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Glimpses into the Past (Part Three of a Three-Part Story)

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  • Glimpses into the Past (Part Three of a Three-Part Story)

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    By Ted Sares

    Tracking all the way back to the 1940’s, I have witnessed literally thousands of fights during my almost 85 years of life and consider myself something of an aficionado. Some memories have been grand; others I wish I could erase. Most have been indelible. I have seen or heard some truly remarkable things. A representative sample of them continues here in the final part of this 3-part series.

    Playing Possum

    Jake LaMotta had lost once to Laurent Dauthuille and when they fought again in 1950 for the world middleweight championship, the Frenchman was leading by a wide margin going into the fifteenth and final round. I was listening to this one on the radio at a very young age, and was rooting for Jake. As Dauthuille was pounding away and seemingly had Jake hanging on, LaMotta suddenly turned the tables. He was playing possum and waiting for just the right moment to launch his attack. It worked as he KO’d Laurent with just 13 seconds to go. I went nuts. There is a video available and it’s well worth the hunt.

    Ebb and Flow

    The ebb and flow classic between Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore and Canada’s Yvon Durelle in 1958 is a must-see for all hard-core boxing fans. The rugged French Canadian decked the Mongoose three times in the first round and appeared to be on his way to a certain stoppage victory. But Moore somehow managed to weather the storm and survive the round. Then, incredibly, he began to work his way back.

    Moore was knocked down again in the fifth round but still would not fold. Durelle was not only visibly discouraged but was also tiring. He had made a fatal mistake, letting the Mongoose off the hook, and now it was Archie who took control and began to put some hurt on the rugged challenger. Durelle finally went down in the seventh and tenth rounds, and then Moore settled matters in the eleventh round of a fight that had to be seen to be believed. This classic gave new meaning to the words courage and comeback. It was one of the most brutal, thrilling slugfests of all time, maybe -- just maybe -- the greatest fight in history. Thankfully, I remember it.

    Of course, I also remember Castillo vs Corrales (May 2015).

    Charles Mohr

    Under the most successful coach in the history of American collegiate boxing, the legendary and beloved John Walsh, University of Wisconsin boxers won eight NCAA team championships and 38 individual titles from 1933 to 1960. If you were into college boxing, Wisconsin was the place to be.

    It all came to a tragic end on April 9, 1960, the date 22-year-old Wisconsin senior Charles Mohr, probably the finest collegiate boxer in the U.S., went into the ring against Stu Bartell who represented another collegiate boxing powerhouse in San Jose State.

    Mohr was the 1959 intercollegiate middleweight champion, with a 23-5 slate over a four-year period. He was heavily favored to retain his title. Minutes later, he was in a deep coma from an intracranial hemorrhage following a moderate blow to the head and died eight days later without regaining consciousness. The improbability of this happening was shocking. Then, twenty-two days after Charlie Mohr’s death, the University of Wisconsin abolished the sport. The NCAA soon followed Wisconsin’s lead. It was the last NCAA boxing tournament ever held. Things happened so fast, the entire episode seemed unreal and took years to settle in.

    The Knockout from Hell

    Wilfred Benitez, the Puerto Rican prodigy, met Maurice Hope on May 23, 1981 in Las Vegas. At stake was the WBC junior middleweight title. Benitez was 41-1-1, Hope 32-2-1.

    Benitez was stylish with incredible defensive skills, but he also had deceptive punching power. Hope also had sneaky punching power. In fact, he had previously stopped future world middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo, (who would later go the full 15 rounds in a fight with Marvelous Marvin Hagler). Hope was born in Antigua but lived in England most of his life and represented Great Britain at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

    As for the fight, Benitez was well ahead on all three scorecards when out of nowhere he landed a thunderous overhand right in the twelfth round that separated Hope from his senses and rendered him totally unconscious. He was out before he landed. No jab or lead-in combination was involved; just the overhand shot. The KO was of the highlights variety and was seen on televised sports shows throughout the world. Hope required hospitalization, but fortunately recuperated. He would only fight one more time.

