Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 43
Date: 99-01-21 16:07:01 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
By J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 43
Monday, January 25, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: BODAK-GERBASI CONCLUDES; THE NIGHT BIG SONNY BOMBED PATTERSON
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(ED. NOTE -- Herewith, we conclude the absorbing interview between Cyber
Boxing Zone's Thomas Gerbasi and longtime teacher of champions, Chuck Bodak.)
CHUCK BODAK (CONTINUED)
TG - What are your thoughts on Whitey Bimstein?
CB - During his time he was great. A lot of it too is that you create a
reputation and you're very fortunate in people wanting you for your
reputation, and the publicity you get, and the contacts you make, and there's
a lot of luck involved. A lot of times there's a lot of weird things that
happen too. Like for example, you work with one guy one time and you do real
good work or sometimes you're not even doing anything cause they don't get cut
or something, and the next time they don't call you, they call someone else.
To me that's luck. You got a reputation that you can do the job. If a guy
hires you once or twice and what happens the third,fourth, fifth time or
whatever? Did you lose everything or what? It's weird. Plus I guess fighters,
to a point, are eccentric, and a lot of it deals with managers, the way the
guy feels, or something.
TG - Ray Arcel?
CB - He's another guy that I had a lot of respect for because his philosophy
was "you don't train, you teach". And that's the truth. You refer to training
as working with animals because you can't educate an animal. You train an
animal. When you deal with a human being, boxing is a science, regardless of
what the product is in performing, and if you don't educate a guy, he's got
nothing. Like the old adage "he's got balls", but that's garbage to me. When I
hear that I want to throw up. It's not a question of balls, it's a question of
TG - Eddie Futch?
CB - A good teacher. And a lot of it too, besides being a talented individual,
it's the type of person that you are. Your philosophy. How you sell yourself
to an individual.How you can function with him as a unit. He's in that
category, he's a nice person. Because you can be a great athlete, but what
kind of person are you? Which is more important than anything.
TG - Eddie "The Clot" Aliano?
CB - One of the best and a nice person. He's a laid back individual, he does
his job. And Eddie's the type of guy that you would literally have to walk up
and talk to him. He was almost like shy, but a good person. Teriffic guy. He's
a very good friend of mine.
TG - Is there a competitive thing among trainers and cutmen, or is it more of
CB - Well it all depends on the relationship you have with a person. You know,
if a guy's got a lot of faults in reference to what you're looking for, for
harmony and cooperation and stuff like that, you're sort of evasive, you walk
away from situations and stuff like that because how can you deal with
something like that? It's like I'm not going to go to your
house if I feel uncomfortable or if I know you're an asshole or something like
that. I wouldn't even go there. And it's the same way with people. The way
they are a lot of times, the things that they do, and their whole philosophy
in the business and the way they treat people, you just don't deal with them.
Like a lot of them, I just walk by them, and I can get along with anybody. But
so many of them will screw you, bum rap you, try to hurt you, why? I could
never understand that. If anything, you want to help a guy, or if he isn't
compatible, you just ignore him or walk away from him. Why get ulcers, why
lose sleep over something that's not important.
TG - Are there any good young trainers around today?
CB - There's a lot of them. They ask me questions and tips and I help them
because I feel this way: if I have something you think you need, or advice,
you ask me, I'll tell you. Why be a hog, or why if you have talents or
something of value to someone, why keep it to yourself?
CHUCK ON DREAM FIGHTS
TG - Julio Caesar Chavez vs. Roberto Duran
CB - That would be a tough one because they're both literally in the same
category. They were very talented in different respects. Some of those
matchups are really tough because you have two tremendous talents, it's almost
like flipping a coin.
TG - Barney Ross vs. Oscar DeLa Hoya
CB - Well, at this stage, you'd probably have to say Barney Ross because,
Oscar, as great as he is, with the potential of being greater, you'd have to
give Barney the shade because he was always in tremendous condition, he had a
good philosophy, he was a tremendous person, which I think is a huge asset in
boxing when you deal with mentality in teaching. That would probably be the
TG - Tony Zale vs. Marvin Hagler
CB - I'd say Marvin Hagler because he was a greater technician than Tony.
Coming from me, I'm originally from Gary. I was on amateur teams with Zale, I
worked with him at the Chicago CYO for 25 years, and in reference to an honest
opinion, I'd have to pick Hagler. See Tony was tough, but he was not a great
technician. Tremendous condition, desire, devotion, and everything else, he
had all that. And he became a success. But when it comes to great technology,
he didn't have it, not in comparison to Hagler.
TG - Archie Moore vs. Roy Jones Jr.
