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Book Review: Lords of the Ring



Lords of the Ring – Boxing took hold on a handful of college campuses in the 1870s as an intramural sport. Theordore Roosevelt boxed as a student at Harvard and later wrote, “I like to see a bout between two evenly-matched men. There can be no harm in such an exhibition. In my opinion, it is much better for a man to know how to protect himself with his fists than to resort to firearms, knives, or clubs. I believe the sport should be encouraged. It is a manly sport.”

In Lords of the Ring (University of Wisconsin Press), Doug Moe explores the long-ago days of college boxing through the prism of the University of Wisconsin boxing team.

Wisconsin was the center of the college boxing universe. Starting in the 1930s, fifteen thousand fans packed the Wisconsin Field House on a regular basis to watch the Badgers compete.

“The fans – young and old, men and women – would begin to arrive two hours before fight time,” Moe writes. “The University of Wisconsin band would play rollicking tunes such as The Beer Barrel Polka, and necks would crane as people spotted their friends and neighbors in the throng.”

On March 29, 1940, Joe Louis defended the heavyweight championship of the world against Johnny Paycheck at Madison Square Garden with 11,620 spectators in attendance. That same night, more than 15,000 fans crowded into the Wisconsin Field House to watch a dual competition between Wisconsin and Washington State.

Over the years, Wisconsin won eight NCAA team championships in boxing and 35 NCAA individual titles. “I liken boxing at Wisconsin to football at Notre Dame,” Cal Vernon (a 1948 NCAA champion) later said. “We were the Notre Dame of boxing.”

But by 1960, college boxing was under attack. Mobs scandals had tarnished the professional ranks. College faculties were questioning whether an athletic competition founded on the intent to physically incapacitate an opponent belonged on campus. More and more universities were dropping the sport. The University of Wisconsin was one of the few major colleges that still had a boxing team.

In April 1960, the Wisconsin Field House hosted the NCAA championship boxing tournament for the seventh time. Six Badgers made it to the final round. One of them was middleweight Charlie Mohr.

Mohr could have sprung from the pages of a Horatio Alger novel. He’d won an individual NCAA championship the previous year, but had no intention of turning pro. He boxed because the sweet science was his passport to a college scholarship.

Local newspaper accounts of Mohr’s ring exploits and personality described him as “handsome” and “soft-spoken” with “bewitching charm.”

“Charlie had a way about him,” columnist Bonnie Ryan wrote in the Capitol Times. “When he talked to you, he made you feel that you were the best friend he had in the world. Never, never would he think of saying a bad word against anyone.”

Bill Urban (one of Mohr’s teammates at Wisconsin) told Moe, “He was just so very very kind. I always enjoyed being with him. Everybody did.”

But as Moe writes, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Although the information was kept secret at the time, Mohr had been hospitalized for depression early in his senior year of college and given electroshock therapy.

Years later, Jim Doherty (a classmate) acknowledged in an article written for Smithsonian Magazine, “There was a lot more going on with Charlie than many of us realized. The legend was true as far as it went. He was a hero, for sure. But not the one we all thought we knew. Concealed beneath the jaunty facade he beamed at the world was a tormented young man who had the misfortune to end up in a place where he didn’t want to be but who never quit fighting and always tried to do the right thing.”

Mohr was ambivalent about boxing by his senior year but continued to box to keep his scholarship. On April 9, 1960, he entered the ring to face Stu Bartell of San Jose State in the finals of the 165-pound division at the NCAA championship tournament. The bout would determine both the NCAA individual title and team championship.

Bartell stopped Mohr in the second round. The fight ended with Charlie on his feet.

Earlier in the day, a young Nevadan named Mills Lane (yes, that Mills Lane) had beaten Gary Wilhelm of Wisconsin to capture the 147-pound NCAA championship. Lane later recalled, “I remember the Wisconsin Field House being a gigantic place. I was standing in back near my dressing room because I had already completed my fight. I saw Charlie walk back to his corner and sit down on his stool, and I saw him talking to his coach. I later found out that Charlie was apologizing for having lost the fight. Charlie felt he had let the school down because the defeat enabled San Jose State to win the team trophy. After a minute or so, Charlie got up off his stool, slipped through the ropes, and started walking back to the dressing room. Under any circumstances, that is a long walk. It’s even longer when you have been defeated. Charlie signed autographs all the way back to the locker room. I remember how bad I felt for Charlie. I watched Charlie step toward the Wisconsin dressing room, then turned away, lost in my own thoughts. Within minutes, word spread through the Field House that Charlie had collapsed.”

