May, 1999
Hank Kaplan
Michael DeLisa
Thomas Gerbasi
Ed Vance
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
BoxngRules, Chris Bushnell, Adrian Cusack, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman, Katherine Dunn, Pete Ehrmann


Guest Editorial

By Thomas Gerbasi

My Own Golden Age

The current rage on television is the plethora of "flashback" type shows.  "Where are they now?" screams VH1 as we see the rise and fall of such musical legends as Poison, Duran Duran, and Milli Vanilli.  The 80's seem to be the decade of choice for such shows, and while the 60's could boast the Beatles and the Stones, the 70's had Led Zep, and even the 90's had Nirvana, the 80's are considered to be the wasteland of pop culture. 

Not so in Boxing.  And while I may be biased because the 80's were my coming of age in boxing, this decade may have been boxing's greatest.  Listen to the names: Hagler, Leonard, Duran, Hearns, Holmes, Sanchez, Arguello, Pryor, Tyson, Sanchez, Gomez.  No other decade put together so many Hall of Fame caliber fighters.  And even the next echelon of contenders were no slouches.  Most of the contenders would be champions today.

And do you like Arturo Gatti?   In the 80's you could have seen a Gatti-style fight every week.  On FREE TV no less!!!  Guys like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Frank "The Animal" Fletcher, Hard Rock Green, and Boom Boom Mancini all gave it up for the greater glory of our entertainment.  These were fighters.

We'll never see a decade like the 80's again.  We'll be lucky to see fights on network television again period.   So put on those pastel shirts, crank up some Dokken, and bask in the glory that was the 80's.  While the music and fashion are thankfully extinct, hopefully some of the boxing brilliance of the era can rub off on today's game.

Enjoy the issue, as we once again present a wide array of diverse pieces from our fine group of contributors.  One of the hardest working writers we have, Francis Walker, checks in with a preview of the Jones-Johnson unification bout.  Our European correspondent, Adrian Cusack took a trip to the Big Apple for the Holyfield-Lewis match, and he checks in with his take on things.  Dave Iamele follows up my interview with Hector Camacho Jr. with a fine interview of the original "Macho Man", Hector Sr.  Our mystery columnist Lee Michaels provides his always unique and candid look at the current scene, while our newest staffer, Pete Ehrmann gives us a compelling portrait of former light heavyweight contender Andy Kendall.  We finish up with a couple of pieces for fans of the ladies' segment of the game, the first, a profile and interview of pioneer Lady Tyger Trimiar by former fighter Sue Fox, and the second an interview with up and coming boxer (and Falcons cheerleader) Nina Ahlin.  As usual, we end the ish with the best ratings on the 'Net, courtesy of Phrank Da Slugger.  Folks, you won't find this quality and diversity in boxing coverage anywhere.  To all our staffers and contributors, I'm proud to be associated with this group.

Badayala.jpg (3574 bytes)

By Thomas Gerbasi

In 1983, Antonio Ayala Jr. was "The Baddest Man On The Planet". Before Mike Tyson, "El Torito" cut a savage swath through his division (junior middleweight), leaving a trail of broken bodies in his wake. And before Mike Tyson, Ayala ended up in prison for rape, no longer the baddest, just a bad man.

Tony Ayala Jr. is a free man. After spending 16 years in jail for the brutal rape of a New Jersey schoolteacher, he now has dreams. While his victim has only nightmares, Ayala dreams of Oscar De La Hoya. Dreams of millions of dollars. Dreams of winning the title he feels that he was destined to win. And dreams of making the world forget just what a bad man he has been.

He was a child prodigy. But his field of excellence wasn’t music, or art, of any of the more conventional sports. At the age of five, pushed into the ring by his father Tony Sr, the baby bull excelled in hitting people. In the ring that was fine. His reputation grew as an amateur, and as legend has it, he even floored 18 year old WBA welterweight champion Pipino Cuevas when he was just 13. But as he grew into a young man, he also liked to drink. Add alcohol to his already volatile fighter’s mentality, and you have a time bomb. When he was 15, this bomb exploded when he savagely attacked and sexually assaulted a teenage girl in a San Antonio drive-in theatre. Ring opponents of Ayala only suffered a loss of consciousness, this girl received vaginal bleeding and a ruptured bladder for running into him.

Ayala was tried as an adult and received 10 years in prison. A $40,000 payment to the victim encouraged her to plead for leniency for him. He was granted probation. Checkbook justice at its most discouraging.

See, Tony Ayala Jr. was a helluva fighter. He made Roberto Duran look like a choirboy, and he was going to make a lot of people a lot of money. He had champion written all over him.

In 1980, Ayala signed with Main Events and turned pro. In his first three years as a pro he wrecked the junior middleweight division. By August of 1982, his record stood at 21-0 with 18 knockouts. His animalistic style thrilled television viewers, as did his losses of control. A January 1981 fight with Jose Luis Baltazar ended with an Ayala knockout and his spitting on his fallen foe; His August 1982 knockout over Robbie Epps needed Lou Duva to pull him off Epps, something even the referee couldn’t do. The win over Epps put Ayala on the cover of Ring magazine, and seemingly on top of the world. He would be arrested 15 days after the fight for ransacking a neighbor’s house. He was found in the house, intoxicated. His defense? He had wandered into the wrong house by accident. He was sent to a rehab center, not jail.

See, there are different rules for the talented.

But Ayala’s bomb kept ticking. As Ayala told Phil Berger in Sport magazine, "I fought three of my fights under the influence (of heroin). I shot up the day of the fight at home when I fought Camacho(W10) and in the hotel room when I fought ‘Schoolboy’ Cheatham (KO6) and against Dario DeAsa (KO2)." In November of 1982, he knocked out Carlos Herrera in the third round, and became the WBA’s mandatory contender for Davey Moore’s title. Most experts expected Ayala to blow out Moore, win the title, and move on to some lucrative paydays against the likes of Duran, Hearns, and Leonard.

It was not to be.

On January 1, 1983, Ayala was under the influence again when he tied up and raped a female neighbor. After claiming that the sex was consensual, he was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in jail. 15 years would have to be served before he was eligible for parole. There was no reprieve this time.

In prison, Ayala kept his nose clean, and met up with prison psychologist and part-time boxing manager Brian Raditz. Raditz took Ayala under his wing, and soon the two were undergoing lengthy therapy sessions. Ayala admitted being sexually abused as a youngster by a family friend, and cited this abuse as the root cause of his alcohol and drug addictions and his savage rages. He reunited with his wife Lisa Paez, and after 15 years, the call went up for his release.

But the champagne would have to be taken off ice. Despite the pleas of Raditz and many members of the boxing community, Ayala was not granted parole in 1998. His victim pleaded for him to remain in jail, and her wish was granted. His release did come a year later though, and the "changed man" has said all the right things. "I would love to join with (the National Organization of Women) and these organizations and maybe help lessen the type of crime that I committed" Ayala told reporters after his release on April 22. "If she (the victim) sent word to me she wanted to talk, I’d break training camp, I’d cancel a fight-even if it were against Oscar De La Hoya." What a sweetheart.

So now he’s back. As I write this, Tony Ayala Jr. is training for a comeback. In a shocking move, his prison psychiatrist is his manager. Funny, but I don’t think Raditz would be so giving of his time if he was dealing with a petty thief in jail who had the same psychological problems. I guess 25% of minimum wage can’t compare to 25% of one million dollars.

Ayala’s goal? The Golden Boy. Everything that Ayala could have been, De La Hoya is. All the apologies, all the psychobabble won’t change my opinion of Tony Ayala Jr. He coulda, woulda, shoulda been somebody. But he’s not. If you didn’t catch on by now, I don’t care for rapists. If I was king, rapists would never be set free. When Ayala fights and you’re cheering him on, think of the San Antonio teenager or New Jersey schoolteacher he victimized. Think of your own wife and daughter being in their place, and see if you still feel the same way about him fighting again. See if the taste in your mouth doesn’t make you retch.

I hope Ayala gets to fulfill his dream. I hope he gets to fight Oscar. And I hope that at the end of the fight, somewhere in Jersey and Texas, two women will have smiles on their faces as they see their tormentor vanquished.

Jones, Johnson To Unify Light Heavyweight Crown
By Francis Walker

As boxing moves closer toward the start of a new millennium, the possible end of a "wonderful" career is near for  Roy Jones, Jr. Having granted his fans several more performances before retiring, Jones will very soon have an opportunity to achieve a goal many dream of. On Saturday, June 5 in Biloxi, Mississippi, Jones (39-1, 33KOs), making the fourth defense of his WBC/WBA 175-pound title, challenges IBF counterpart, "Sweet" Reggie Johnson (39-5-1, 24KOs) for the Undisputed World Light-Heavyweight Championship.

