Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 52
Date: 99-02-02 17:16:15 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
Edited by J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 52
Wednesday, February 3, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: ONE-OF-A-KIND CHARACTER, BRUCE (THE MOUSE) STRAUSS, PROFILED
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THE SAGA OF ANNOUNCER JOE McHUGH
(Allentown Morning Call, July 22, 1991)
By Tim Blangger
At 87, a little of the spring is gone from his step. By his own admission, the
trademark rolling vowels don't roll the way they did.
But the razor wit that launched Joe McHugh's career as an announcer in
vaudeville, professional wrestling and professional boxing remains sharp.
Recently, he settled into his usual lunchtime table at Leh's 1850 Room in
downtown Allentown, after exchanging some quips with a few of the waitresses,
to reminisce about his life, one that has made him one of the oldest working
announcers on the East Coast.
To fans of professional wrestling, McHugh may be best known as the official
ring announcer for the World Wrestling Federation, which taped many of its
matches at Allentown's Agricultural Hall. The WWF stopped using Allentown as a
venue site about five years ago and McHugh's 20-year career as an announcer
for WWF wrestling was over.
Before that, McHugh announced professional boxing matches, on and off, for 30
years, mostly in the Allentown area, but also at other fight venues along the
"Allentown was quite a fight town," McHugh says. "But no more."
"I go back to the '20s, the '30s, the '40s," McHugh says of his career as a
boxing announcer. "Back then, you didn't have television, and you didn't get
that much recognition."
Indeed, a spokeswoman for Ring magazine, the "Bible of Boxing," said McHugh
was known as a wrestling announcer, not a boxing announcer.
"And we understand that he's deceased," the spokeswoman said.
That will certainly be a surprise to McHugh, who plans to live to at least
until the year 2000, mostly so he can call everyone he knows on Dec. 31, 1999
to say hello.
A 1977 article on amateur boxing that appeared in another sports magazine,
Sports Illustrated, however, called McHugh "The Living Legend of the Ring."
The article and a few other clippings are all that McHugh has left from his
before-television career. A trunk that contained the clippings and other
promotional materials was lost, and McHugh has only memories.
The memories are still fresh, fortunately, for McHugh, who quickly recalls the
reason he went into show business at the age of 15.
"Well," McHugh says, picking at his macaroni and cheese (stewed tomatoes on
the side), "I was living in Allentown's Sixth Ward. What the hell, we had
nothing else to do. No one had work at the time, so we went into show
McHugh became a master of ceremonies and a stand-up comic.
"In those days, you couldn't do anything off-color," McHugh says of the humor.
"What the comedians do today, we couldn't get away with any of that. If you
walked out on a nightclub floor and said `damn,' you were fired immediately."
McHugh says he told mostly ethnic jokes. Being an Irish-American, he told lots
of jokes about the Irish. Many comics did that then, McHugh says, to avoid
offending anyone. Polish comedians told jokes about the Polish; German
comedians told jokes about the Germans.
After spending time in vaudeville, he tried his hand at promoting
entertainment acts at area clubs. He was part owner of Club Rio, a nightclub
near Hamilton and Cedar Crest boulevards in South Whitehall Township.
"Believe it or not, do you know who worked there once? Jackie Gleason," McHugh
says, answering his own question. "He was only 17 years old. Nobody knew who
he was. He was just breaking in (to show business). He wasn't too hot. He had
a lot of New York gags."
For all his stories and one-liners, there is one subject McHugh doesn't want
to talk about -- retirement.
"Retirement?" he retorts. "I'm having too much fun for that."
He still announces regional wrestling events, including a stint during the
Allentown Fair at the end of August.
His lunch finished, McHugh prepares to leave his regular table in one corner
of the restaurant. He says hello to a few old friends, then carefully pads his
way toward the cashier, using a cane to guide his steps.
But despite his years and the cane, McHugh insists on using the stairs -- not
the elevator. "The elevator," McHugh snorts with the same tone of voice he
uses when talking about retirement. "I'd rather walk.