    Rage

    On August 1, 1982, San Antonio boxer Tony ‘El Torito’ Ayala, Jr savaged talented middleweight Robbie Epps until the referee called the fight in front of 12,000 howling pro-Ayala fans at San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum. Epps was no slouch having won his first 22 pro bouts and having beaten Darryl Penn and the very capable Dwight Davison (28-0 coming in).

    Ayala, 5’7”, stayed low against his 6'2" opponent using him as a big bag and throwing combos and straight shots with nothing coming back for the 21st win of his career. Even after the overly hesitant referee stopped the slaughter, Ayala kept going after Epps as there was no love lost between the two. This reflected a fatal flaw in his character that would emerge too many times. Indeed, his streak of violence continued outside the ring, with repeated accounts of assault against women and attendant imprisonment. Yet, despite his horrible shortcomings, his fights were memorable for their unbridled rage and the Epps fight was the best of the best for me.

    “He could have been one of the greatest."— Osmar Alaniz, boxing coach and friend of the Ayala family

    Riddick Bowe vs Elijah Tillery I

    A manager should always have his fighter’s back and when Riddick Bowe (26-0) fought Elijah Tillery (23-4)in 1991 at the Convention Center in Washington, DC, Bowe’s manager Rock Newman did just that. After a first round in which “Big Daddy” pummeled Tillery, a nasty second fight broke out at the end of the round. Bowe flung a left jab at Tillery and was answered by three kicks. After the bigger Bowe pinned “Phoenix Steel” against the ropes, Newman appeared out of nowhere and grabbed poor Tillery in a stranglehold and pulled him down into the abyss. The entire episode was high camp and had me on the floor laughing. Many years later, Riddick’s explanation was shocking because it was slurred and unintelligible. It was not funny—not one bit.

    When the HBO Commentators Were Shut Down

    In 1997, The HBO team mercilessly criticized Micky Ward’s effort against his touted opponent Alfonso Sanchez (16-0) even comparing it to visual torture. Someone suggested --with tongue in cheek --that the referee should stop the fight. But Ward fans knew what the announcers obviously didn’t; to wit, that no matter what kind of off-day Micky was having, he could end a fight at any time with his laser-like body shot to the kidneys—and that’s just what he did at 1.53 of Round Seven. After hurting Sanchez with one left hand shot and realizing that he was vulnerable, he launched another sizzling left and that was that. I was up and screaming because I was a Ward fan and that went all the way back to his Golden Gloves days in boxing-crazy Lowell, MA.

    Oh No!

    “As a boxing writer for the Miami Herald and later for Sports Illustrated, Pat Putnam used his talent and reportorial skills to weave compelling tales about fighting men. It was Putnam who scooped the world in 1964 with the revelation that Cassius Clay was going to change his name to Muhammad Ali. He was a prolific journalist.” -- Bernard Fernandez (May 2, 2008).

    I loved Pat’s writing but I also greatly admired the “fact” he was an ex-Marine, a combat veteran, and a POW of the Korean war (a brutal conflict that I personally have studied Intensely). Putnam claimed he was a prisoner of war for 17 months and told people that his wartime experience left him with only one lung and a lifetime of back problems. He also said that he received several decorations. This information was included in Steve Springer’s widely syndicated obituary in the Los Angeles Times:

    Then, three years after his death in 2005, it was discovered that his military claims were false. Die-hard Putnam fans went into shock and then into denial. Many would not accept the truth. Some boxing site managers would not even permit discussion of it on their boxing platforms. All I could say was “Oh No.”

    Unassailable—I think not

    “Murat was on the verge of disqualification. I wanted to give him every opportunity to finish the fight and I felt that he was abusing the opportunity I was giving him.” -- Steve Smoger

    “New Jersey boxing was out of control Saturday night in Atlantic City. Referee Steve Smoger, who physically manhandled Bernard Hopkins’ opponent Karo Murat all night, at one point stuck his palm in Murat’s face and shoved him backward with a sneer, clearly intent on inflicting harm. Smoger should have been yanked halfway through the twelve rounds and sent home with a sedative.” -- Ivan G. Goldman, 10-28-13, Boxing Insider.”

