cracked a lot of times under pressure, and I was able to learn from hardship. There's things in life that you may see or read that influences you, but to be honest, I look at my own life, and say, you've made it this far, keep on ticking.

TG-With all that you've overcome, how does it affect you when it's said that you have no heart, or no desire?

SB-Now I take it differently than I took it before. I used to try to combat it, and I would get angry with the press. But I learned that this is a business. When I'm long gone, they'll be talking about other fighters, just like they did me.(laughs) I mean, they talked about Jesus, they talked about Ali. So I learned to not take it so personally, to let it roll off my back. To just be the best I can be. I can't try to please everybody. I can just be Shannon Briggs, and if I fall a little bit shy of greatness, that's all right.

TG-After the Foreman fight, you had said that fighting him felt like "going to the death chair". Do you always feel like this before fights?

SB-No. See, that answer, right after you win a fight like that against a great fighter, a legend like George Foreman, you sometimes say things that are taken out of context. To be honest, the analyst for HBO really drew that out. Before, you asked me if I though the Botha fight would determine how my career would end up. Yes, and I felt that way before the Foreman fight. At the time, I was told by some people at the networks that I would never get a fight on television again. And to get the opportunity to fight George Foreman was a blessing in disguise. And let alone to win. I mean, George was in fights where he clearly lost and they gave him the decision. I felt that going to a decision wasn't in my best interests. So that made me a little nervous, and it wasn't a fear of him, it was a fear of losing, and of what was next. And I'm kind of in that situation now.

TG-Where do you fit in with the young heavyweights (Grant, Ibeabuchi,etc)?

SB-The good news is that they don't consider me a young heavyweight anymore. I guess I'm over the hill. Well, that's kind of good, because I don't want to make young heavyweight money.(laughs) I like fighting Lewis, I like fighting Foreman, for big purses. Those young heavyweights seem to be fighting for peanuts all the time. If not being a young heavyweight means that I'm going to make big money, fine, bring on the Tysons, the Holyfields, and the big dogs.

TG-Tell me about your company, Alter Ego.

SB-Right now, I had to put that aside, and really focus on my boxing. I'm at a crossroads, and I don't need the distractions. I'm just focusing on boxing.

TG-Where do you see yourself in one year?

SB-Definitely champion of the world. I'm happy. I feel great. Physically I'm learning a lot about myself. I'm developing. I'm getting older. I'm getting that "man strength" as they say. (laughs) Sometimes you never know how something will affect you until later. My early career affected me in a huge way, with the press, my first trainer, and I'm at the point where I've gotten over it. I don't look back, and I don't regret. It was all for a reason, and I feel like that's going to make me a better person. No, I'm not undefeated anymore, but I got two learning lessons in life.

Bruno On Boxing

Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

Watch out, corrupt boxing organizations, there's a new kid on the block, and this kid seems to know what he's doing.The new kid is the World Boxing League, and the WBL is seeking corporate sponsorship, in the same manner NASCAR has successfully operated in the past. (The NASCAR Winston Cup Series is an example) The WBL is the brainchild of the dynamic duo of Fred Levin and Terdema Ussery, who have worked together on the marketing of world light heavyweight champion Roy Jones for Nike. Now Levin and Ussery have targeted Nike as the sponsor for their fledging sanctioning body, and you know what folks, this just might work.


The WBL plans to be a sanctioning body consisting of a corporation whose stockholders will be major figures in the world of business and sports. The WBL will operate in the same manner as professional baseball, basketball and football leagues. A commissioner will oversee professional boxing, and the WBL claims it will recruit the best people to govern boxing officials, establish rules and promote the sport throughout the media. Now here's the part that I like. The WBL says it will contract the rankings to an independent ranking board and will be allowed no influence on the rankings. The ranking board will consist mainly of independent, knowledgeable sports media figures. It will operate much as the panel of sportswriters which determines the Associated Press college football rankings.This strategy has been tried before. I know. I was an integral part of it.


In 1981, there was two distinct Boxing Writers Groups The Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association. I was the vice president of both. The Boxing Writers Association consisted almost entirely of New York city based boxing writers and former New York city boxing writers, who were then involved in public relations for various promoters. All members, even the press agents, were voting members, and the group voted each year for such boxing awards as Fighter of the Year, Manager of the Year, the James J. Walker Award---For Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing, etc. etc. The conflicts of interest caused by press agents pushing their bosses' fighters, and even their bosses themselves, for various awards were obviously and brazenly undertaken. One year the late Murray Goodman, one of the nicest men ever in the business, outwardly pushed his boss Don King for the Walker Award. Hey, even old Murray's had bills to pay. Then Marc Maturo, a boxing writer for the Gannett papers in Westchester, started the International Boxing Writers Association. Marc actively recruited boxing writers from around the world to join this new group, and Marc's main purpose for forming the group was to create the world's first and only honest ratings system in the eight major weight classes. Certain members of the Boxing Writers joined the International Boxing Writers, but the old group treated the new group as treacherous traitors. I mean, who were we to actually think we could better the sports of boxing. I was told by staunch members of the old group that boxing writers exist only to report the news, not create news itself. Well excuse me.


Marc recruited Mike Katz, then of the New York Times, and Steve Farhood then of of KO Magazine to be the ratings chairmen. The ratings committee consisted of 30 boxing writers from around the world. We had voting members from such far away places as Japan, Australia, Germany, England, Italy and France. The fighters were rated from one to ten number one getting ten points and number ten getting one point. You get the idea Folks, this was 1981. There was no Internet and fax machines were far and few in between. So the ratings were done by mail, and by telephone where possible.


On the first of every month, the ratings came out and were published by the Associated Press Wire Services. They were made available to every newspaper in the country that subscribed to the AP Wire Service. The problem was nobody cared, and almost nobody in the boxing world wanted honest ratings anyway. I'll cite two examples: The International Boxing Federation, run by Bob Lee, held it's first annual convention in 1982. Promoters Dan Duva of Main Events and Mickey Duff from England liked our ratings system so much, they pushed Bob Lee to use our ratings, thus giving his new organization some much-needed credibility. Guess what? Lee told us thanks, but no thanks. Lee said he had his own ratings committee. Right then I knew something was rotten in the IBF. The recent investigations of the IBF seventeen years later are centered on Lee's IBF ratings system. No surprise here.

The second incident involved HBO, and it's weasel president, the Truman Capote-sounding Seth "The Shrimp" Abraham. Marc Maturo and I arranged for an appointment (an audience?) with Abraham in his offices overlooking Central Park. We were ushered into Abraham's office, and Marc got down to pitching out ratings system. Before Marc got two sentences out of his mouth, Abraham excused himself and left the room. Minutes later, an HBO flunky came in and told us to vacate the premises immediately. We were told that Abraham thought the purpose of the meeting was to do a puff piece on his highness, and not to pitch our stupid ratings. This punk Abraham didn't have the nerve to throw us out of his office himself.


So there you have it. We produced an honest ratings system for boxing, and we were treated like we had leprosy. The International Boxing Writers folded soon afterward. We were beaten to our knees by the big boys who knew the real score.


That reminds me of the time I interviewed the great Willie Pep in Madison Square Garden. The New York Boxing Commission was experimenting with the new thumb-less boxing gloves, created to decrease eye injuries. I asked Pep, "Willie, what do you think of the new thumb-less gloves?" Willie said, "They stink." I said, "Why?" Willie said, "Because you can't THUMB anyone."Same thing with honest boxing ratings. If you have honest ratings, then you can't cheat.


Not cheat in boxing? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Getting back to the newly launched World Boxing League. The whole idea of the WBL depends completely on establishing a ratings system beyond reproach. If Levin and Ussery produce that ratings system, they've got a damn good chance of knocking the WBA, the WBC, the IBF, the WBO and all the other alphabet cheats right out of the box, and off the boxing map. Good luck guys. I'll believe it when I see it.
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Who said a leopard can't change its spots?


Hector "Macho" Camacho turned pro in New York city in 1980. At the time I was the boxing editor of the News World, a New York City Daily newspaper owned by the Reverend Sun Young Moon. Half the newspaper staff were Moonies, the other half non-Moonies like me. What did I care? As long as the good reverend didn't try to convert me to the faith, or ask me to sell flowers near the Holland Tunnel.Also owned by Reverend Moon was the Spanish Daily newspaper Noticias Del Mundo. My daily boxing columns were translated into Spanish and also printed in De Mundo. This caused me a lot of grief with the Spanish community, and especially with Mr. Camacho.


From the first time we met, Hector and I hit it off like oil and water. Truthfully, I can't remember the contents of one bad column I wrote about the Macho Man. But there were plenty. Hector was eighteen and I was around thirty. Two guys from the mean streets of Manhattan, where the main motto is, "Don't take shit from anyone." He didn't. And neither did I. We clashed. We argued. We almost came to blows several times.


One time in Atlantic City, Camacho was fighting an Angelo Dundee fighter called Louie Burke. It was on national TV one Saturday afternoon when weekend daytime fights were the big rage on all three major networks. I think I must've written sometime negative about Camacho before the fight. Truthfully, I can't remember. In the third round Camacho decked Burke. He went to the neutral corner, where I was sitting in the first press row next to boxing writer Mike Katz, then of the New York Times. While the ref counted over Burke, Camacho stuck his glove between the ropes and flicked it at my nose. He missed me by inches. I don't know if Camacho was trying to hit me, or maybe I had some lint on my nose and he was trying to help me out. Camacho won by a knockout soon after, and in the post-fight press conference, he had some pointed things to say about me and my hallowed brethren in the boxing press. I don't remember what he said, but I certainly did not use his fiery words in any resumes I sent out in the future.


Late that night I was alone in the elevator heading either to, or from the Casinos. As God would have it, the elevator stopped and Camacho headed in by himself. We both had obviously been drinking. We sneered at each other for a moment, then shook hands and went our separate ways.

Fast forward sixteen years later. I'm now retired and living in the sun-drenched splendor of sunny Sarasota, Florida. My friend Don Guercio (Donny G. to Sarasota TV fans) is part owner of Blab TV in Sarasota, Channel 36. He has a weekly sports program called "Let's Talk Sports", on which I occasionally appear. Through the Internet, I found out that Camacho is now living in Orlando, less than two hours away from Sarasota. His training camp supervisor is former middleweight Alex Ramos, also from New York City. Through Ramos, I arranged to go to Camacho's camp with a cameraman to film a spot for Donnie G's show.


How will Camacho react to seeing his old nemesis? Did I need a bodyguard? The answers were great, and not in the least. We arrived a little early. Minutes later, Camacho drove up in his white Isuzu Trouper. The car stopped. Hector and Ramos got out of the car. My heart fluttered. My gut tightened. My biceps flexed. All for naught. When I extended my hand, Hector took it, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. He said, "What ever's past is passed."


I almost fainted.


The interview went well. Hector admitted in the interview that years ago he didn't like me. But he also said he couldn't remember the particulars of one single incident where we had clashed. And neither could I. After the interview was complete, we spent about an half an hour talking like old friends. No animosity. No nothing. Hell, the kid ( he's not a kid anymore) is a damn good guy, and I regret not knowing this sooner.

A leopard can change his spots. Only I'm sure both us old leopards had a lot of changing to do to for me to come to this conclusion.
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There's an old saying that everyone has a right to earn a living, but this does not apply when your living includes duping the paying public, and disgracing the sport of boxing(as if boxing doesn't disgrace itself enough all by its lonesome). An old has-been (never was?) basketball player named Cozell McQueen was the chief architect of this abomination called "The Legends of Boxing Series." The chief premise of McQueen's is to dreg up old out-of-shape boxers up to the age of fifty, match them with equally flabby old champions, then put them in the ring in front of a live, paying crowd, on pay-per-view, for Christ sake.


The first two installments of this bilge fight card, which took place in Fayetteville, North Carolina, shows why this profanity should never be allowed by any state commission with a pulse. First, McQueen threw two ex-heavyweight champion whales named Larry Holmes and Bonecrusher Smith into the ring (ocean?). These two mounds of flabby flesh tried to punch at, lean on and basically caress each other for the better part of eight rounds. Then, surprise, surprise, Smith's shoulder gave out and the fight was stopped without reaching a logical conclusion. The live paying public was screwed, not to mention the dopes who paid for this sludge on pay-per-view.