The bout, promoted by Murad Muhammad of M & M Sports, in association with Square Ring, Inc., will be televised on HBO's "World Championship Boxing."
fighterRoy.jpg (4680 bytes)For many fighters, unifying a world championship best signifies their claim as being the best in the world. In Jones' case, however, world championship unification at 175 pounds would be the climax of a career many ringside observers call: indecisive, disappointing, incomplete, but at the same time overwhelmingly sensational.

Despite having won championships at 160, 168, and 175 pounds, compiling a record of 13-1, 9KOs in world title fights, Jones did not have the quality of opponents to bring out his best. Fighters like James Toney (W
12), Bernard Hopkins (W 12), Montell Griffin (KO 1), Vinny Pazienza (KO 6), Lou Del Valle (W 12), Merqui Sosa (TKO 2), Otis Grant (TKO 10), and Mike McCallum (W 12) - all of whom won world titles - proved very little or no test for Jones.

Even in Jones' only loss to Griffin, a controversial disqualification loss in March 1997, Jones' skills and abilities were unmatchable. That is why Jones KO'd Griffin in one round during their rematch in August '97.

As a two-time WBC light-heavyweight champion, Jones finds himself in a no-win situation. While interim champions Graciano Rocchigiani, Richard Hall, and mandatory challenger Dario Matteoni await their shot at the
Undisputed title, Jones remains active using the gifts he has been blessed. What better opportunity to display them against IBF titlist, Johnson.

Johnson, a 32-year-old, Houston, Texan never really had a marquee name. Instead, Johnson's 15-year career asjohnson1.jpg (6815 bytes) a professional has been nothing less than politically corrupted. Johnson, after winning his first 31 fights, received his first world title shot seven years after his pro-debut. In June 1991, Johnson lost a controversial 12-round decision to Toney, was then the IBF middleweight king.

Johnson rebounded in April 1992 by winning the WBA 160-pound title from Steve Collins (W 12). Johnson went on to defend his title successfully three times before losing a controversial decision to John David Jackson ( L 12), October 1993 in Argentina. Johnson would be awarded two additional bids to recapture the WBA title, but lost two highly disputed decisions to Jorge Castro (L 12, L 12) in Argentina.

Following an unethical contract dispute with promoted Don King, Johnson disappeared from boxing toward the end of 1995.

Overall, 4 of Johnson's 5 losses as a prize fighter came by split decisions. Johnson, who fought once in 1997, received another world title shot. This time, as a light-heavyweight.

In February 1998, Johnson pulled off one of the year's biggest upsets by knocking out undefeated IBF 175-pound champ, William Guthrie (KO 5). Johnson's right-hook landed so cleanly, Guthrie had to be carried out from ringside on a stretcher.

Ever since, Johnson has made two successful defenses - improving his record to 7-4, 2KOs in world championship fights.

Jones-Johnson should be a classic battle between two slick boxers. The difference of course, Jones is an natural boxer-puncher with explosive power and dazzling hand-speed. Johnson, nonetheless, is a boxer capable of
exploiting opponents mistakes. Johnson has decent power and average hand-speed, but is very consistent and brings a lot of ring intelligence. Nevertheless, Jones is the more superior fighter here, and should not have
that much difficulty unifying at all!

 LEWIS-HOLYFIELD, POSTCARDS FROM NYholylew3.jpg (22541 bytes)

by Adrian Cusack

In the dusk of 1998, the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight was finally announced. The two best heavyweights in the world were to battle it out in the legendary Madison Square Garden. It seemed too goood to be true. After all, this is boxing. But, figuring that the fight game doesn't get much better than this, my Dad and I decided to venture "across the pond" and see boxing's biggest fight in the flesh.

Visiting New York for the first time was an exciting, almost surreal experience. The busy streets, shrouded by colossal skyscrapers, and dotted with taxi's and stretch limo's, took my breath away. The locals were friendlier than advertised, and my first impressions of America were very positive.     

As we walked toward the magnificent Garden on fight night, the first thing that struck me was the huge police presence. New York's finest were out in force to ensure that mischievous fans wouldn't try to reenact the infamous Bowe-Golota riot of three years ago. Despite this, there was a feeling of genuine excitement around the Garden. An English fan who'd followed Lewis throughout his career was bullish about the Londoner's chances "Lewis in seven" he predicted "I just can't imagine Holyfield beating him" Others were less well informed about Lennox. "Where are you from?" a friendly New Yorker asked me "Ireland" I replied. "Oh" he said looking puzzled "Is Lewis Irish?"  

Two more English fans, seated directly in front of us had purchased their tickets on the black market. Their $250 seats were a mere snip at $900 each.  The undercard was the usual amalgam of mismatches and competitive bouts, with the occasional upset and questionable decision thrown in for good measure. The most interesting contest on the undercard involved Howard Clarke, an English journeyman, who was pitted against 'Ferocious' Fernando Vargas. On paper it looked a shocking mismatch, but the British fans got behind the underdog, chanting"there's only one Howard Clarke!", and Clarke gave a brave and clever performance, making Vargas look unimpressive for three rounds, before Fernando took charge and finished it in the fourth. The tension was constantly building throughout the opening bouts.Whenever Lewis would appear on the big screens 7,000 British fans would cheer

loudly, while Holyfield's image was invariably booed. The final bout of the undercard-James Page's win over Sam Garr- took place in front of a largely disinterested audience. It seemed as though everyone was either discussing the main event or celebrity spotting in the audience. This was evident midway through the fight, when Page landed a wicked combination. "Ohhh!" a lady behind me shrieked immediately, "I can see Magic Johnson!"

The atmosphere in the jam-packed arena, as Lewis and Holyfield made their entrances, was simply the most exciting and intense I have ever experienced. As Holyfield grinned and sang his way to the ring, he looked like a roadsweeper who had just been told he'd won the lottery, rather than a veteran Heavyweight facing one of the biggest tests of his career. Lewis, meanwhile, stared blankly ahead through dead eyes. The following twelve rounds were entertaining and enjoyable, and, contrary to most people's opinion, I didn't think Lewis was absolutely dominant. Maybe I needed binoculars, but after 11 rounds I thought Lennox was just ahead. At this stage a Lewis fan in front of me ironically remarked " I'd hate to be judging this fight". Lennox dominated the last stanza, and I felt he had won by about two rounds. The general consensus also seemed to be that we had just witnessed a close fight. But when Jimmy Lennon Jr. picked up the mic and announced it  was a draw, the effect was that of a Roy Jones bodyshot. We had come to witness the unification of the Heavyweight title, but were left with a feeling of emptiness and disappointment.The dejected Lewis was given a terrific reception as he stormed from the ring, while Holyfield left to a soundtrack of boos from the British contingent. Don King, meanwhile stood in the ring, grinning like an actor in a toothpaste commercial.

As I headed toward ringside, my spirits were boosted as I ran into Junior Jones, Michael Grant,Chris Eubank and Zeljko Mavrovic, all of whom willingly signed my autograph book. I asked Mavrovic if he thought Lewis had won the fight. "I don't think he won" replied the Mohawked one,"I know he won." 

As we prepared to leave the Garden, I spotted that "humble servant of boxing" himself, WBC President Jose Sulaiman. Will the WBC be ordering a rematch, Jose? "I hope so" he replied "because the sport needs an undisputed champion".  Do I even need to point out the hypocrisy of such a statement?!?

And so it was, what should have been a glorious night for boxing ends in mass confusion and outrage, the heavyweight titles remain splintered, and Don King is once again the only winner, belly-laughing his way to the bank.  

"Hector Camacho: The New Macho Man?"

By David Iamele

Flamboyant Hector "Macho" Camacho won a 10 round unanimous decision over Scott Smith, March 19 at the Turning Stone Casino. Fighting at Jr. Middleweight and now sporting a 68-4-1 record (33 ko's). Camacho looked fit at 157 lbs. but seemed a bit rusty after being out of the ring for over 5 months. The challenger, Smith now 25-7-1 with 16 ko's was game but outgunned. However, he did manage to give Hector 10 rounds of tough work.

hectormacho.jpg (24457 bytes)Camacho claims he has turned his back on his partying days and is now a born again Christian and also a new grandfather at 36 - as his eldest son, Hector Jr. (also a boxer with a 23-0 record) has a new daughter. Macho also has a new trainer these days, Pat Burns, a no nonsense former Marine and ex-Miami Cop, handling his career. Burns coached the '96 US Olympic team before taking over the helm of the Macho man's career.

