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Articles of 2006

Billy Lochner, Forever Fifteen

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Even with a world war going on, life must have seemed sweet and full of promise to Billy Lochner when he woke up on April 4, 1944.

Another long Wisconsin winter was past, and in a little more than a month he would celebrate his 16th birthday. Living on a farm involved lots of hard work, but unlike his older brothers and many other farmboys at that time whose formal education ended after sixth grade so they could help out at home full-time, Billy went to high school. He was a sophomore. Thanks to his quick smile and upbeat disposition, he had lots of friends. And now there was something else new and exciting in his life. That night he was going to suit up for the first time as a member of his school's most popular athletic team.

First, though, there were daily chores to do. Some things never changed.

“I'd better do my chores now,” Billy told his father, “because tomorrow I probably won’t be able to because I’ll probably have two black eyes!”

In the 1940s, Wisconsin was one of the few states with sanctioned high school boxing. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governed preps sports in the state, approved boxing in 1935, undoubtedly spurred by the tremendous popularity of the University of Wisconsin boxing team that went undefeated in National Collegiate Athletic Association competition that year. The UW team would, before boxing was dropped by the school and the NCAA after the death of Badger boxer Charlie Mohr in 1960, win an unequaled eight national team titles, and meets held at the UW Field House drew bigger crowds than a lot of heavyweight title fights.

But the approval of high school boxing came with a warning from WIAA Executive Secretary P.F. Peterman: “Let's not get carried away here.”

According to WIAA records, most of the 120 high schools that had ring squads at boxing’s prep zenith in 1941 were located in rural areas and small towns in the central, west and northeast portions of the state.

The high school ring season started after the basketballs were put away. Schools usually scheduled five or six meets against other teams in their area. Each meet consisted of at least 10 bouts in weight classes ranging from the 70-pound “dot-weight” class, to the 170-pound heavyweight division. Each match was worth one point. The school with the most points at the end of a meet was the winner.

Bouts were three one-minute rounds, with a minute-and-a-half rest period in between. Boxers weighing 140-pounds and less wore 12-oz. gloves; the heavier guys wore 16-oz. mitts. The WIAA didn't require boxers to wear headgear or even mouthpieces until 1948.

When Lodi High School fielded its first boxing team in 1938, there were fewer than 200 students in the whole school. But the program was an immediate success.

“We packed that gym every night. It was just fabulous,” recalls Paul Dalton, who won WIAA tournament titles fighting for Lodi in 1940 and '41. “Boxing, being the sport it was, was exciting and a tremendous crowd-pleaser.”

Located in south-central Wisconsin, about 25 miles north of Madison, Lodi had about 1,200 residents then, and on fight nights they snapped up tickets priced at 11, 20 and 30 cents to watch the local boxers square off against rivals from schools in nearby Poynette, Middleton, Portage, Sauk City and Spring Green.

In 1943, the Lodi Bluedevils won three meets, lost two and had one tie, and in spite of the sudden departure of the team’s popular coach there was great anticipation as the 1944 season opened because, as the Lodi Enterprise pointed out in its issue of March 2, “Boxing here has advanced to the point where, to many local sport fans, it stood first in popularity” among high school sports.

The paper reported “a record-breaking crowd” at Lodi’s opening meet against at home against Poynette. It ended in a 5-5 tie. A week later, Lodi lost to Portage, and then came a tie with Spring Green. “The bouts were well staged, well refereed, and the brand of sportsmanship displayed by both teams helps make boxing an asset to school athletics,” reported the Enterprise.

When Billy Lochner stepped into the ring pitched in the gym at Middleton High School on April 4, he had never been in a real fight wearing boxing gloves. He didn’t read The Ring magazine, follow the boxing news in the sports section and have dreams about boxing glory. He had friends on the Lodi team, and probably went out for boxing because of them.

He lost his 124-pound match by decision to Middleton’s Orville Lampe. Newspaper accounts indicate it was close, and that in the second round Billy “was sent reeling against the ropes by a blow.”

Another Lodi boxer that night was Virgil Wetzel, a junior, who won his 156-pound match. Over a half-century later, Wetzel would not remember anything about his own fight, but he clearly recalled Lochner’s.

“It wasn’t boxing,” he said. “They just went out and pounded one-another.”

The meet ended up a 6-6 draw. Afterwards the Lodi boxers boarded a bus to return home, and if Billy Lochner was feeling depressed about his debut, it wasn’t evident. He “seemed to be his usual jovial, light-hearted self,” according to the Enterprise.

Back home, the team and its supporters gathered at the Log Cabin restaurant, as they did after most of the boxing meets. It was about 10:30 at night, and Virgil Wetzel went to the table at which Lochner was sitting and told him, “You did a good fight there.”

In response, Lochner put a hand on his jaw and said, “Gosh, it’s funny. I feel worse now than I did during the fight.”

Then he collapsed. Wetzel and others carried him outside.

Mary Lochner happened to be walking with some girlfriends near the restaurant and saw somebody being carried out. Her last name was different then, because at the time she was only 17 and not yet married to Henry Lochner, Billy’s older brother, then serving with the U.S. Army in Iceland. Today she remembers Billy as “a jovial, outgoing person who enjoyed having fun.” He looked, she says, like his mother.

Now, though, his problems were much more serious than a couple black eyes. After they took Billy's unconscious body out of the restaurant, his boxing teammates gave him artificial respiration while a doctor was summoned. But there would be no more boxing, high school, chores, birthdays or tomorrows for him. Fifteen-year old Billy Lochner was pronounced dead outside the Log Cabin restaurant. An autopsy later disclosed that he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage caused by “at least two blows to the left side of the head.”

“It devastated everybody,” recalls Mary Lochner. “It was such a shocking thing.”

“Out of respect to William Lochner, all remaining boxing matches on the Lodi High School boxing schedule for the season have been cancelled,” announced the Lodi Enterprise.

In Milwaukee, about 100 miles away, the newspapers gave what happened just a couple graphs, about as much as was devoted to the victories in the East the night before of Willie Pep and Al “Bummy” Davis. But the Madison Capital Times published a guest column by a former judge named P.L. Lincoln in which he called boxing an affront to common decency and a “perversion of education and of our school system.”

The WIAA agreed. Calling boxing “at best a questionable high school sport,” it instituted new guidelines for it that were plainly aimed at discouraging schools from participating.

By 1948, when Paul Dalton became coach of the Lodi prep mitt squad (which had resumed competition three years earlier), the number of public schools in Wisconsin with boxing was 45 and falling fast. After that season, the Lodi School Board agreed with the growing number of critics who said boxing had no place in high school, and voted to permanently shut down the Bluedevil ring program.

A year later only 24 schools had boxing. By 1953, just four schools were left, and the WIAA put prep boxing in the state down for the count.

What happened to Billy Lochner 62 years ago “has never been forgotten by our city,” says his sister-in-law, Mary Lochner. Now 83, and still living in the Lodi farmhouse his great-grandparents built in 1881, Paul Dalton would like to establish a college scholarship to be presented annually to a Lodi High School student in the name of Billy Lochner.

“We’re trying to do something as a memorial,” Dalton says, “so he isn’t forgotten for giving up his life.”

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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