Mohr had suffered a massive subdural hemotoma. He died eight days later, on Easter Sunday, without regaining consciousness.

“What’s really sad,” Wisconsin boxing coach John Walsh later said, “is that Charlie had planned on retiring from boxing after the tournament. He was about two-and-a-half minutes away from never boxing again.”

Lords of the Ring is well-researched. It’s bit tedious at times, as Moe tends to fall into a tournament-by-tournament, fight-by-fight recounting of the history of Wisconsin boxing. But the story of Charlie Mohr and his tragic death adds an underlying drama to it all.

There’s also a poignant footnote.

On May 19, 1960, the University of Wisconsin faculty voted to discontinue boxing as a varsity sport. That led to a ripple effect. San Jose State, Sacramento State, and Washington State (three of the few other major universities with credible boxing programs) followed suit. On January 7, 1961, the executive committee of the NCAA voted to discontinue boxing as an NCAA sport.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at His most recent book (And the New: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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Bohachuk KOs Unlucky Number 13 in Hollywood

David A. Avila




HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii “El Flaco” Bohachuk (13-0, 13 KOs) disposed of local urban legend Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis with nary a sweat in less than four rounds on Sunday evening at the Avalon Theater before a sold out crowd.

Bohachuk remained undefeated and continued his knockout streak with Pendarvis (21-5-2, 9 KOs) the victim. Aside from the main event, the 360 Promotions card was stacked with competitive action.

Bohachuk, 23, trained expecting an easy fight especially knowing that Pendarvis lacked firepower. But sometimes firepower is not all that important.

“He only had nine knockouts,” said Bohachuk, who trains with Abel Sanchez and Max Golovkin (Gennady’s twin) in Big Bear, Calif. “It was easy fight.”

The young Ukrainian felt it was easy but Pendarvis still unleashed several Cracker Jack combinations that caught Bohachuk flush. If only Pendarvis had power there might have been a different result.

Bohachuk floored Pendarvis in the first round with a left hook dug into the liver of Pendarvis and down he went. He resumed the fight but was visibly worried.

In the second round Mookie unleashed some of his magic with a sizzling left uppercut left cross combination that stung Bohachuk for a split second. Then he followed that with a sneaky overhand left and a right hook combination that seemed to come out of the dark. But without power behind those blows, Bohachuk remained in control.

Bohachuk regained total control in the third round and floored Pendarvis with a left hook bomb that immediately dropped him to the ground. The round ended seconds later and seemingly allowed Pendarvis to escape, but at seven seconds into the fourth round Pendarvis told the referee he could not continue and the fight was stopped.

“I wanted the fight to go longer,” Bohachuk said.

A super middleweight match saw Ali Akhmedov (13-0, 10 KOs) defeat Sacramento’s Mike Guy (9-4-1) by decision after eight rounds. All three judges scored it for Akhmedov who struggled with Guy’s stop and go style.

Kazakhstan’s Meiirim Nursultanov (11-0, 8 KOs) out-worked Luis Hernandez after eight rounds in a middleweight clash to win by unanimous decision.

Other Bouts

A lightweight clash between Mario Ramos (8-0) and Arnulfo Becerra (7-2) started slowly for two rounds then erupted into a bloody war for the remaining four rounds. Becerra caught Ramos repeatedly with three and four-punch combinations but Ramos always retaliated back. The crowd roared at the action that saw both suffer cuts and bruises to each other’s face that did not discourage more blows. Ramos was deemed the winner by decision.

“He pushed me into a war,” said Ramos of Becerra. “That’s what fans want.”

Other winners on the fight card were Devon Lee (7-0), Adrian Corona (4-0), Christian Robles (3-0), George Navarro (5-0-1) and Timothy Ortiz by knockout in his pro debut.

In attendance were actor Mario Lopez, WBC minimum weight titlist Louisa Hawton, European champion Scott Quigg and others.

