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Articles of 2006

Anton the Greek: Fearless to the End

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It had the feel of one of those homecomings cooked up by Hollywood when Theodore Anton returned to the city where everybody remembered him by the name that sounded more like a rassler’s than that of the welterweight boxing champion of Wisconsin: Anton the Greek.

They also remembered that nobody was tighter with a buck than the little immigrant who’d boasted through 100-plus professional fights that “I make my own matches and keep every cent the promoter gives me.” So nobody was surprised when Anton came back to Milwaukee dressed like a bank president, sitting in the back of a large touring car driven by a uniformed chauffeur, and bragging about a net worth of around 200 grand.

“Look at your Greek friend,” Anton told Walter Houlehan, who had managed the local burlesque theater where Anton had lost one of his first bouts because he ate three pounds of grapes right before the fight and had to rush from the ring to the toilet. “He’s a little different today from when he ate those grapes….”

Theodore Anton was the picture of the conquering hero, but an even more drastic change was straight ahead, and within 24 hours not even his staunchest admirers wanted to be in Anton the Greek’s shoes anymore.

Born Theodore Antonopoulis in Ageonsosten, Greece on September 2, 1891, Anton came to live in Milwaukee in 1902. Boxing was big in Beertown then, and the 14-year-old Greek weighed less than 100-pounds when he started out on the cards at the local theaters. The proper pre-fight diet wasn’t the only thing about which Anton was abysmally ignorant then. But what he lacked in fighting know-how he more than made up for with his willingness and ability to take a licking.

“Anton the Greek took enough punishment at the hands of Young Pinkey to founder the ordinary pug, but the pride of Wells St. weathered the storm trying for a knockout to the last,” reported the Milwaukee Free Press on April 11, 1912.

What really cemented the Greek’s reputation as one of his era’s indomitable tough guys and permanently endeared him to boxing fans was what happened at the Armory in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, about 55 miles north of Milwaukee, on January 27, 1913.

Fighting in the eight-round semi-windup, Anton and Bert Stanley of Oshkosh put on a war described by the Fond du Lac Reporter as “full of action from start to finish” and “the best seen in the Armory in several seasons.” Stanley punished him and won by a wide margin, and after the final bell Anton shook his hand and said, “Mr. Stanley, you were too clever for me.”

“And you,” replied Stanley, “were too tough for me.”

The main event that evening was to feature local hero Dauber Jaeger against the same Young Pinkey who’d whipped Anton so handily in Milwaukee a year earlier. But 10 minutes before fight time, Pinkey suffered what the Reporter called “coldfeetis following an attack of ‘yellowstreakus’ in its most malignant type,” and refused to enter the ring.

As the large crowd booed and hissed, Anton the Greek stepped up and offered to take on Jaeger himself after a 15-minute rest, a cold shower and a rubdown. He got them, and then he got his second beating of the night, Jaeger “landing 10 blows to the Greek’s one,” in their six-rounder. But the headline in the next edition of the Reporter –– “Greek Anton A Real Fighter” –– was reproduced all over the country, and Anton was famous.

He still wasn’t much of a fighter, but over the next few years the Greek was in demand throughout the Midwest. He lost as much as he won, but nobody ever asked for his money back after one of Anton’s fights.

After a close points loss to Bud Logan, Anton demanded a rematch and told the Milwaukee Free Press that he would “meet Logan for a peanut or he will wager his grocery store against almost nothing that he can win.”

The reference was to the corner market in downtown Milwaukee that was the Greek’s headquarters between fights. Anton and his relatives started the store from scratch, and by dint of nose-to-the-grindstone work built it into a thriving enterprise. The little fighter whose head was almost impossible to miss in the ring turned out to have one hell of a head for business. Between the store and the fighting purses he didn’t have to share with a manager, Anton made money hand-over-fist, and salted away every penny.

In 1914, Anton made headlines again when he took on two opponents in a single night in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After he knocked out Farmer Smith, one of the latter’s pals in the crowd stood up and challenged the Greek to fight. Anton whipped him, too.

A few months later, Anton sold his grocery store for $10,000 and sailed for England, where he had a 20-round match before London’s National Sporting Club against Eddie Elton. Upon his return to Milwaukee, the Greek claimed the state welterweight title and fought a private 35-round bout in Des Moines, Iowa.

He also opened up another store, and, as always, banked every cent of profit.

In 1916, with World War One foaming up, Anton became a U.S. citizen. “I sure am glad that I am now an American citizen,” he told reporters. “I think a good boxer would make a good fighter for his country.”

He enlisted in the Army, and “even the $30 per day he received from Uncle Sam was saved,” according to The Milwaukee Journal.

In 1922, Anton quit boxing for good and moved from Milwaukee to Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He opened a fruit stand that became spectacularly fruitful, sold out and then plunged into real estate. He built the Hotel Anton, and then bought another hotel called The Hawthorne, and also ran a smoke shop and restaurant on the same block.

In the mid-1920s, Chicago Mayor William E. Dever set out to rid his city of the mob forces at war with one another. One of his targets, Al “Scarface” Capone, soon to become America’s most feared Prohibition-era crime lord, set up shop in The Hawthorne. He and the proprietor became pals, and Anton’s hotel became Capone’s headquarters. And a target for the police and rival gangs. The former raided The Hawthorne and charged Anton with keeping a disorderly house, and at least once the latter strafed the building with machine-gun fire.

Fearless in the ring, Anton the Greek was no fool outside of it. When he made his triumphant return to Milwaukee on Saturday, November 27, 1926, he indicated to friends that he intended to come back for good as soon as he could unload his Cicero properties for what he figured they were worth.

In the meantime, Anton did something that took bigger balls than fighting two boxers on the same night. He told Al Capone to take a hike and run his mob operation someplace else.

So it was really no big surprise when, the day after his Milwaukee visit, proprietor Theodore Anton disappeared from The Hawthorne Hotel.

On December 4, Anton’s blood-stained overcoat was discovered near Des Plaines, Illinois, and a few weeks later a body was found in a shallow, lime-filled grave outside Chicago Heights. “Two bullets had been fired into the head and an inflammable liquid poured over the body and set aflame,” according to the Chicago Herald Examiner. A finger had been cut off, apparently to make it easier for his killers to remove the victim’s $1,000 diamond ring.

“Ex-Capone Aid Is Found Slain; Body Set Afire,” headlined the paper on its January 6, 1927 front page. The sub-head said, “Victim Identified as Theodore Anton, Who Ousted Gang Chief From His Cicero Hotel.”

Nobody pinched a penny harder than Anton the Greek, but in the ring and out nobody was ever less disposed to coldfeetis and yellowstreakus, either.

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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