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Anton Raadik -- Seconds Away

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  • Anton Raadik -- Seconds Away

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Anton_Raadik-530x317.png Views:	1 Size:	289.5 KB ID:	12712

    By Ted Sares

    WIKIPEDIA states that Anton "The Rampaging Estonian" Raadik was the most famous Estonia-born middleweight boxer of the 1940’s and 1950’s, but how many Estonian boxers could there have been back in the day or at any time for that matter?

    Whatever the case, after a successful amateur career (he reportedly won 118 of 130 amateur fights) and after some early bouts in Europe, he moved to the multi-ethnic confines of Chicago where he gained great popularity among the Estonians and others from northern European countries.

    The Estonian, who was a stalker and boxer/puncher (especially to the body), fought during a time when boxers treated their work as a craft. They did not resort to fancy trunks, music introductions, theatrics, pyrotechnics, manufactured anger at weigh-ins, large entourages, or inane belt waving. Main event boxers, wearing long unmarked robes, nodded modestly to the crowd when introduced in the manner of the great Joe Louis. They were serious- looking men with equally serious cornermen ready to do their job.

    New York City’s Joey LaMotta was 32-2-2 when Anton (11-3) beat him at Wrigley Field in Chicago in 1946. Anton was very active that year, having fought 12 times, but Joey had fought an incredible 28 times in 1945 alone amassing a record of 26-1-1. It was a nice scalp for Raadik, but brother Jake LaMotta (61-10-3) proved to be a tougher nut to crack as Raadik lost a UD just three months later in the vast Chicago Stadium. He bounced back with a stoppage win over popular Anton Christoforidis in 1947, again at the Chicago Stadium, and the legendary “Christo the Fisto” (the first Greek to become a world boxing champion) retired afterwards. Still another great win on Raadik’s resume.

    As a testament to Raadik’s popularity, he was the main attraction on most of the shows on which he fought and it was not uncommon for thousands of fans to attend a Raadik bout.

    The next two fights were losses at the hands of Georgie Abrams and Al Hostak, two very high profile boxers, but “The Rampaging Estonian” avenged the Abrams defeat by savagely stopping Georgie in 1948 at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. Like Christoforidis, Abrams retired after the loss.

    Cerdan vs. Raadik (1947)

    This was Anton’s career-defining fight. No one expected the tough-as-nails Estonian to give the great Marcel Cerdan (101-2 at the time) much trouble and those expectations were met as the “Casablanca Clouter” had his way for the first nine rounds, easily out-boxing Raadik. But then a shocking turn of events occurred as Cerdan began to tire in the 10th and Raadik, sensing his chance, raged after Cerdan as he lived up to his own nickname. Here is what eloquent Mike Casey had to say about this fight in a 2013 article for titled “Play it Again Sam, The Magic of Marcel Cerdan”:

    “…, every great fighter has a few bad nights and Marcel most certainly had one of his in his next outing. It wasn’t bad at all for the first nine rounds against the rugged and dangerous Anton Raadik, memorably described by one reporter as a ‘rampaging Estonian.’ Raadik did indeed rage, but Marcel raged more to carry a comfortable points lead into the tenth and final round at the Chicago Stadium.

    “Then the gods gripped hold of the rug under Cerdan’s feet and gave it an almighty tug. Raadik began to catch Marcel with head punches. Repeatedly so. Worryingly so. Cerdan’s American trainer, Lew Burson, must have felt his stomach bouncing off his shoes. It had to happen and it did. A right from Raadik knocked Cerdan down and very nearly through the ropes. Marcel jumped up right away but couldn’t get out of the firing line as his hunter surged forward, firing a combination of punches. Cerdan was driven around the ring and decked again for a count of four. Raadik saw his chance of glory and moved in to grab it with both hands. Backtracking into a trap of his own making, Cerdan was corralled in a neutral corner as Anton let rip with all he had. A left-right combination caused Marcel to bounce off the ropes and fall for the third time.

    “A less rugged fighter would probably have gone under at that point, but the Frenchman was back on his feet after a “five” count. The bell sounded to end the fight and a dazed Cerdan trudged back to his corner. Manager Lew Burson cradled him in his arms and cried on his shoulder….."

    On September 21, 1948, Cerdan would snatch the world middleweight title from Tony Zale in Jersey City, but his path to that glorious moment would have been arguably blocked had his fight with Anton Raadik lasted just a few more seconds.

    Bell vs. Raadik (1948)

    Going into this one, Raadik by now had fought the likes of Rhode Island’s great Ralph Zannelli (81-33-7 at the time), Abrams (twice), Christoforidis, Jake and Joey LaMotta, Carl “Bobo” Olson, Steve Belloise (90-11), Danny Nardico, Harry “Kid” Matthews (twice), Sonny Horne (twice), and Robert Villemain.

    His opponent, slick Tommy Bell, fought from 1942-1951. His resume included a who’s who of fighters: California Jackie Wilson (twice), Sugar Ray Robinson (twice), Jake LaMotta (three times), Al Hostak, Steve Belloise, Fritzie Zivic (157-65-9 for an astounding total of 231 fights), and Cecil Hudson. The combined won-lost record of Tommy opposition was astounding.

    These were two tough hombres.

    Bell, who had lost a split decision to Kid Gavilan in his most recent bout, was a slight favorite. During this brutally humid Chicago night at Marigold Gardens amidst the smell of cheap cigars and expensive perfume, cash was changing hands at a fast pace. As the boxers emerged from their dressing rooms, the raucous fans were up and howling. This writer was one of them as he was witnessing his first live fight.

    From the opening, Raadik began stalking Bell but couldn’t catch him. Tommy kept Raadik off of him with neat jabs, a slick defense, and good foot movement . But just as the fans became restless and began to boo, the Estonian unleashed a series of loud, crunching body shots that slowed Bell down. Raadik jumped on Tommy in the ninth again, attacking viciously to the body. Then Anton, a fighter with a solid ring IQ, went upstairs when Bell’s arms sagged and fired a series of malicious blows to Bell’s head that forced Tommy to one knee. When a bleeding Bell got up, he fell backward into the ropes and it was over.

    When Raadik winked at this writer from the ring as his hand was being raised in victory, a chill went down the boy’s spine. He was hooked and has been feeding his now 70-year addiction ever since.

    Tommy Bell would go on to close his career with a 53-29- 3 slate, losing 12 of his last 15, mostly on points. His last fight was a six-round TKO loss to Pierre Langlois in Paris.

    Raadik boxed until 1952, losing far more than he won while fighting such top-level opponents as Carl “Bobo” Olson, Robert Villemain, and Harry (Kid) Matthews. Losing 13 of his final 15 -- his last to rugged Garth Panter in Boise, Idaho by 10-round UD -- Anton finished with a deceptive record of 37-25-1.

    Anton Raadik passed away in Chicago in 1999 at the age of 82.

    Ted Sares is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class and plans to compete in 2019.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    A great history lesson from a true boxing historian. I'm at a loss for words -- I don't know any of these guys.


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. Every nce and a while, I love to do a history one. I appreciate your prop. I really do.

  • #3
    Terrific article, great stuff.


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Much appreciated Ron. I enjoy doing historical stuff but only back so far. Can't stand doing stuff about fighters where there is no video footage.

  • #4
    Just got a chance to read this. Very interesting piece. I honestly had not heard of Raadik. Great historical piece and I learned something new on the sport which I always love to do.


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Really appreciate your reaction, mate.

  • #5
    Wikipedia knew who Anton Raadik was? Amazing!


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment

  • #6
    Julian Assange musta told em.