The next fight was a rerun of obscenity number one. Two more former heavyweight champion moose named Greg Page and Tim Witherspoon were airlifted into the ring like that elephant in that Danny Glover movie. Both of these mediocre ex-champs had weight problems when they were supposedly in shape fifteen odd years ago. Imagine how they looked a decade and a half, and two million cheese burgers later. Not a pretty sight. This bore too ended too when one of the corpulent sloths injured an unused and unoiled body part. Terrible Tim pulled a hidden back muscle, and the fight was stopped in his corner before round eight.


The third "Legends" fight was former junior welterweight champion Billy Costello versus former featherweight champ Juan Laporte. Their weights were reportedly around 160 pounds. Costello won a ten-round decision. Fred Astaire would've been proud of their waltz. No wedding date has been set. The good news is that there were reportedly on 15,000 pay-per-view buys nation wide. The bad news is that there are 15,000 more dopes than this world needs.


PT Barnum was right. There is a sucker born every minute.
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Old friend and boxing writer colleague Mike Marley, former of the New York Post, is now involved in the careers of several promising fighters. Marley has perennial heavyweight contender Orlin Norris JR. who recently scored a one-round KO over once-beaten Brit Pele Reid in 1:31 of the first round at London Arena, in London England. Marley is also handling welterweight prospect Tonton Semakala, "The New Swedish Hammer." Semakala was three-time Swedish national champ and bronze medallist in 1997 World Amateur Championships. He being tutored by the Argentine Professor Miguel Diaz in the gym. Also, Marley is an adviser to IBF jr. lightweight champ Roberto Garcia, who is undefeated and eagerly awaiting a showdown with Floyd Mayweather. Marley claims, "A Mayweather-Garcia fight would be to the 130-pound class what Duran-Leonard was in days of yore to the welters."

Huge praise indeed.

The Boxing Ghosts Of The Big Easy

By Enrique Encinosa

New Orleans was supposed to be a pure vacation, a decompression after several months of work on a draft of a Cold War novel set in Africa and a book of short stories in Spanish to be published later this year, or whenever the agents and editors reach agreements.

The Big Easy is a special place for me, a city visited sporadically over the last three decades with each trip searing a memory that only a hardcore boxing fan can understand. My first trip, while a high school student was capped with a handshake and a brief chat with Pete Herman, the great little rooster of the bantamweights, who owned a fine restaurant in the French Quarter. The second visit, while an amateur boxer and college freshman, provided the thrill of a ringside seat at the Municipal Auditorium, to watch Joe Brown out hustle a tough club fighter named Joe Barrientes, in one of "Old Bones" last performances. Such memories have linked me in a warm way to the city of Willie Pastrano and Ralph Dupas.

The last vacation turned into a quest. In the weeks preceding my trip to the Crescent City, I dug into old, yellowed magazines and newspaper clippings. I searched for an ancient site, the place where it all began, where time and circumstance joined together to serve as a midwife to the birth of modern boxing. Truly, I expected to find nothing other than a normal, run-of-the-mill street by the Mississippi River where long ago, history was made.

My cousin Jake, born and bred in the Big Easy, became a self-appointed tour guide. With his girlfriend Betty and my wife Ilia, we cruised the French Quarter. Bo Diddley and Eric Burdon and the New Animals were performing at the House of Blues. Street performers tap danced or played music at Jackson Square. The Cafe du Monde overflowed with tourists drinking Chickory Coffee and munching bignettes, flaky French pastries covered with powdered sugar. In the porch of a Cajun restaurnat a large metal pot boiled with red crayfish. Though the partially opened doors of strip clubs, slices of nakedness were glimpsed on the street. The air smelled of spices, broiled redfish and magnolias.

Eventually, somewhere between powdered donuts and buying a small statuette of Satchmo with his magic horn, I explained my historical quest to my Crescent City guides. So we piled into a white Honda and headed to a neighborhood close to the French Quarter.

The site I looked for is not listed in the tourist books. It is a square block of New orleans bordered by four streets: Clouet, Montegut, Charles, and Royal. My eyes scanned the street. To my astonishment, there it stood, a red brick wall wedged between two wooden residences.

"I can't believe it," I said, "There's still a wall left standing. This is incredible. Drop me off and pick me up in a half-hour."

I stood in front of 628 Clouet Street. The brick wall stretched the length of the property and curved around the back. I knew, from an old Lester Bromberg article that I was staring at the last remaining brick wall of the New Orleans Olympic Club, where the great John L. Sullivan lost his crown to Gentleman Jim Corbett.

I knocked on the door. A wiry man with long hair answered.

"Excuse me," I said, "I'm a writer and I. can you tell me how long this brick wall has been here?"

"Over a hundred years," Gerald Medina answered, "Yes, that is the wall."

"So you know what I'm talking about?"

"Yes. One day several cops showed up here and asked to see the wall. They are history buffs and they told me that some important fight took place here, and this is the original wall of the club. And an old timer around the corner also told me about the fight but I don't recollect the details."

Medina invited me into his home. As I walked around the back, looking at the red brick wall, I told him a brief story of the significant historical event that transpired in this street over a century before.

"In the past century boxing was illegal. Fighters fought on barges and barns, for bet money and with bare fists. In some cities, boxing was allowed only as exhibitions with gloves. The Olympic Club was a country club of the wealthy who sponsored athletes and sports. The political power of the Olympic Club joined with the permissive politics of Nineteenth Century Louisiana and legalized boxing at a big level was born here, during a three-day promotion where three title fights were held. It was the transition moment from the bare knuckle era to modern times, a significant moment in sports history. Did you ever see the movie 'Gentleman Jim' with Errol Flynn?"

"Yes," Medina answered, "I remember that movie."

"That's the story of how James J. Corbett beat John L. Sullivan," I said, "And now, my friend, you own a piece of history. Because this is the only wall left of the New Orleans Olympic Club. The two houses on the other side of this brick wall were built with wood salvaged after the place burned down years later. I'm going to write a piece about this and I'll send you a copy. Perhaps we can come up with some boxing fans or the city to put a plaque here. This is where modern boxing was born in the United States."

I walked around the block, entering a large yard where an industrial operation is established. I was walking on the site of the fights, on the place where Sullivan lost his crown, where Jack McAuliffe and George Dixon had flashed their skills. I asked more questions from locals, but nothing of value was gained.

I lit a Kool and stood on Chartres Street. I reflected on the significance of the events that happened here, in this square block by the Mississippi.

John L. Sullivan was significant for he was the first national sports hero and blue collar non-entrepreneur to earn a million dollars in Nineteenth Century America. He had brought some respectability to prize fighting, but was often arrested for his bare-knuckle contests. Corbett, a bank clerk from San Francisco was a handsome, lightning quick athlete, who advocated boxing with gloves, refusing to fight under London Prize Ring Rules.

I stood on Chartres Street and imagined the drama of a century before. Twelve thousand boxing fans arrived by train, filling the hotels and bordellos of the French Quarter. Gamblers consulted with Creole witches the possible outcome of the fight. A local politician complained that one of the three bouts featured George Dixon, the magnificent black featherweight, scheduled to fight a white contender long on valor and short on skills. Banners with photos of the fighters were displayed on storefronts and balconies. Fifty telegraph operators were involved in transmitting the round-by-round results of the event to awaiting crowds across America. New Orleans sparkled with excitement that week.

The arena, built with treated wood was the site of three title bots in three nights. The first event featured Jack McAuliffe, who as king of the lightweights would retire undefeated after twelve years of active fighting. The champion faced the "Streator Cyclone" Billy Myer, a top contender. A crowd of 4,357 fans saw the unbeaten McAuliffe stop Myer in fifteen face-slicing rounds.

The second night, "Little Chocolate" George Dixon performed with such brilliant finesse against club fighter Jack Skelly, that the white, prosperous southern audience gave the black featherweight a standing ovation, a significant gesture in an age not yet three full decades away from a bloody Civil War. Dixon defeated Skelly with ease, by an eight round knockout in front of 4,062 paying customers.

The night of September 7, 1892, Sullivan and Corbett faced each other in front of 4,973 fans with a door gate of 60,318, an astronomical sum in an age when a skilled tradesman made $3,000 a year.

It was a dramatic scenario. Sullivan was the idol of the Boston Irish, the first lad to become a national hero in America, a representation of his era, good hearted, boisterous, free spending and proud. The "Great John L." had up to this night, remained undefeated in twelve years of fighting with or without gloves. Forty two wins and three draws was his record as he entered the New Orleans ring, including his most famous victory, the bloody seventy five round brawl with Jake Kilrain in 1889. Sullivan was a brutal slugger who shattered ribs with his solid power.

"Gentleman Jim" was a handsome youth from San Francisco with a well combed pompadour and first rate style in dress and manners. Most important, he could fight, having beaten Joe Choynski and boxing a hard draw with top contender Peter Jackson. Corbett was an innovator, a pioneer in applying speed and technique over raw power. Pompadour Jim also had power, derived more from speed and accuracy than from brute strength.

It lasted twenty-one rounds. Sullivan charged as Corbett danced. Gentleman Jim drew first claret, bloodying Sullivan's nose in the third round. The Boston Strong Boy tried hard, but too many years of boozing and hard fights caught up to him, as the younger, faster contender danced and slashed. Twice Corbett became king and boxing entered a golden age.

I stood on that sidewalk and imagined it. A crowd of people lining up on the entrances on Royal and Chartres, most dressed in somber suits with derbies, while the flashier crowd wore straw hats or bright cravats. Little Chocolate dressed in a cotton suit celebrating his previous night's triumph over Skelly puffing on a Havana cigar. Sullivan leaving the building surrounded by his acolytes, his face a bruised mask of stunned disbelief. Gamblers paying or being paid. Neighborhood children on the outer fringes of the crowd, impressed with the drama of the spectacle. Corbett, triumphant, being congratulated by friends. Joe Choynski talking to boxing fans in the street corner under the gas lit lamps. Hansom cabs pulled by snorting horses filled with the sporting crowd in a festive mood. Blue suited policemen with handlebar mustaches moving along the masses, an eye out for the ruffian or pickpocket. Bat Masterson, the great lawman, walking with a slight limp, dressed in a suit with a brocade vest, a nickel-plated revolver resting on a dark holster at his waist. Old Southerners with well-clipped mustaches and linen dusters.

The white Honda turned the corner. Reality came back as the fantasy images vanished. Jake opened up the passenger's side.

"Where do you want to go now?" Jake asked.

"Anywhere you want," I answered, "I've seen it all today."

Thad Spencer: The Contender
By Katherine Dunn

(This essay appeared first in PDXS newspaper in July of 1998)


Boxing is almost as rough a life for promoters as it is for fighters. Don King just endured his third, or was it fourth, federal trial. The late Portland promoter Fred McNalley was driven to the fiery brink of bankruptcy. His predecessor, Sam Singer, died of a stroke while sitting on the toilet reading Ring Magazine, and twenty years later fight folk are still asking "Which issue? What page?".

On a recent Saturday afternoon, some-time promoter Thad Spencer's reputation caught up with him at the dog track. It wasn't a pretty sight. Scarcely a dozen people were there to see the big guy pacing around an empty boxing ring and row after row of empty chairs. A few weeks earlier a fan had presented Spencer with a replica of a championship belt, and he had it strapped on over his t-shirt, which gave him a defiantly rakish air.


The amateur boxing show scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, June 27, 1998 at the Multnomah Greyhound Track had actually been canceled the night before because none of the amateur clubs invited were willing to participate. Still, promoter Spencer seemed to be waiting as though boxers would miraculously appear along with a paying audience to cheer them. It didn't happen. But this was just the latest low point in Spencer's roller coaster history.


The casual fight fan might recognize Thad Spencer as the nattily dressed older black man in the crowd at Northwest fight cards who is hailed as a luminary and introduced in the ring during intermission. The announcers always inform us respectfully that he is the former top ten ranked heavyweight who got his early training at Portland's Knott St. Boxing Club and was in line to challenge Muhammad Ali for the crown back in 1967 when Ali was stripped of the title for refusing the draft. Spencer was, by all accounts, an excellent fighter back in the sixties. But, as he often explains, he dropped out of the ring and into a heavy cocaine life after that. He's been turning over new leaves ever since.

In the early 80's Spencer decided to be a boxing promoter. With a line of gab and a carefully assembled scrapbook full of news clips and solicited letters from old fight cronies and politicians, Spencer practiced promoting with what's known as "OPM," meaning Other People's Money. It's a grand tradition in which the guy with the boxing moxie talks an investor into acting as the Angel who foots the bills.


