SEPTEMBER 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 | Tournament of Champions: Boxing's Lineal Mathematics
By Cliff Rold

06 | Roberto Duran, Unplugged
By Juan C. Ayllon

07 | Appreciating Chuck
By Thomas Gerbasi

08 | Thistle in the Rose
By James Glen

09 | Anton "The Sheik" Greek
By Jerry Fitch

10 | Interview with Don Fraser
By Juan C. Ayllon

11 | Boxing's Good Book [PDF]
By Don Cogswell

12 | "John L. Sullivan: The Career of the First Gloved Heavyweight Champion" [PDF]
By Adam Pollack

13 | Three Book Reviews
By Katherine Dunn

14 | What's in a Name?
By Ted Sares

15 | Audio From the Archives [mp3]
The CBZ presents another classic boxing-themed radio show. This month we bring you an episode of Duffy's Tavern ("Where the elite meet to eat"), from April 13, 1951, starring Maxie Rosenbloom.


Editor's Note: Way back in February 1998, we published an interview conducted by, at the time, one of our CBZ editors, Thomas Gerbasi; who I'm sure many of you are familiar with as one of the writers for MaxBoxing.com.

In the many years that Tom was with us, he was truly one of the engines & cornerstones of the CBZ. His efforts for us were invaluable. But things change.

Shit happens, life grinds away ... Opportunities suddenly open up -- & Tom moved on & is now one of the head cheeses of MaxBoxing & UFC.com. He's now making a comfortable living writing about boxing & the UFC, & I couldn't be prouder of him. Hell, he's getting paid & well into my second decade with the CBZ ... I still ain't!

He left the CBZ with absolutely no acrimony, & to this day, all these years later, he is still one of my best friends & closest "insider" boxing confidantes.

The way we first hooked up eight, nine, or maybe 10 years ago, when he wrote me an e-mail tearing me a new one about an editorial or an article (So long ago I forget exactly what piece it was), I had written.

It wasn't the usual "You're fucked & don't know shit about boxing" kind of letter, but rather a reasoned, very well-written diatribe that went over point by point as to why I was fucked & didn't know shit about boxing ...

I was impressed by the cogent way he told me I was full of crap & I invited him to write a rebutal to my position -- & he did.

The rest is history ...

He worked his ass off keeping this lash-up alive, & then when he had the opportunity to actually get paid for doing the same thing, he moved on.

I had no problem with that, because I was never going to pay him a dime, since nobody on the CBZ gets paid. It's a labor of love.

But love has never paid the bills ...

Anyways, a couple of months back, famed cornerman Chuck Bodak reached his 90th birthday. I thought that it would be cool to do a follow up piece from our February 1998 interview with Bodak.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that Mr. Gerbasi had to do the follow-up interview. One BIG problem, though -- he's not with the CBZ anymore, & he has his hands more that full.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Mr. Gerbasi had to do it. One BIG problem though -- he's not with the CBZ anymore, & he has his hands more that full.

I figured the worst thing he could say to my request was a resounding:

NO!

So I called him up & told him what I wanted ...

& for the next couple of minutes, I heard some of the most creative cursing I've ever had the pleasure to hear in my life.

After he finally ran out of breath, I heard a shuddering gasp for air, & Tommy said, "You a-hole! You know how busy I am, how could you ask me to do this?"

I said something clever like, "Because I'm the Bucket?"

Another shuddering gasp for air, & Tom said, "You're a real bastard, you know that?" Yeah ... I'll do it."

Then he hung up on me.

So here it is, dear readers. Hope you enjoy it.

GorDoom



Appreciating Chuck

By THOMAS GERBASI

He's 90 now, this man who may be one of the most recognizable faces in a sport where usually only the ones with gloves get noticed. But if not for Vasil "Chuck" Bodak, many fighters would have never gotten the chance to display their skills for the world, because it was his gift for 60-second mini-surgeries that allowed them the brief respite they needed to go back into battle.

Strangely enough though, ask Bodak what makes a good cutman, and he brushes off the question modestly and politely.

"I was a better teacher than I was a cutman," he said from his home in California, and he then proceeds to speak of his true love when it comes to boxing, working with and developing fighters. But don't call it training, especially not in front of Bodak.

"Anybody who was great in this sport were teachers, and not trainers," he said. "Trainers work with animals; a teacher works with a human being, and you penetrate their mentality. That was always my thing, and even today, everything I do is based on mentality and not training."

For over 70 years, ever since abandoning dreams of glory as an active fighter (he did have close to 140 fights as an amateur), Bodak, a native of Gary, Indiana, began imparting the lessons he had learned to young fighters at the local CYO. Champion after champion would follow Bodak as he moved from Gary to Chicago over the next two decades, and his reputation grew.

But it was never about personal accolades for the man who would eventually work with 65 past, present, or future world champions -- from Muhammad Ali and Oscar De La Hoya to Evander Holyfield and Robert Guerrero -- as a teacher or a cutman. For Bodak, it was always about giving back to the fighters, the fans, and the sport.

You don't see that attitude much these days, especially not in professional sports, and for that alone, Bodak is one of a kind. Forget the trademark pictures taped to his head; this is a man who never turns down an autograph or photo request, who would routinely hand out cash to needy fighters in the seediest gyms, and who could retire to a mansion if he had a dollar for every corner he worked for free over the last 70 years.

Yet he doesn't talk much about this.

He doesn't have to, because the recipients of his kindness will do it for him. And I would be remiss if I didn't recall the time when a rookie reporter nervously got ready for his first phone interview eight years ago and got assured by Bodak that if the tape somehow got destroyed or came up blank, "If it doesn't come out, we'll do it again."

That's Chuck Bodak.

"My philosophy was to idolize the kids that you're working with, because that's your job," said Bodak. "You do things for them; you give them things, because they haven't got a damn thing. That should be your philosophy, to give, not take. And you don't have that today."

No, we don't, and it's sad. Many trainers today haven't the slightest idea of how to teach the finer points of the game, and even fewer have the compassion to make the important call of when an athlete has had enough -- in a fight or a career. And many of those who do have these traits develop a fighter from the amateur ranks only to lose them to a high-profile cornerman when the big money arrives. Bodak's been there before, and when you ask him if there are any good teachers left, the answer is what you'd expect it to be.

"There are very, very few," he said. "Most of them are guys that steal kids, or kids come to them because they have the connections, and stuff like that. They never develop anybody. Most of the guys in the business are trainers and they don't know how to treat human beings. Someone who can take a kid from zero and make him into something -- that to me is a teacher."

But it's not all gloom and doom for the sport of boxing according to Bodak, who has seen all the greats -- some up close and personal -- for almost a century. He still has a love of the game.

"Oh, yeah," he answers without hesitation. "There are still some good people out there who I have a lot of respect for."

And despite the bad apples, that won't stop Bodak from appreciating boxing and the athletes who make it what it is. It's still his first and greatest love, and even though he doesn't travel the globe working corner after corner -- sometimes three or four fights a night, three nights a week -- anymore, when he does walk up those four steps (he was recently seen working a mixed-martial-arts show in California in July), he doesn't do it for money or for fame, he does it for the same reason he always has -- for the kid whose only way out may be with his fists.

"I do it for them."

Thomas Gerbasi is a staff writer for MaxBoxing.com and UFC.com. He can be reached at tgerbasi@mindspring.com.

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