BLACK BOXERS AND THEIR MILESTONES
(Allentown Morning Call, June 5, 1997)
By Frank Whelan
Here are some of the highlights of breaking the racial barrier in boxing:
- March 31, 1891: George Dixon knocks out Cal McCarthy for the bantamweight
championship to become the first African American to hold a U.S. title in any
- Sept. 6, 1892: Dixon beats Jack Skelly in New Orleans. African-American
residents of New Orleans celebrate for two days.
- Dec. 26, 1908: Jack Johnson beats white champion Tommy Burns in Sydney,
Australia, to become the first African American to become heavyweight champion
of the world.
- July 4, 1910: Johnson defeats former champion Jim Jeffries, hailed in the
press as the "Great White Hope," in Reno, Nev. Race riots, directed at African
Americans by whites, break out in major U.S. cities.
- June 22, 1937: Joe Louis defeats James J. Braddock to become heavyweight
champion of the world.
- June 22, 1938: Louis defeats German fighter Max Schmeling in what was seen
by many as a blow to Hitler's master race propaganda.
- June 20, 1960: Floyd Patterson regains heavyweight title he lost to Swedish
fighter Ingemar Johansson.
'THE MOUSE' IS MAKING A COMEBACK
(East Brunswick, N.J., Home News & Journal, April 28, 1996)
Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss, who might've lost more fights than any other
professional prizefighter in ring history, including two on the same card, is
on the brink of immortality.
Strauss was never a champion and didn't even approach contender status, but he
left his mark on boxing history as one of the sport's all-time greatest
The colorful story of Strauss, who claims to have been knocked out on every
continent, has been turned into a motion picture, appropriately entitled "The
Mouse," and it should be playing at a theater near you in 1997.
According to New Jersey-based Fight Fax, which has become almost universally
accepted as boxing's official record keeper, Straus owns a 79-60-6 record with
58 KOs. But Strauss, who fought under several aliases, including Ruben Bardot,
claimed to have "240 or 250 fights" under his belt and emerged victorious in
less than half of them. Mouse was the breakfast of champions.
While most professional boxers aspire to championships, Strauss' stated goals
as a pro were to "have fun, make some money and see the world." The former New
Jersey resident, a 1968 graduate of New Milford High School who attended a
small college in Nebraska on a wrestling scholarship, accomplished what he set
out to do, primarily between 1976 and 1986, when boxing commissions, records
and safety all weren't as closely monitored as they are today.
With modern technology, computer-kept records and greater-than-ever emphasis
on the health and safety of pro pugilists, we'll never see another Strauss.
Never again will a boxer routinely fight three times a week, two nights in a
row and even twice on the same card.
"I was fighting a preliminary bout on the undercard and when I went back to
the dressing room I was a little groggy from getting knocked out," Strauss,
44, said during a telephone interview last week.
"But I could hear a commotion from one of the fighters in the main event who
was getting cold feet and left. I approached the promoter with the idea of
changing into a different pair of trunks and fighting as my twin brother."
Strauss returned to the ring for an encore and suffered another knockout loss.
"But I got paid twice that night," Strauss said.
Strauss, who fought as a lightweight, heavyweight and nearly every weight in
between, was based in the midwest, but traveled anywhere for a bout and some
bucks. He came to New Jersey on July 17, 1980 for an ESPN bout against an
18-year-old, up-and-coming middleweight named Bobby Czyz.
In front of a cable television audience, Strauss put on a show before he
suffered a fourth-round knockout. The very next night, in Nebraska, Strauss
knocked out Nick Miller.
"On my way in the ring a fan yelled out, "Hey I saw that bum get knocked out
on TV last night'," Strauss said. "I said "That was my brother, I'm The
Whoever he was on any given night, Strauss always made sure he had a good
time. "I looked up to the Mouse because boxing was always fun for him," said
former lightweight champion and current USA cable network analyst Sean
"For me, boxing had become too serious. Mouse was there to have a good time."
