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Articles of 2006

Tommy Gallagher: All Things Must Pass



Savoring an espresso and dessert after another fine high-caloric meal, I was aimlessly surfing the web when I came across Joe Santoliquito’s paean to Tommy Gallagher – and just about choked on my cannoli.

Gallagher is best known as the epitome of a boxing trainer who appears each week to rally the troops and take them shopping on ESPN's The Contender. On that weekly reality TV series, Gallagher comes off as the quintessential lovable curmudgeon, avuncular in a cap, unthreatening behind shades, a whitewashed, defanged, low-cal tough-love boxing archetype, one part Burgess Meredith in “Rocky,” one part Mickey Rooney in “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” but somewhat less than one part Tommy Gallagher.

To the unwashed and untrained eye, Tommy G comes off as the straight shooter’s straight shooter, a guy who doesn’t mince words or suffer fools gladly, but someone who can always be relied upon to provide good copy on any number of subjects, including but not limited to boxing.

When the owner of Gleason’s Gym, Bruce Silverglade, first introduced me to Tommy Gallagher, he described him as a “real old-time boxing guy,” and by any criteria, Gallagher meets that standard.

It’s what Silverglade didn’t say that still has me scratching and shaking my head.

Tommy Gallagher was born in Brooklyn in 1941 and grew up in East New York. He told Santoliquito that ‘he was raised to know every liar in the sometimes sordid business of boxing,’ and I dare say Gallagher learned his lessons well.

Gallagher was first formally introduced to boxing at the CYO Gym on 17th Street by his grandfather, Ed Wohl.

“My grandfather was a very dear friend of Lou Stillman,” Gallagher told me one morning in Gleason’s Gym. “My grandfather was a huge bookmaker, so he would go around to all the joints and he always managed to take me to the highlights. When I was 11 he took me to a place in Manhattan and I met Rocky Marciano and that really sucked me in. When I walked into the place Rocky was hitting this heavy bag that looked like it was as big as the Empire State Building. I said to myself: 'Who the f—? What is this thing?' That was it after that.”

Gallagher was hooked line and sinker.

“We went to St. Nick's, Ridgewood Grove, Eastern Parkway. We went to every gym that there was. Williamsburg Gym. Jimmy Treck's Gym. Gleason's up on 149th Street. Stillman's Gym. You could go into Stillman's on a Wednesday when everybody was coming in to get ready for the fights on Friday.

“I got to see it all,” said Gallagher. “The stuff when it was really shaking, when it was really happening.”

Armed with the knowledge that he was a “real old-time fight guy” who’d unflinchingly tell it like it is, I asked Gallagher when he went from being just an interested observer to someone who stepped through the ropes to get it on.

“I started in 1955,” Gallagher told me. “In the winter of 1957 I decided to go in the Golden Gloves, but I wasn't old enough to go in the Gloves for '58, so I had to wait until '59 and I trained the whole year. I trained in a pro gym in Brooklyn – because it took me too long to get to Stillman's – and I trained with these old-time fight guys, old-time mob guys. They were Gambinos, and they really took good care of me. They paid my carfare – I think it was 10 cents, 15 cents then – and they'd be at the gym every day. They all worked on the waterfront and I learned from them and I listened and I watched. And I wanted it.”

Gallagher opened his first gym in 1965 at the YMCA in Highland Park, but other gyms were to follow. In 1974 he opened a gym in the Boy's Club – which was called Gallagher's Gym of Champions. “I had 10 world champions in the gym. I mean we had guys. I had two rings, four heavy bags, three speed bags, a nice locker room – it was perfect. You meet a lotta pieces of sh– in this business, but I had the gym for 30 years and I never bothered with anybody. I did my thing. And that was basically it,” Gallagher said. “Then in '96 when the douchebag Sammy the Bull” – that’s Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, the Gambino hit man and stoolie who ratted out John Gotti – “made up all this bullsh– that I was this, that or the other thing, they closed the gym on me.”

Sammy the Bull is a sore sport with Tommy Gallagher.

“That piece of sh–,” Gallagher said. “I met him once. He ruined my whole career. He ruined my gym. They shut it down. It’s all bullsh–. He made it up. I would never train his son. He wanted me to train him. I told John, ‘There’s something wrong with him.’ He got mad at me. I know John Gotti since I was 15 years old. I says, ‘John, this guy looks at all these little kids.’ Cus was like that. Did you know that? Cus D’Amato was a raging fag. And you know who saved his life? Fat Tony. Yeah, they were going to kill him.”

