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Thread: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

  1. #1
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    They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    I'm sure this topic has been covered plenty of times before, but I'll throw it into the mix, anyhow.
    Who are some of the fighters you guys feel might have developed into great (or at least very good) champs in their divisions if a really great performer hadn't roadblocked them?
    A couple come quickly to my mind: Alfonzo Zamora was a partial bantamweight champ, undefeated, all wins by KO when he met fellow banty champ Carlos Zarate in an over-thte-weight match while both were peaking. Alfonzo had his moments and stung Carlos pretty badly once, but he was ground down and stopped by the much taller and longer-armed Zarate in four rounds. As for his greatness, Zamora went something like 4-4 for the remainder of his career and even seemed to lose his vaunted power (I remember reading Flash Gordon's great disappointment after watching Zamora struggle to a split decision over a neophyte in NYC), so perhaps he wouldn't have reigned for much longer even if Zarate hadn't been the Godzilla of the division during his salad days. Still, there are perhaps good excuses for Zamora's quick collapse, not the least of them being that he didn't need the money that fighting brought him (his father was a wealthy businessman who owned a number of buildings in Mexico City, I believe). Once his stunning run of knockout wins ended, the pride in maintaining his career went with it.
    Prior to facing Zarate, however, Alfonzo had scored some eye-opening wins. The capable Soo-Hwan Hong fell twice to his grenades (the second time in a long, innervating war), for instance, but the crowning point of Zamora's run was a second round one-punch destruction of Eusebio Pedroza. We all know what Pedroza accomplished not much later as a featherweight champion, right? He had something like twenty successful title defenses and made it into the HOF, but one right hand from Zamora knocked him into another time zone. Little Alfonzo might really have been special if there had been no Zarate or if he had taken out Carlos when he hurt him.

    A second guy is talked about here a good bit: Rodrigo Valdez. Gil Clancy has called Valdez one of the top men he was ever associated with, and who else had the power to conclusively KO hard Bennie Briscoe? Rodrigo could slam with either hand, had quick feet and a sound chin, and he fought as if he really, really WANTED to be the toughest middleweight on the planet. But there was a mountain in his way, too, one by the name of Monzon. If there had been no Monzon, I can easily envision Valdez unifying the title and keeping it under his thumb for several years. Slippery Hugo Corro might have been a problem, as he was in real time, but if Rodrigo hadn't been turned back twice by an all-time great like CM, I believe he would have retained the desire and meanness to deal with Corro. Then, there would arrive on the scene a fellow known to a few of you folks here; his name was Hagler. If Valdez hadn't been too much in decline by '78 or '79, who knows what sort of war we might have been treated to?

    If there had been no Louis or Ali, would other greats have been allowed to flower in the unobstructed sunlight? Who would have replaced Duran? Michael Spinks? Sugar Ray Robinson?

    This is fun. PeteLeo.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Estaban DeJesus
    Joe Medel
    Harold Johnson (already pretty great, but without Moore would have been champ forever)

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Howard Winstone(Saldivar)
    Luis Rodriguez(Griffith)

    Canto may never have become an all-time great had Masao Ohba not been killed in a car crash.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Sonny Liston. Of course he is a all-time great but still, I wonder what his reign would have looked like if he never had to face Ali?

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by JLP 6
    Sonny Liston. Of course he is a all-time great but still, I wonder what his reign would have looked like if he never had to face Ali?
    He WAS great until the powers that be in boxing and government forced him to lose to Ali. The films are there to prove his greatness.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    I must admit a did named Billy Bello out of New York is one of many who might have been very great had it not been for drugs.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    I agree re Alphonso Zamora, Rodrigo Valdes and Esteban DeJesus.

    Had he been able to keep away from the booze and the broads, and had there been no Sugar Ray Robinson in his way, I think Bobo Olsen could have been an all-timer.

    Like Harold Johnson, Jimmy Bivins just couldn't seem to deal with Archie Moore. Had Moore never existed Bivins might have held the light-heavy title for a long time.

    Without Jose Napoles to bother him, Ernie Indian Red Lopez would have ruled the welterweights in the 1970s. He was a little better than Hedgemon Lewis and Clyde Gray and, IMO, would have held the title until Carlos Palomino & Pipino Cuevas came along. [Prime-to-prime, I think he beats Cuevas, in fact.]

    I think Alfredo Escalera could have had a nice long run as jr. lightweight champ had it not been for the Explosive Thin Man, Alexis Arguello.

    Dwight Muhammad Qawi would have ruled the light-heavies for as long as he wanted to had it not been for Michael Spinks.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Maybe not GREAT in the true sense but....

