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Undeserved Hall of Famers?
By Jim King
I was recently in Canastota, New York. Its a wonderful town with wonderful people ...... achew.....hicks! sorry I sneezed! Anyways while there I visited the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It was a truely fascinating experience for me , a lifelong fan of Pugalism. I saw the Plaques of Robinson, Ali, Louis, Marciano and all the greats.
However as I was walking through browsing at the other members of the Hall I noticed something. I noticed fighters who were in the Hall who I felt did not deserve to be there. They were good fighters sure, but Hall of Fame? Legends? The Best ever? I think not. I have compiled a top five list of men who don't belong in the Hall of Fame and my reasons why. I am not here to degrade or diminish any of their abilities but I am here to say the truth.
Top 5 Fighters Who should Not be in the Hall of Fame
5) Matthew Saad Muhammad - Being a Native Philadelphian this hurts me to say, Saad does not belong in the Hall of Fame. I know he was one of, if not the most exciting fighter ever. I know almost every fight was a war of survival. I know he was a real life Rocky. However all those plusses can be used as minuses. If exciting fighter is a reason for induction Arturo Gatti should be in when he is eligible and that is not going to happen. Should a Hall of Famer be in a life and death struggle every time out? Look at the other Light Heavyweights in the Hall Moore, Spinks, Foster. They were hardly in any wars cause they were so much more skillfull than their opponents. To be in wars with Yaqui Lopez, Riche Kates and John Conteh should not qualify you for the Hall. As for a real life Rocky? Thats nice, but in real life there should be no Rocky's in the Hall. Just Apollo Creeds. Finally you could never really say Muhammad was ever even the best Light Heavyweight Champion of his own period. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad beat Saad in their only meeting and Victor Galindez had beaten Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. Also the final knock against Muhammad is when he lost his title to Dwight Braxton it was so one sided that I believe Braxton would have beaten him every time if they fought 100 times. So Matthew should get a Purple Heart but not entry into the Hall.
4) Jersey Joe Walcott - Jersey Joe was a crafty and very skilled Journeyman who should have been given the decision against Joe Louis after fighting brilliantly for 15 rounds against the Brown Bomber. He later won the Heavyweight title at the age of 37 with one of the most dramatic one punch knockouts in Boxing History over Ezzard Charles. He gave Rocky Marciano a beating and would have won a unanimous decision had Mariano not landed a right that put Walcott in the hospital. All those are good enough to qualify him for the Hall right? Wrong! He was clearly robbed against Joe Louis. However Louis was an old man at that time and the fact that Walcott was knocked out in the rematch negates the first fight. Yes he knocked Ezzard Charles out with one punch to win the Title at 37 but the fact is Charles was only an above average Heavyweight and also had beaten Walcott twice before the fateful KO. The fight with Marciano would have been Walcott's defining moment but instead he could not keep his lead for two more rounds and in the rematch he could not even reach the second round. Walcott was a good, very good boxer just not a great one.
3) Ken Norton - Ken Norton was a virtual unknown to the Boxing world. Then he broke Muhammed Ali's Jaw and won a unanimous decision and overnight he was known worldwide. It was a great victory but should one victory get you in the Hall of Fame? If so Buster Douglas will be in ! Norton was a tough man and determined. However he did lose to Ali twice after his famous upset win. Yes many thought he beat Ali for the Title in New York but the fact is he could not knock Ali out when Ali was way past his prime and Norton was in his prime. The non effort against Foreman is another negative as well as the 1st round losses to Shavers and Cooney. The fact is Norton was a Paper champion and was never the true Heavyweight King. He was basically handed the title and lost it in his 1st defense. So how can a guy who was never really the Champion be in the Hall? Easy answer. He shouldn't be!
2) Jose Torres - Maybe one day he should be in the Writer's wing, but not in the Boxers Wing. He had Pedigree yes and alot of skills. However the fact is he won the title from a brave Journeyman in Willie Pastrano and retained it a grand total of 3 times. 3! He was a Light Heavyweight who lost his title to a Middleweight albeit a good one in Dick Tiger. Did I mention Torres had just 3 Defenses?! Beating a washed up Bobo Olson, a journeyman in Pastrano and 3 non descript challengers, although Eddie Cotton was decent, hardly qualifies you to be among the Ruth's of Boxing. Did I mention he had 3 defenses?!
1) Harold Johnson - He runs a great chain of Restaurants. Oh that is Howard Johnson's?! Well my Grandfather would kill me for saying Harold Johnson does not belong in the Hall but he is dead so I can say it anyway! My grandfather always said if Archie Moore were not around when Johnson was Harold would be right up there with Foster and Spinks at the Pantheon of Light Heavy's. There is one problem to that argument. Moore was around! The fact is Johnson fought Moore 4 times and won once. The fact is Johnson won the NBA title which was a paper belt and while Johnson did win the world title he lost it to Pastrano, who was a gritty, skilled but overall mediocre fighter. In the end I will again say what my Gramps said if only Archie Moore were not around at the time......
Now I am not saying kick these men out immediately. What I am saying is have higher standards for newer inductees. The Hall should only have Legends in it. We have enough mediocrity in the Ring these days leave it out of the Hall!