Spencer hooked up with David Liken of Double T Promotions, the rock and roll impresario, to stage a show in Seattle's Paramount theater in 1983. Then he came to Portland and the old city boxing commission licensed him as a promoter, the first black promoter in the history of Oregon, though he never actually presented a show here. He went into partnership with Arthur J. Palmer who owned Rose City Cab.


The Spencer/Palmer combo produced one memorable show on September 3, 1983, in Vancouver, WA at the gymnasium of the Hudson Bay High School. The Day of the fight Spencer was shocked to learn that he would not be allowed to sell alcohol in the high school, and his backer, Palmer, decided the show was going to flop and pulled out. Only a hundred or so ticket buyers wandered through the door which meant there wasn't enough money in the till to pay the boxers. Washington Boxing Commissioner Eddie Cotton took charge and held a meeting in the locker room in which the fighters and their managers agreed to take reduced pay. The prelim fighters were offered a hundred dollars each, which was presumably to come from the thin ticket sales at the door. The main event--Portland light heavyweight James Williams and veteran Rudy Robles of Los Angeles--agreed to half pay of $500 each, which would be delayed several weeks until the thousand dollar bond held by the commission could be claimed.


The show started, raggedly, some two hours late but Spencer disappeared before the first bout ever began. Ringsiders, including this writer, were told that Spencer had taken the meager till with him so none of the fighters could be paid that night. It's not clear whether the fighters in the three four round prelim bouts knew that when they climbed into the ring. Washington fight reporter Bruce Siebol and a ringside fan volunteered to perform the announcing duties. At one point Portland promoter Fred McNalley took the microphone to announce that anyone who presented a ticket stub from that night could get into McNalley's next show for half price. Williams decisioned Robles in the main event.

A couple of months later Spencer had a new angel, Dick Griffey, head of Solar Records in Los Angeles. Griffey, a friend from Spencer's glory days, paid the outstanding bills from the Vancouver show so Spencer could promote again in Washington. The list of debts submitted by the commission included the building rent, the ring rent, and pay for all the officials and all of the boxers.


In 1984, with Griffey's backing, Spencer staged a show at the Sea-Tac Red Lion, even flying Muhammad Ali in to help hype the fight. Still, the show was swamped in $14,000 worth of red ink. The slew of unpaid bills and other complications in the wake of that event prompted Commissioner Eddie Cotton to tell this reporter that the commission would never license Spencer again. In 1987 Spencer lobbied the Washington Governors office trying to get reinstated but he was denied when, in a letter to the Governor, Cotton explained that the commission believed "based on his past performance" that licensing Spencer to promote boxing "would not be in the public interest."

It took California longer to come to the same conclusion. In 1984, Spencer was licensed as a promoter in California with one Joe Coates named as his backer. Spencer managed to promote fourteen shows in California between 1985 and 1989, mostly in Bakersfield, with different backers each time. Former Portland promoter Cordell Blockson told Punch Lines he was one of many who invested in Spencer and lost a chunk of change. The California Commission suspended and fined Spencer a few times, and fielded many complaints from his investors. In 1989 California decided not to license Spencer anymore. In 1990 the California commission warned Spencer to cease and desist his unlicensed matchmaking activities.


Since then Spencer has apparently shuttled back and forth from Las Vegas to Portland, concentrating mainly on promoting various benefit events under the flag of fund raising for youth programs. Spencer has often told reporters about his desire to offer boxing as a life-saver for kids. Way back in 1982, Spencer talked the Portland Salvation Army into creating a boxing gym in the basement of the Moore Street Community Center, promising that he would come and coach amateurs there. A well-equipped gym was duly created but Spencer never came around to do any coaching and the project died out.


There were other fund raising ventures in the name of saving young people. Benefit dinners that drew six or maybe sixteen buyers to hotel banquet rooms prepared to serve the hundreds that Spencer had promised. But it was always somebody else's money that spilled in long red streams. In 1990 he talked the respected Oregon Road Runners Club, which organizes distance races for runners, into staging a benefit race called George Foreman's Run For The Future. A bitter letter from the club's then-executive director, Gordon Lovie, listed all the unfulfilled promises made by Spencer, which left the club several thousand dollars in the hole.


Spencer was actually licensed as a professional matchmaker by the State of Oregon in the early '90's, working for tennis promoter Brian Parrot. Parrot wanted to branch out to boxing promotions but the show never happened and Parrot dropped the project entirely.

In 1994 Spencer created an organization with the poignantly ironic name of Last Chance To Get A Life, which is registered as a non-profit in Nevada and lists Thad Spencer as President and Chief Executive Officer. The organization is described as serving underprivileged youth but Punch Lines has yet to discover any service to youth it has performed.

Then, in the summer of 1995 Spencer swerved back toward the professional fight world. Mike Tyson had just got out of prison and his comeback bout against hapless Peter McNeely was being hyped. Spencer got hold of a copy of the closed circuit contract for the fight from Kingvision, the Don King subsidiary that arranges pay-per-view and CC sales. The ever inventive Spencer made photocopies of the contract, inserting the letterhead for his own company, Prime Contender Boxing Promotions. He also changed the numbers. Where Kingvision was charging CC outlets $17.50 per seat, Spencer wanted $23 and a substantial cash advance. He offered to sell the CC rights to various hotels, casinos and other venues. He told The Oregonian newspaper that he had sole rights to sell the closed circuit show in Oregon and Washington. The Wild Horse Casino near Pendleton actually bought his pitch and gave him a four thousand dollar advance. When he approached some venues which already had deals with Kingvision, the management called Kingvision and squealed. Spencer had no right to sell the CC viewings and he was not licensed by the state to do so. The King organization, the State of Oregon, and the Wild Horse came down hard on Spencer. The four thousand dollars was returned to the casino and the matter was allowed to drop.

In 1996 Spencer acted as matchmaker for two small pro club shows staged by Portland's ex-wrestling promoter Sandy Barr in Vancouver, WA. Now he's trying to stage amateur shows and, so far, it's not working. The non-event at Multnomah Greyhound Track on Saturday, June 27,1998, was publicized as a benefit for Spencer's mysterious non-profit, Last Chance To Get A Life. It sounded like a good cause. But an amateur show requires an official sanction from the local amateur organization. Such a sanction can only be held by a member of U.S. Amateur Boxing, and Spencer is not a member. He approached coach Guy Villegas of West Portland Boxing Club, asking Villegas to get the sanction and organize the matches, promising that a thousand dollars would be donated to the West Portland Boxing Club for Villegas' labor. Villegas at first agreed but, when Spencer missed scheduled appointments and failed to provide promised expense money, Villegas told him he would not go on with the project. Spencer then asked Coach Scott Danielson of the now defunct Tillamook Boxing Club to do the job. Danielson, who has had his own organizational difficulties in the past, agreed.


Oddities piled up around the event early. An announcement in the Oregonian listed the names of two boxers supposed to participate, and one of them was not a registered amateur. Then Spencer staged a round card girl contest in a local bar. The posters said "Do you have what it takes to be the 1998 Portland Amature (sic) Boxing Miss Ringsider?" and "The 1998 Last Chance To Get A Life Search for Miss Ringside Continues." This is an unusual tactic for an organization aimed at helping kids, and the winners were supposed to appear at the Greyhound Park event. Round card cuties are not a common feature of the simon pure amateur shows. Also, the boxing ring Spencer rented from ex-wrestling promoter Sandy Barr for the bouts was already the subject of a national level controversy because it has steel cables, which are banned by amateur safety rules, instead of ropes.


Then on Friday afternoon, the day before the scheduled show, Scott Danielson telephoned Oregon registration chairman Trevor Lewis and cancelled his sanction for the show. He also called Oregon amateur Chief of Officials Harold Pakula and told him the show was off so no judges or referees would be needed.


An item in The Oregonian on Thursday, July 2 said the show was "postponed for lack of matches. Only four fights, instead of a minimum of 10, were finalized, an organizer said. Another card is tentatively scheduled for July 25."


That Thursday morning Scott Danielson phoned this reporter in a fury over the item in The Oregonian. "That is a flat out lie!" he said. "The show isn't postponed, it's cancelled. And there weren't four bouts, there were none. Not one match was made." Danielson says not a single amateur club he contacted was willing to participate then or in the future. "And I called every club I could think of," he insists.


Several of the coaches who refused Spencer and Danielson's invitations have since told us that they didn't want to be involved with anything Thad Spencer was doing.

Joel Caldera, coach of the thriving Knott Street Boxing Club in Portland said, "Thad's always talking about how he wants to help the kids, but I've never seen him spend so much as thirty minutes teaching a kid. If he was volunteering even two days a week it would be different."


In the usual bold way of the fight world, some coaches were not willing to be quoted by name but they made their feelings known. "Why is Thad doing this?" asked one burly coach rhetorically. "To line his pockets. That foundation of his is a bunch of bullshit. These outside promoters don't have clubs of their own and don't do any volunteer work but they all come on with the same story, how much they're gonna help the kids. All they want is to make a profit off these kids."


Folks in the amateurs tend to be touchy about parasites who think they can put on a cheap show and make money because they don't have to pay amateur boxers. Coaches volunteer thousands of hours and plenty of their own money every year to keep their boxers busy and learning. The refs and judges drive hundreds of miles in any weather, paying their own expenses, and they work their butts off when they arrive. They've been burnt before and they don't welcome freeloaders.

But not everyone thinks Thad Spencer is a con man. Long time Portland pro fight manager Mike "Motormouth" Morton has always had a soft spot for Spencer. "I wouldn't say he's dishonest," laughs Morton. "He's just a loser! He never actually makes any money. I can't tell you how many times I've had to loan him a hundred bucks so he could get home from his own shows!."

Postcard from the Edge
by Pusboil

Well folks, as you probably didn't notice that Pusboil hasn't been around for a while. I've been out surveying the world looking for something that can fill the void in my life that was once my love for boxing.

I'm infuriated to report that there is nothing out there to quite fill this void, so I have returned to accept my punishment as a loyal boxing fan.

You see, I had pretty much lost it when the decision for the Holyfield-Lewis fight was announced. I actually was unable to believe that boxing could go this low. But it did and I just couldn't take it anymore.

At the time of that fight, I believe I wrote there would not be a rematch. Well there will be. I believe I also wrote nothing would happen to Don King, well the feds raided his office and also opened up some drawers in the IBF's offices. So I was 0 fer 2.

But, will the feds actually open a can of whoop-ass on the Don, or will this be another fruitless investigation where that idiot walks away smiling, chanting "Only in America"? Too soon to turn over the tarot card on that puppy. We'll just have to wait and see.

The latest thing that made me spew violently into the night was a pay per view card I saw listed in my television guide on the web. I didn't remember a big fight coming up so I clicked on the link to see what was on. My wife was thankful I didn't have anything chunky for dinner that night for when I read the description I saw something I feared.

It was an all chick pay per view card. My apologies to the women who might read this scourge but when it comes to women fighting, you're chicks. Like the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, odds are it's a fucking duck. And these were chicks.

To quote Chandler from the tv series "Friends", why why why would they do this. Needless to say I did not watch this, I wouldn't even have dreamed to look at what they might be charging for it as I am not a fan of having dry heaves.

Has the boxing world gotten kicked in the teeth enough yet?? I don't know who actually put this extravaganza together, but they need a check up from the neck up. Next thing you know the sanctioning bodies will be sponsoring a senior tour. Okay that was a really lousy segue but I'm out of practice.

Yes folks it's official, boxing had a seniors only night June 18, 1999. Mark this date down, it is obviously one of the signs of the apocalypse. Larry Holmes fought James "Osteoporosis" Smith, Tim Witherspoon squared off against Greg Page and Juan LaPorte went up against Billy Costello.

The average age of fighter on this card is over 43 years old. Yeah, boxing needs this. It's not like all of the fighters were fantastic in their primes either. Smith in fact has lost to two of the other three heavyweights on this card. The exception being 'Spoon who he KO'D in the first round!! On top of that Smith has these other distinguishing L's on his record, Marvis Frazier, Levi Billups, and Dan Dancuta. Puhhlease.