    Barry McGuigan (Steve Cruz & the NV climate)

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    Kojoe

    I honestly never bought the Heat and Climate exscuse in that bout for McGuigan. Kings Hall has a very well known reputation for being hot and stuffy as all hell and Even Tenneseean Bernard Taylor used that as an exscuse in his bout with Barry. A Place Barry Never had an issue with the heat with. That exscuse just doens't sit well with me.

    Especially if you consider how average he looked agiasnt Danilio Cabrera one bout earlier. A fighter Azumah Nelson wiped out with ease.

    The Cruz loss made me feel very cheated form seeing Nelson McGuigan, a bout, I felt Azumah would have had his coming out party with.

    In a sense, I think the Cruz defeat spared Barry form ultimately facing Nelson. My view of Nelson McGuigan would have been similar to Nelson Fenech II.

    Hawk

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    George Chaney and Bob Satterfield...could have been great had they not had such brittle chins.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by BDeskins
    George Chaney and Bob Satterfield...could have been great had they not had such brittle chins.

    satterfield could do it all. he had amazing KO power in both hands, fast speed, good boxing skills, underated defense, good movement, good build, but he had that glass jaw and lack of work ethic.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    For me that fighter was Mexican bantamweight Jose Medel. Instead of trying to explain anew my feeling about him I'm going to reprint a eulogy I did for him back in May of 2001 ...

    Editorial: Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
    By GorDoom

    R.I.P. Jose Medel
    1938-2001

    I imagine that 98.9% of the people reading this have never heard of a great Mexican bantamweight warrior named, Jose "Huitlacoche" Medel. The bare facts are that he was a top bantam contender from the mid 50ís to the late 60ís.

    The truth is that Medel was the type of fighter who is the very foundation of boxing. A pure example of warrior heart & soul. A man who fought a literal whoís who of the bantam division for 16 years & more than held his own against some of the toughest & greatest bantamís of the 20th Century.

    Medel was a hero in Mexico second only to the the great bantam king, the Julio Caesar Chavez of his day, Jose Becerra. So esteemed was Medel that he won National Fighter Of The Year, three times running. In Mexico thatís the equivalent of being named MVP in the NFL, NBA or MLB.

    Medel was an excellent boxer with a good enough punch to travel to Japan & do what the immortal Eder Jofre couldnít do in two tries; beat Fighting Harada. Medel not only beat him, he knocked him cold in six rounds. For those who might not know, Harada was a Hall Of Fame, two division world champion, who was in his prime at the time.

    Unfortunately for Medel, like the rest of his born under a bad sign career; it was a non-title fight - he lost the rematch by close decision for the title.

    Medelís long career was unlucky because despite fighting through three eraís of the bantamweight division. Among the plenitude of world champions he faced, were bantamweight nonpareils like Jose Becerra, Eder Jofre, Fighting Harada & Ruben Olivares. Talkiní a true Murdererís Row!

    In many ways Medelís career was similar to former unlucky greats who had opposites who always seemed to have their number like, Luis Rodriguez (Emile Griffith), Esteban De Jesus (Roberto Duran), Rodrigo Valdez (Carlos Monzon), Joe Frazier (George Foreman) & the more modern, Marlon Starling (Donald Curry). The difference for Medel is those fighters had that one great opponent they couldnít overcome, poor Jose had four such Everestís too climb.

    So dear readers, youíre probably wondering why The Olí Spit Bucket is rambling on about some Mexican bantamweight whose prime was about 40 years ago ... Yeah, well. Itís personal.

    As some of you long time readers may know my father, a former pro fighter, was in the CIA & stationed in Mexico from 1956 until 1962. As a sideline he started training & managing Mexican fighters. Naturally he recruited me to work in the corners with him & thus Lilí Bucket began his long, twisted, boxing journey at the age of seven in 1956.

    I first met Medel in 1958 in a gym in Mexico City. He trained at the same gym that my father trained his fighters. I guess he found me amusing as a little kid because I was a blue eyed gringo who could speak Spanish fluently in the Mexican idiom & we struck up a casual friendship. I can remember mock sparring with him & also his many, earnest attempts to teach a clumsy but enthusiastic eight year old how to skip rope like a real boxer ...

    By Ď58 Medel was already a contender. That year he fought & lost a close decision to Becerra & knocked out the storied & very tough, Dwight Hawkins, in seven. The next year he won the Mexican bantamweight championship. One has to realize that in Mexico & all of Latin America, boxing & soccer are the equivalent of the NFL & major league baseball here at home. So to eight year old Lilí Bucket, Medel was a hero that I did my best to emulate as I struggled to learn how to skip rope like my idol.