Team Camacho is hoping for one more big pay day against Fernando Vargas or David Reid or possibly even against Tony Ayala when he is finally released from prison this June. After that, Hector Jr. can carry on the Macho tradition.

I had the opportunity to speak with the Macho Man prior to his weigh in:

DI: "I hear you have been out of the country for a while. What have you been up to?"

HC: "Trying to be a movie star. I've been chilling out in Chile."

DI: "You've been filming commercials and movie bits over seas, is this going to be a new career for the Macho Man?"

HC: "Maybe so, maybe so. Yeah, I think so."

DI: "You've fought a lot of big time fights. What do you consider your most satisfying moment in the ring?"

HC: "Every moment in boxing, you know. When I beat Ramirez, when I beat Pazienza, Mancini. When I married my wife, when I had my kids. Boxing's been very good to me. When I made my first million dollars. There's been many good moments, they've all been great memories."

DI: "Taking nothing away from your opponent tomorrow night, Scott Smith, is it hard to "get up" for a fight like this after fighting some of boxing's biggest names?"

HC: "No, actually, I got up for it being that I've been off for 5 months. I was forced to mentally and physically, I mean I've been living well. . . but then again, after fighting Ken Sigurani in West Virginia, I wasn't satisfied with my performance even though I clearly beat him, it came up a split decision. I promised myself I would never half-step again (with training) and I haven't, so I'm in good condition."

DI: "Is there someone out there you're particularly interested in fighting?"

HC: "I'd like Oscar, but you know I have to earn a rematch. Fernando Vargas, David Reid before the years out or by mid 2000."

DI: "What about Whitaker or a rematch with Chavez?"

HC: "I'd love to have Whitaker, yes. I'd love Chavez too, but I think I'd like Whitaker better."

DI: "Some boxing experts believe that with your ability, you could have achieved even more in your career if your lifestyle was a little more "low profile", do you agree with that?"

HC: "Maybe so. . . but, maybe so. I gave what I gave and I am what I am, and I did what I did, so I think it's a little unfair to say that, you know. No, this is my life, this is me, me as a commodity. That's all she wrote. What you see is what you get. This is what it is."

DI: "After the stink of the Lewis/Holyfield "draw" a lot of negative attention has been focused on boxing. Do you think that boxing can ever be cleaned up or will it always be a dirty game?"

HC: "Boxing will always be this way, that's part of what makes it exciting. Boxing is made for the worst people. This is for people who don't graduate from school, people that come from the street, that were raised in the street, in street brawls. They go to a broken down gym so that one day in life they can fight for a big payday and a world championship. It all goes with the package."

DI: "Do you feel you can get one more big money bout before you retire?"

HC: "I think I'll go out with a big bout. There's a couple different things I could do. There's talk of a PPV bout with Joey Gamache this summer. There's things to have fun with. You know I've done everything I had to do now it's about having fun so when I retire I can always say I had fun. Boxing is fun."

DI: "How's the Macho Man like married life?"

HC: "It's treating me well. It's got me focused. I'm the babysitter in the family, NOW! But the kids are big now except baby Tyler, he's a lot of fun. I like it. I love it."

DI: "In a recent interview, Hector Jr. said that he's a harder hitter than you, any comment?"

HC: "Maybe so. It's cool, you know, he's still my baby. He's better than me, he's everything I wasn't and everything I never will be. He can say anything he wants, he's my baby, and it's all true.

DI: "So he can take Macho Time to the next level?"

HC: "I mean anything he says is what it is. He's THE MAN!!"

DI: "Final thoughts?"

HC: "It's MACHO TIME" (laughs)

Power Punchesholylew1.jpg (24876 bytes)

By Lee Michaels

The Holyfield-Lewis fiasco may have been a horrible event for boxing, but at least it has caused some people in the sport to start using their brains. Or what’s left of them, at least.

George Foreman’s recent response to Holyfield-Lewis was…

"I think boxing is full of fools, more nuts than crooks. A crook wouldn’t be as stupid as the way I’ve seen some of these people in boxing behave."

What George Foreman meant to say was…

"I think boxing is full of fools, more nuts than crooks. A crook wouldn’t be as stupid as the way I’ve seen some of these people in boxing behave. At least not as stupid as I was when I fought and somehow lost to Shannon Briggs. I mean, hell, I knew the judges made a horrible decision and were somehow influenced by outside parties…but, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t use my position as a fighter/world renown boxing announcer to speak out on the matter. I just let it go. But hey, if you need me to plug my George Foreman products or ramble aimlessly during HBO’s fight telecasts, I’m your man. Like they say, ‘It’s all good.’"

The WBC recently reported after the Holyfield-Lewis fiasco that they would…

…propose announcing judges’ scores during "major" bouts, meaning 12-round championship bouts. Not only would boxing fans hear the final scorecards after the bout, but they would also hear updated scores after the fourth and eighth rounds as well.

"We are implementing a pilot scheme to present scores after each third part of the fight," said Eduardo Lamazon, WBC general secretary.

What the WBC meant to report was…

…that they are a fan-friendly boxing organization. Judges’ scores will be announced after the fourth, eighth and twelfth rounds.

"We are implementing a pilot scheme to present scores after each third part of the fight," said Eduardo Lamazon, WBC general secretary. "That way, fans who are at the fight or are watching it on television will know right then and there that a fix is in. Why wait until after the fight to speculate? Now these fans will know after four rounds! Or after eight rounds! And, if it’s a bout promoted by Don King, he can now be killed off at ringside before the fight is over! Now that’s entertainment!"

State Senator Dean Skelos of Long Island responded to Holyfield-Lewis by saying…

…that he wanted to stop anyone with a felony conviction – like Mr. King – from promoting fights in the state of New York.

"It is not aimed primarily at King," he said. "It is aimed at cleaning up fighting, period."

What Senator Skelos of Long Island meant to say was…

"It is not aimed primarily at King," he said. "It is aimed at my political career. To be honest with you, I don’t know anything about the sport of boxing at all. I don’t know Larry Holmes from Johnny Holmes. As a matter of fact, I could care less about the sport. My speaking out on this matter will only bring attention to my political career, plain and simple. And oh yeah, one more thing. You can bet your behinds that your taxes will be raised annually. I will raise taxes just like Muhammad Ali raises his hands in victory – just like he did after his recent title defense against Sonny Lipton…you know, the guy they named that iced tea after."

(I had to add the below report in, even though it is not directly related to Holyfield-Lewis)

Recent wire reports said that Don King…

…testified for 40 minutes on behalf of Oliver McCall so that the fighter would be released from jail on May 1st. This, of course, is providing that McCall agrees to remain in a drug rehab program. The program would require McCall to be randomly drug tested three times every two weeks.

What the wire reports really meant to say was…

…King testified for 40 minutes on behalf of McCall so that the fighter would be released from jail on May 1st. This would enable King to take financial advantage of a crackhead who wants to be allowed to make a ring comeback in order to support an everlasting drug habit.

Final Thoughts

…Recent WBC ratings had Ike Ibeabuchi ranked 20th & McCall 10th. To me, that is worse than the outcome of Holyfield-Lewis. Speaking of Ibeabuchi, he is the best heavyweight in the land right now. As long as he doesn’t pull a McCall inside of the ring, the future is incredibly bright for "The President"….

…It’s inevitable that Holyfield-Lewis II will happen. I have a hard time believing that Holyfield can look so bad for the third straight fight (remember, he looked terrible against Vaughn Bean too). As for Lewis, anything other than a KO might as well be a loss. Think about it. Had he shown heart in the first bout and gone for the knockout like a true champion, this whole mess would have never taken place. Lewis was as much to blame as were the judges and other crooks involved in that fight…

…Oscar de la Hoya recently announced that he will fight every other month and have babies the other months in-between…

Until next time.

Send any comments or suggestions to leebubba@aol.com

The Prince And The Prophet: The Rise Of Naseem Hamed1568581300.m (14021 bytes)

By Nick Pitt

Reviewed by Thomas Gerbasi

In today’s world of boxing, a world which often inspires apathy, Prince Naseem Hamed provokes you into a reaction. And that reaction rarely strays into the middle of the road. You either love him or hate him. And wherever your feelings lie, this type of thing is good for the sport and its visibility to the mainstream.

In the United States, Hamed is not half the star he is in his native Great Britain. While I’m not going to get into the how’s and why’s of British boxing, let’s make it simple and say that his showy entrances, cheeky arrogance, and thunderous power have endeared him to a nation. Thus this book, written by London Sunday Times feature writer Nick Pitt, is geared towards those who have followed Hamed most closely, his hometown fans. In fact, this book, which was recently released here in the US, has been available in the UK since 1998, under the name "The Paddy And The Prince".