Holmes was a champion, key word is was, but at least a decent champion. Greg Page was champ for about 45 minutes somewhere around the end of 1984. Witherspoon was a two time champion for a combined total of about 16 months but here's the best part, he has a grand total of 1 yes 1 successful title defenses not to mention that he also lost his second title to Smith 13 years ago!!

I won't bore you with all the details. But in summation, Witherspoon retired in the corner because he threw out his back. Smith retired because he threw out his shoulder. See a pattern forming here??

Greg Page will probably receive a call from Victoria's Secret asking him if he wants to model the new male sports bra, sorry Larry but you'll also be receiving an offer.

I thought this was bad and told myself at least tomorrow there is a good fight between Michael Grant and Lou Savarese. Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong. A snoozer this one was from opening to closing bell. Neither one of these fighters proved anything except mediocrity.

Grant will never be a force in the heavyweight division. He might liken himself to Holyfield with spiritual ring entry music and physique, but it all ends there. There ain't a drop of fire in that kid's belly.

Boxing to me is like smoking, I'd love to quit but for some reason I just can't. If anyone finds a patch for this let me know.

SAM LANGFORD … "HE EVEN PREDICTED WHERE THEY WOULD LAND"

By Tracy Callis

Sam Langford engaged in more than 290 fights during his career in different weight classes, ranging from lightweight to heavyweight. He was ready, willing, and able to meet any man who would get into the ring with him.

Physically, Sam was short and stocky with bulky shoulders and strong arms. His reach was very long for a man of his height. He was described as quick and slippery as an eel in action by Fleischer (1939 p 155). Langford’s boxing skills were almost unlimited. He could fight at close quarters or a long range. He would attack the head or body with a two-handed barrage of punches that packed power in both fists. He would duck, feint, block, move in, move out, and shift his attack quickly upstairs or down. His timing was excellent. He used jabs, hooks, combinations, wide swings, short chops and mixed his punches beautifully. Also, he was as game as they come with a great capacity for taking punishment.

Fleischer (1939 p 123) asserted that regardless of which weight class he belonged to at the time, there was first rate fighting talent present but many of them dodged him because Langford was such a skilled pugilist. Even the champions avoided him. (He did find some takers among the heavyweights because they were larger than he was). The result of all this was that – in order to get fights (and eat) – Langford often had to agree to "carry" his opponents.

Sam, along with Jack Johnson, Joe Jeannette, and Sam McVey comprised a magnificent foursome of black fighters during the early part of this century. These men and other blacks were forced to fight each other on black cards many times and usually provided their own toughest competition. They traveled the country and fought in what the late boxing historian, Tim Leone, referred to as the "chitlin’ trail".

For example, Langford fought 18 bouts with Harry Wills, 15 with Sam McVey, 14 with Joe Jeannette, 13 with Jeff Clarke, 10 with "Battling" Jim Johnson, 9 each with Bill Tate and Jack Thompson, 7 with "Young" Peter Jackson, 5 each with "Bearcat" Wright, Lee Anderson, and Andy Watson, 4 each with Larry Temple and Dave Holly, and 3 each with big George Godfrey and Bradford Simmons. Historians are not certain as to the exact number of bouts between these men due to the lack of record-keeping at the time but at least the above numbers were fought.

Further, Sam demolished a number of the "White Hopes" who were chasing after Jack Johnson’s Heavyweight Championship but were still willing to take a chance with him [Langford] – Ed "Gunboat" Smith, Andre Anderson, Bob Devere, Dan "Porky" Flynn, Jim Barry, "Fireman" Jim Flynn, Tony Ross, John "Sandy" Ferguson, and Tom "Bearcat" McMahon. He beat several of these men many times.

In addition to the above mentioned fights, Langford pulverized the best European fighters too – knocking out James "Tiger" Smith, Jeff Thorne, William "Iron" Hague, and Matthew "P.O." Curran during trips to Europe.

Some well-known champions bit the dust against Sam as well (but not for the title). He beat Joe Gans in 1903, knocked out the Dixie Kid in 1909 and 1910, knocked out "Philadelphia" Jack O’Brien in 1911, and knocked out Tiger Flowers in 1922.

Stockton (1977 p 33) said "Langford had all the attributes of a great fighter, speed, punching power, an amazingly elusive defense, the ability to absorb punishment, and unlimited endurance". Lardner (1972 p 177) described Langford as being short and squat, a gnomelike man who had a long reach and incredible strength.

Joe Jeannette once called Langford "the best all-around heavyweight" and said Sam hit him harder than anyone he ever fought. Harry Wills called Langford the best fighter he ever fought. "Fireman" Jim Flynn, who fought such men as Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Luther McCarty, Ed "Gunboat" Smith, and many others said "the hardest hitter I ever faced was Langford" (see Weston 1954 pg 20 58). Cannon (1978 p 89) quoted Jack Dempsey as saying "Sam probably would have knocked me out".

Hugh McIntosh, famous promoter of that period, rated Sam Langford as the greatest fighter of the time, even better than Jack Johnson (see Fleischer 1939 p 166). Grombach (1977 p 51) said Langford was probably the only fighter who could have extended Jack Johnson.

Many writers have expressed the idea that Johnson was afraid of Langford and that Sam almost beat Johnson in their 1906 non-title bout. The fact is that Johnson gave Sam a solid beating, knocking him down and probably out (except for a slow count). Langford said "… he [Johnson] gave me the only real beating I ever took" (see Fleischer 1939 p 141).

Fleischer (1939 p 154) elaborated on the subject and said Sam never could have beaten Johnson. He called Langford a giant-killer but says the giants Sam put to sleep never possessed Johnson’s science, power, and ring generalship. He later wrote (1969 p 79) that Johnson beat Langford decisively and was the complete master of the situation.

When Johnson beat Langford in their 1906 match, Jack weighed 187 pounds to Sam’s 156. Johnson probably did beat Sam soundly but realized that Langford possessed quickness and power to the extent that when Sam reached 180 pounds or so, he [Johnson] preferred not to risk a fight with him.

In spite of his wonderful skills, Sam never got a shot at a title. Carpenter (1975 p 45) called Langford "the finest boxer never to get a shot at a world title". Houston (1975 p 24) said Sam was probably the greatest contender who never won the title and described him as possessing "great punch-anticipation". Gutteridge (1975 p 93) wrote that Langford was perhaps the greatest non-champion of all.

"Dumb" Dan Morgan, famous fight manager, once compared Langford with Joe Louis by saying "Langford, who was a scientific knocker-outer, would crowd Louis, either lead to him or counter him, and take whatever Joe could dish out. I think Sam would finish Joe in about six or seven rounds of real slugging" (see McCallum 1975 p 46).

Langford, who spoke with a lisp (Ise Tham Langfod), was a happy-go-lucky man with a keen sense of humor. His fighting philosophy was simple – "what dat otha man wanna do – don’t let ‘em do it".

He often predicted the outcome of a bout and was so good at it, he could be called "the Prophet". He shook hands with Morris Harris in the seventh-round of a ten-rounder, told him it was his last round, then kayoed him. He stepped off six feet at a particular spot in the ring for Bill Tate, then knocked him out there. He deposited "Fireman" Jim Flynn in the lap of columnist Beany Walker (at ringside), who had once said Flynn deserved a win in a previous bout with Langford. In fact, Sam always brought the referee with him – one who gave the "right" verdict – his powerful right fist (see Weston 1954 pg 59 60 and Houston 1975 pg 24 25).

Diamond (1954 p 82) wrote "Sam Langford was a great fighter in an age of great fighters. In proportion to his height and weight there never was a greater fighting man. He was not the greatest of fighters but undoubtedly was one of the best".

Langford was a very good fighter in every weight class he fought – particularly as a light-heavyweight and heavyweight. Charley Rose, old time fighter and manager, rated Langford as the best heavyweight of all-time. Nat Fleischer, boxing historian and founder of The Ring, ranked Langford as the seventh best heavyweight in boxing history. In the opinion of this writer, Langford was the fourth best light-heavyweight ever.

References:

Cannon, J. and Cannon, T. 1978. Nobody Asked Me But … (The World of Jimmy Cannon). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Carpenter, H. 1975. Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

Diamond, W., 1954. Kings Of The Ring. London: The World's Work (1913) Ltd.

Fleischer, N. 1939. Fighting Furies: Story of the Golden Era of Jack Johnson, Sam Langford, and Their Contemporaries (Black Dynamite Volume IV). New York: C. J. O’Brien, Inc.

Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of the Fist. New York: A.S. Barnes and Co.

Gutteridge, R. 1975. Boxing: The Great Ones. London: Pelham Books Ltd.

Houston, G. 1975. SuperFists. New York: Bounty Books.

Lardner, R., 1972. The Legendary Champions. New York: American Heritage Press.

McCallum, J. 1975. The Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions. Radnor, Pa: Chilton Book Company.

Stockton, R., 1977. Who Was The Greatest. Phoenix: Boxing Enterprises.

Weston, S. c. 1954. The Boston Tar Baby (Sam Langford) (contained in Boxing and Wrestling magazine, pg 18-21, 58-61).

By Alan Taylor

The car exploded just before 10:00 PM. Shards of hot metal shattered windows and tore holes in the surrounding masonry. The engine would be found later on the roof of the town hall. Quick action by the police, and an element of luck, ensured the the streets had been cleared - no-one was injured. The immediate damage to the heart of the town was extensive. Then the fire started.

The uppercut exploded through the champion's guard early in the tenth. It was a brutal, bone-crunching shot. All things being equal the blow should have ended the fight and the champion's reign. But things were not equal. Seemingly disconnected from his senses the champion staggered across the ring, reeling from punches which reined in from all angles. He was driven to the ropes and for the next minute, a minute that for him and for all those looking on seemed an eternity, covered up trying to clear his head. Above all he refused to go down. His breath came in huge gulps. He started to feel his legs below him once again. And suddenly, amazingly, he was fighting back. The crowd that just before had been willing him to fall - for his own good - now willed him to somehow find a way out of his own personal hell. They roared as he landed a hard right uppercut. Another - harder. And now the challenger seemed weary. To his shock the 'beaten' man before him was now driving him back. As the bell rang it appeared that it was he, the challenger, who was in danger of defeat.

I was leaving my office when the bomb exploded. Simultaneously I heard the bang and felt the timber staircase move below me. My first reaction on going out into the street was, perhaps surprisingly, to move towards where the blast had come from. Turning the corner I could see flames rising from the twisted wreckage of what had once been a car. The fire reached out to the buildings nearby. Thirty minutes later I returned to the scene with my wife. Patricia's office was on the corner where the car-bomb had been placed and, as was normal, keyholders were asked to return to their premises - to check for further devices and the like. There was no returning this time however. In the short time I had been away the fire had taken hold. The buildings in that area were older with timber beams and lintels rather than steel or concrete. The flames spread and the whole block was burning. Standing about a hundred yards from the fire, among other stunned onlookers, we watched in awe and horror as firemen tried to tame the fire. The heat was intense. The night sky was red. We came upon Patricia's boss, Brian, and together we stood watching . not speaking. just watching. The fire was strangely hypnotic. It was hard to look away but eventually, perhaps an hour and a half later, we left - there was nothing we could do! We drank coffee and spoke little. Around 2 am I drove Brian back to his car. The flames were still high. As we drove alongside the river we passed over firemen's hoses - they were drawing water directly from the river, attempting to prevent the fire spreading further.

Evander Holyfield entered the ring two hours later, a man too small to be heavyweight champion of the world, a built up cruiserweight who was only champion because of the incarceration of Mike Tyson, the true champion. He would face Riddick Bowe - younger, bigger, heavier, much heavier. What followed was one of the greatest heavyweight contests in history. Holyfield took control in the first. He jabbed and moved. He used his speed to dart in and out, landing combinations, scoring points - it wouldn't last. Evander's warrior spirit meant that when tagged he would fight back. He went toe-to-toe with the bigger man. They burned with an intensity, a passion unseen since perhaps Ali-Frazier. Holyfield was taking the harder shots but hammering back. After nine rounds the fight was more or less even. Then came the tenth! I watched the latter rounds of the fight with a lump in my throat. I had never witnessed courage in the ring like that displayed by Holyfield in the tenth. In the eleventh he was clubbed to the ground, yet rose again when most thought he should stay down. When the bell rang to end the twelfth I knew the title had changed hands. I cried then. For Holyfield? Perhaps. For the town and all I had witnessed that night? Certainly! The emotion which had been held in was released. In the days that followed, while timbers still smoldered, people began to talk about rebuilding. In the next year the town became stronger, better than it had been. People pulled together. The buildings rose - a phoenix from the very real flames which had been unleashed that Friday night.