CB - No question, Archie Moore. At this stage. After a few years of
accomplishments you might change your opinion. But it's nothing to do with the
time that he fought, or the guys that he fought. Like they'll compare the old
timers with the modern day fighters. Look at the difference in records with a
lot of them. Look at the difference in the opponents that they fought, and not
only champions. There were guys in the old days who never had an opportunity
to become champions because of the control and everything else. Today, if you
can't get a break with one organization, you get a break with another
organization, and become a champion, which is nothing wrong. There's so much
to give and they can only give so much and somebody comes in and adds to it,
which is good. The other guys, who are not in the top three , for example,
they have an opportunity to became a champion,they have the opportunity to
make a decent buck in preference to being nothing or a nobody and just making
an ordinary payday. Paying you for what a promoter thinks you're worth. When
you become a champion, you have some prestige. It demands a little more money.
TG - Evander Holyfield vs. Ezzard Charles
CB - That's a tough one too, because Ezzard Charles was a great, great
fighter. In fact, one of the most underrated fighters that ever lived. Another
guy that was so talented. That would have to be a toss up too.
TG - What do you think about women boxing?
CB - I think it's all right, I'll tell you why. If that's what a woman desires
and she becomes talented, devout and dedicated to the sport, why not? Look for
example, in track. Can you imagine a woman pole vaulting? Because they're not
the muscular type, and it demands a lot of muscular reaction. Plus today,
women that are participating in sports develop themselves, they have a great
desire and determination, they love what they're doing, they become masters at
what they're doing. What's wrong with that? Maybe not in comparison to the
male, but on the other hand, what they do in performing sometimes amazes you.
TG - What would you say to someone who thinks boxing should be banned?
CB - That's idiotic. Why don't they ban all the contact sports? Because these
detrimental incidents happen in all of them. You can get hurt, you can get
killed. You can do the same thing in your own home. You can fall down and
break your neck, break your shoulder, your arm, your leg, or whatever. You can
walk out of your driveway, get hit by a car and get killed. Those things are
inevitable. They happen. How can you say that it shouldn't be or they
shouldn't jeopardize themselves? So what? It's an individual's choice, right?
And if there's a penalty to pay or there's success involved, it's yours, you
earned it, you're entitled to it.
In a way it's really idiotic. If you feel that way, don't even look at it. How
can you look at something when down deep in your heart you're condemning it?
How can you enjoy it? You've got to be a real hypocrite. And these things that
happen, no one wants to see it happen. It's sad that they happen, but hell,
that's life. There are a lot of things that happen, both pro and con, in life
but who are we to judge or condemn it?
(Mr. Gerbasi is an important member of the Cyber Boxing Zone braintrust. We
appreciate his making available the deep and probing interview with Mr. Bodak,
one of the important behind-the-scenes personages in boxing history.)
SONNY TAKES CHICAGO
By Thomas Gerbasi
"Sonny New Champ."
So read the headline of the New York Daily News on Wednesday, September 26,
1962. The night before, Sonny Liston blitzed Floyd
Patterson in 126 seconds to win sports' most prized possession, the
heavyweight championship of the world. No WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBU titles. Just
one undisputed crown. And by the looks of things, it seemed like Sonny would
reign for as long as he wanted.
September 17, 1962 -- The pre-fight medical examination turned into a shouting
match between the two fighter's camps over the type of gloves to be worn in
the fight. Dan Florio, Patterson's chief second, wanted both fighters to wear
the gloves ordered by the fight's promoters. But Liston's people wanted Sonny
to wear gloves which were custom made to fit his large fists. Athletic
commission chairman Joe Triner ruled that Liston could wear the custom made
gloves. But Patterson's manager, Cus D'Amato, didn't let it die. And finally,
Triner relented, and said that he would review the matter further. The
fighters? Patterson and Liston both sat silently.
September 19, 1962 -- Daily News writer Gene Ward makes a trip to Liston's
training camp in Aurora, Illinois. "He started out with more sparring
partners, but two of 'em quit and one of 'em got his ribs stove in." says Jack
Nilon, Sonny's adviser. One of those sparmates, Jimmy McCarter, concurs "He
hit Fenado Cox on the arm the other day and knocked him flat. Wherever he hits
you it hurts."
