JULY 2006

01 Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
By GorDoom

02 Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario

03 Pollack's Picks
By Adam Pollack

04 Top Women Worth Watching
and Televising

By Adam Pollack

05 Holman Williams Belongs
in the Hall of Fame

By Harry Otty

06 Touching Gloves With...
"Joltin" Jeff Chandler

By Dan Hanley

07 Puppy Garcia Was
Something Special

By Enrique Encinosa

08 Muhammad's Real War
By Cliff Endicott

09 Champagne On Ice
By Ron Lipton

10 "Dick Tiger: The Life and Times
of a Boxing Immortal"

By Adeyinka Makinde

11 Floyd Patterson:
He Always Got Up

By Ron Lipton

12 Nat Fleischer, "Mr. Boxing"
By Monte Cox

13 "Ring of Hate"
Book Review by J.D. Vena

14 "Gilroy Was Here"
Book Review by Mike Delisa

15 Audio From the Archives [mp3]
The CBZ presents another classic boxing-themed radio show. This month we have the Thin Man in "The Passionate Palooka," from July 6, 1948

Touching Gloves
Jeff Chandler

by Dan Hanley

Back in the early '80s, when national TV was feeding our addiction to the leather-slinging sort, there appeared on the scene what amounted to a Saturday-afternoon staple. The event became predictable enjoyment. The appearance of an almost introvert trainer, followed by a pixie of a manager whose pigtails flailed over and hither as she cheered the entrance of her charge, a 5-foot-7 bantamweight who bore a lean frame and a disdainful scowl. And again, predictably, what followed was pure fireworks.

HANLEY: Jeff, first of all let me congratulate you on your recent induction into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
CHANDLER: Thank you, Dan. It makes it feel like all the hard work was worthwhile.

You were born and bred in Philly, were you not?
Yes I was. Lived here my whole life.

It's well known that you didn't have much of an amateur career. What was it, two fights?
That's right. In fact, I had my first fight on a Monday, winning on a second-round KO, then wrapped up my amateur career that Friday, losing a three-round decision to Johnny "Dancing Machine" Carter.

Your amateur career lasted a week?
Well, I figured Carter had been fighting for years and I came so close to beating him in my second fight that I didn't see the point in hanging on. So I turned pro at 18.

Did you hook up with the O'Neills immediately?
No, but they were always at the fights, and I got to know them when they'd come over and talk to me. My manager at the time was Arnold Giovenetti. And around '77 Arnold had an "accident"...and died. I heard Arnold may have been into a few things. But Willie and Becky O'Neill would always be there to watch me fight -- and I was usually the walkout bout -- so when they would always hang around to the end, I knew they were sincere. And you know, I couldn't ask for better people to look out for me.

At this stage you were primarily fighting in the Blue Horizon or the Spectrum. What was the difference between the two?
The Blue was like a neighborhood arena. Small, very blue-collar, tremendous audience, and the way it was designed, you could almost touch the fighter. The Spectrum, on the other hand, was grand. You dressed up for a fight at the Spectrum.

Your 16th fight was your first step up in class, when you fought Davey Vasquez, who had been in with several world champs. Tell me about this fight.
When you've made it to the Davey Vasquez level, you're looking to get whupped if you're not prepared. And I appreciated the opportunity and won a 10-round decision.

It wasn't long before you fought for your first title, the vacant USBA bantamweight title against Baby Kid Chocolate. How did this unfold?
This fight was inevitable. We were both from Philly, both making a name for ourselves at 118, we were both watching each other's progress, and we'd both pass along something to the media but not to each other. So it grew into a grudge match. By the time the fight was signed, we wanted each other bad.

Was it much of a fight?
I thought he was going to jump on me early and try to take me out of my game, but he was relaxed, took it easy and...really helped me out. I stopped him in nine.