Although he has been a fighter, gym owner, manager, matchmaker and promoter (there are rumors he was also once a cop), Gallagher's claim to fame is as a trainer. With that in mind, I asked if he could name some of the ingredients which make a great boxing trainer great.

“A guy's a great trainer if he's got a great fighter,” Gallagher said. “It's as simple as that. I go way back and had access to 10 or 20 of the best f—ing trainers in the world. I was in Stillman's and I watched them all and learned a little from everybody. I knew who was full of sh– and who wasn't. But today it's all bull—-. They couldn't even stand five minutes with the four round fighters of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Couldn't go one round with these guys. They were professionals. They didn't ask 'Who am I fighting? Why am I fighting?' They went and did their business and they became the legends of this business.”

In part because of his seniority, in part because he’d been there and done, I asked Gallagher what it was like in the good old days.

“The Garden was the big promoter,” replied Gallagher. “The Garden was the place. Boxing made Madison Square Garden. When the Garden left, the Garden ruined boxing here in New York. Then all the sharpies came in, all the smart-asses came in – 'Bring it to Vegas!' – 'Get all that money in Vegas!' – and they ruined this business. But I was fortunate enough to be around some legendary guys. Whitey Bimstein. Charlie Goldman. Nick and Dan Florio. I mean real f—ing guys. Frank Backman. Johnny Sulo. Freddie Brown. Chickie Ferrara. I mean these guys were f—ing gentlemen.”

One solution to the problem of how to get boxing back on track is to let the government lace up gloves, put in a mouthpiece and join the fray. When I asked Gallagher what he thought about creating a federal agency to oversee the sport, he voted yea.

“Let's face it,” he said, “this is the only f—ing business that you don't have no rules and regulations. Every state you go to has a different rule and regulation. When you play football and baseball it's the same, but because it's the lower echelon guy, if that's the right word, the fighters who are not the most educated, they have to rely on the guys who are f—ing robbing them.”

Boxing is indeed unregulated – notwithstanding more commissions, sanctioning bodies and bureaucrats than you can shake a bloody stick at – and as a result it's a credibility-lacking mess. I asked Gallagher if the system as it exists denies us the caliber of fighters that fought the past.

“There were great fighters because they were given the opportunity to be great fighters,” was Gallagher’s reply. “Now if you get knocked down, the f—ing referee wants to stop the fight! It's about getting out there and fighting your balls off. They'll never ever be able to create these great fighters because they'll never give them a chance to be great fighters. In the old days you fought until you decided to quit or you were f—ing hanging over dead, but they want to eliminate that.”

Nobody wants to see boxers “hanging over dead,” but isn’t it the commissions’ job to protect the fighters, not just from their own worst selves, but from the worst of the parasitic others?

“They let these commissions make up f—ing rules that are just disrespectful to the fighters. You can die from one to 12, but after 12 you can't get killed?” asked Gallagher. “There's nothing in the f—ing world to help anybody not get killed. If a guy's gonna get killed he's gonna get killed, so it's as simple as that. Just like the guy who's in the Indianapolis 500. If he's gonna get killed, he's gonna get killed. Or the guy on the baseball field. If he's gonna get killed, he's gonna get killed. That's it. There's nothing you can do about it. So respect these guys who are doing this.”

Given Gallagher’s experience, history, and willingness to talk, I returned to the subject of today's fighting man versus the fighting man of yesteryear and asked if he thought there was any comparison.

“The fighting man? There is no more fighting man. They made us fighting men in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s and now they want to f—ing sweep us under the rug,” he said. “If you went out and looked at all the people who are talking about the business that they're in, whether it be baseball, football, hockey, whatever the f—, you'll find out that they never played anything in their life.”

“I know so many guys,” Gallagher continued, “white guys, black guys, brown guys, that are f—ing men. If you f— them they'll break your head. They don't need no Jesse Jackson or f—ing what's his name – the other jerk-off – to help them. They'll do it themselves. Those are men. You f— them – they're going to fight back.”

I asked Gallagher, who has lived a zillion lives so far, if he had something like a philosophy of life and living.

“My philosophy is be f—ing fair with everybody. And don't ever try to hurt anybody. And never rob your friends,” advised Gallagher. “Rob other guys. And try not to lie and be a f—ing coward about it. You got something on your mind, get it off, tell them, that's all, and you just walk away. Try to have a little respect for yourself.”

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch



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, 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



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


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

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4


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


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

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1


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



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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