WAIL! The CyberBoxingZone Journal
September 2000 issue

A Editor's Note

By GorDoom

   For this issue, the Ol' Spit Bucket has decided to step aside in favor of a guest editorial by the redoubtable Mr. Lucius Shepard. But before I turn the editorial over to Lucius, I have three things I'd like to mention:  My good buddy & associate editor, Tom Gerbasi, has a terrific new book out called, Ring Ramblings, that is a must read for any ardent fan of the sweet science. It is avalable online at www.iuniverse.com, www.bn.com, www.amazon.com, or www.borders.com .

 Lastly we have two interviews in this issue that are truly outstanding. One is JD Vena's insightful piece on Brian Kenney, who is Max Kellerman's broadcast partner on ESPN2's boxing series.

   Leading off the issue is Eric Jorgensen's interview with Tom Smario, a well known cut man in the Northwest ... But, Tom is a lot more than just a cut man, he's truly a boxing renaissance man. Not only is he one of the best cutmen working today, he's also an ER Orthopedic technician as well as a published author & poet.

   The best way to explain who Tom Smario is, is by republishing the introduction to his book that the CBZ's Katherine Dunn wrote:

"The Notes of A Cornerman"- Tom Smario
An introduction
--Katherine Dunn

     " In the boxing gyms and arenas where Tom Smario hangs out, almost no one knows he's an accomplished poet.  And that's fair. Few of Smario's literary cronies know he's a dedicated boxing cornerman, specializing in stopping the bleeding from any cut a boxer may suffer in the course of a bout.

      But writers or fighters, those who know Smario, call on him in a pinch.  One aging duffer who exercises at a local boxing gym claims to be more comfortable banging the heavy bag when Tom is around. "If I keel over with a heart attack," says the geezer, "I know Smario will give me CPR."

     And Smario would, of course. He'd do it right, however long it took the ambulance to arrive. One of Smario's many lives is his day job, which is medical--he's a casting technician at a busy hospital. When you break, he's the guy who puts your fractured body part safe in a cast to heal.

     In "The Notes of a Cornerman" these three intense worlds flow together to produce poems of passion tangled in ring ropes.

      Boxing has always been a lure for writers. The deliberate, ritualized crisis strips pretense and veneer down to core character--the human heart made visible. Homer's detailed description of a heavyweight match at the funeral games in The Iliad is the acknowledged starting line of an enormous literature dedicated to the game of busted beaks.

    Smario brings a fresh intimacy to this honorable tradition. His view is from the inside, close enough to hear the urgent muttering between rounds, to feel the heat of blood pulsing from a cut, and to be swept by the fear and hope before fights, the jubilation or disappointment afterward. These poems are direct expressions of the poet's  experience and, on the whole, they're exultant winners.

     There are punchy love songs to distant stars, from Willie Pep to Muhammad Ali. There are jabs at the critics of this much maligned sport, and jokes at the poet's expense. But the strong central topics are the sagas of little known fighters, their dreams, and the risks they take on the spotlit stage of the sport. 

     The language is six-pack functional, blue collar real, working for the simple, honest story. These are romantic poems in the truest sense -- gladly finding beauty in  sweaty, bruised reality."

     Well put. In the Bucket's view, guys like Tom Smario are the heart & soul of our brutal sport.  If I had a kid that was fighting today I would want Tom Smario in his corner.

   S' anyways, I'll now turn the editorial over to Mr. Shepard. Enjoy the new issue!


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