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Articles of 2006

Jim Hall of Fame

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If boxing historian Bill Schutte has his way, there soon will be a headstone on the grave of 19th century ring great Jim Hall.

If Hall had his way, he’d probably prefer a different kind of memorial – say, a jug of Jack Daniels poured over his parched bones in Plot 283 at Oak Hill Cemetery in Neenah, Wisconsin.

That was always the trouble with the Australian middleweight. His considerable talent was exceeded only by his unquenchable thirst. Otherwise, today there would likely be plenty of memorials to Jim Hall, including a plaque in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“He had an ungovernable temper and the rigors of hard training made him ugly and unhappy,” noted the Beloit (Wisconsin) Daily News in 1918. “He also had an appetite like an ox, and no matter how hard his trainer had to work to get him down to weight, Jim could always find a way to steal food and liquor and upset the labor of weeks on the part of his conditioners.”

The other side of the equation was reported in the April, 1935 issue of The Ring magazine: “A remarkably brilliant boxer,” wrote George T. Tickell of Hall, “his catlike grace and agility, combined with a thorough knowledge of ring craft, and the ability to think and act simultaneously, made him a perfect specimen of the bruising glove artist.”

After James J. Corbett knocked out John L. Sullivan for the heavyweight title in 21 rounds, Hall’s trainer, John Kline, said Hall would’ve done it in four, and that Corbett would be a cinch for him.

Considered the best and most astute conditioner of his time, Kline made his bold proclamation as he prepared Hall for what was the most anticipated match of that time, for the richest purse – $40,000 – in boxing history.

Hall and Bob Fitzsimmons had been rivals dating back to the days when they were the best middleweights in Australia. Hall was born in Sydney on July 22, 1868. Fitzsimmons, five years older, emigrated there from New Zealand. The record book shows four meetings between them Down Under. The last one, in Sydney on February 10, 1890, was for the national middleweight championship held by Hall. One hundred sixteen years later, what happened then is still a matter of great mystery and controversy.

Fitzsimmons was counted out in round four, that much is certain. But later the Fighting Blacksmith claimed that he had taken a prearranged dive so that Hall would have an impressive scalp on his belt when he shortly thereafter embarked for the United States to seek a title match with world champion Jack “The Nonpareil” Dempsey.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the boat. Drunk, Hall got into a fight and was stabbed in the right hand. His American invasion thus postponed, while Hall recuperated Fitzsimmons made his own beeline for the States. Upon arriving, he explained his KO loss to Hall with the story of the dive, for which, he complained, he’d never even been paid the $75 Hall promised him. On January 14, 1891, Fitzsimmons won the middleweight title by knocking out Dempsey.

Hall always vehemently denied Fitzsimmons’ version of their fight. So did respected Sydney sportswriter and novelist A.G. Hall, who refereed it. But boxing historian Gilbert Odd voted with Fitzsimmons in Odd’s biography of Freckled Bob.

In any case, Hall finally made it to America in 1891, and ran up an impressive string of wins. When he and Fitzsimmons signed to fight on July 22 of that year in St. Paul, Minnesota, one newspaper reported that “the bad blood between them is almost as much of an incentive as the big stakes [$12,000], and a sport who is in the confidence of both men said he believed that they would be willing to get together even if the stake money were withdrawn.”

Hall trained at John Kline’s “Manly Art Institute” in Beloit. According to press accounts, he not only worked hard but even abstained from liquor “except for an occasional touch of claret,” and was in prime shape for what was anticipated as “one of the fiercest battles ever fought by middleweights in this country.”

But on the day of the fight Minnesota Gov. William Merriam ringed the St. Paul amphitheater with four companies of rifle-toting National Guardsman to prevent it from happening.

A year later, Hall won the British version of the middleweight title by knocking out Ted Pritchard in four rounds. Then he and Fitzsimmons agreed to try again in New Orleans on March 8, 1893.

Again Kline rode Hall hard in camp. “I have him in bed every night at 9:30 o’clock and out at 7:00 in the morning,” Kline wrote to a friend. “My work on him is very hard, and he tells everybody that if he loses it will not be my fault, and it will not, for I did not think I could stand to do what work I have with him.” But there were some ominous signs. The New York World reported that the fighter “eats what he pleases and drinks a quart of Burgundy a day.” Still, Hall entered the ring the betting favorite, and heavyweight champion Corbett was one of many who lost a bundle when Fitzsimmons knocked Hall out in the fourth round.