You also picked up the NABF title against Javier Flores and beat former title challenger Andres Hernandez. But still, was it a bit of a surprise when you got the call for the shot at the title against Julian Solis?
Hell, yes! We had been trying to land a title shot, first against Carlos Zarate, then Jorge Lujan, but they weren't listening. So when we got the call for Solis, it was a surprise. See, I was not one of the top-rated guys, I was like number eight or nine in the rankings, so I don't think Solis' people were doing their homework, because they couldn't have chosen a more hungry opponent.

Who was promoting you at this time?
My promoter was J. Russell Peltz. It was Peltz who would use me when no one else would. I'll tell you a story. Frank Gelb's promotional team wouldn't touch me, but when he got Tyrone Everett his title shot against Alfredo Escalera, they made me Everett's chief sparring partner -- yet told me to go to California if I wanted to fight.

That would have been in '76. They threw a four-round bantamweight in with a world-class junior-lightweight? They threw you in hard, didn't they?
Everett beat on me good in preparation for that fight. [Laughs] After the fight I yelled at him, "Why didn't you jump on Escalera the way you jumped on me?"

Getting back to the Solis fight: How did it unfold?
Solis was very fluid, had a good defense, and made me work overtime throughout that fight. He was so hard to hit. But when I nailed him in the 14th, it was like I suddenly couldn't miss.

What did it feel like getting that belt around your waist?
Oh, man! That was the best feeling I ever had.

Your first title defense was against a man whom would not defend against you. Tell me about your fight with Jorge Lujan.
Jorge Lujan was in line and was the mandatory challenger. He took a great punch and had been doing this for quite a while. He made me work hard, especially down the final stretch.

You were a 15-round fighter. What do you think of reducing championship fights to 12 rounds?
I don't like it! There's a whole lot of regular guys that can go 12-rounds. Championship fighters go 15 rounds.

Your next title fight was against Eijiro Murata over in Japan, which was a draw. I have to tell you, I was surprised. He seemed to be all arms, with big slapping punches. Was he that difficult?

He was so awkward and fought so dirty. He showed me low blows and head butts all night. I had to grow up real quick in this fight. He showed me a whole new game, which is why I fought and knocked him out twice more. Because he made himself an enemy that night.

You were doing everything right as the champ, including giving the former titleholder a rematch. Your second fight with Solis appeared so much easier the second time around.
I was really maturing as a fighter and, to tell the truth, Solis brought nothing new to the table. Same plan as before. I had a much easier time, and this was with a bad back going into the fight. I mean, it was so bad that Willie had to tie my shoes for me that night.

In early '82 you took on the man who gave you your amateur loss. Tell me about your title defense against Johnny "Dancing Machine" Carter.
Ooh, I was licking my lips for this one.

I take it we're talking bad blood?
Very bad blood. The city was divided over this one. We had gone to the same school, knew the same people. I had friends rooting for him with money in their hands betting on him. They felt very strongly about this fight and so did I.

My God, this was a neighborhood war.
Yes it was, and I wanted my win back. The plan was to lay back and make Johnny fight. The first two rounds, Johnny's catching me with good punches while I was waiting for some instruction from my corner, but Willie's not talking to me. The 10-second buzzer goes off for the third round, I stand up and finally, Willie slaps me on the ass and says, "Go get 'em, champ!"
That's when you turned it on?
Now I'm making Johnny fight, and he ain't the "Dancing Machine" anymore. I took him out in six.

What was with the WBA in your next fight, forcing you to defend against Panama's Miguel Iriarte?
Dan, I could smell a bad opponent. My trainer looked at me and said, "Who's he?" I mean, what was he rated, number 35? They pawned him off on us as a mandatory. I hated this. I wanted good opponents, not dog meat.

Well, with no politics involved, you got yourself a good opponent in your next fight against Gaby Canizales out of Laredo. I've got to tell you, Jeff, to this day I have no idea how your ribs held up under those body shots.
Oh, man! Canizales! I gotta admit, I was hurting in that one. He went somewhere no one else went. Y'know, I'll be 50 on my next birthday, but he's one guy I'd come out of retirement for.

