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Articles of 2006

Monte Munn, Politics, Boxing, Life

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On October 20, 1912 the New York Times reported that the campaign of a candidate for governor of Washington State was on the ropes because among other scandalous revelations about Progressive Robert Hodge was that he “was once a prize fighter, which fact had not commended him strongly to the public.” Accompanying the piece was the damning evidence: a photo of the disgraced politico in fighting togs.

Fourteen years later, boxing was so popular that a Nebraska lawmaker launched a campaign to become heavyweight champion of the world. And commending him strongly to the public was no less than the editor of The Ring magazine, Nat Fleischer, who predicted in 1926 that Monte Munn was a cinch to become boxing’s Commander-in-Chief.

That obviously never happened, but Munn still holds the distinction of being the only political office holder to throw his hat into the prize ring.

This was also after he’d become a lawyer and played a season of pro football.

Born in Fairbury, Nebraska on New Year’s Day, 1901, Munn’s parents were both over six feet tall, and at Lincoln High School Munn was a standout in football, track and basketball. From 1918-22, he attended the University of Nebraska, and played for the Cornhusker football team.

“He was 6’5”, 200, and played tackle his first year, then moved to right guard,” says Mark Fricke of the Husker Press Box. “He was a steady force on the line and often broke through to record tackles for loss.”

Monte also was a wrestling champion at UN, and played varsity basketball.

Nineteen twenty-five was a banner year for the Munn family athletically and electorally. Monte and his younger brother Wade, also a gridiron star at UN, played for the Kansas City Cowboys of the National Football League. Their older brother Wayne (who, at 6’6” and 275 pounds, was naturally called “Big”) knocked off Ed “Strangler” Lewis to become heavyweight wrestling champion of the world.

That’s also the year that Monte was elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives from Lancaster County, for a two-year term.

On December 23, 1925, Big Wayne Munn gave pro boxing a try. But he was flattened in two minutes by Andre Anderson in Chicago. “I never wanted to be a boxer, and I never want to engage in another bout,” declared Munn afterwards. “I know I can’t box, and I doubt whether I will ever be able to fling my fists. Wrestling is my game, and I intend to stick to it a few years.”

His brother’s experience with the gloves notwithstanding, Monte decided to forsake the smoke-filled rooms of politics for the smoke-filled arenas of boxing. He was only a part-time legislator anyway, and heavyweight championship fights had been drawing million dollar gates. Pro football was a hard and unprofitable way to make a buck (the Kansas City Cowboys, with a 2-6-1 record in 1925, would be around for only one more season).

So off to New York went Munn, where he hooked up with somebody who had experience when it came to molding an athlete from another sport into a top-caliber boxer. Dan Hickey had trained onetime triple-champion Bob Fitzsimmons, but his real score came when he turned Paul Berlenbach, who’d won the national amateur wrestling championship in 1922, and made the U.S. Olympic wrestling team two years before that, into the light heavyweight boxing champion of the world in 1925.

“The Fighting Legislator” made his pro debut on April 4, 1926, knocking out Bill Joseph in the first round. After he KO’d Jim Sigmund in the opening round for his eighth straight win, Nat Fleischer wrote in the October, 1926 issue of The Ring, “In Munn, Dan Hickey has the next world’s heavyweight champion. We predict that if (Gene) Tunney wins the world’s title and he consents to meet Munn a year from now, a new world’s titleholder will be crowned.”

Tunney, of course, beat Jack Dempsey for the title that September 23, and on the undercard at Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia, Munn needed less than a round to overcome Hughie Clements.

Not everyone was agog as Fleischer, though. “In Milwaukee he would be mighty lucky to be placed in a four-round opener,” wrote Milwaukee Journal boxing writer Sam Levy of the new heavyweight sensation. “He moves at a snail’s pace and delivers his long, sinewy arms with similar precision.”

On December 22, 1926, Knute Hansen vetoed the Nebraska lawmaker’s title aspirations when he decisively outpointed Munn at Madison Square Garden. “…Facing his first serious ring encounter, (Munn) failed to measure up to the standard,” wrote James P. Dawson of the New York Times. “He had strength, but he was revealed as only a strong, game fighter, slow in thinking and action.”

The comeback started the following July, and the now ex-legislator (Munn’s term as state representative expired in 1927, and he didn’t run for reelection) started a new winning streak. But his opponents were less than stellar, including one Chief Metoquah, who was in the opposite corner at Madison Square Garden on August 25, 1927.

New York Times sports columnist John Kieran got it wrong when he called Munn “the ex-Congressman from the tall corn district,” but his report of the fight was still hilarious:

“At the sound of the bell the ex-Congressman advanced on the redskin and aimed a blow that would have wiped out a whole tribe of Kickapoos if it had landed.

“‘This,’ sighed Chief Metoquah, ‘is the way that a Congressman would naturally treat an Indian. But I will hide behind a tree and massacre him as he deserves.’

“So he looked for a tree. It so happens that there are remarkably few trees inside the ordinary prize ring, but the search for the tall timber was interesting.”

Not to the referee and fans, though. For failing to throw a punch, Chief Metoquah was disqualified in what the Times called “one of the jokes of the boxing year.”

Once Munn’s greatest booster, Nat Fleischer wasn’t laughing.

“It is high time that Monte Munn ceased fighting set-ups,” he editorialized in the October, 1927 issue of The Ring. “He has been fed with enough of these so-called fighters for the last two years to cause even his most ardent supporters to turn away from shame… It is a disgrace to the boxing game to have a big, bulky fellow like Munn, a fighter who carries a terrific wallop and aspires to championship laurels, pick the worst heavyweights in the field as his opponents.”

Big George Godfrey was no pushover, and when Munn started out fast against The “Black Menace” in their Ebbets Field match that September 15, the 20,000 fans whooped it up. But in the third round Munn went down, and he was getting pummeled in the fourth when referee Lou Magnolia stopped it.

The Fighting Legislator was subsequently stopped by Phil Scott of Great Britain and an Italian called Roberto Roberti (whose chief claim to fame was that he was once referred to in a press release sent out for promoter Tex Rickard by Gene Fowler, who remembered the fighter’s name as “Arterio Sclerosis”).

But Munn scored a large upset when he traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and on May 25, 1928 knocked out Victorio Campolo, who Rickard had hoped to bring to America as the next Luis “Wild Bull of the Pampas” Firpo. Firpo himself had said beforehand that he would fight whoever won the bout, but when Campolo ended up in the hospital Firpo announced that he would need a few more months to think it over.

Not thrilled about letting a Yankee take home the South American title, the Argentineans hurriedly got Munn back into the ring against another native son, Clemente Sanchez. At the end of 10 rounds in which the homeboy did little put wrap his arms around his own head, Munn was declared the loser and ex-champion.

Adios, boxing. Hello again, politics. That fall Munn went home and managed the presidential campaign of Republican candidate Herbert Hoover in Nebraska. “When the election has been held…it is likely that the big college battler will decide to run for Congress in a district where he is very popular,” reported the news wires.

But instead Munn moved to Indiana and became manager of the Binkley Coal Company in Indianapolis. In 1932, he ran for the State Senate, but was defeated.

Munn was only 32 when heart disease killed him a year later. Big brother Wayne, the rassler, had died two years earlier, at 31.

As a fighter, said reporter Lawrence Perry, Munn “had a lot of fun, a lot of hard knocks – which he also gave – and made a fairish sum of money.” If nothing else, added newsman John J. Romano, “Munn’s experience in the fight racket is one of the reasons why many collegians are taking to the game.”

And as the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy would attest, anybody who can bring out the students is one hell of a politician.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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