    Over the next few years I ran into Medel numerous times as I worked the corner for my fatherís fighters, many who fought on Medelís undercards. None of our fighters ever fought Medel who by then was a top ten contender & a Mexican idol. But I can remember sitting ringside for a lot of his bouts & then hanging in his dressing room after some of his victories. He always greeted me effusively which always gave Lilí Bucket a thrill.

    I lost touch with him after we moved back to the States in Ď62, but he was a man who made an indelible impression on me as a kid. When I learned of his death from cancer early this year I was truly saddened & decided to write a eulogy for this true, fine, warrior who once was a friend of mine ...

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Bucket
    Thank you for that one old buddy.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Marty Clayton. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Marty's mountain wasn't another fighter but a policeman's bullet. PeteLeo.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Another fighter I just thought of was Dwight Hawkins, a bantam-feather contender in the 50's & 60's. He was one of those fighters like henrey Hank that was just thrown to the wolves.

    But despite bad management Hawkins was so talented that even though he faced a who's who of those division he still did pretty well. He started fighting in '56 but even a year before his career ended in '69 when he was well past his prime, he was able to beat a fighter as good as Frankie Crawford.

    His biggest win was a non-title ko over the great Jose Becerra. I'm convinced that with the proper management, training & matchmaking today we would be talking about Hawkins as one of the greats. The same applies to former middle-Lt. heavy contender Henry Hank.

    Here is Hawkin's career record:

    Dwight Hawkins

    Bantamweight-Featherweight, 1956-1969

    1956
    May 14 Rudy Cianeros San Diego, Ca KO 1
    May 28 Chuck Paloremos San Diego, Ca KO 2
    Jun 28 Tom Turner Los Angeles, Ca KO 4
    Jul 26 Al Wilcher Los Angeles, Ca KO 6
    Aug 13 Joel Sanchez Tijuana, Mex W 10
    Sep 15 Babe Antunez Hollywood, Ca L 6
    Sep 22 Babe Antunez Hollywood, Ca W 6
    Oct 18 Fugi Rodriguez Los Angeles, Ca LK 6
    Dec 20 Leo Carter Los Angeles, Ca KO 1
    Dec 29 Herman Duncan Hollywood, Ca LK 6

    1957
    May 28 Rudy Coronado Hollywood, Ca D 6
    Aug 17 Willie Lucero Hollywood, Ca KO 2
    Sep 30 Felix Cervantes Tijuana, Mex KO 8
    Oct 7 Kid Irapuato Tijuana, Mex L 10
    Nov 6 Joe Beccera Los Angeles, Ca KO 4
    Nov 30 Felix Cervantes Mexicali, Mex L 10
    Dec 12 Kid Anahuac Los Angeles, Ca LK 7
    1958
    Mar 8 Joe Beccera Guadalajara, Mex LK 9
    May 1 Auburn Copeland Los Angeles, Ca W 10
    Jun 17 Nacho Escalante San Bernardino, Ca W 10
    Jun 28 Joe Medel Mexico City, Mex LK 7
    Jul 31 Herman Marques Los Angeles, Ca D 10
    Sep 5 Danny Valdez Los Angeles, Ca W 8
    Sep 20 Eddie Gaspora Hollywood, Ca KO 1
    Oct 25 Baby Brown Hollywood, Ca KO 5
    Dec 20 Pimi Barajas Hollywood, Ca KO 7

    1959
    Jan 24 Noel Humphreys Hollywood, Ca W 10
    Apr 4 Herman Marques Hollywood, Ca W 10
    May 4 Nacho Escalante Tijuana, Mex KO 9
    Jul 11 Danny Kid Hollywood, Ca L 12
    Oct 1 Danny Valdez Los Angeles, Ca L 12
    Dec 10 Billy Rafferty Glasgow, Scot L 10

    1960
    Aug 31 Nelson Estrada Caracas, Ven L 10

    1961
    Inactive

    1962
    Oct 15 Manny Linson Hollywood, Ca KO 4
    Oct 23 Tacuba Uribe Juarez, Mex D 10
    Dec 18 Eduardo Santos Bakersfield, Ca KO 4

    1963
    Apr 19 Vicente Saldivar Monterrey, Mex LK 5

    1964
    Feb 3 Ruben Ramirez Santa Monica, Ca KO 1
    Mar 2 Manuel Tarazon Santa Monica, Ca KO 4
    Mar 30 Sid Obart Santa Monica, Ca W 10
    May 7 Mio Torres Los Angeles, Ca W 10
    Jun 24 Manny Elias Los Angeles, Ca D 10
    Oct 2 Manuel Villaneuva Las Vegas, Nv KO 2
    Oct 27 Manuel Villaneuva Las Vegas, Nv KO 2(?)
    Nov 25 Humberto Barrera Corpus Christi, Tx LK 9