"The Prince And The Prophet" is a quick read for the boxing fan, written in a breezy, straightforward style by Pitt. Despite the relative brevity (180 pgs) of the book, he has done his homework and has interviewed all the key players in Hamed’s rise to prominence. The book focuses on the relationship and intertwining lives of Hamed and his former trainer Brendan Ingle. We see Ingle’s beginnings in boxing, his disappointments throughout the years, and his first glimpse of Naz as a young schoolboy. Hamed’s early years and family life are also examined, as well as a nice read on his training habits and the results of some memorable sparring sessions. The anecdotes and the behind the scenes events are plentiful and will inform even the most ravenous Naz fan.

As the book travels its course, we are shown not only the good and bad, but the ugly of both men. Ingle comes off better in the book sympathy wise, but he’s obviously no angel himself. Hamed, though, comes off as an arrogant, money hungry, rude brat. But just when you’re ready to throw your support behind Ingle, you are told of his shortcomings as well. So while Hamed does not come out smelling like a rose in this book, it is by no means a scandal dripping hatchet job. Both men are treated fairly, and the list of interviewees for the book (Alma & Brendan Ingle, Johnny Nelson, Ryan Rhodes, Daniel Teasdale, Naz, Nabeel, and Riath Hamed, and Frank Warren) display the even handed treatment given to both. My only complaint about the book regards a situation which allegedly took place before Hamed’s fight with Kevin Kelley in December of 1997. According to Pitt, as Hamed made his way into the Madison Square Garden ring, a gunman was seized a few feet away from Naz. I find this hard to believe, as I was mere feet away from Hamed that night. Plus, I never heard this incident mentioned by any news sources. Wouldn’t such an event warrant substantial news coverage?

But, as fair as such a book could be, no one likes to see their dirty laundry aired. And this book was cited as a main reason for the split between Hamed and Ingle. And that’s a shame. "The Prince And The Prophet" establishes Hamed and Ingle as a team, a couple of rogues sent from Sheffield to save boxing. Not all stories have happy endings though. Money tends to change things, sometimes for the worst. In a nutshell, this book tells us not only about boxing, but about life

Andy Kendall

By Pete Ehrmann

Karl Zurheide left his home in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, after his high school graduation in 1964, and traveled by Greyhound Bus to Houston to become a professional prize-fighter. Over the next decade he fought all over the world, facing the best of his era, seeing it all.

Or so he thought, until he came face-to-face with the man he was scheduled to box on January 29, 1973. "He scared the shit out of me," recalls Zurheide of Andy Kendall. "l'd been around the game for 11, 12 years, and when I saw his face, how beat up it was, I didn't think they had fighters like that anymore. Holy Christ, I thought, this guy's not scared of anything!"

Kendall certainly hadn't been afraid of Bob Foster when they met for the 175-pound title on May 24, 1969, although a little fear might have been in order against the tall champion whose big punch would knock down the door of the International Hall of Fame when Foster finally ran out of contenders on whom to use it.

But the way the fighter called "The Scapoose Express" figured it, if he was too tough for the undertaker, why should Bob Foster scare him?

That he was wrong on the latter point is cheerfully conceded today by the 59-year-old Kendall as he sits in the caretaker's house he has occupied for 12 years at the Gale's Creek Children's Diabetic Camp bout 45 miles east of Portland, Oregon.

Kendall loves kids, and it's on account of his devotion to his own that the undertaker almost got him before Foster did. It might have had to do with the fact that his own parents both were deceased before Andy Pierce was a teenager on the Paiute Indian Reservation. His father died when Andy was five, and his mother passed away seven years later. Adopted by a couple named Kendall, Andy changed his name to theirs.

He joined the U.S. Marines at 18, tried out for intramural boxing and ended up finishing second in the All-Marine championships as a middleweight. Before he turned pro in 1962, Kendall fought in a tournament in Yakima, Washington. He didn't win, but got the trophy for "Gamest Boxer," which accurately presaged the 19-year ring career that was to follow.

Being smaller, at 5'10 1/2", than most of his light heavyweight foes led to the development of the style that resulted, in turn, in the appearance that spooked Karl Zurheide. "I was a wade-in banger," says Kendall. "I fought like a little (Rocky) Marciano, and I took a lot of punches. You know, you get hit a lot when you do that." Plus: "I got enough Indian in me, I got these high cheekbones, and I'd always get cut."

But the Scapoose Express, nicknamed by manager Mike Morton after the Oregon town where Kendall lived on a ranch when he went pro, was nobody's punching bag. "He'd be a world champion today," says Zurheide, who split a pair of fights against Kendall. "He was probably the second strongest guy I ever fought, and Kendall was so smart. He knew how to use his strength and not waste it."

There was the time, for instance, when Andy fought Joe Frazier in 1973. It was only an exhibition, but every one of the big heavyweights on Smokin' Joe's dance card that day got knocked out or at least down by the then-world champion. Not Kendall.

"Even with the 16-ounce gloves on, he cut my eye open," recalls Andy. "But I could duck under those left hooks. Whoosh! It was like an airplane going over you."Some of the finer stylistic points of boxing he picked up along the way.

"Bobo Olson - there's a guy who taught me a lot of dirty little tricks," recalls Kendall of the former middleweight champion who won a 10 round decision over him in 1965. Tricks like swinging a punch that looks like an uppercut but is not intended to strike the other guy on the chin with the fist, but rather in the sternum with the elbow. With a little practice, Scapoose got nicely proficient at it himself.

"You give 'em that elbow where the ribs come together," he says, "and come back real fast with a left hook so the referee don't see you."

Kendall fought a lot of his bouts in the other guys' backyards, with some curious results. Against Larry Buck in Buck's hometown of Seattle, he says, when the bell rang to end the first round, Kendall dropped his hands and turned for his corner. Wham!! Buck let him have one - and then repeated it in the succeeding rounds. When Kendall complained to the referee, it was explained that it really wasn't the hometown hero's fault because Buck was deaf and therefore couldn't hear the bell.

So when they fought again, this time on Kendall's home turf in Portland, when the bell ended the opening round and Buck started for his corner - Wham! "I smacked him as hard as I could," recalls Kendall, "and I said,'You're hearing pretty good now, aren't you!"'

Even referees found out that it was dangerous to get on the wrong side of the tracks with the Scapoose Express. Zurheide recalls that his second fight with Kendall was officiated by a starched-shirt local referee who'd done most of his work in the amateurs. In the first round, the ref's constant intrusions and admonitions had both fighters on edge. But beginning in the second round and thereafter, the referee stayed away from them completely, officiating from a distance.

Zurheide, who won the decision, couldn't figure it out until he looked at a tape of the bout. "Kendall took a swing at (the referee) in the first round," he says. "That's why he left us alone after that. He threw a backhand at him, and the ref got the message: Don't get near this guy.

After he stopped Kendall in the fourth round of their world title fight in Springfield, Massachusetts, Foster called Kendall "the toughest fighter I ever met." Then, smiling, he told Andy, "You hit pretty good with that left elbow. I'd better learn how to do that.

The loser was equally magnanimous. "l'm sorry for hitting you low or giving you a thumb in the eye," Andy told the champion. "We're in there to win, and now we're friends.

Foster's encomiums were high praise indeed for an opponent for whom he had little regard nor even knowledge of before their fight. "Shoot," the champion had said, "l'd never even heard of this guy until this year. They said his name and I said,'Who's that?' Then he beat Eddie (Bossman) Jones, another guy I had never heard of, and got to be the top contender.

Had he known about Kendall's past, Foster might at least have refrained from beginning his statement the way he did.

Just two years earlier, Kendall had gone to Virginia to reclaim his young daughter and son from his ex-wife, who'd taken them to her father's house in Charlottesville. As he walked to the house, Kendall's ex-father-in-law stepped out and without warning emptied a shotgun into him.

The blast hit Scapoose in "a l0-inch pattern close to my groin," says Andy. Convinced he was dead, they threw a blanket over him and called the morgue. But the undertaker who arrived detected a faint pulse, and Kendall went to the University of Virginia Hospital instead, where surgeons essentially gutted him to repair the damage.

"I've got a lot of pellets still in me," says Kendall, who was two-and-a-half months in the hospital and still has "no feeling from my hip to my knee" on his right side.

When he got out, he had his children (of whom he'd been awarded custody), three suitcases, an old car and $30. The Kendalls returned to Portland, and Andy, who'd been ranked 10th in the 175-pound division at the time of the shooting, decided that "to be fair to my children, I had to box again. That's the only thing I knew, see? I was working construction, getting $3.50 an hour. When you got two children and lost everything, you're not gonna get rich that way.