You briefly moved up to super-bantamweight for a couple of fights. Were you eyeing up a go at Wilfredo Gomez?
Yeah. In fact, I wanted him ever since the second Solis fight. I'll tell you a story. I was on the scales in Atlantic City weighing in for the Solis rematch, when Wilfredo Gomez, who was a good friend of Solis', sticks his head in reading my weight like he was the commissioner or something. I looked at him and said, "I don't know what you're looking at, but when I'm done with him, I'm coming after you!" Now I don't know if he understood what I said, but I'll tell you, he went pale when I said it.

Tell me about your fights with Oscar Muniz.
The first fight was non-title. I believe someone on the original card dropped out because, on two days' notice, they offered me the fight. Normally I wouldn't accept, because I hadn't been in the gym, but they put $100,000 on the table, and I couldn't turn it down. I'll give him credit, he was ready for the fight and fought like it, beating me over 10. So, I did what was right and defended my title against him, because he deserved it. Again, he was ready for it, but this time so was I. It was a good fight, but I stopped him in seven.

Your final fight was against Richie Sandoval. Tell me how you wrapped up your career.
Y'know, I have a copy of that fight and have seen it only once. I just can't watch it. It looks like I'm sleepwalking in the fight. My shoulder was loaded with a painkiller before the fight and...I wasn't there. I don't even remember the second half of the fight, but I do know Sandoval wanted it bad.

I've heard several different myths as to your sudden retirement. In your own words...?
I had a detached retina repaired after the Sandoval fight. Also, a few months before the fight, I was diagnosed with the onset of cataracts, which I had taken care of in November of '84. I wanted to come back, but I had my mom crying on one arm, KO Becky and Willie crying on the other arm, because they were all worried about my sight. So, I packed it in.

How's your sight today?
Perfect in both eyes, as long as I'm wearing my glasses.

Looking back at your career, a few questions come to mind. Your counterpart at the time was also an outstanding champion. Why did a unification match between you and WBC champ Lupe Pintor never materialize?
I really don't know. Maybe with Don King promoting Pintor he may have wanted options on me. I had real good people looking out for me, who would not give in to these kind of demands. But if it had been up to me, I would have made concessions for that fight.

Were there any other fights out there you would have liked that never materialized?
I would have loved to have fought the Z-Boys. Alfonso Zamora and Carlos Zarate. They were the headliners when I was coming up, but it just didn't happen.

What are you doing these days?
I've been working in the Philadelphia school system for the past six years. I love being around the kids and giving a little something back.

Last question. The Philadelphia gym wars: fact or fiction?
All true. Bennie Briscoe, Tyrone Everett, Matthew Saad Muhammad -- they all went through it. These sparring partners in the gyms weren't looking to box, they were all in attack mode. I'll tell you what my typical day was: I'd get up in the morning and put in my roadwork before going to my construction job, which I held even while I was champ. After a day on the construction site, I would head off to the gym, and there'd be about four or five of my sparring partners waiting outside, watching me dragging myself up the street to the gym. And their lips were smacking so loud it sounded like slurping. These guys were looking to take my head off for $5 a round. After a typical rough session, I would thank them for helping me get in shape and they would look at one another as if to say, "What kind of a guy would thank you for that kind of a whuppin'?" But if you wanted to be champ, you had to be a different kind of animal. And after my workout, I went home to bed, because I knew tomorrow was going to be another tough day.

Jeff Chandler is old-school. One of the few fighters in recent memory who not only put in the time to attain his goal, but reveled in its painful process. A stark reminder to contemporary participants of this sport is the fact that Chandler was not bestowed his laurels, he earned them and looked forward to his next heated session. After all, in boxing, tomorrow is going to be another tough day.

See ya next round,
Dan Hanley

Dan Hanley is a CBZ staff writer. Contact him at pugnut23@yahoo.com.

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