    1965
    Mar 28 Ignacio Pina Mexicali, Mex D 10
    Sep 2 Dinamita Rojas Los Angeles, Ca KO 2
    Dec 6 Apolonio Salinas Los Angeles, Ca KO 1

    1966
    Feb 7 Beto Maldonado Las Vegas, Nv W 10
    Mar 5 Delfino Rosales Culiacun, Mex LK 9
    Mar 28 Ignacio Pina Mexicali, Mex D 10
    Apr 15 Zorito Valdez Los Angeles, Ca W 10
    May 11 Grillo Duran Guadalajara, Mex KO 7
    Jun 14 Juan Baez Tijuana, Mex KO 2
    Jun 21 Jose Jimenez Los Angeles, Ca W 10
    Oct 6 Ignacio Pina Los Angeles, Ca KO 6
    Nov 7 Osamu Mihashita Los Angeles, Ca KO 3
    Dec 13 Luis Ramirez Woodland Hills, Ca KO 8

    1967
    Feb 7 Carlos Perez Durango, Mex KO 5
    Mar 11 Chilo Rodriguez Guymos, Mex KO 6
    Apr 7 Aurelio Muniz Tampico, Mex D 10
    May 1 Jose Garcia Las Vegas, Nv KO 10
    Jun 1 Bobby Valdez Los Angeles, Ca D 10
    Jul 8 Manny Berrios Anaheim, Ca W 10
    Aug 10 George Salazer Anaheim, Ca W 10
    Dec 7 Lobito Montoya Los Angeles, Ca KO 9

    1968
    Feb 28 Robert Castillo Las Vegas, Nv KO 1
    Mar 27 Kuniaki Shibata Tokyo, Jap KO 7
    May 2 Rokuro Ishiyama Tokyo, Jap KO 2
    Jun 5 Fighting Harada Tokyo, Jap L 10
    Jul 30 Jet Parker Honolulu, Hi W 10
    Nov 4 Frankie Crawford Los Angeles, Ca KO 8

    1969
    Jan 24 Fernando Sotelo Los Angeles, Ca L 10
    Feb 25 Raul Carreon Los Angeles, Ca KO 5
    Apr 8 Miguel Herrera Woodland Hills, Ca W 10
    Jul 18 Nobuo Chiba Los Angeles, Ca KO 1
    Aug 22 Antonio Gomez Los Angeles, Ca LK 10

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Cocaine ... A real scourge for boxing in the 80's, Just the heavyweight division alone was decimated by the drug. For me two of the biggest casualties wern't heavyweights. They were Don Curry & Michael Nunn.

    Everybody remembers that at one time Curry was considered #1 P4P. For a short period in the late 80's so was Nunn. We will never know how great they might have been if they hadn't blown (pun intended) their careers due to cocaine use.

    Nunn is now serving a 19 year sentence for dealing cocaine. For that matter it didn't help Pea much in the 90's by shortening his career & getting him a six year sentence from which he was recently granted early release.

    Although in Pea's case he was able to establish his cred as an HOF level fighter before the coke took it's toll.

    GorDoom

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Enrique Bolanos if not for Ike Williams.

    Frank B.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    I think had Joe Becerra not had the unfortunate bout with Walt Ingram that he would be talked about today as one of the greatest of Mexican fighters!

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Gordoom;
    RE: Curry.

    I'm not sure when curry---aaron pryor is another come to think of it---was under the coke influence. But what I'd seen with Curry was his legs going. Exactly the same thing happened to Terry Norris later. Prior to the Honeyghan matchup he was spreading those legs about 3" more at least in his stance. And far less punching w/o his feet firmly planted. With the mccrory fight, it was beautiful to watch curry step in and fire. But that was about his last fight with the good legs.

    Did that coincide w/ his downfall due to drug usage? I thought that was a little later and when he moved to 154. That's when the leg problem really surfaced and he looked far more vulnerable. But I had always pegged the curry demise to legs and not reflexes or drug use, although I think that stuff set in a little later and added momentum to his downward spiral.

    Thoughts?

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Gordoom;
    RE: Curry.

    I'm not sure when curry---aaron pryor is another come to think of it---was under the coke influence. But what I'd seen with Curry was his legs going. Exactly the same thing happened to Terry Norris later. Prior to the Honeyghan matchup he was spreading those legs about 3" more at least in his stance. And far less punching w/o his feet firmly planted. With the mccrory fight, it was beautiful to watch curry step in and fire. But that was about his last fight with the good legs.