The doctors didn't think he would ever walk again, much less box. But Andy's mind convinced his ravaged body he could do it. "if you tell a guy,'You look sick,' he starts to feel sick," he says. "So I told myself I was in great shape.

In just over a year, he bumped off Jones to earn the fight with Foster. Until the champion knocked him down in the fourth round, Kendall had never been down and considered such a thing impossible. "He caught me and that was it," recalls Kendall. "I fought for the championship and came out second best, and that's where I am."

Along with his praise, Foster had some career advice for the loser: "Don't quit, but don't be Number one again."

But thanks to victories over such worthies as Buck, Roger Rouse and Henry Rank, Kendall did remain the top-ranked light heavyweight contender for several more years. A rematch with Foster was not in the cards, however, and Andy says it's just as well. "There was no way I'd every beat Bob Foster," he says. "He was out of my league.You have to be honest with yourself."

The man New York Times columnist Dave Anderson called "a gladiator to appreciate" fought on until 1975. He lost a decision to former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dick Tiger, and was counted out for the only time in his career against Jorge Ahumada. Finally, in a bout against Yaqui Lopez, another top contender, "I quit," says Kendall. "I just didn't have it no more. I came back to the corner (at the end of round five) and said,'l've had it.' There's a time in your life when your body can just take so many fights. I fought so many tough guys, my body just couldn't take it no more.

Unlike some other famous boxers of his era, Kendall was never tempted to put on the gloves again. "I never missed it a bit when I walked away from it," Andy says. "When people quit and go back, quit and go back, then they get hurt. Once you retire, stay that way. Don't go back."

With age and distance from the ring has come a certain mellowness. "l'm a nice man now," Kendall says, "but I'd knock these guys down and I'd go over and say,'Get up!' so I could knock them down again. I feel bad about that since I got older.

The kinder, gentler Scapoose Express might surprise some of his ring opponents who, Kendall once bragged, were "never the same after (they've) been in the ring with me.' In fact, upon hearing that Andy works with kids, Zurheide - whose scalp needed stitching after Kendall went to work on the cut he inflicted there "to make the blood flow a little more (because) people like to see that" - snorted and wondered, "What's the name of the game?"

Assoc. Ed Note - We welcome the contribution of this piece from Sue Fox of the Women's Boxing Archive Network (www.womenboxing.com).  Sue, a former fighter herself, has established a site which not only covers present news in women's boxing, but also contains an extensive history of the sport.  If your knowledge of the sport only goes as far back as Christy Martin, check out this site for some eye opening history...TG

Lady Tyger Trimiar - Pioneer of Women's Boxing

By Sue "Tiger Lilly" Fox - Women's Boxing Archive Network

Lady Tyger—She had a dream. . .since the age of 10 years old, she visited the neighborhood gyms and watched fighters spar with each other. She watched boxing on television. One day she told people at the gym that she wanted to be a boxer, and to have a trainer. Lady Tyger remembers that when she expressed that dream to others, they just laughed. 

When Lady Tyger first went to the gym to work out, she was matched with a guy that pounded on her in the ring. A not too unfamiliar event that happened to females who wanted to start training in a boxing gym. When Lady Tyger returned the next day, she won their respect.

LADY TYGER  started seriously training at 18, after graduating from Julia Richman High School in Manhattan. She said she has fought a total of 25 official fights, winning all but four with an "off and on" career over the past 12 years. In 1979, she won the Women’s World lightweight championship from Sue "KO" Carlson in San Antonio, Texas.

LADY TYGER was sure that women’s boxing was going to be very big in a couple of years and she vocalized that belief to all that who would listen. Little did she know or could have predicted that she would go through years of turmoil and disappointment in the sport of boxing.   

A true pioneer of female boxing, in 1987, she carried on the cause to the extent of going on a well-publicized "hunger strike" for a month to advocate better money and conditions for professional female boxers, even though she was protesting for others and not herself.  All that Lady Tyger strived for was equality among how boxers were paid and treated, whether they were male or female.   She directed that hunger strike towards Don King, the current manager of Christy Martin and other female fighters.   In defense of Don King, even then, he openly vocalized that he was for female boxing. 

Lady Tyger Trimiar was the first woman to apply for a boxing license in New York State. After a long drawn out lawsuit, Lady Tyger, Jackie Tonawanda, and Cathy "Cat" Davis were the first women to be issued a boxing license. They were side-by-side together at the same time to receive that license, even though Cat Davis, was physically "handed" her license first, they were actually all THREE issued a license at the same time. Because Cat Davis was handed her license first, she was pegged as the "First woman" to get her New York license, but in reality, Lady Tyger applied for her boxing license first with New York State, and technically should have received it first on that day.  She even protested the fact that Cat Davis was handed her license first, and the whole ordeal had  suspicious political overtones to it.

Lady Tyger was truly one of the greatest female boxers in the 70’s and 80’s. She fought exhibition fights before it was legal to box in  sanctioned bouts. She stayed in the fight game from 1973 until 1987, accumulating over 25 professional bouts. Her fame in the 70’s and 80’s even reached the Smithsonian Institute, when one day she received a letter from them, requesting remnants from her boxing days. Copyrighted 5/15/98. All Rights Reserved.

T.L.Fox:      What has been happening lately in your life?

Lady:         I just got featured in an article with VIBE Magazine, February issue.  Actually, the article is about a current amateur fighter by the name of Alcivar, but they go into the roots of women boxing and talk about my career, my struggles to obtain a New York Boxing license in the 70's and the hunger strike that I did in the 80's to gain better rights and wages for women boxers.     It also covers when I first started boxing and my experiences in the different gyms in the 70's.

T.L.Fox:   How did it make you feel to finally feel vindicated for the many years that Cathy "Cat" Davis claimed to be the first woman to be licensed in New York City, when in actuality you applied first, and should have technically been "handed" your New York License first on September 19, 1978 when you , Cat and Jackie Tonawanda all received it on the same day?

Lady:   Very good.   Sue, that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to do the article.    That has bothered me for so many years. 

T.L.Fox:     What kind of feelings were you going through, getting interviewed about the past?

Lady:  I was having a lot of mixed emotions.  I felt happy and sad at the same time.  It brought back good times and some really bad times about the hunger Strike and all the struggles I went through to get the right to box. 

T.L.Fox:   Do you regret getting into boxing years ago?

Lady:     No, not at all.  Sometimes my family say things to me that are negative. Kind of like what did I have to show for all the misery it brought on in the past.  But at the same time my family has said to me that if I didn't get into boxing, I would not have met so many nice people.

T.L. Fox:   Are you married now, or do you have children?

Lady:   I am a single mother with a nine-year old son.

T.L.Fox:     How many years did you stay in boxing?

Lady:   About 15 years.

T.L.Fox:   If you had not made your career choice as a professional female boxer, what would you have done in replacement of it?

Lady:   I don't really know.  I guess I would have liked to have been a nurse.

T.L.Fox:  In the 70's when you dared to defy the public, and you shaved your head, what kind of public reaction did you have to that?

Lady:   My family was SHOCKED.  My mother literally dropped her jaw.  It was funny, because I never planned to shave my head.   I was in the hairdressers one day and all of a sudden just told them to shave it all off.   I was called Kojak, and all kinds of names, including Mt. Baldy. One person accused me of shaving my head to blind my opponents under the bright lights over the ring?

T.L.Fox:  Okay, speaking of "hair" or more appropriately named, "no hair", how did the public react when you started wearing a mohawk?

Lady:     Oh, I did that just for fun, and didn't keep it that way for very long.  

T.L.Fox:   Have you had any physical or medical problems connected with boxing that you know of?

Lady:    I don't think so.  I did get an offer from some medical institute to answer questions in regards to medical concerns.  

T.L.Fox:  In closing, Lady, is there anything you would like to say to the public?

Lady:  I would like to say that I appreciate all of the fan mail and support and comments that I have received since being on WBAN's website.    It has truly touched me.  I also would like to tell the women boxers to never give up. To fight for that dream, and for your rights to fight. 

Q & A With Nina "Tha Bomb" Ahlinbomb1.jpg (17749 bytes)

Interview Conducted by Thomas Gerbasi

Q: Why Boxing?

