Tracy Callis
The Name of the Game
Adam Heach

Adam Heach has written a most compelling and entertaining book about former '60s top ranked heavyweight contender Thad Spencer who boxed in arguably one of the most turbulent and interesting periods of ring history. Many/most of us around today were young fans when Spencer was active in the ring. Like Thad, we were disappointed when he failed to reach his potential.

Here was a prime example of a man with outstanding talent who lost focus and allowed destructive habits get in the way of his important goals. Heach's account of the life and goings-on around Spencer contains some intriguing facts as it takes the reader back to a period in history when heavyweight boxing reigned as the number one spectator sport.

Many people associated with boxing had glowing opinions of Thad and his future in the ring. As Adam writes, trainer Willie Ketchum once said, "I look at Thad Spencer and I see another Joe Louis." The shuffling style and fast hands convinced Willie that here was a fighter with a terrific future just waiting for him.

In fact, Joe Louis himself thought that Thad was an outstanding prospect. The Brown Bomber, who in retirement sought for a while to establish himself as a boxing promoter remarked, "Thad's the best looking prospect I've seen in twenty years." Throughout his career, Thad even compared himself favorably with Cassius Clay, the man he saw as being highly overrated. To paraphrase a remark he once made when speaking about Clay - I fight, I don't write poetry.

Following a brief coverage of Spencer's youth and background, the book gets into his boxing career, aspirations, possibilities, experiences and successes. Interwoven with Spencer's life are the many experiences of manager and trainer Willie Ketchum who, in boxing's heyday, fronted for mobster Frankie Carbo. Some very interesting and informative data lies here.

Also included in the book are discussions - some brief, some lengthy - of a number of people connected to boxing in various ways such as Frankie Carbo, Eileen Eaton, Sid Flaherty, Walter Minskoff, Hymie Caplan and Ray Arcel.

Further, for informative reading are numerous descriptions of name fighters - their skills, personalities, likes, dislikes, habits, happenings, etc., Eddie Machen, Amos Lincoln, Floyd Patterson, Cassius Clay, Ernie Terrell, Harold Johnson, Julio Mederos, Davey Moore, Tom McNeeley, Sonny Liston, Billy Daniels, Roger Rischer and Willie Richardson to name a few.

Thad tangled with such talented men as Ernie Terrell, Leotis Martin, Amos Lincoln, Jerry Quarry, Doug Jones, Brian London, Jack Bodell, Billy Daniels, Tom McNeeley, Roger Rischer and Chuck Leslie. After building his record up to a 32-5 mark, his career took a nosedive and he lost 8 of his last 9 bouts.

If you were a boxing fan in the 1960s and 1970s, you will enjoy reading this engrossing and well-written work. Many interesting and rare tidbits of information are in store for you. If you became a fan in years following this period, this book will educate you in many ways as to boxing events in those years.

The softcover book contains twenty-eight chapters, including Prologue and Epilogue, consists of 446 pages with some rare photos and citations for each chapter at the end.
The Name of the Game is available  domestically and internationally from and all other major Internet book retailers.

446 pages, $16.00, softcover
Rare photos and citations for each chapter

ISBN-10: 0615655068
ISBN-13: 978-0615655062

The Name of the Game

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian
International Boxing Research Organization
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