View Full Version : R.I.P. Jack Fiske

01-24-2006, 04:16 PM
According to a news item on Fightnews, Jack Fiske,
who was a boxing scribe for the San Francisco
Chronicle from the late 1940s to the early 1990s
and a member of the International Boxing Hall of
Fame, died at the age of 88 this morning. For a
number of decades, Fiske may have had the
most informative column about the boxing
world in the United States. In the days before
the internet, his column, filled with solid boxing
scoops, was circulated widely among avid boxing
fans throughout the United States. With Fiske's
passing, it signals the end of an era of great boxing
writers based in the former boxing hotbed of San
Francisco. Besides Fiske, they included Bill
Naughton, Bill McGeehan (who would move
to New York City), Harry B. Smith, Marlan
Salazar, and Eddie Muller. I hope that
Fiske's family, friends, and fans accept my

- Chuck Johnston

01-24-2006, 04:35 PM
This is personally very saddening. I knew Jack. He was a crusty old boxing guy who was always willing to share his knowledge. His house is a boxing museum the IBHOF would envy ...

A truly great boxing writer has passed on ...


01-24-2006, 05:31 PM
From Dan Cuoco the director of IBRO:

FIGHTNEWS - Word has reached us that Jack Fiske, dean of boxing writers, has died in San Francisco this morning at the age of 88. Jack worked for more than 40 years as the boxing writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and his Tuesday and Saturday columns were required reading in the industry. Born Jacob Finklestein in New York, Jack attended Alabama University, where he studied journalism and was manager of the boxing team (one of the team members was a pugnacious featherweight named George Wallace, later Alabama governor and Presidential candidate). Jack started at the Chronicle in 1947 and two years later covered his first heavyweight championship when Ezzard Charles defended against Pat Valentino at the San Francisco Cow Palace. Never a flowery writer, Jack prided himself on getting the facts straight and mining information that always scooped his competitors. He was not without opinions, however, and they could be cutting. You always knew where you stood with Jack. Jack left the Chronicle in 1993, but continued writing columns for Virgil Thrasher's Professional Boxing Update trade journal until the late 1990s. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. Jack was a great writer and a better friend whose spirit will live on with the many lives he touched in this business.
Tuesday, January 24 2006

01-24-2006, 07:46 PM
There is an obituary of Jack Fiske posted on the
website of the San Francisco Chronicle.

- Chuck Johnston

01-24-2006, 07:50 PM
His column meant a lot to me, the perfect mix of national and California items that I was interested in. I still have some of his clippings around. One is dated Sat. July 5 1980 and he's previewing the Holmes-LeDoux fight on network TV on Monday. It's titled "Seventh of July Fireworks", and starts off with:

"ONLY IN AMERICA - time was when a championship fight and July 4 went together like cherry bombs and amputation. There wasn't much more to do in town after the morning parade and noontime lunch spread. Then the availability of the automobile and good roads sped people into the countryside, away from the city's heat and far from the stifling arena. Title fights on Independence Day became passe, only a memory for old-timers."

He's previewing Holmes-LeDoux here, folks! Just think how boring that piece would be written by someone today. He goes on to reference Braddock against Baer; argue with the passing over of Corbett, Attel, and Baer by the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame; promotes local shows featuring Bash Ali and James Broad; describes Yaqui Lopez's entourage and family as they prepare to leave for Saad II on the east coast after sparring with Mike Quarry; looking ahead to the big showdown between Pete Ranzany and Sal Lopez; numbers on the Northern California Duran-Leonard closed circuit showings; the issues around having Cuevas-Hearns in Detroit rather than L.A.; Lopez to announce retirement; Zarate back in training; dates of numerous fights upcoming involving Benitez, O'Grady, Zamora, Hope, and Frankie Baltazar taking on Limon.

Anyway, was fun to check it out again.

Didn't they take a tour of his home on USA Tuesday Night Fights when they were in the bay area? I seem to recall that.


01-24-2006, 08:18 PM
Tim- Thank you for posting your thoughts about
Jack Fiske. In my opinion, Fiske's boxing column
was the best in so many ways.

- Chuck Johnston

01-24-2006, 08:31 PM
I agree with you 100% , but i would add that it was the best period!

Frank B.

01-24-2006, 08:41 PM
According to his obituary on the San Francisco
Chronicle, Jack Fiske worked for the paper starting
in 1950 after working for several other papers.
In other words, it may not be true that Fiske
started with the Chronicle during the late 1940s.

- Chuck Johnston

01-24-2006, 08:50 PM
I'm in total accord with Tim, Chuck & Mr. B.

Fiske was special. He didn't blow smoke up your tail pipe when he wrote. He was brutally honest even if he had to be harsh. He was just a great, great, writer.

Before the Internet if you lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the ONLY way to keep up with current events in boxing was Jack's twice weekly column & Virgil Thrasher's, outstanding Boxing Update/Flash newsletters.

By the time Ring, KO, etc. went to print the news was already 3 months old. Jack & Virgil kept us current. Virgil of course is still very much alive but losing both Jack & Virgil's publications in the same month is a helluva way to start the New Year.

I'll never forget how eagerly I devoured all of Jack's columns for decades. There is no doubt in my mind that Jack's world view of our beloved but beleagured sport certainly influenced me & does to this day.


01-25-2006, 02:47 PM
When I first got into boxing, Jack Fiske's Saturday and Tuesday articles were the only current source of boxing news. There was no internet and we didn't have espn. My copy of Boxing Illustrated would only come once a month and seemed to have been written three months earlier. I remember getting up on Saturday mornings going right for the sports section with a cup of coffee in one hand and reading his article. Even if it was about a fight I had just seen the evening before his discription was always fresh and new. Even when there wasn't a megafight to write about, there was always some great tidbit about the sport. His last article seemed bitter and sarcastic. A comment about Tommy Hearns being the only boxing person to remember him at the holidays and about England being the land of the prone heavyweights. That was the beginnining of the downward spiral for the Chronicle and the sporting green lost most if not all of its luster for me.

01-26-2006, 02:51 PM
Hey very sad to hear this. I enjoyed Jack Fiske for many years and he loved the sport of boxing and knew what he was looking at. A great loss for the sport. Rest in Peace my brother.

01-26-2006, 04:25 PM
Michael Katz wrote about his memories of
Jack Fiske in his latest column that is
posted on the Maxboxing website.

Pedro Fernandez considered Jack Fiske
to be his mentor and written about him
in a column which is posted along with
tributes to Fiske by boxing fans on the
RingTalk website.

As far as I know, Fiske never won a
"Boxing Writer of the Year" award, but
he get the James J. Walker award during
the late 1980s and was inducted into the
IBHOF a few years ago. In my opinion,
Fiske should have received several "Boxing
Writer of the Year" awards and fully deserved
the honors that he did receive.

- Chuck Johnston

01-30-2006, 11:10 AM