    Aging Bernard Hopkins defended his IBF light-heavyweight title against tough challenger Karo Murat on October 26, 2013 . Steve Smoger was the referee. Hopkins won by unanimous decision in a hard-fought, entertaining and even dirty battle. But what stuck in my memory bank was the way Smoger pushed, no, the way he shoved Murat away at the end of the fight for no apparent reason and then, punctuating the strange scene, turned around and gave Hopkins a great big hug, a wider smile, and reportedly even a kiss. That lack of neutrality was sickening to watch.

    “Hopkins-Murat will not be played at Steve Smoger’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony” — Adam Abramowitz

    Five Memorable Quotes

    Hey! All the padding is out of the damn gloves…It’s all out…Commissioner…Commissioner! No padding! There’s no damn padding!” -- Billy Collins Sr.

    “I don’t know anybody outside of the Gatti camp who seriously maintains that Gatti made weight for that fight [against Joey Gamache] They jumped him on and off the scale very quickly. It seemed pretty clear to me that someone at the commission had been told in advance that there might be a problem and the response was, ‘Don’t worry about it.' ” -- Thomas Hauser

    ‘I’m all about fighting the best fighters.” -- Danny Garcia after slaughtering 33-1 underdog Rod Salka,

    “Mental health has got to be the biggest battle I’ve ever fought, more so than any opponent.” -- Tyson Fury

    "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." --Nelson Mandela

    Ted Sares welcomes questions or comments and can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

  • #2
    "Thank you, very entertaining and interesting
    J Russell Peltz"

    Comment


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      "Another great piece. Thanks Ted. Gordon Marino"

  • #3
    Jake LaMotta was one of the best Jewish boxers of all time.

    His mother was Jewish.

    Comment


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      "Great stuff Ted. Saw the Moore vs. Durelle fight with my father in 58’. It was every bit as good as you said.
      Always in your corner, BOB Benoit"

    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      "Ted that was great, but I can’t comment I’m in fb jail. Brian Powers"

    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      "Ted that was great, but I can’t comment I’m in fb jail. Brian Powers"

  • #4
    "Ted
    Thank you for the great read. This is 'hard cover worthy.
    I judged that Hopkins/Murat fight. Unbelievable from start till wet kiss.
    SS now owns the IBA from Dean Chance. He pedals those world titles with that B&B group in Europe, a couple of weak state Commissions and in the Caribbean islands. He always assigns himself as ref or judge depending on the Commission".

    "Trenton, NJ in the 1970s Bushy Brooks, an old fighter & union leg breaker started a local Hall of Fame with an inaugural dinner. Just working amateur and a fan of Trenton's Ike Williams & the Goss Brothers, I attended with local boxing columnist for the Trentonian newspaper, Ted Larve and Frank Stallone, who was fighting amateur, pre-Rocky and had just started recording for RCA records. Both major Boxing historians."

    "We got there early and there was Jake just puffing a cigar and sitting by himself. We got almost a half hour of stories, bad jokes and several new curse words before they planted him at the head table. The event was just another dead chicken dinner and not ever repeated again, but 3 fight fans had the best half hour of one of Boxing's best. Whenever I get to enjoy a cigar today, I remember Jake blowing smoke at us and smile."

    Keep Punching,
    Best
    Joe"

    Comment


    • #5
      "Dear Ted,
      Enjoyed the "Glimpses" and wanted to send kudos for being one of the (too) few to point out Putnam's disgraceful facade, including the (never retracted / corrected that I know of) LA obit.
      I am not a veteran (lucked out with the first cancelled Nam era lottery #) but I am / was close to many, and I hold them in great respect, including some who did not make it back from their posts.
      Had limited press room interactions with Putnam numerous times in Vegas, I remember him spouting his BS more than once. Very true what you said about some people not accepting the truth.
      Best,
      Phil Woolever"

      Comment


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        One site threatened to ban anyone who brought it up. Unreal denial.