    Did that coincide w/ his downfall due to drug usage? I thought that was a little later and when he moved to 154. That's when the leg problem really surfaced and he looked far more vulnerable. But I had always pegged the curry demise to legs and not reflexes or drug use, although I think that stuff set in a little later and added momentum to his downward spiral.

    Thoughts?

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    I had always thought that the Drug use

    Came after the fall. Specifically the Honeyghan and McCallum bouts.

    Curry's talent SHOULD have translated into greatness. After the McCrory bout he was supposed to move up and face McCallum. His split with Dave Gorman (or rather initially his dispute with him) and his being wooed by (I beleive) Akbar Muhammad, put his camp in dissaray, his focus off and his developement retarded.

    Heck even when he took on Rodriguez (about that was NOT supposed to have happened.), he looked off. His staying at 147 was a huge mistake and he loooked amaciated for Honeyghan.

    I think he simply started listening to people who were telling him what he wanted to hear and he lost his way.

    What a shame because I thought he was on his way to being very special.

    Very sad.

    Hawk

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Regarding Don Curry.

    Just a thought here but do you also think Currys long amateur career could have been a factor as in general wear & tear etc on the body. I've heard it claimed that Curry had something like 400 amateur fights, thats a lot, if true.

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Klit Jr. .... a chin.

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    Kojo

    Curry did have a very long amateur career, but his slide came VERY suddenly. It was like he fell off a cliff rather than descending down a hill.

    I honestly think it was focus and greed that helped his career fall apart. Of course this is a tough game and if you can't be mentally strong, well, those are the brakes.

    Hawk

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    I have a question regarding Frug usage particulary Cocaine.

    In the case of some users, Swee Pea and Pryor, most notably, does anyone here feel that, as a performance enhancing drug, it may have assisted them in some way. I am sure in my mind that it shortened their respective careers and ruined their lives as well as countless others, but from my own personal observation from cokaine abuse, it takes quite a while for it to take its toll on a man if they can afford it. Eventually, it will destroy a person if they don't quit, but I have seen some lucid and capable people, who I've worked with and played sports with who used it and they all performed well at first, and they all declined at different rates in the end.
    Does anyone feel that perhaps cocaine may have helped (albeit briefly) in som fighters performances? I can't help think of the infamous black bottle in Pryors case. Was cocaine the eighties equivalent of steroids ?

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    The black bottle

    Had peppermint schnapps, water and amonia in it.

    I read once that it contained Orange juice and Cocaine in it, but that was never substantiated or backed up with anything.

    Schappps, Water and amonia (bad enough if you ask me) was the "mix".

    Hawk

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    That's what I heard as well, but we will probabally never know the real ingredients and can only speculate although I will accept the schnapps ammonia theory.
    My question is which of those greats and near greats actually/probabally used while they fought and did it enhance their performances to any degree. I know it is a though question, one I would like to hear from the members on this board

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    Not having done

    the snorty snort, I really don't know the affect that it has on you.

    Having smoked Pot as a Teen (as most teens are wont to do) and being a fan of Beer (Oh you nectar of the Gods you) and knowing the dulled sense of everythingness that the two will give you, I would say that if Coke is anything remotely similar (and I suspect it is not), than it would not enhance one's performance.

    And obviously we are referring to an athelete who is ON the drug when he goes into the ring and not one who has used it in the recent past, that would show up in a urinalysis.

    Not sure here.

    Cheech? Chong? Bueller? Anyone?

    Hawk

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    The notion that there was cocaine in the water is totally spurious. If you drink cocaine, within a few seconds your throat & esophagaus would go numb. Making it very hard to breath. Not exactly the recipe for success in boxing.

    Not to mention it would take a few minutes for you body to digest & absorb the coke into your bloodstream to jack you up.

    By that time the round would be over ...

    That WAS NOT cocaine in that bottle.

    GorDoom

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    Re: They Might Have Been Great If Not For . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by GorDoom
    The notion that there was cocaine in the water is totally spurious. If you drink cocaine, with a few seconds your throat & esophagaus would go numb. Making it very hard to breath. Not exactly the recipe for success in boxing.

    Not to mention it would take a few minutes for you body to digest & absob the coke into your bloodstream to jack you up.

    By that time the round would be over ...

    The WAS NOT cocaine in that bottle.

    GorDoom
    This has also been my understanding on this matter as well. In that people who have dabbled in such 'matters' a little more than I have informed me.

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