Almost exactly a year later Evander Holyfield was stronger, better than he had been. Against the odds, in the face of predictions of being seriously hurt, he regained the heavyweight championship of the world. As the bell rang to end the twelfth I felt tears on my cheeks. I knew he had won. I felt elated, inspired. Evander Holyfield will, perhaps, never know of these events. Those reading this will, perhaps, not understand how I can relate 'sport' to 'the troubles'. But people need heroes and we must take our heroes where we find them. For me Evander Holyfield is a hero, an inspiration to greatness. As he has faced the heart scare, faced and exposed the bully that was Tyson, and now the criticism following the Lewis fight, it is possible that my town and my country can rise above the past. It is possible that Northern Ireland can move beyond terrorism and embrace peace. We may yet face setbacks but the will to succeed is there. Evander Holyfield may not beat Lennox Lewis. Even if he doesn't he will still have earned greatness. While I don't share his religious faith I am inspired by his self-belief. What others see as 'pious, self-serving crap' (Bucket!!) I see as an affirmation of belief that obstacles can be overcome. I will cheer Holyfield on whatever.

Recently, young heavyweight Chris Byrd was here in the Big Apple. During his brief stay, Byrd, a former silver medallist at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, discussed a variety of topics with myself: Lewis-Holyfield, Trinidad-De La Hoya, Mike Grant-Lou Savarese, and coming back from adversity. Byrd, as happy as can be, also shed light regarding his status and acceptance in the boxing community.

On the evening of Saturday, March 20, one week after the "controversial fix" between world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield at Madison Square Garden, Byrd, a blown-up 165 pound amateur, fought the gargantuan, 240-pound African, Ike Ibeabuchi.

Byrd, considered as "knockout proof" and "unhittable," was ahead on all three judges scorecards until the unthinkable happened.

In the fifth round, a single left hook to his chin grounded Byrd flat on his face. Byrd returned to his feet only to absorb additional punishment and have the bout waved off with just one-second remaining in the round.

Ironically, Ibeabuchi's ranking propelled to No. 2 in the IBF, while Byrd advanced from two slots up from No. 9 to No. 7. Since the loss, Byrd has won two bouts and continues to be active, en route to earning his first world
title shot.

Francis Walker: Having lost to Ike Ibeabuchi in March, the IBF boosted your ranking to Number 7?

Chris Byrd: "That's what I heard. They ranked me up to number seven because, I came back so fast and got two fights under my belt. I don't know! I should have been number one, number two before I fought Ike. Number seven is really not that good."

FW: Well, at least you're in the top-10. If you are able to beat somebody in the top-10, the International Boxing Federation will mandate you in the top-3. David Tua is in at number one, Ibeabuchi, as I said before, is at number
two, and I hear Lennox Lewis may fight either one of them later on this year. If that happens, another door could open for you to force a mandatory.

Byrd: "Maybe, but I don't see myself fighting anyone in the top-10 again. I don't know what I really could do. I am going to wait. I want to fight Ike again, but we are not in the era of 'rematch.' "

FW: Have there been any offers thrown at you, in terms of some fighters wanting to fight you?

Byrd: "Not at all! Its been real hard. Everybody is saying. I got caught. They say I still got the skills and still fear me in that aspect, but I got caught."

FW: But why did you stay against the ropes fighting Ibeabuchi?

Byrd: "Just trying to prove something. I thought I would never get caught like that against the ropes. Nothing affected me, but I just got caught with a good shot. The punches you don't see are the ones that knock you out!"

FW: Plus, in the heavyweight division, it takes one punch to turn things around.

Byrd: "Yup! The way Ibeabuchi kept coming after me, coming after me after I threw those flurries, the guy was on the defensive. I actually was having a lot of fun in the ring. It did not look like it, but I was having a lot of fun and the crowd had me pumped. My strategy for the first five rounds was to mess with him. The next half of the fight, I would just beat him up. I had him going. His cornermen told me, had he not caught me in the third or fourth round, he would have folded. He started to fall apart."

FW: You mentioned earlier that you took the Ibeabuchi fight for the opportunity. With a new promoter in Cedric Kushner, couldn't you have been rewarded a tune-up fight first before facing Ibeabuchi?

Byrd: "The opportunity was there at the time and I just had to take it. They see I came back and fight some guy, I don't think the opportunity would have been there. You give a guy too much time to think, especially with the type of style I present inside the ring, when he wouldn't have took it. I know he wouldn't have took it. So the opportunity was there at the right time. I had to take it."

FW: So in that regard, can you look straight ahead?

Byrd: "I wish I could get the winner of Mike Grant-Lou Savarese. Grant is 6' 7," 256, Savarese is about 6' 2," 240. Savarese had two losses and was still able to come back. That's how boxing is in the heavyweight division. Mike Grant is the thing now. Everyone is high on Mike Grant, which is great."

FW: You think everybody is fond of Mike Grant?

Byrd: "Oh, everybody is! Mostly everybody is fond of Mike Grant."

Byrd: "Not yet! People in boxing says he is the next champion to be. I want to fight the next champion to be. That's my thing - I'll fight then all. Whomever is supposed to be the best out there, I'll fight them all. This is
boxing."

FW: What is the most important thing for you right now? Staying active of fighting top opposition?

Byrd: "If I fought Ibeabuchi, I'll fight Mike Grant next. However, that's how boxing is. You have to call the so-called fighters out, and fight the best in the division."

FW: How has the press treated you since the loss?

Byrd: "They just say I got caught. Some people say, 'he should have beat a blown-up middleweight.' If I would have beat Ike, who would I fight? Think about it, you tell me who I would fight."

Byrd: "No, he would not take it. If I beat Ike, I would have been sitting here waiting to fight a top guy on the undercard of a big show. They would have expected me to beat Ike. Ike is now number two? Was I number one or two? It's a joke man. How people are saying Ike is the greatest thing going. What am I missing? I know I have the skills, but to most people I'm a blown-up middleweight."

FW: Lets get to Holyfield-Lewis.

FW: Does the fix hurt boxing?

Byrd: "No! Boxing's still gonna survive with any kind of decision. The second fight will be bigger than the first fight. Everyone's gonna wanna see it now. It may have turned away a few fans, but a lot will be more interested in the rematch."

FW: Just look at this situation: promoters Don King and Cedric Kushner, as well as the International Boxing Federation all have a great chance of being indicted and possibly shutdown. Everything, the mismatches, the payoffs, and the corruption and mis-advantage of fighters are all coming out in the open to the public. Yet, in your view fans will still support boxing?

Byrd: "Oh, of course! Boxing will go on. Basketball will go on without Michael Jordan. Stuff happens, you got true fans out there. You're still gonna get some good bouts out of the deal, it will go on."

"You've got guys like Roy Jones, Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, and Evander Holyfield. Trinidad-De La Hoya, a lot better matchups will draw a lot more interest into boxing - I mean big-time! People are gonna be pumped for that fight. Two great fighters. risking their titles, and their undefeated records? Man, it can't help but help boxing!"

FW: So who wins, De La Hoya or Trinidad?

Byrd: "I gotta lean toward Oscar. He's my man from the 92' Olympics."

FW: What does De La Hoya present that can give Trinidad problems"

Byrd: "The left hook! Look at Pernell, he rocked Trinidad. He had him going the first couple of rounds. Let Oscar hit him with that same punch. Let Oscar catch him first and we have an interesting fight going. Everybody's sleeping on him - De La Hoya can punch. This is like a heavyweight fight, one punch can knock you out. They both have a left hook. De La Hoya's got speed too. They are both around the same height. I'm telling you, whoever connects first. Trinidad's chin ain't all that great."

"Everybody says De La Hoya lost to Quartey. Maybe so, but it was a close fight. Quartey is a great fighter."

FW: So, De La Hoya's victory is already in the books in your view?

Byrd: "At first I was looking at Trinidad. I'm thinking, 'Trinidad is gonna run through him.' It's going to be a close fight. They're going to be cautious early. De La Hoya's a converted southpaw. He has all the power in that (left) hook. If it lands, almost anyone in that division could go."

By Thomas Gerbasi

It must be something in the water over in England. For some reason, the most detailed, addictive sports games come from the UK. But for the most part, the main recipients of this bounty have been soccer fans. No longer. Alex Deacon's World Championship Boxing Manager has hit the streets, and it follows in the same fine tradition as One-Nil, Championship Manager 3, and Goal. WCBM is just what it says in the title, a management sim. You sign and manage a stable of fighters, hopefully matching them well enough to get not only money, but a title shot. You control every aspect of the management game, from contracts, to training, to sponsorships, to arranging fights, and you can even train your fighter on fight night, giving him the strategies he needs to win.

This is the first boxing management sim I've seen, and any other developer would be hard pressed to surpass WCBM. It's that detailed and well done. You begin your career with either an empty stable, or with an existing stable of fighters. I chose the empty stable, and went about trying to sign my first boxer. The game includes a ton of all-time great fighters, as well as constantly generated fictional fighters, which effectively creates your own little boxing universe. Your universe is utopian as well, as only the original eight divisions are represented, and there is only one champion per division. You can also choose to have all fictional fighters in your game and create your own custom boxers.

Here's a warning. The game is not easy. Get used to rejection. I tried to sign everyone and their brother, to no avail. No one wanted to sign with me because I had no rep. My luck changed when the fictional Randy Fry decide to come aboard. He was a heavyweight looking to make his pro debut. I signed him for six fights, and we were on our way. When signing a fighter, you can offer a certain number of fights, but not the cash involved. Basically, whatever the fighter requests is what you'll be paying. I would have liked to have seen a little bit of negotiation included, but this is no biggie.

Each fighter is rated in 13 categories, and through this you can determine who you want to pursue. There is even a scouting option which will let you know who you have a good chance of signing, and a rookie list that lets you find the fresh blood in the game. Even if someone rejects you, you can shortlist him, and follow his career as it progresses. The amount of stats included in WCBM is staggering, and thus leads to long loading times. I can live with this though, as the alternative would be a game without all the detail which makes this one great.

The graphics are sparse but they fit in well with the game. My only problem is with the difficulty reading red or blue writing on a black backdrop. After a long night with the game (and you will have some late ones) it gets kinda hairy to read some of the text.

Once you've signed a fighter, you have to arrange for a fight. Once again, get used to rejection. Finally though, someone will agree to fight you in x number of weeks., or you'll be approached by another manager to arrange a bout. Now it's off to training camp, and setting up your charge's schedule. You can focus your training in eight categories, choosing any number from zero to eight. Obviously, the more you choose, the more $$ it costs. And you can check your fighter's fitness level weekly, because you don't want him overtrained either.

As you do all of this, the boxing world keeps on turning, with new fighters coming up, old ones retiring, and new champs being crowned. All results are archived, so you have a running history of your game, and if you're a little short of cash, you can bet on any upcoming fight. A complete rankings system is in place, and you can check out in depth stats on ANY fighter in the game. Pretty elaborate.

But now it's time for your fighter to step in the ring. The game engine is solid, though I have seen some odd results, and I would like to have seen more elaborate blow by blow descriptions of the action. You can also check out any other fight which is on the schedule. A nice touch. As trainer, you have four areas in which to advise your fighter: punch location, style, movement, and whether to fight offensively or defensively. Your choices do seem to make a difference in the fight, and after going through the signing process, and training, you do have an emotional investment in your fighter's progress. At press time, Randy Fry is 3-2-2 with 1 KO. He's ranked 104 in the world, but he doesn't want to renegotiate his contract with me. What happened to loyalty? I have signed rookie featherweight Ross Beresford though, and he's in training for his pro debut.

World Championship Boxing Manager? Highly recommended.

You can download a fully featured demo of this program at http://www.boxing.clara.net/wcbm.htm

By Ed Vance

OK. I did it. I'm not proud of it, but I did it. Last night at 9:40 PM Showtime replayed the Butterbean/McNeely fight -- and I watched it.

I watched the pre-fight interview with the 'Bean. An interview in which the Butter, who is a very nice man I'm told, waxed poetic on what the fans wanted to see. And what did the fans want to see? They wanted to see the 'King of the Four Rounders'. Fans did not want to see a boxing match, they wanted to see a fight. And a fight was what the big Butterbean-o promised.