A: I don't know why. I never really grew up liking boxing. I remember being in high school and punching people in the stomach all the time (laughs). Then I just had an interest in learning how to do it. I pick up things fast. I'm very athletic and I just knew I'd be good at it. I knew right away. Last November I was at a party and there were all these boxers there, and one of them, Chris Johnson, invited me to come down to the gym. I had been waiting to do this for years now, so I might as well go down there and take a look. And I've been going ever since. I knew that I wanted to compete going into it. Just the competitive part of it and proving that I could do it. I love it.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Calm. That's the feedback I've been getting. People that have been coming up to me have been saying how calm I seem in the ring.

Q: Your first opponent, Natasha Wilburn, is an experienced pro, having fought the likes of Leona Brown, Patty Martinez, and Anissa Zamarron.

A: My trainers were kind of nervous about that. I had an upper respiratory infection and I wasn't supposed to fight her; going in I was supposed to fight a girl named Sonia Ruiz. It would have been her first fight also. So, the night of the weigh-in, I get there and I see Natasha's name and I'm like "Who is this?" No one told me anything. So we were going back and forth between exhibition or pro. But I guess Debra King did not want an exhibition. I wanted to fight her, go all out or nothing. That's how I feel about it. I'm in this to win it, and if you want to be matched up with some easy opponents, I don't agree with that. I said, let me just fight this girl, I know she's had a lot of experience, but when I come out on top, I'll look that much better.

Q: What's your family's reaction to your boxing career?

A:My mom was like "Honey, you no boxing" (laughs). She's Vietnamese. "You take Karate, learn how to protect yourself." That's what she says all the time. She's real scared. She thinks I'm going to have brain damage and stuff. But she's very proud of me. She prays for me every day. And she told my trainer "You just take care of her." And my trainer's real good about it. If he doesn't feel right about something he won't let me go ahead and do it, if he knows I'm not ready.

They're pretty good though. I have three sisters back home and they're just so happy because they know I wanted to do this. I've been training for a year, and I'm finally coming around. And my dad, he's just laid back. He doesn't say much. (laughs) He'll say "Good, good." That's about it. But they're very supportive.

Q: You're also a cheerleader for the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. What are the reactions of your teammates?

A: Half of the squad was at my first fight, and they were so loud, so supportive, they could not wait for that night. They're great, and even my director is really supportive.

Q: What about the players?

A: I’ve known a few from before I was a cheerleader and they knew about the fight. The promoter was talking to some of them, and a couple were supposed to be there, but one of the players had a big night at his place; his mom cooked for all the players, so none of them showed up.

Q: Well, when there’s food involved...

A: (laughs) They were definitely not going to be at the fight. But they’re supportive. And the Falcons played my commercial. Fox 5 here (Atlanta) made a commercial. The response that I’ve gotten here in Atlanta has been so tremendous. During the San Francisco game they played my commercial in the Dome which announced my fight. And a lot of people came to the fight because they saw that commercial. Coach Dan Reeves even made a comment. I was on his show, they had a little segment at the end. He was pretty impressed. So it makes me feel good. I believe I have a lot of skill. I know I have to develop a lot more, being so new to this, and there is so much to learn.

Q: What are your goals in boxing?

A: My goal is to definitely get more women involved with it. And to show them that you don’t have to look a certain way to fight. Because there is a stereotype. A lot of people talk about the stereotypical boxer. "Oh, you don’t look like a boxer." It has nothing to do with your looks. It’s the skill that’s involved. And it’s going to be difficult to get people to change their minds unless I get in there and show them.

Q: Since you brought it up, and this is the male chauvinist speaking, you don’t look like the typical boxer, are you worried about your looks in the ring?

A: Not at all. That’s the least worry on my mind. I definitely don’t care about that. That can all be fixed later if it’s really that bad (laughs).

Q: The divisions around yours (Strawweight) are among the most competitive in the sport. What are your thoughts?

A: Actually, I need to get a little heavier to get to where those girls are. There are not many people in my division. I’m strawweight. I’m about 100 pounds, 102. I weighed in at 103 with clothes on. So I need to go up to about 108. And my problem is that I’ve never seen them fight. I work full-time from 7 to 4 and then I either go to train at the gym until 7:30, and then I just try to get in bed as soon as I can. Or after work I go to cheerleading practice until 10:30 at night. So I don’t have much time to watch other fights. I’m trying to get my trainer to get hold of some tapes, so I can at least learn their styles or see what they’re doing. I haven’t been to many fights either. Local fights, yeah, but I haven’t seen many good women boxers. I’m just doing it.

Q: What’s the toughest part of boxing for you?

A: I’d have to say the training. I get pretty well mentally prepared when I’m about to fight. For this last fight, what I thought was real helpful was that my trainer had me write down what I wanted to happen. It was two pages of exactly what I wanted to feel and what I wanted to happen around me from up in the dressing room to down in the ring, to the end of the fight. And that totally helped me relax. So that wasn’t the toughest part for me. It’s getting in there, going down to the gym, because I live kind of far from the gym. You know, pushing myself.

Q: Do you spar with men, or with women exclusively?

A: Everybody. There’s this one teenage boy, he’s 14, he’s more my size, but if I don’t spar with him, there’s a 135 pound girl, and a lot of the pro male fighters I’ll spar with, some of the smaller ones. They’ll just give me some work. It’s good work for me, and I’m used to a heavy punch. That’s good.

Q: Who are some of your favorite fighters?

A: I’d say that I’m really intrigued by Dee Dufoe. I haven’t seen much stuff on her. And Bridgett Riley, I look her up all the time, check out what she’s doing. For male fighters, Naseem Hamed is pretty intriguing (laughs). I saw him fight and I said "What is that all about?" He defies a lot of things I was taught. Then of course there’s Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. But then again I didn’t grow up liking boxing at all. So I really can’t say that there’s a favorite.

Q: What was going through your mind right before your first fight?

A: Stay calm. And I was just going over the certain combinations I wanted to do, and my friends were up there with me (laughs) so I wasn’t really trying to think about the fight. I was just roaming around and trying not to get nervous. So I was just trying to stay calm.

Q: What’s the difference between performing for a football crowd and a boxing crowd?

A: Life and death (laughs). I was probably more nervous performing on the field than in the ring, in a way. First of all, there are thousands of people in the Dome. There are so many people and they’re looking at so many different things. That’s a difference also. When you’re in the ring, it’s all eyes on you and you alone. I guess I feel more comfortable dancing. It’s kind of hard to explain. In boxing, I can really look like a fool if I get my butt kicked (laughs). You’re concentrating more on not getting beat. In dancing, you’re performing. That’s all about smiling and showing. With boxing it’s more skill and life and death in there.

Q: Where do you see yourself in one year?

A: Hopefully fighting for a world title. Definitely by then.

Q: What would you say to someone who thinks that women’s boxing should be banned?

A: I know that they’re talking about mismatches and stuff. It’s going to take some time. I tell them to give it time. I have no doubt that it will be a big sport for women, as long as more women get involved. That’s where I want to come in. A lot of girls wouldn’t even think about trying boxing. But if I can get them in there at least to work out, a lot of people would realize what kind of skills they have.

Q: What would it take to get more women involved?

A: More exposure. Clinics, where people could try it out. Because they never know if they’re going to like it or not, and they’re going to get such a good workout out of it. The word is spreading. It’s like wild fire here in Atlanta. There are so many places to take boxing and kickboxing. It’s unbelievable.


By Tracy Callis

Jim Corbett was a boxer deluxe. He was fast, clever, and elusive with excellent speed of hand and foot. He used a repertoire of jabs, hooks, and crosses while keeping his distance during the early part of a fight. But, if he chose to, Jim could stand within an arm’s reach of an opponent and hit him at will without being struck himself. Now and then, when an enemy was flat-footed or off guard, the "Gent" would move in and slam home a hard one. His punch was stiffer than most people give him credit for.

Corbett was the second champion under the Marquis of Queensberry rules. Some historians write that during his entire career (18 years) he never got a black eye or bloody nose. He was "heady" and an exceptional innovator. If a fight did not go according to plan (most did), he could adjust and change tactics in a flash.

Jim was so quick and smooth that his opponent’s physical size or boxing skills was never a handicap to him. He knocked out John L. Sullivan, the powerful bully. He went 61 rounds with the two-hundred pound Peter Jackson. He made a mess of Bob Fitzsimmons in the early rounds of their championship fight and, had the count been carried out fairly (many sources say it was slow), he would have scored a sixth-round knockout.

But, he did err and get too close to Jim Jeffries – more out of disregard than error. Corbett boxed 23 rounds with Jeffries in their first bout and cut the big man’s face to shreds. Corbett later joked that he was ahead 22-0 going into the fatal 23rd round.