    • #6
      "Jill Diamond Chastain, as always, skillful and interesting."

      Comment


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        "TED:
        Great article. I laughed like hell after Mickey Ward KOd Sanchez with that body shot. Also, I reffed Murat in Germany in my last fight as a referee. I thought of him as a determined fighter. Stay safe.
        Charley Dwyer"

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        'Hey Ted,
        I second that! Awesome!
        Sonny Hernandez from LV"

    • #7
      "Great stuff, Ted. Really interesting. Bruce Trampler"

      Comment


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        "Wow!!!
        Ted, thanks for sharing this. Incredibly interesting.
        This reminds me of how incredibly impressed I am of your wide and deep eclectic range of interests and expertise's are.
        Best
        Tom Colotosti"

      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        " Nice one, Ted! Phil Anselmo, former front man for Pantera."

    • #8
      "I, a fellow writer, am truly impressed with Ted's writing skills. Plus, this is yet another one of his articles that required loads of research. Much respect for all the elbow grease. Ivan Goldman"

      Comment


      • Kid Blast
        Kid Blast commented
        Editing a comment
        How very kind.

    • #9
      "Nice piece, Ted -- Wow!
      You made a slight mistake on the Castillo vs. Corrales fight. You said the fight was in 2015; however, the fight was in 2005. Two years later the two rematched and hours afterwards, sadly, Diego Corrales was killed in a motorcycle accident. I wrote about it for East Side Boxing at the time. The following is an excerpt of what I said ... Johnny Tango"

      Comment


      • #10
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        • #11
          This was a good trip down memory lane Ted the Bull. 👏 And that reminds me. When I interviewed Irish Micky Ward in 2018, I asked him about the verbal assault he endured at the hands of HBO announcers. He said: “They were a little harsh but in all due respect, I wasn’t fighting like I should have been. Did I deserve that? No. But hey that’s their job. I’m friends with Larry Merchant and Roy Jones now. Roy was the only one who was giving me a fair shake. Roy knew I was better than that and I showed it by staying in there. I could have given up. I could have folded. I could have just quit, whatever. But I said ‘Fukk it, I’ll get knocked out before I quit. ​(Micky chuckles) I almost did!” 😂 😆 🤣

          Comment


          • Kid Blast
            Kid Blast commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes. Micky stunk up the place in the early going, but I knew he would open up before the end. I just didn't think he would KO Sanchez. How satisfying was that?

        • #12
          It was great. I was watching that PPV at a soldier lounge at Fort Drum in 97. This was before I actually moved to Lowell and go to know Micky through my journalistic endeavors. He was somebody I was aware of because I loved/watched boxing obviously but at that point I was very unaware of the greatness he had in him yet to come. Bring a Brockton guy I was a little harsh on him in my estimations of him because he was never the world champion like Rocky and Marvin but win lose or die Micky made his mark and earned my respect. He should be in the Hall of Fame. And so should Marlon. And Buster. And Paz. And others. Like Donald Trump. But I digress. 😎✍️😇 🔥

          Comment


          • Kid Blast
            Kid Blast commented
            Editing a comment
            I watched him in the Golden Gloves in Lowell when I lived and worked in the Boston area. He always was the crowd's favorite and got the most cheers. He was special. As for who should be in the Hall, I can't comment because I'm one of the voters---but Steve Collins comes to mind quickly as does Henry Maske.

        • #13
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          • Kid Blast
            Kid Blast commented
            Editing a comment
            This was at The Latana in Mass back in the 90's. It was an event put on by the IBHOF and I was also noted for my donations to the Hall. Many boxers were there including The Duke, The Blade, Mickey, et al. It was a real blast and even the food was good.
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