Spectators are charged 99 cents to watch Liston work out, and they're not
disappointed. He opens with four rounds of shadow boxing with 175 pounder
Allan Thomas. Next came three rounds on the heavy bag, three rounds on the
speed bag, and his signature training method, his rope skipping to the strains
of Jimmy Brown and the Flames' "Night Train." The record plays for 3 minutes
and 35 seconds. Liston goes through six playings. To finish up, Liston gets a
medicine ball hurled at his stomach a number of times, and performs 64 situps
on a specially designed board. An onlooker remarked "How will Patterson go
about hurting this man?" Liston next meets the press, and he's his usual
pleasant self when asked if Patterson will be the toughest opponent he's
faced. "Can I tell if this winter's gonna be cold? No. And I can't tell if
Patterson's gonna be tough. I might get rid of him quick. He might get rid of
September 22, 1962 -- It's close to fight night, and both men are on edge.
Liston greets his press agent with an unsmiling "Hello, you miserable rat"
after the agent brought the press to camp. And Patterson is just as snippy.
Floyd gets asked "Are you awed by Liston's massiveness?" His response? "I'm
not fighting his massiveness, I'm fighting him. Liston, he talks too much, so
I think my confidence is different from his. His is on the surface. To support
it he seems to have to keep talking about what he will do to me."
The Tale of the Tape
27 Age 28
189 Weight 212
6-0 Height 6-1
16 1/2 Neck 17 1/2
40" Chest(Nor) 44"
42" Chest(Exp) 46 1/2"
32 1/2" Waist 33"
14 1/2" Biceps 16 1/2"
12 3/4" Fist 14"
21 1/2" Thigh 25 1/2"
6" Wrist 8 1/2"
15 1/2" Calf 16"
9 1/2" Ankle 12"
September 24, 1962 -- The glove controversy strikes again. While both camps
argued back and forth, Liston finally puts an end to matters with a disgusted
"Oh, they're all right". So Sonny will wear eight ounce Everlast gloves on
fight night, as will Patterson. Also in effect for the fight will be the five
point must scoring system, and the mandatory eight count. The card will start
at 8:30pm Chicago time, with the main event coming off at 9:40pm.
The line on the fight is Liston as favorite, with the odds being 8-5. But the
sports writers of the nation are firmly in Floyd's corner, tabbing him as a
victor, 51-32. The Daily News staff picks Liston by a 4-3 margin. Jimmy
Powers, Dick Young, and Bruce Stark all like Patterson by kayo, in six, ten,
and eight rounds respectively.
A cartoon in the News depicts Patterson landing a right on Liston, with the
caption "The Liston Myth". Below reads the following: "Tonight in Chicago,
Floyd Patterson will attempt to answer a question of long standing: Is Sonny
Liston a genuine ogre or is he a fairy tale phony, hiding behind a scowl and a
sneer? My guess is the latter, and it will take Floyd just eight rounds to
September 25, 1962 -- Before a crowd of 18,894 at Chicago's Comiskey Park,
Sonny Liston knocked the heavyweight crown off Floyd Patterson's head with a
quick one round knockout. Liston landed the first punch of the fight, a right
to the head. Floyd immediately clinched. Floyd missed a wild left, and Liston
retaliated with a left of his own, which landed. Liston continued to move
forward, landing shots on Patterson. A left to the head, then the body, and
another right and left put Patterson down. Floyd went into a crouch, shaking
his head as referee Frank Sikora counted him out at the 2:06 mark.
Back in the dressing room, it was obvious that the title had not calmed Sonny
much. Irked by the questions from the press, he commented "This is worse than
the fight. I'd like to go out there and fight him some more." Did Patterson
hurt Sonny? "Yeah, he hurt me when it looked as though he was going to get up
at nine. But he couldn't make it. I expected to get him early. He was a good
champion. I hope that the public will forget the past and give me a chance to
be a good champion, too."
The Patterson locker room was as upbeat as a funeral. Cus D'Amato, who didn't
want Patterson to fight Liston, sat with Floyd's mother Annabelle, both
wearing anguished looks on their faces. Annabelle also wanted her son in the
ring with Sonny again. "I want Floyd to fight him again. I don't think he
would have won even if he had beaten the count and gotten up." What about
Patterson himself? Did he hear the count? "Not clearly. I thought I heard him
say eight, and I jumped up. I thought I made it." But Floyd did say that he
planned to invoke the rematch clause in the contract. Liston-Patterson II
would be made...with the same result.
This fight was the richest one-time sporting event ever. Patterson's take? 1.7
million dollars. The new champ went home with $400,000, the most ever for a
first time heavyweight challenger.
You want to add insult to injury for Patterson? Floyd and his people tried to
leave Comiskey via the ushers' room, to avoid the crowd. They subsequently
found themselves locked in the room. a hammer and a metal pipe was unable to
break the lock, so a hacksaw had to do. Patterson stood by watching, holding
his head. Talk about a long night.
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