William Brady, manager of both Corbett and Jeffries, when asked to compare the two, said "I have a leaning, a slight leaning, toward Corbett. He combined the most desired qualities of brain and brawn to a degree I have never seen in any other fighter, past or present" (see Edgren 1926).

Houston (1975 p 9) said "He believed in hitting without being hit and moved gracefully about the ring, relying on the speed and accuracy of his hits to wear down opponents …".

Durant and Bettman (1952 p 82) said Corbett "… could feint, slip punches, side-step, and counter with a left jab so fast that it was a blur to the eye".

Litsky (1975 p 76) said "James J. Corbett was one of the great heavyweight boxing champions and one of the great innovators … He originated the counter punch, the feint, and fast footwork."

Durant and Rice (1946) called Corbett a skilled boxer who was lightning fast and one of the most scientific fighters of all time. They added, "In the ring he was ice cold. No man before him had ever applied himself to his trade as did Corbett to the study of boxing".

Burrill (1974 pp 50 51) said "Corbett marked [the] turning point in ring history, replacing mauling sluggers with [the] new school of faster, scientific boxers". Jem Mace, Britain’s great bare-knuckle champion called Corbett "… the most scientific boxer …" he had ever seen (see Durant 1976 pp 38 39).

Grombach (1977 p 48) wrote that Corbett was the first man to introduce defensive tactics into championship competition and the principle that a man cannot be beaten if he cannot be hit. Willoughby (1970 p 358) wrote of Corbett "… without doubt the greatest of all defensive boxers among the heavyweights …".

Fleischer and Andre (1975 p 71) stated that at the peak of his career no one could compare with him in quick thinking and cleverness. McCallum (1974 p 22) said "James John Corbett is down in history as the most intelligent prize fighter the ring has ever known – the supreme master of defensive boxing". Keith (1969 p 114) wrote "Jim Corbett … probably had the fastest and cleverest footwork of any man ever to fight for the world’s heavyweight championship".

Durant (1976 p 33) said he "… developed the beautifully proportioned body of a Greek athlete" and that he was an accomplished counter puncher.

Odd (1976 p 141) wrote that Corbett appeared to be the perfect athlete with his beautiful muscularity. He earlier wrote (1974 p 16) he [Corbett] placed the science of boxing before brawn and added "Corbett specialized in a straight left lead and a right cross and he cultivated footwork to a fine degree".

Jim Jeffries said Corbett was "… the cleverest man I ever fought. There isn’t a fighter of any weight, living or dead, who could measure up to him as a boxer" (see Litsky 1975 p 76).

Grantland Rice (1954 pp 142 143) called Corbett "the world’s greatest boxer" and wrote that in 1925, Corbett (at the age of 59) sparred three rounds with Gene Tunney. Rice stated that "Tunney was on the defensive. Corbett was brilliant . He still had bewildering speed! He mixed up his punches better than practically any fighter I’ve ever seen …". Tunney commented "It was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in the ring. I learned plenty" (also see McCallum 1974 p 6).


Lardner (1972 p 69) asserted "James J. Corbett was the greatest boxer of all time among the heavyweights and one of the greatest ring generals of any weight. No heavyweight ever approached him in the ability to ride with a punch (and so remove part of its sting); slip a punch; make his opponent lead before he was ready and then counter with a series of pistonlike jabs; feint an opponent into committing a defensive maneuver and then attack the newly vulnerable area; or drift just out of reach of a punch a split second before it reached its intended target".

In the opinion of this writer, Corbett was the fastest heavyweight boxer ever over the entire course of a fight (not just the early rounds) and the #7 All-Time Heavyweight in boxing history.


Burrill, B. 1974. Who’s Who in Boxing. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House

Durant, J. 1976. The Heavyweight Champions. New York: Hastings House Publishers

Durant, J. and Bettmann, O. 1952. Pictorial History of American Sports. Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Co.

Durant, J. and Rice, E. 1946. Come Out Fighting. Cincinnati: Zebra Picture Books

Edgren, R. 1926. The Big Fellow (Jim Jeffries – contained in Liberty magazine for seven weekly issues from July 31 to September 11, 1926

Fleischer, N. and Andre, S. 1959. A Pictorial History of Boxing. New York: Bonanza Books

Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of Sock. London : Thomas Yoseloff Ltd.; Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc.

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

Keith, H. 1969. Sports and Games. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company

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

Litsky, F. 1975. Superstars. Secaucus, New Jersey: Derbibooks, Inc.

McCallum, J. 1974. The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Radnor, Pa.: Chilton Book Company

Odd, G. 1974. Boxing: The Great Champions. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited

Odd, G. 1976. The Fighting Blacksmith. London: Pelham Books Ltd.

Rice, G. 1954. The Tumult and the Shouting. New York: A.S. Barnes and Company

Willoughby, D. 1970. The Super Athletes. Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Co., Inc.

El Torito: From Shame To Salvation?

By Henry Martinez

The shame. As a 12-year-old Hispanic and an avid fan of professional boxing, I'll never forget how I felt the day I heard. Such a pitiful display for a man who I considered to be my idol. My hero.

For months leading up to that terrible moment, I'd never felt prouder of a Latino boxer than I did for this man, for this mere mortal. His name?

Roberto Duran.

The year was 1980. The shame was his plea of "no mas" against Sugar Ray Leonard, which I missed seeing live. When I heard the news, though, it was almost too much to take. Never again, I resolved, would I allow myself to invest so much emotionally in a fighter -- even one of Latin descent.

And then came Tony Ayala Jr.

Less than two years later, this 20-year-old phenom stood at the edge of greatness. Sure, Bobby Czyz, Alex Ramos and Johnny Bumphus were getting their share of accolades as boxing's young guns. But "El Torito" -- the Baby Bull, as Ayala was dubbed -- operated on another plane entirely.

His career record (22-0, 19 KO's) tells only part of the story. Anyone who saw Tony Ayala in the ring can attest to one undeniable truth: He was Mike Tyson before Mike Tyson existed.

He possessed devastating power in both hands. He was relentless. He made short order of most opponents. And he did it with a unique charisma that fell somewhere between the flashy Hector Camacho and the subdued Oscar De La Hoya.

In 1982, Ayala was a junior middleweight with his eye on the Big Prize. Conceivably, the future could have included mondo-money fights against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and, just maybe, the guy who eventually won back some of my respect -- Duran.

Ayala-Duran wasn't to be. Like clockwork, the shame returned. Only this time, it was far more sick and disgusting than a boxer deciding to quit a losing battle. Ayala had intimately violated a woman in the most cowardly act any man can commit.

As it turned out, he indeed was Mike Tyson before Mike Tyson.

And for this, Ayala spent the next 16 years of his life in isolation from the rest of the world. Apart from the sport he was on verge of conquering. Behind bars with those of his kind.

So sad. Such a waste.

But there's a twist: Tony Ayala Jr. wants to rewrite the ending to this story. He paid his debt to society. He is now free. In the longest of long shots, Ayala has decided to attempt what seems impossible -- a successful comeback after a 16-year layoff. Even George Foreman -- the king of all
comebacks -- returned to fisticuffs after a 10-year hiatus. Ayala's got six more years on good ol' George.

Can it be done? The 14-year-old inside me desperately wants to root for Tony -- but only if his life is straight. Tyson is ample proof that a well-adjusted personal life is worth a helluva lot more than any multimillion-dollar purse. If Tony Ayala fails again at life, his return to the ring won't be worth crap.

But if El Torito is truly rehabilitated, and he fails (the odds against him are overwhelming), then he should accept fate and move on with the rest of his life. There's no sense wallowing in "what could've been" when the most important thing now is to concentrate on "what will be."

If he succeeds...well, we'll cross that mountain should El Torito climb it.

And me? At 30, I'm a bit harder than I used to be. I like Oscar De La Hoya all right, but I purposely allow some distance there. I just don't want to get hurt again.

No mas.

(Henry Martinez is a contributing writer based in Dallas, Texas.)

April  Ratings    (as of 11 Apr)

By Phrank Da Slugger

**please note: Frank Liles (WBA 168-lb titlist) exits this month as he has been inactive for a year. Manuel Medina (IBF 126) and Carlos Gonzalez (WBO 140) will have been MIA for 12 months as well next month and will join Liles if they don't fight. (Medina is scheduled to fight this month).