And, Mouse swears he was never there to throw a fight.
"I never took a dive," Strauss said. "I would fight as hard I could for as
long as I could. After I knew my best wasn't going to be good enough, I'd
start looking for the soft spot on the canvas. But I always tried to test the
other guy's chin out first. "I don't think I hurt anybody but myself and I
think what I did helped boxing.
Commissions had to get on the guard to stop somebody else from doing what I
did and that's what they've done . . . I always tell boxers to do as a I say
and not as I did."
What Rich Segedin did was helped turn Strauss' story into a movie, a romantic
comedy that was shot on Cape Cod in 26 days last month. The film, written and
directed by Dan Adams, stars John Savage, whose credits include "The Deer
Hunter" and "The Onion Field" and includes cameos from Vinny Pazienza, Ray
"Boom Boom" Mancini, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Vito Antuofermo, Randy Gordon,
O'Grady, Strauss and Ron "The Butcher" Stander, a heavyweight from the midwest
who suffered a fifth-round KO to Joe Frazier in 1972 and brought Strauss into
the boxing business.
Burt Young, who played Pauly to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky character, will
also appear in "The Mouse," which will focus on Strauss' ring career and his
relationship with his wife and daughter.
(ED. NOTE -- This article was reproduced from the Enviroment Canada Park
Service'sHistoric Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Pamplet titled: Sam
E.Langford: "The Boston Terror")
A SHORT PROFILE OF SAM LANGFORD
A well known and respected boxer on three continents in the early1900's, Sam
Langford was considered to be one of the most punishingpunchers in boxing
Born in Weymouth Falls, Digby County, Nova Scotia in 1886, SamLangford ran
away from home at the age of 12 and worked his way to Boston.At the age of 16,
at 5'7" and weighing 135 lbs, he made his professionalboxing debut, winning
his first fight. Within eighteen months he foughtand defeated Joe Gans, the
world lightweight champion. Unfortunately,it was not a title bout, and was
characteristic of Langford's 21 yearring career; Sam Langford never held a
world boxing title, although hefought and defeated many of those who did.
After just three years as a pro, Langford and his manager felt he was ready
for the heavyweight big leagues. In 1906, Langford took on Jack Johnson, Negro
Heavyweight Champion and contender for the world crown. It took Johnson, (who
was in his prime and had both a size andweight advantage) 15 rounds to defeat
Langford. Thereafter, Johnson never gave Langford a rematch for fear that he
might lose his title, and when Johnson won the heavyweight championship two
years later, he was even more determined to keep his title, and stayed away
Throughout his prime, Sam Langford was in an unusual boxing situation.
Although his weight permitted him to fight in weight divisions other than
heavyweight, no champion would risk his title against him, and not
incidentally, America at the time had no desire to see another black champion.
Between 1902 and 1923, Langford fought nearly 300 recorded bouts in every
division from lightweightto heavyweight. He was rarely defeated, but never got
the title match he deserved.
By the early 1920's, Langford's advancing blindness began to cause problems,
but not before he won the heavyweight championship of Mexico and Spain in
1923. A knockout by a virtual nobody in 1926 finally convinced him to withdraw
from the ring. By 1944 Langford was alone, sightless and living in a Harlem
tenement in New York City. However, reporter Al Laney tracked him down while
researching an articleon old-time black boxers. The resulting publicity
prompted Langford's fans to raise a trust fund, enabling him to live out his
last years in modest comfort.
Sam Langford died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, a year after his
election into The Ring magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame. He was the first non-
champion ever to be so honoured.
Sam Langford continues to be remembered for his achievements.In 1972, Weymouth
Falls erected a plaque to his memory in its community centre. His Cambridge,
Massachusetts, grave was given a proper headstone in 1986. The following year.
CBC radio produced an hour long drama on Langford's life that was written by
Charles Saunders. Now, ninety years after Sam Langfords's professional career
was launched, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognizes his
contribution toCanadian history.
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