John Kline was so distraught and disgusted that he never handled another fighter. Infuriating and alienating the people who cared for him most was old hat to Hall. On August 23, 1891, he got drunk in a tavern in Mount Clemons, Michigan, and started arguing with his manager, Charles “Parson” Davies. The latter was a mild-mannered gentleman, but when Hall took a swing at him with a whiskey bottle, Davis picked up a small paring knife and shoved the blade into the fighter’s neck, deftly missing the jugular by a mere quarter-inch.

“Next time,” said Davies cooly, “I’ll make a sure job of it if you don’t behave.”

But as police blotters on both sides of the Atlantic would attest with increasing frequency, Jim didn’t take the hint.

In Louisville, Kentucky, a doctor sued him for “maintaining guilty relations” with his wife. Then Hall was arrested in Cleveland for assaulting a man in a hotel lobby, and then going to a nearby poolroom where, according to the Police Gazette, he “terrorized all the players and compelled them to stop playing.” In London, Hall and his best friend, heavyweight Charley Mitchell, were pinched for engaging in a drunken slugfest outside a hotel.

Hall continued fighting in the ring, too. He knocked out heavyweight Frank “Paddy” Slavin in London after visiting the latter’s tavern nightly in top hat and tails and offering a toast for “enough courage to Paddy Slavin to fetch him into the ring with me.”

Arrested for public drunkenness the night before his fight with heavyweight Charles Lawler in Memphis, Tennessee, Hall was still blotto when the cops let him out to fight and was seeing two Lawlers until he sobered up and won the fight in the tenth round. Then Hall went out and got drunk again.

Joe Choynski knocked Hall out twice. The first fight was going the Australian’s way until Hall faded. Before the second one, The Evening Wisconsin newspaper posited that “if Hall has trained for the fight…(he) will come near whipping the Californian, but it is hard to believe that Jim has behaved himself long enough to get into proper condition.” Choynski, KO 3.

By the dawn of the 20th century, Hall was ravaged by dissipation and tuberculosis. He was a patient in a charity ward of a Chicago hospital in the early 1900s. He stole personal effects from unclaimed corpses in the Cook County morgue next door and sold them for booze money. Invited to leave, Hall drifted north to Wisconsin, and died on March 15, 1913, at the state TB sanitarium in Stevens Point.

“The boxing game (has) lost another of the old time fighters who fought mostly for the pure glory of combat, rather than for the purse that was offered,” said The Milwaukee Journal.

An admirer from Hall’s ring days named Patsy Callahan arranged for his interment in Oak Hill Cemetery. “Hall received a decent burial in Neenah and the remains of one of the best little fighters that ever lived, who met heavyweights or middles, just as they happened to come along, now lie at rest to be troubled no more by the clang of the gong or the call of the referee,” said the Journal.

But no headstone marked Hall’s grave. It’s pure speculation, but that may have been to keep his remains untroubled by a Chicago surgeon named Rahde. When Hall was a charity patient in the Windy City, he signed a contract with the sawbones agreeing to let Rahde have his skeleton after he died, in exchange for $150. After the money had been drunk away, Hall ripped up the contract and punched the complaining Rahde in the nose.

Any claim on Hall’s bones has long since lapsed, and Bill Schutte figures it’s time that the fighter’s resting place was properly marked. Toward that end, Schutte has been setting aside a portion of the proceeds from his monthly sales of boxing memorabilia on Ebay to buy a headstone for Hall’s grave.

Considered one of the preeminent historians of the pre-1920 era in boxing, whose contributions to the sport include three published record books and biographies of Leach Cross and Mysterious Billy Smith, Schutte lives in Whitewater, Wisconsin. In the 1970s, he spearheaded an effort to erect a tombstone on the unmarked grave of 1890s featherweight champion Solly Smith.

“I just think it’s sad when these fighters who were famous so long ago have been forgotten by both family and boxing fans,” says Schutte. “And what is sadder than someone lying in an unmarked grave?

“Also, it seems that someone like myself who has benefited in so many ways from my boxing history hobby should replay the sport in some way, and this seems like the perfect way.”

Schutte hopes to have a granite marker on Hall’s grave by early summer. It will have an engraving of a pair of boxing gloves, and a one-line epitaph under his name: “Prize Fighter.”

Jim Hall would drink to that.

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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