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Thread: George Benton: A Rememberance by John DiSanto/Philly Boxing History

  1. #1
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    George Benton: A Rememberance by John DiSanto/Philly Boxing History

    GEORGE BENTON
    BOXING LEGEND PASSES



    In the early morning hours of September 19, 2011 (3:40 am), Philadelphia boxing icon George Benton died at St. Joseph's Hospital in North Philly, after battling pneumonia for the past few weeks. He was 78.

    Benton was one of the most skilled boxers in Philadelphia's storied boxing history. He fought and beat many of the best of the ring. He was a scientist between the ropes who could outthink them all - at least those willing to step in there with him. But he was avoided by many.

    When he was a fighter, he could avoid just about every punch that came his way. He never ran; he just stood there, twisting and turning the fraction of an inch needed to stay untouched. He did his best to stay out of harm's way. I'm not sure if it was mathematics, geometry or something else, but his method worked. His theory on getting hit was simple - don't let it happen. But he couldn't dodge every bullet.

    His long career ended in 1970 after a shot from a gun - intended for someone else - entered his back and forced his retirement after 21 frustrating years in the boxing ring. He left the fight game as a great boxer who never really got his due. But that was just the beginning for George Benton.

    After two years in and out of the hospital and a long recuperation from the gunshot, Benton returned to the boxing world. He was back in the gyms, and back in the corners, but not as a fighter. Instead George Benton became a boxing trainer. His lifetime of boxing knowledge would not go to waste. The rest was history.

    It couldn't have been a better fit. No one knew more about boxing than Georgie Benton. Everyone agreed with that. But what they didn't understand was that Benton could also become a teacher. A great one. He had the ability to impart to others all the hard lessons he had learned during his career, as well as old-school basics and scientific touches of boxing. He knew and preached the things it seemed fighters no longer did - the angles, the movement, and not getting hit. To Benton these were instinct and they were gospel.

    They called him the Professor, the Master, the Mayor. He had a lot of nicknames. But they all meant the same thing - Benton was the boss, the expert, the one who knew it all.

    For years and years, Benton worked the corners of countless young - and not so young - fighters.

    His first assignment as a trainer was with old foe and fellow North Philly icon Bennie Briscoe. Imagine them together and on the same team. Bad Bennie was an old dog who had already been in the boxing ring for a lifetime. So Benton merely fine-tuned the rugged puncher and helped to extend his career several more years.

    Eventually Benton would become the trainer for a legendary list of boxers. Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Evander Holyfield, Johnny Bumphus, Leon Spinks, Rocky Lockridge, Joe Frazier, Tyrell Biggs, Tex Cobb, Curtis Parker, Earl Hargrove, and many others all called him their trainer.

    As a fighter, Benton became the top middleweight contender but was never given a chance to win a world title. However as a trainer, he won title after title, and won defense after defense. He was widely regarded as the best trainer of his day. "This is how I won the championship", he once told me. Having George in your corner didn't guarantee you a title, but it didn't hurt.

    Benton was named the "Trainer of the Year" in 1989 & 1990 by the Boxing Writers Association. He was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001, the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 1986, and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.

    As a boy, his life in boxing began by hanging out at the Johnny Madison Gym in North Philly. He and a few friends would peer into the gym, fascinated by the fighters and all the action inside. Johnny Madison would shoo them away every day, but Benton kept coming back. He couldn't be shooed. Eventually "he gave me a broom", Benton once said of gym-owner Madison.

    Benton swept the gym and did whatever was asked of him. After a while, Madison gave him a pair of trunks, and young George was training and learning the finer points of the sport. As an amateur boxer, Benton won the Philadelphia Golden Gloves in 1947 as a 126-pounder, and placed second the following year as a welterweight. In 1949, Benton won the welterweight Mid-Atlantic AAU / Diamond Belt.

    Benton turned professional on July 18, 1949 with a first round KO of Chico Wade at Toppi Stadium in South Philly, and went on to post an overall pro record of 61-13-1 with 36 KOs, through 1970. He beat Joey Giardello, Jimmy Ellis, Freddie Little, Jesse Smith, Johnny Morris, Slim Jim Robinson, Bobby Jones, Chuck Goldsby, Holly Mims (at right), Jetson Arnold, and others. He was trained by Joe Rose and managed by Herman Diamond throughout most of his career. In 1961, Benton's third round knockout of Chico Corsey opened the Blue Horizon, that legendary North Philly fight club that died last year.

    His accomplishments and contributions to the sport of boxing can never be tallied. He was without question one of the true legends of the sport - inside Philadelphia and out.

    Within the last year, old-school trainers Jimmy Arthur and Bouie Fisher also passed away. It seems that all the great corner kings are gone now. Time produces a slow epidemic of loss. With the passing of George Benton, it is fair to say that Philadelphia has lost its greatest boxing trainer ever.

    That fraternity is an elite group, filled with the greatest boxing minds who ever lived. As great as the others were, Benton was the Professor and the Master of them all.

    He is survived by his wife Mildred and a large family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, many friends and millions of boxing fans.

    Many say that boxing is dead. Although I will never believe that, after the death of George Benton today - just nine months after the passing of Bennie Briscoe, that claim feels like it holds some truth. But it won't last. In time the memories of Benton, Briscoe and all the other greats of the past always rise up to keep boxing afloat in the minds and hearts of those of us who love the sport.

    We love boxing because of men like George Benton. We owe these men everything.

    Thank you Georgie. Rest in Peace.