I watched, after the Butter on Boxing segment, shots of 'Gusty' Peter McNeely, doing some warming up with a trainer. Thankfully this did not last too long I was getting tired of seeing McSqealy flinch from the softly thrown hands of his trainer.

I watched Butterbean pay homage to his twin, Prince Naseem Hamed, with his sultry-smooth boxing moves behind the sheets. Thank god for the sheet. The only thing missing from this grand entrance was the lasers. And the smoke machine. Oh, and Hamed. In case you were fooled, as I was, that wasn't the Prince. That was the King.

I watched Jay Nady give out his instructions, after giving a 'what the hell am I doing here?' smile as he was introduced. I watched as Mr. Nady exerted his control in the ring after being asked by one of the McCheesy minions where the Butterballs beltline was. Note to self: Don't try to tell Jay Nady his job.

Then the fight. Ahh, the fight. What can I say about the fight? There was no boxing, ButterBone was right on that call. Unfortunately, there wasn't any fight either. None. Nada. Zip. With 10 seconds left in the first round Jay Nady stepped in and stopped the fight. There was no defense in the fight whatsoever, which was predictable, and most of the offense came from the Buttered side of the ring. McNeely threw one or two punches, but stopped after being tagged once or twice.

My wife, bless her heart, sat with me through the entire 20 minutes. When it ended she looked at me, shook her head, and went to bed leaving me alone with my thoughts and shame. But there was a bright side to this fight. Given the short length not once did I have to see Bobby Czyz with another stunning segment of 'Between the Ropes'.

Bring on Tyson. Long live the Bean.

It has been nearly three weeks since Roy Jones Jr. became the first in 14 years to unify the world light-heavyweight crown. With Polish-German based Dariusz Michalczewski bashing the idea of Jones being labeled as both undisputed king and the best fighter in the world, Jones currently contemplates a move up to the heavyweight division.

Michalczewski, the unrecognized WBO 175-pound king, and Graciano Rocchigiani, the interim WBC light-heavyweight titlist, repeatedly claimed that they are the class of their division. And each stalk a big showdown with Jones.

In June 1997, Michalczewski became the first fighter in history to unify the unrecognized WBO belt along with the WBA/IBF versions, via 12-round decision over Virgil Hill. However, due to the politics of the sanctioning bodies, Michalczewski was forced to vacate both the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles Jones won in the last 11 months.

Nobody beat Michalczewski for the belts, not even Jones. Michalczewski is undefeated in 40 professional contests, 33 by kayo. Therefore, the European press feels as though Michalczewski is the uncrowned undisputed champion of the light-heavyweight division. The World Boxing Organization is not recognized here in the United States, but is largely popular in all of Europe, namely Great Britain.

In addition, the World Boxing Council situation came across in 1997 as well. Jones, who was mandated to fight Michael Nunn, had great difficulty finalizing a proposed "agreement." Jones was not stripped or vacated the WBC crown, but was declared "champion in recess." The WBC instead ordered Nunn, the No. 1 ranked challenger in the world, to meet No. 2 contender, Rocchigiani. The winner would meet Jones to unify the WBC title at a later date.

Rocchigiani beat Nunn by 12-round split decision. Rocchigiani, afterward felt that since Jones did not fight Nunn, he should have been stripped. Thus, making Rocchigiani the sole-holder of the WBC light heavyweight crown.

After months of broken down talks between the two fighter's camps, Jones-Rocchigiani failed to materialize. To reconcile the situation, the WBC ordered Jones to either defend against Jones or vacate the WBC title and award Rocchigiani with a sum of $600,000.

Having watched Jones the last seven years of his career, it is clear Jones would have little trouble defeating either Michalczewski or Rocchigiani. Michalczewski is a relative unknown to fight fans here in the Untied States. Michalczewski's strong Polish-German following could prompt a campaign that would entice Jones to meet Michalczewski on foreign ground. Same for Rocchigiani.

Jones is just too strong and too fast for the entire light-heavyweight division, considering the fact he is a natural 160-pounder says a lot. That is good enough to skip the cruiserweights and compete as a heavyweight.

Should Jones prove successful, he would become the first middleweight in boxing history to win the heavyweight championship. A real throwback to the old school.

Jones as heavyweight is not a bad idea, considering his opponents are no taller than 6' 2," and weigh around 215 pounds. The best match-up at heavyweight for Jones would be against WBA/IBF heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield.

Holyfield is 6' 2," and fights between 210-218 pounds. Holyfield would have to train downward in weight for more speed to compete against Jones reflexes. By doing so, Holyfield at age 36 could drain himself. Not to mention the numerous rounds of wear and tear to his body, through so many wars.

Jones has a chance, a real good chance to make some noise in all walks of life.


Some of the most famous ancient Greek and Roman wall art survive as wall hangings in museums. The ancient classical civilizations created wall paintings, mosaics from glass and semi-precious stone and carved marble raised reliefs.

Here are is a comparison of materials used in ancient wall art: fresco wall painting in vibrant hues called fresco (paint applied to either dry or wet plaster) mosaic tiles called tesserae which are clipped glass fragments in many colors to create a painted look out of glass carved wall relief which is an image carved into a background to project off the surface.

Through the years Talaria Enterprises has been introduced to a wide selection of Greek and Roman art either as originals in museums or as replicas from our suppliers. Here are some of our favorites.

Greek Warrior with staff and snake as grave marker.

Greek Warrior Stele – Hang this refined and dignified homage to this Greek Warrior. The Greeks have a long standing tradition of making reliefs or statues in tribute to their fallen warriors as grave site markers. During the Classical era, the warrior is typically identified by his idealized body form and helmet or sword.

Laurel Wreath Ancient Victory Symbol – The laurel wreath has been given to great scholars, artists, soldiers, Roman emperors and victorious athletes, since the times of Ancient Greeks. Its use originated with the Pythian Games, a Panhellenic festival in honor of Apollo.

Nike adjusting her sandal from Acropolis, Greece.

Nike Relief Greek Goddess of Victory from Acropolis – This relief illustrates the Goddess Nike from the Temple of Athena Nike, Acropolis, Athens, c. 410 BC (High Classical Period). Now housed in the Parthenon Museum in Athens, she is the illustrious Goddess of Victory who guided many Greek warriors to victory in their battles with the Trojans and Spartans. She was well-respected and frequently depicted on reliefs, pottery, and as sculptures. The artist Phidias (500-432 BC) created this relief as well as much of the sculpture and statuary from the Acropolis.

Portrait of Julius Caesar wearing laurel wreath of victorious emperor.

Julius Caesar was a brilliant general and statesman who had a profound impact on history. Between 58 and 50 B.C. he conquered the Gauls in northern Europe, greatly adding to the size and influence of the Roman empire. Following a civil war, he became Rome’s dictator and enacted many needed reforms which helped ensure the success of Rome for centuries to come.

Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath: verso, showing oath.

Hippocratic Oath – The Doctor’s Oath here is shown as a writing on papyrus, but is sometimes reproduced as a wall carving as well. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) was a Greek Physician who is called the Father of Medicine. His work on epidemics, public health, and the importance of diet in treatment of disease was used in teaching medicine for centuries. He is best remembered as the reputed author of the Hippocratic Oath, that still remains today as the basis of the medical code of ethics. It embodies the duties and obligations expected of those who wish to enter the practice of medicine.

Themis the blind folded lady representative of Justice and Law.

Themis relief, Greek Goddess of Justice – Themis was the Titan goddess of divine law and order – the traditional rules of conduct first established by the Greek gods. She was also a prophetic goddess who presided over the most ancient of the earthly oracles, including the shrine of Delphi. In this role, she was the divine voice who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality, such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance, conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the gods. In Greek, the word themis meant divine law, rules established by custom and tradition. Unlike the word nomos, the term was never used to describe laws established by human decree. Themis was an early bride of Zeus and his prime counsellor. She was often represented seated beside his throne advising him on the precepts of divine law and the rules of fate. Themis was closely identified with Demeter in her role as the Thesmophoros (Law Bringer). Themis was also identified with Gaia (Earth) especially in the role of earthly oracle of the prophetic voice of earth itself.

Description Base of a funerary kouros found in Athens, built into the Themistokleian wall (circa 510 – 500 BC). Pentelic marble.

Greek Wrestlers Relief – In ancient Greece, wrestling occupied a prominent place in legend and literature wrestling competition, brutal in many aspects, was the supreme contest of the Olympic Games. The ancient Romans borrowed heavily from Greek wrestling, but eliminated much of its brutality. Wrestling to the Greeks was not only part of a soldier’s training regimen, but also a part of everyday life. Youth did not only learn grammar, rhetoric, and mathematics, but young men also went through physical training which consisted of dancing and the art of wrestling. Boys were paired up and learned the art of wrestling in their master’s palaestra, or private exercise court built onto the house of a schoolmaster, under the supervision of their instructor. The Greek recognized wrestling as a means of development of grace and symmetry in a vigorous activity that demands a high degree of skill and physical fitness. In ancient times, the awards were not medals but a sacred olive tree wreath. The competition was open to all Greek men who were not slaves. They could also be of any social status.

Hercules wearing Nemean lion skin from vase.

Labors of Hercules and the Nemean Lion – Hercules wearing the Nemean lion skin after defeating him is here shown as vase illustration, but is sometimes reproduced as a wall carving or sculpture as well. Hercules was the son of Zeus, the Greek God, and Alcmene, a mortal woman, making Hercules half human/ half god. Hera, Zeus’s wife was not pleased that Zeus had cheated on her with a mortal woman, so at every chance, she would try to kill or drive Hercules insane. In doing so, Hercules was forced to perform 12 labors for Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae. The first of his twelve labors involved him bringing back the skin of a ferocious lion named the Nemean Lion. Hercules tracked down the beast and cornered it in a cave. Shown on this wall hanging is Hercules struggling with the beast.

Oedipus and the sphinx. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix terracotta vase, 480–470 BC. From Vulci, Italy.

Oedipus and the Sphinx – The Sphinx terrorized the Greek inhabitants of the city Thebes. The Sphinx would destroy anyone who would not answer it’s riddles. Oedipus one day on his travels meets the Sphinx and is asked, “Which animal has one voice, but two, three or four feet being slowest on three?” Oedipus answers correctly, by saying, “Man”.

Three Graces Attendants of Aphrodite – As constant attendants of Aphrodite (Venus), the Three Graces are young, beautiful, modest personifications of gracefulness. This wall hanging is reproduced at the exact size of the original in the Louvre, Paris.

Dancing maidens maenads holding hands.

Bacchantes / Maenads Dancing Frieze Wall Relief – The Bacchantes or Maenads (women followers) frenzied with wine who rushed through woods and mountains swept away in a fierce ecstasy. They celebrated his orgies with drunkenness, nakedness, singing and sacramental feasting. The Gods of Olympus loved order and beauty in their sacrifices and their temples. The madwomen, the Bacchantes, had no temples so they went to the wilderness to worship.

Lecce, Archaeological museum “Sigismondo Castromediano”, ground floor. Ancient Roman mediallon of Athena, from the Amphitheatre of Lecce, dating from the second century BC. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, October 4 2015.

Athena Minerva Greek Roman Goddess
The Greeks built the Parthenon for her, but she is ready to guard your sacred domicile. Athena–as goddess of wisdom, skills and warfare–was one of the twelve Olympians who assembled on Olympus with their own society, laws, and hierarchy. Here in this relief fragment (c. 450-420 BC) from the Parthenon in Athens, she is depicted wearing her traditional helmet and wearing the face of medusa on her chest. The wall carving is a tondo, with the artist’s subject carved in a round form and appearing to pop out of the circle.

Our Greek and Roman Wall Art Collection is always increasing as it is a particular favorite of our curator! Our collection reproduces portions of these famous wall hangings suitable for home and garden decor.

Many of these wall hangings are not mass produced and will require 2- 6 weeks for production. If you’d like to check availability, please drop us a note on our Contact Form.


The most famous athlete from each of Michigan's 83 counties

One of the best aspects of sports is reminiscing about legendary games and all-time athletes.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good debate over the best teams and players?

Along those lines, MLive tackled a whale of a sports project. We dug deep, scouring record books and historical info to find answers to the following question: Who is the most prominent athlete from each of Michigan’s 83 counties?

For criteria, we considered athletes who were born and/or raised in Michigan. They could have been born in the late-1800s or starred more recently.