There are 3 criteria I use to rate fighters: Quality of Opposition, Performance and Activity. I am ranking the best from 1 to 10; this is to see who deserves a title shot. I rate all 18 divisions, a time-consuming activity to say the least. Therefore, commentary only appears every 3rd month. Some mistakingly think the Champion in each division is the guy who I think is the best. This is not the case. There are 2 criteria by which I determine Champions: the 1st is lineage (Oscar de la Hoya beat Pernell Whitaker who beat Buddy McGirt who beat Simon Brown); and the 2nd is defeating another fighter also ranked in the top 3 in the division < this is how Evander
Holyfield is the Champ. There is the exception: Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley are those rare titlists who have reigned a long time and defeated many contenders. They are the dominant fighters in their weight classes and
have won, mostly via KO, against a number of different contenders. You could say Iım rewarding them for long and meritorious service.

Heavyweights (over 195 lbs)
Champion: Evander Holyfield (WBA & IBF)
1. Lennox Lewis (WBC)
2. Ike Ibeabuchi
3. David Tua
4. Hasim Rahman
5. Andrew Golota
6. Michael Grant
7. Brian Nielsen (IBO)
8. Larry Donald
9. Kirk Johnson
10. Herbie Hide (WBO)

active this month: Ibeabuchi, Johnson, Nielsen (out: Byrd-lost)

Crusierweights (195 lbs)
Champion: Fabrice Tiozzo (WBA)

1. Juan Carlos Gomez (WBC)
2. Johnny Nelson (WBO)
3. Arthur Williams (IBF)
4. Marcelo Dominguez
5. Carl Thompson
6. Robert Daniels
7. Imamu Mayfield
8. Kenny Keene (IBA)
9. Saul Montana
10. Thomas Hearns (IBO)

active this month: Nelson, Thompson, Hearns, Mayfield (out: Eubank-inactive)
Inactive list: Montana, Daniels

Lt. Heavyweights (175 lbs)
Champion: Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO)
1. Roy Jones (WBC & WBA)
2. Reggie Johnson (IBF)
3. Lou del Valle
4. Montell Griffin
5. Michael Nunn
6. Derrick Harmon
7. David Telesco
8. Clinton Woods
9. Antonio Tarver
10. Eric Harding

active this month: Michalczewski, Harmon, Griffin, Tarver
Inactive list: del Valle

Super Middleweights (168 lbs)

1. Joe Calzaghe (WBO)
2. Thomas Tate
3. Richie Woodhall (WBC)
4. Mads Larsen (IBO & WBF)
5. Sven Ottke (IBF)
6. Charles Brewer
7. Robin Reid
8. Glenn Catley
9. Dean Francis
10. Thulane Malinga

active this month: Larsen, Malinga
Inactive list: Brewer, Francis

Middleweights (160 lbs)
Champion: Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
1. William Joppy (WBA)
2. Hassine Cherifi (WBC)
3. Agostino Cardamone (WBU)
4. Keith Holmes
5. Antwun Echols
6. Rito Ruvalcaba
7. Andrew Council
8. Silvio Branco
9. Robert McCracken
10. Dana Rosenblatt (IBA)

active this month: Cardamone, Branco
Inactive list: McCracken

Jr. Middleweights (154 lbs)
Champion: Javier Castillejo (WBC)
1. Fernando Vargas (IBF)
2. David Reid (WBA)
3. Harry Simon (WBO)
4. Keith Mullings
5. Laurent Boudouani
6. Winky Wright
7. Tony Marshall
8. Bronco McKart (IBA)
9. Luis Ramon Campas
10. Raul Marquez

active this month: Marquez, Wright, McKart

Welterweights (147 lbs)
Champion:  Oscar de la Hoya (WBC)

1. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
2. Ike Quartey
3. James Page (WBA)
4. Oba Carr
5. Jose Luis Lopez
6. Vernon Forrest
7. Pernell Whitaker
8. Shannon Taylor
9. Michele Piccirillo (WBU)
10. Edgar Ruiz

active this month: Ruiz

Jr. Welterweights (140 lbs)
1. Kostya Tszyu (WBC)
2. Julio Cesar Chavez
3. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
4. Antonio Diaz (IBA)
5. Sharmba Mitchell (WBA)
6. Terronn Millett (IBF)
7. Vince Phillips
8. Khalid Rahilou
9. Zab Judah
10. Carlos Gonzalez (WBO)

active this month: Chavez
Inactive list: CGonzalez

Lightweights (135 lbs)
Champion: Shane Mosley (IBF)

1. Stevie Johnston (WBC)
2. Israel Cardona
3. Ivan Robinson
4. Cesar Bazan
5. Julien Lorcy(WBA)
6. Artur Grigorijan (WBO)
7. Colin Dunne
8. John Brown
9. Jean-Baptiste Mendy
10. Arturo Gatti

active this month: Lorcy, Mendy (out: Johnson-displaced)

Jr. Lightweights (130 lbs)
Champion: Floyd Mayweather (WBC)

1. Anatoly Alexandrov (WBO)
2. Derrick Gainer
3. Angel Manfredy
4. Takanori Hatakeyama (WBA)
5. Goyo Vargas (IBA)
6. Yongsoo Choi
7. Saul Duran
8. Robert Garcia (IBF)
9. Dennis Holbaek Pedersen (IBC)
10. Jesus Chavez

active this month: Pedersen
Inactive list: Choi

Featherweights (126 lbs)
Champion: Luisito Espinosa (WBC)

1. Naseem Hamed (WBO)
2. Fred Norwood
3. Cesar Soto
4. Juan Carlos Ramirez
5. Juan Marquez
6. Carlos Rios
7. Manuel Medina (IBF)
8. Angel Vazquez
9. Cassius Baloyi (WBU)
10. Antonio Cermeno (WBA)

active this month: Hamed, Vazquez, Baloyi (out: Ingle-lost)

Jr. Featherweights (122 lbs)
Champion: Kennedy McKinney

1. Erik Morales (WBC)
2. Marco Antonio Barrera (WBO)
3. Vuyani Bungu
4. Danny Romero
5. Carlos Barreto
6. Nestor Garza (WBA)
7. Enrique Sanchez
8. Hector Acero-Sanchez
9. Guty Espadas
10. Carlos Navarro

active: Barrera, Espadas
Inactive list: Acero-Sanchez

Bantamweights (118 lbs)

1. Johnny Bredahl
2. Johnny Tapia (WBA)
3. Veeraphol Sahaprom (WBC)
4. Jorge Julio (WBO)
5. Julio Gamboa (NBA 115#)
6. Paul Ayala
7. Tim Austin (IBF)
8. Joichiro Tatsuyoshi
9. Adan Vargas
10. Nana Konadu

active this month: Bredahl, Julio, Gamboa, Austin (out: Nago-moved down in

Jr. Bantamweights (115 lbs)
Champion: In-Joo Cho (WBC)

1. Samson 3K Battery (Dutch Boy Gym) (WBF)
2. Mauricio Pastrana (IBO)
3. Gerry Penalosa
4. Joel Luna-Zarate
5. Jesus Rojas (WBA)
6. Yokthai Sit Oar
7. Eric Morel
8. Hideki Todaka
9. Jesper Jensen (IBC 112#)
10. Akihiko Nago

active this month: Pastrana, Rojas, Todaka, Sit Oar, Nago (out: Tapia-moved
up in weight/vacated title, Gamboa-moved up in weight)
Inactive list: Penalosa

Flyweights (112 lbs)
Champion: Manny Pacquiao (WBC)

1. Mark Johnson
2. Chartchai Sasakul
3. Leo Gamez (WBA)
4. Ruben Sanchez-Leon (WBO)
5. Alejandro Montiel
6. David Guerault
7. Jose Bonilla
8. Saen Sow Ploenchit
9. Jose Lopez
10. Isidro Garcia

active this month: Pacquiao, Garcia (out: Pastrana-moved up in weight)
Inactive list: Ploenchit, Bonilla

Jr. Flyweights (108 lbs)
Champion: Saman Sorjaturong (WBC)

1. Pichit Chor Siriwat (WBA)
2. Jake Matlala (IBA)
3. Jorge Arce (WBO)
4. Juan Domingo Cordoba
5. Melchor Cob-Castro (IBA 112#)
6. Joma Gamboa
7. Will Grigsby (IBF)
8. Edgar Cardenas
9. Ratanapol Voraphin
10. Hawk Makepula

active this month: none

Strawweights (105 lbs)
Champion: Ricardo Lopez

1. Rosendo Alvarez
2. Wandee Chor Chareon
3, Songkram Porpaoin (WBA)
4. Ronnie Magramo
5. Lindi Memani
6. Kermin Guardia (WBO)
7. Zolani Petelo (IBF)
8. Satoru Abe
9. Wolf Tokimitsu
10. Andy Tabanas

active this month: Chareon, Guardia, Tabanas (out: Reyes-displaced)
Inactive list: Memani, Petelo

World Champions:  14 (of 17)

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