  2. #2
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    Re: George Benton: A Rememberance by John DiSanto/Philly Boxing History

    CBZ Contender
    George Benton

    Born: May 15, 1933 Philadelphia
    Professional Record: 61-13-1 (36 kayos)
    Managers: Herman Diamond (1949-65), Joe Gramby (1965-70)

    George Benton was a smooth boxer, with outstanding defensive skills. His famous philosophy on fighting was, "Win this fight, look good in the next one," which may explain why he neither was popular nor ever received a tile match. Among the top fighters Benton beat were: Holly Mims, Lester Felton, Freddie Little, Jesse Smith, Joey Giardello, and Heavyweight title claimant Jimmy Ellis. After retiring, Benton became a successful trainer, his most notable disciples being Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whitaker, who to a great extent adopted Benton's boring style.


    1949
    Jul 18 Chico Wade Philadelphia KO 1
    Aug 8 Whitman Dorsch Philadelphia W 4
    Nov 3 Dave Peters Philadelphia KO 5
    Nov 21 Harold Alle Holyoke, MA W 6

    1950
    Jan 5 Gene Landers Philadelphia W 6
    Feb 2 Bucky Slocum Philadelphia W 6
    May 15 Frank Gubas New Haven, CT KO 2
    Jun 5 Al Mobley Philadelphia L 6

    1951
    Feb 6 Al Niang Trenton, NJ KO 2
    Mar 5 Billy Whye Philadelphia W 6
    Apr 16 Jeston Arnold Philadelphia W 8
    Apr 19 Jimmy Moore Philadelphia KO 1
    Jun 11 Van Butler Philadelphia W 6
    Jul 2 Emmett Norris Philadelphia KO 6
    Aug 24 Buddy Newly Atlantic City KO 2
    Nov 29 Chuck Goldsby Philadelphia KO 3

    1952
    Jan 10 Holly Mims Philadelphia W 8
    Mar 21 Bobby Rosado New York KO 4
    Mar 26 Moses Ward Chicago KO 5
    Jun 5 Jackie Burke Philadelphia KO 6
    Dec 8 LeRoy Coleman Trenton, NJ KO 3
    Dec 23 Charlie Joseph Miami Beach W 10

    1953
    Jan 20 Bobby Lee Miami Beach KO 6
    Jan 27 Lester Felton Philadelphia W 8
    Mar 24 Joe Blackwood Miami Beach L 10
    Jul 23 Chuck Goldsby Philadelphia W 8
    Aug 13 Jimmy Franklin Philadelphia KO 6
    Dec 28 Bobby Jones Brooklyn W 10

    1954
    Apr 27 Kid Charolito Miami Beach W 10
    May 14 Leroy Coleman New York D 8

    1955
    May 2 Joe Dorsey New Orleans KO 7
    Sep 30 Clarence Hinnant Philadelphia W 8
    Oct 21 Clarence Hinnant Philadelphia W 8

    1956
    Aug 2 Henry Ray Charlotte, NC KO 2

    1957
    Inactive -- In U.S. Army

    1958
    Apr 16 Archie Whitfield Chicago KO 6
    Jun 12 Jimmy Robinson Philadelphia KO 4
    Jul 7 Willie Dockery New York L 10
    Aug 26 Charlie Joseph New Orleans W 10
    Nov 17 Charlie Joseph New Orleans L 10

    1959
    Feb 16 Young Beau Jack Philadelphia KO 1
    May 18 Bobby Boyd Philadelphia W 10
    Jul 15 Holly Mims Miami Beach L 10
    Oct 26 Henry Hank New Orleans L 10
    Dec 10 Gene Washington Philadelphia KO 10

    1960
    Oct 18 Freddie Little New Orleans W 10
    Nov 2 John McCormack Glasgow, Scotland L 10

    1961
    Nov 3 Chico Corsey Philadelphia KO 3

    1962
    Feb 8 Joe Louis Adair Philadelphia KO 4
    Mar 8 Eddie Thompson Philadelphia KO 8
    Apr 12 Rudolph Bent Philadelphia KO 2
    May 28 Jesse Smith Philadelphia W 10
    Aug 6 Joey Giardello Philadelphia W 10
    Nov 19 Allen Harmon Philadelphia KO 9

    1963
    Mar 7 Clarence Alford Philadelphia KO 3
    Apr 4 Clarence Riley Philadelphia KO 6
    May 25 Rubin Carter New York L 10
    Jul 20 Allen Thomas New York W 10
    Aug 31 Johnny Smith Los Angeles KO 2
    Nov 19 Johnny Morris Pittsburgh L 12

    1964
    Mar 16 Ernie Burford Philadelphia KO 4
    May 18 Johnny Morris Philadelphia W 12
    Nov 30 Jimmy Ellis Philadelphia W 10

    1965
    Apr 12 Larry Barrett Philadelphia KO 7

    1966
    Mar 7 Luis Rodriguez Philadelphia KO by 9
    Aug 25 Milo Calhoun Portland, ME L 10
    Dec 5 Bennie Briscoe Philadelphia KO by 10

    1967
    Oct 2 Dick Young Philadelphia KO 4
    Nov 9 Hilton Whitaker Philadelphia KO 8

    1968
    Mar 11 Oscar Freeman Philadelphia KO 2
    Apr 5 Danny Garcia Philadelphia KO 2
    Sep 24 Bobby Warthem Philadelphia KO 2

    1969
    May 1 Juarez de Lima Philadelphia W 10

    1970
    Jan 13 David Beckles Philadelphia KO 1
    Mar 25 Eddie Owens Philadelphia W 10
    Apr 4 Juarez de Lima New York L 10

  3. #3
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    Re: George Benton: A Rememberance by John DiSanto/Philly Boxing History

    George Benton was a legend in and out of the ring.

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