Some are or were mega-stars on a worldwide scale, while others fit the hometown hero description.

You’ll probably recognize most of these names, but with others, you’ll learn something new.

Identifying the most prominent athlete from each county is a rather subjective exercise. Do you agree with these selections? Disagree with some? We would love to see you in the comment section, where it can be discussed.

Chances are, we’ve missed the mark on some counties, but that’s OK. Let the great debate begin.

Kiki Cuyler, Chicago Cubs outfielder, is shown in posed action Sept. 22, 1932. (Associated Press file)

Alcona County: Hazen Shirley "Kiki" Cuyler

Hazen Shirley "Kiki" Cuyler (his nickname rhymes with "sky-sky") was one of Major League Baseball's greatest hitters, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1968, 18 years after he died of a heart attack. Cuyler helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series in 1925, but the right fielder's primary team during his 17-year career was the Chicago Cubs. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers, and later he coached with the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Cuyler was born in Harrisville, Mich., on Aug. 30, 1898. The Ki Cuyler Sports Bar & Grill in Harrisville opened in the mid-1970s in his honor.

Brock Strom is shown during his days on the U.S. Air Force Academy football team. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force Academy Athletics)

Alger County: Brock Strom

Brock "Slim" Strom, as he's nicknamed on the National Football Foundation website, was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. The 6-foot, 217-pound offensive tackle captained Air Force's undefeated team in 1958 and he was the academy's first All-American football player. He also co-captained Air Force teams in 1955 and 1957. Strom served in Southeast Asia and he was decorated with a pair of Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars and three Air Medals. He also served as Deputy of the Space Defense Systems in Los Angeles. Strom was born Sept. 21, 1934 in Munising.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) talks with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) after their game at Ford Field on Oct. 23, 2016. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com file)

Allegan County: Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins was born in a Chicago suburb and spent his early years there before his family moved to Holland, a city that straddles Allegan and Ottawa counties. His Holland Christian alma mater, as well as Cousins' home he lived in during his middle school and high school days, is located in northern-most Allegan County. Cousins was an under-the-radar quarterback recruit, who flourished at Michigan State and is now thriving in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Redskins in 2012. Under the franchise tag, Cousins has been the Redskins' starting QB the past two seasons, when he's totaled more than 9,000 passing yards with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He's putting his name all over the Redskins record book. He's become a household name, but will Washington want to pay him long term?

Pittsburgh Pirates' Kevin Young hits a game-winning home run off Milwaukee Brewers starter Hideo Nomo on Sept. 30, 1999, in Milwaukee. (Gary Dineen | Associated Press file)

Alpena County: Kevin Young

Kevin Young grew up in Kansas City, Mo., but he was born June 16, 1969 in Alpena. The first baseman played 11 of his 12 Major League seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He earned the Roberto Clemente Award with the Pirates, an honor presented annually to the MLB player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, community involvement and the player's contribution to his team. Young was a career .258 hitter who totaled 144 home runs and 606 RBIs, His best seasons came in 1997 (.300 average, 18 home runs) and 1998-2000 (27, 26 and 20 homers, respectively). He was listed in the Mitchell Report in 2007, a 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in MLB.

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Roger Mason, left, celebrates a 1-0 NLCS Game 5 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium Oct. 15, 1991, Atlanta, Ga. (Eric Gay | Associated Press file)

Antrim County: Roger Mason

Roger Mason was a Major League Baseball relief pitcher at different points in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a member of the Detroit Tigers' 1984 World Series championship team, although he didn't pitch much that season (1-1 record, 4.50 ERA in five appearances, including two starts). During his career, he was especially effective in the postseason, where he had a 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings. Mason also appeared in the 1993 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. After his nine-year playing career, he became pitching coach for the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League. He was born Sept. 18, 1957 in Bellaire, Mich.

Arenac County: Pat O'Keefe

Pat O'Keefe, a Standish native, starred in sports as Standish-Sterling High School as an all-state in football and basketball in 1963. He went on to play baseball at Central Michigan University, where he was all-conference. In 2009, O'Keefe was inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame. He spent 1968-70 playing minor-league baseball in the Houston Astros organization. Now, O'Keefe is an icon in Grand Ledge as the longtime baseball coach and former football coach. He is one of only two baseball coaches in state history with more than 1,200 victories. The still-active baseball coach guided Grand Ledge to state titles in 1977 and 1995. In 2000, he led Grand Ledge to a Class AA football state championship. O'Keefe was inducted in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame as well as the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Baraga County: Jim Manning

Jim Manning, who was born July 21, 1943 in L’Anse, made it to Major League Baseball with the Minnesota Twins in 1962. At the age of 18, the right-handed pitcher had a short stint with the Twins, playing five games. In seven innings pitched, he allowed 10 runs (four earned) on 14 hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Manning was drafted by the Twins in 1961 and spent the first season in the low minor leagues. After his MLB stint with the Twins, he played in the minor leagues through 1966.

Gordon Johncock wears the wreath as winner of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1973 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Associated Press file)

Barry County: Gordon Johncock

Gordon Johncock, who grew up in Hastings, ranks up there among the best open-wheel racers of the U.S. He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982. In 1976, he won the USAC national championship. He is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame. Johncock, who was born Aug. 5, 1936, got into the lumber business in the northern Lower Peninsula.

A Bill Hewitt plaque is displayed on the Bay City Central wall of fame. Bay City Central's first football star was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. (Lee Thompson | MLive.com file)

Bay County: Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt, who played nine NFL seasons, primarily in the 1930s with the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bay City native and Bay City Central High School alumnus played end and fullback, a hard-nosed guy who refused to wear a helmet and went without one until the NFL mandated it in his final season. Hewitt was named All-Pro six times and helped win a pair of NFL championships. His No. 56 jersey is retired by the Bears, and he’s a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, too. Hewitt, who was born Oct. 8, 1909 and died in a car accident in Pennsylvania at the age of 37, was named the University of Michigan’s team MVP in 1931.

Benzie County: Paul Edinger

Paul Edinger, the corkscrew-style placekicker for Michigan State and later the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, spent his very early years in Frankfort, Mich. Out of Lakeland, Fla., he was one of the nation’s top high school kickers. At MSU, he was 46 of 58 in career field goals, including the 39-yard game-winner for the Spartans against Florida in the 2000 Citrus Bowl. Detroit Lions fans likely remember Edinger, as a rookie for a 5-11 Bears team, hitting a last-second 54-yard field goal that kept the Lions out of the playoffs. The now-39-year-old Edinger spent six seasons in the NFL.

Chicago Bulls' Chet Walker, center, is guarded by Boston Celtics' Jo Jo White, left, as Walker tries to put up a shot in a Jan. 13, 1972 game. (Associated Press file)

Berrien County: Chet "The Jet" Walker

Several athletes could have earned this distinction, but Chet "The Jet" Walker comes out on top. Walker was born in Mississippi, but he moved to Benton Harbor and starred at Benton Harbor High School before he became a college and NBA great. He was a two-time all-stater in high school and went to Bradley University, where he became the Braves' all-time leading scorer. He led Bradley to a combined 69-14 record and two finals appearances in the NIT, which at the time was comparable to the NCAA Tournament. Walker was the No. 12 overall draft pick for the Syracuse Nationals (which then became the Philadelphia 76ers) in 1962. During his 13-year NBA career, he was named an All-Star seven times and averaged 18.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 21.7 ppg on the 76ers' 1966-67 team that finished 68-13 and won an NBA title. He spent the first half of his NBA career with the 76ers and second half with the Chicago Bulls.

UFC veteran Dan "The Beast" Severn is introduced to the crowd during the New Revolution MMA fights at The DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids on Jan. 6, 2014 (Cory Olsen | MLive.com file)

Branch County: Dan "The Beast" Severn

Dan “The Beast” Severn is an Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer. He was a two-time National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight champion and was the only UFC triple-crown champ. His professional Mixed Martial Arts record finished at 101-19-7. Collegiately, Severn was an All-American at Arizona State University. He was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team. The Coldwater native was born on June 8, 1958.

Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tony McGee, right, brings down Detroit Lions' Mel Farr for a loss during a Nov. 21, 1971 game. (Fred Jewell | Associated Press file)

Calhoun County: Tony McGee

Battle Creek native Tony McGee, not to be confused with the former University of Michigan tight end of the same name, had a 14-year NFL career as a defensive lineman. He played in two Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins, helping them win the championship in 1983. McGee, who was born Jan. 18, 1949, is a Battle Creek Central High School alumnus. He played football at top-10-ranked University of Wyoming, but because he was part of the Black 14 in 1969, he was dismissed from the team. McGee finished his career at Bishop College and was selected in the third round of the 1971 NFL draft. He had previously been projected as a first-round pick, but it's believed his Black 14 involvement impacted that.

Dowagiac native Chris Taylor, center, poses with Iowa State teammates Ben Peterson, left, and Dan Gable after they all medaled at the Munich Olympics in 1972. (Associated Press file)

Cass County: Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor was a 6-foot-5, 412-pound heavyweight wrestler who hailed from Dowagiac. He won a freestyle bronze medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics. At the time, he was the heaviest Olympian ever. Collegiately, Taylor attended Muskegon Community College and then Iowa State University, where he won a national title in 1972. He was born on June 13, 1950 and died in 1979 at the age of 29 as the result of blood clots. The high school football field in Dowagiac is named after him.

Michigan State University end Bob Carey, left, was an All-American in football and track for the Spartans. (Courtesy of Michigan State Athletics Communications)

Charlevoix County: Bob Carey

Bob Carey was a two-sport All-American (football and track) at Michigan State University, and he was a first-round NFL draft pick (13 th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams in 1952. The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame was born Feb. 8, 1930 in Charlevoix. At MSU, he starred in football, basketball and track and earned nine varsity letters. He was a captain on the Spartans' undefeated 1951 team. The end played for the Rams 1952-56, then for the Chicago Bears in 1958. Carey and his twin brother Bill were part of Charlevoix's 1945 football team that was unbeaten and unscored upon. Bill also went to MSU and was drafted in the NFL.

Cheboygan County: Shannon Scarbrough

Shannon Scarbrough, a 1992 graduate of Cheboygan High School, was a 6-foot-3, 225-pound fullback who led the Chiefs to the 1991 Class BB state championship game and went on to play collegiately at the University of Cincinnati. Cheboygan lost to Farmington Hills Harrison, 34-7, in the 1991 matchup at the Pontiac Silverdome, but Scarbrough had a big game with 20 carries for 161 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. It’s the only time Cheboygan has played in a football state-title game. The all-state first-teamer and Detroit Free Press Dream Teamer rushed for 2,300 yards and 26 TDs his senior season, marking his second-straight 1,000-yard campaign. Scarbrough played for the West squad in the 1992 Michigan High School Football Coaches Association All-Star Game. He was Cheboygan’s MVP in 1990 and 1991. Scarbrough played at Cincinnati 1993-96, the first three years as a running back and final season as a tight end.

Clarence "Taffy" Abel, shown as a New York Ranger in 1928, was a 6-foot-1, 225-pound defenseman. (Associated Press file)

Chippewa County: Clarence "Taffy" Abel

Taffy Abel was the first U.S.-born player to become a regular in the NHL. The Sault Ste. Marie native, who was born May 28, 1900 and died Aug. 1, 1964, helped the New York Rangers (1927-28) and Chicago Black Hawks (1933-34) win Stanley Cups. ("Blackhawks" used to be two words back then.) The hockey rink at Lake Superior State University is named after Abel. The sturdy defenseman was posthumously inducted into the United States Hall of Fame in 1973. He was a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic team and the U.S. flag bearer for the opening ceremonies.

Fort Worth Cats manager Wayne Terwilliger, right, listens to the singing of the nation anthem before the start of a June 23, 2005 Central League Baseball game in Fort Worth, Texas. (Matt Slocum | Associated Press file)

Clare County: Wayne Terwilliger

Wayne Terwilliger, a Clare native who was born on June 27, 1925, is a former Major League Baseball player. He’s also coached and managed at various levels of baseball. The second baseman played for the Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington Senators, New York Giants and Kansas City A’s. He served in the Marines in 1943 and was discharged a couple years later, when he attended Western Michigan College and was a standout shortstop.

Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber addresses fans and media at Capitol City Airport in Lansing in 2012. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com file)

Clinton County: Jordyn Wieber

Jordyn Wieber, born on July 12, 1995 and from DeWitt, is a retired gymnast who was part of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics “Fierce Five” at the 2012 Summer Olympics. She captured a gold medal in the all-around competition. In 2011, she was part of the U.S. gold medal-winning team at the World Championships. Currently, Wieber attends UCLA, where she is a volunteer assistant coach for the gymnastics team.

Luke Jensen jokes with a ball girl during an exhibition match at the USTA Boys 18 & 16 National Championships in Kalamazoo on Aug. 5, 2011. (Jonathon Gruenke | MLive.com file)

Crawford County: Luke Jensen

Luke Jensen, who was born June 18, 1966 in Grayling, is a former tennis professional best-known for winning the 1993 French Open title with his younger brother, Murphy. Luke Jensen, who grew up in Ludington and graduated from East Grand Rapids High School where he won a state title, turned pro in 1987. The ambidextrous, hard-serving Jensen took home more than $1.3 million in prize money and teamed with his brother to win four ATP doubles championships. During his junior tennis career, he climbed to a No. 1 world ranking in singles and doubles. Professionally, he had a 252-297 doubles record and 12-43 singles record. After his playing career, he got into various professional opportunities, including broadcasting, coaching and instructing.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kevin Tapani delivers against the Minnesota Twins during a 2000 game in Minneapolis. (Ann Heisenfelt | Associated Press file)

Delta County: Kevin Tapani

Kevin Tapani was born Feb. 18, 1964 in Des Moines, Iowa, but he was raised in Escanaba. He pitched in Major League Baseball from 1989 until 2001, playing for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs. He finished his career with a 143-125 record and 4.35 ERA. In 1991, when he pitched with the Twins, he went 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA to finish seventh in American League Cy Young voting. In 1999 with the Cubs, he posted a 19-9 record. In high school, Tapani quarterbacked Escanaba to the Class A football state title in 1981. At Central Michigan University, he posted a 23-8 career record and led the Chippewas to three Mid-American Conference titles.

Steve Mariucci of Thursday Night Football broadcasts from the set on the field after an NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 3, 2016. (Phelan M. Ebenhack | Associated Press file)

Dickinson County: Steve Mariucci

Tom Izzo, Todd Lindeman and Tim Kearney deserve some mention as standout athletes from Dickinson County, but “Mooch” gets the edge. Mariucci and Izzo did attend Iron Mountain High School and Northern Michigan University together. (Did you hear they were friends? Yes, that’s a joke.) Anyway, Mariucci was All-U.P. in football and basketball at Iron Mountain. At NMU, he quarterbacked the 1975 team to the Division II national title, and was a three-time team MVP and two-time D-II All-American during his career with the Wildcats. Mariucci had a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, then he got into the coaching realm, where his history is well-documented. Now 61 years old, Mariucci is a TV analyst covering the NFL.

Boston Celtics center Al Horford is averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season. (Charles Krupa | Associated Press file)

Eaton County: Al Horford

Al Horford was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the Lansing area before high school. He starred at Grand Ledge High School and set several school records in becoming a four-star recruit who committed to Florida. At Florida, he was a dominant front-line performer and helped the Gators win back-to-back national titles in his three seasons in Gainesville, plus earned All-American honors twice. Horford decided to forego his senior season at Florida to enter the NBA, and he was selected No. 3 overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2007 draft. He made the All-Rookie team for the NBA in 2008, and he's a four-time All-Star. In his 10 th NBA season but first with the Boston Celtics, Horford is averaging 14.5 points. In his career, he's at 14.3 ppg and has averaged double-figures every season.

Emmet County: Herbert Orvis

Herbert Orvis, who was born Oct. 17, 1946 in Petoskey, played defensive tackled in the NFL for 10 seasons. The College Football Hall of Famer earned All-American honors in 1971 at University of Colorado and twice was named All-Big Eight Conference. Additionally, he made the 1970s All-Big Eight Decade team and later was inducted into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1972. Orvis played for the Lions 1972-77, and for the Baltimore Colts 1978-81.

Three-time NBA All-Star and NCAA national champion Glen Rice instructs a basketball training session for kids ages 10-17 a couple summers ago in Flint. (Danny Miller | MLive.com file)

Genesee County: Glen Rice

Several others could have been given the distinction as the most prominent athlete to come from Genesee County, but Glen Rice is very deserving. Rice was born in Arkansas, but he moved to Flint at age 11. The Flint Northwestern High School alumnus and smooth-shooting wing is University of Michigan’s all-time leading scorer (2,442 points), led the Wolverines to the 1989 national title and played in the NBA for 15 seasons. The three-time NBA All-Star was the No. 3 overall pick of the 1989 NBA draft (Miami Heat). He played for the Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. Rice helped the Lakers win the NBA title in 2000. Three years earlier, he was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP. Rice, who is now 49 years old, holds a handful of records at U-M.

Gladwin County: Jim Kern

Jim Kern, who was born March 15, 1949 in Gladwin, pitched in Major League Baseball for 13 years and enjoyed a high degree of success as a pitcher. He was a three-time All-Star and played for six different teams, including the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers. In 1979, as a Rangers reliever, he posted a 13-5 record and 1.57 ERA with 29 saves en route to finishing fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

Jack Gotta coached the Birmingham Americans to a 22-21 victory over the Florida Blazers in the only WFL World Bowl at Legion Field. The Ironwood, Mich., native died on June 29, 2013, at the age of 83. (Birmingham News file photo)

Gogebic County: Jack "Jocko" Gotta

Jack Gotta, who was born Nov. 14, 1929 in Ironwood and died at age 83 in 2013, was a Canadian professional football player and later a coach and general manager. Gotta was a tight end at Oregon State University, then at Hamilton Air Force Base. He started in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, but then he was cut and went to the Canadian Football League. His professional playing career lasted from 1956 until 1964, at which point he pursued a career in coaching. His highlights included winning the Grey Cup in 1973 and the Annis Stukus Trophy in 1972 and 1973 as the Ottawa Rough Riders coach. In 1974, he led the Birmingham Americans of the World Football League to the World Bowl title.

Former Central Michigan University and NBA star Dan Majerle, of Traverse City, is now coaching Division I basketball for Grand Canyon. (Gerry Broome | Associated Press file)

Grand Traverse County: Dan Majerle

Dan Majerle, who became known as "Thunder Dan," is a 51-year-old Traverse City native who was a star basketball player at Central Michigan University and played in the NBA for 14 years. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard-small forward was a standout at Traverse City High School before he became legendary at CMU, where he was an All-American in 1987. He is part of the CMU Athletic Hall of Fame, and his No. 44 jersey is retired. He led the Chippewas in scoring, rebounding and steals three straight seasons (1985-88). In four years at CMU, Majerle averaged 21.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns (14 th overall) in the 1988 NBA draft. That year, he also was named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Majerle became a three-time NBA All-Star and his No. 9 jersey was retired by the Phoenix Suns. He's currently coaching Division I basketball for Grand Canyon.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Jim Northrup is shown March 2, 1968. (Associated Press file)

Gratiot County: Jim Northrup

Jim Northrup, a Breckenridge native who was born Nov. 24, 1939 and died June 8, 2011 at the age of 71, was most well-known for his contributions to the 1968 Detroit Tigers’ World Series title team. That season, the outfielder led the Tigers in hits and RBIs and delivered the game-winning triple off Bob Gibson in World Series Game 7. That season, Northrup hit five grand slams and broke up three no-hitters. In total, he played a dozen Major League seasons with three different teams and batted .267 with 153 home runs, 610 RBIs and 603 runs. Northrup, who graduated from St. Louis High School, attended Alma College and excelled in five sports, including football (he was a small-college All-American quarterback), basketball, track, golf and baseball.

San Diego Chargers running back Keith Lincoln (22) runs away from Dallas Texans' Sherrill Headrick (69) during AFL action at San Diego on Oct. 7, 1962. (Associated Press file)

Hillsdale County: Keith Lincoln

Keith Lincoln, a Reading native who was born May 8, 1939, was a star running back who is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame and the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame. He was selected by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 1961 draft and also was a second-round pick that year in the AFL draft. He played for the Chargers 1961-66 and 1968-69, as well as the Buffalo Bills 1967-68. Lincoln, who still holds a postseason record for gaining 329 yards from scrimmage in the 1963 AFL Championship victory over the Boston Patriots, was a five-time AFL All-Star and two-time AFL All-Star Game MVP. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was All-Pro for two seasons as well.

George Gipp, an All-American from Notre Dame, is shown in this undated file photo. (Associated Press file)

Houghton County: George "The Gipper" Gipp

George Gipp is a Laurium native, hailing from the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country. He was born Feb. 18, 1895, and famously nicknamed “The Gipper” as he was the inspiration of a legendary speech by former Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, “win one for the Gipper.” Gipp, who was an all-around athlete at Calumet High School, was Notre Dame’s first All-American. On Dec. 14, 1920, he died at age 25 from a strep throat infection. At Notre Dame, he played halfback, quarterback and punter. Gipp scored 83 touchdowns in 32 college games and he’s enshrined in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. When he went to Notre Dame, Gipp had plans to play baseball before Rockne talked him into playing football.

Central Michigan's Jordan Bitzer reaches for the ball in front of Kentucky's Landon Slone during a 2008 game in Lexington, Ky. (Ed Reinke | Associated Press file)

Huron County: Jordan Bitzer

Jordan Bitzer, a Unionville native born Sept. 6, 1987, was a three-sport all-stater at Unionville-Sebewaing Area High School, who went on to a strong basketball career at Central Michigan University. The 6-foot-3 Bitzer quarterbacked USA to two state championship football games, including a 14-7 upset of Detroit St. Martin dePorres in 2004, and played point guard for a state runner-up basketball squad. The 2006 USA graduate scored 1,317 career points in high school, powering the Patriots to the state title game as a junior and a 23-1 record as a senior. In baseball, he was an all-state shortstop. Bitzer's name appears in several spots on the CMU basketball record book. The guard, who played at CMU 2007-10, is listed in the following Chippewas career categories: first in free-throw percentage (.839 on 240 of 286), fourth in steals (169), fourth in 3-point makes (196), tied for fourth in 3-points attempts (542) and 16 th in scoring (1,158 points).

Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson celebrates with fans as he leaves the court following an NBA title-clinching win over the Boston Celtics in 1987 in Inglewood, Calif. (Reed Saxon | Associated Press file)

Ingham County: Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Was there any doubt about Ingham County’s most prominent athlete? Not only is Magic Johnson a Lansing legend, he is an all-time basketball great and probably the state of Michigan's most recognizable athlete. Born Aug. 14, 1959 in Lansing, Johnson grew to become a household name at Lansing Everett High School and was given the nickname “Magic” by former Lansing State Journal sports writer Fred Stabley Jr. As a senior at Everett, Magic led the way to a state championship. The 6-foot-9 star chose Michigan State over Michigan, keeping his talents close to home. Magic’s reputation as a winner and magician with the basketball only grew with the Spartans, as he led them to the national title as a sophomore in 1979 before he decided to make the jump to the NBA. Magic was the top overall pick of the 1979 NBA draft, going to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire 13-season career and cemented his legendary status for the world to see. Magic is a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, three-time NBA MVP and 12-time All-Star. His No. 32 jersey was retired by the Lakers, and his No. 33 jersey was retired by MSU. Since his announcement of being HIV positive in 1991, which forced his retirement, Magic has become known as a philanthropist, broadcaster, motivational speaker and front-office executive.

Belding's Brent Cummings, right, tries to go up and make a catch over Jackson Lumen Christi's Sean Brogan during the 1996 Class B state championship game at the Pontiac Silverdome. (J. Scott Park | MLive.com file)

Ionia County: Brent Cummings

Brent Cummings was a speedy, standout running back for Belding High School’s wing-T attack in 1995-98 before he moved on to play at University of Michigan. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder helped Belding get to three straight Class B state championship games, and the Redskins went 47-4 in his four seasons on the varsity team. In Belding’s 42-13 state-title win over Riverview in 1997, Cummings scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). Cummings racked up 38 touchdowns in 1997 and 85 in his career. The 1999 Belding grad went to Michigan as a running back, but he was converted to receiver and also played cornerback with the Wolverines. He left the U-M team briefly to focus on his studies but later returned. Cummings is now secondary coach for the Rockford High School football program.


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