“They’ll be appearing on our future shows this year,” said Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Oxon Hill: The Peterson Brothers Fail to Deliver

Arne K. Lang




The story of boxing’s Peterson brothers, Lamont and Anthony, has been well documented. Growing up in Washington, DC, they were often homeless. Then Barry Hunter came into their life. A carpenter by trade, Hunter coached amateur boxing at a local rec center. He took the brothers in when Lamont, the older by 13 months, was only 10 years old and he’s been with them ever since, a rarity in a sport where some boxers seemingly change trainers more frequently than they change their underwear.

Today the brothers, who turned pro on the same card in 2004, appeared in the featured bouts of a Premier Boxing Champions show at the MGM National Harbor casino resort in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a stone’s throw across the Potomac from their old stomping grounds. And they were well-matched. Both of their fights were near “pick-‘em” affairs with the invaders the slightest of favorites.

Welterweight Lamont Peterson, a former two-division champion coming off a bad loss to Errol Spence Jr, was pitted against Sergey Lipinets, briefly a 140-pound title-holder coming off a loss on points to Mikey Garcia. Peterson was seemingly ahead on the cards through several frames, but one big punch, a straight right hand by Lipinets in round eight, turned the momentum in his favor.

The end came two rounds later when Lipinets hurt Peterson with on overhand right and followed up with an assault that sent the DC man down hard. Peterson arose on spaghetti legs but it was a moot point as his corner tossed in the white flag almost as soon as he hit the canvas. The official time was 2:59 of round 10.

After the fight, in an emotional moment in the ring, Peterson announced his retirement. If he holds tight to this decision, he will leave the sport with a 35-5-1 record. Sergey Lipinets, a kickboxing champion before he took up conventional boxing, improved to 15-1 with his 11th win by stoppage. Overall it was a good action fight with a high volume of punches thrown.

The co-feature, a 10-round junior welterweight contest between Anthony Peterson (37-1-1, 1 ND) and former IBF 130-pound champion Argenis Mendez (25-5-2) ended in a draw. The decision was unpopular with the pro-Peterson crowd but met the approval of the TV commentators and likely most everyone tuning in at home.

Both fought a technical fight. Peterson did most of the leading and seemingly had the fight in hand going into the late rounds where Mendez did his best work. There were no knockdowns or cuts, but Peterson suffered severe swelling over his left eye. The last round was the best with Mendez fighting with more urgency, perhaps out of fear that he would be victimized by a hometown decision.

Anthony Peterson was making his first start since January of last year when he coasted to an easy decision over Eduardo Florez, a decision later changed to a no-contest when Peterson tested positive for a banned substance.

In the swing bout, an entertaining 10-round contest in the 154-pound weight class, Cincinnati’s Jamontay Clark (14-1) overcame a rough patch in the third round to score a unanimous decision over Chicago’s Vernon Brown (10-1-1). The scores were 95-94 and 96-93 twice. At six-foot-two, the rangy Clark had a 7-inch height advantage.

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Pulev Wins Heavyweight Clash and Magdaleno Bests Rico Ramos in Costa Mesa

David A. Avila




COSTA MESA, Calif.-Eastern European heavyweights slugged it out in Orange County with Kubrat Pulev scoring a knockout win over Bogdan Dinu on Saturday evening. The win keeps him in line for a possible showdown with Top Rank’s newly signed Tyson Fury.

After a slow start the Bulgarian heavyweight Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs) scored the knockout win over Romania’s Dinu (18-2, 14 KOs) before a large supportive audience who arrived with Bulgarian flags and hats at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa.

Until the fifth round the action lacked with both heavyweights not eager to fire. But an angry exchange of blows by Dinu saw Pulev emerge with a cut over his left eye. It also opened up the action between the European heavyweights.

Pulev increased the pressure and caught Dinu in the neutral corner where he unloaded right after right on the ducking Romanian fighter who dropped to a knee and was hit behind the head with a blow. The knockdown was ruled down by an illegal punch and a point was deducted from Pulev.

It didn’t matter. The Bulgarian heavyweight proceeded to unleash some more heavy rights and down went Dinu again. The Romanian fighter beat the count and was met with more right hand bombs and down he went for good this time at 2:40 of the eighth round. Referee Raul Caiz ruled it a knockout win for Pulev.

“Sometimes its good and sometimes it’s bad,” said Pulev about his actions in a heavyweight fight. “Sometimes blood makes me very angry.”

Dinu felt that illegal blows led to his downfall. But the winner Pulev was satisfied.

“It doesn’t matter, I was prepared and really good in this moment. I think I was very good boxing today and showed good punching today,” Pulev said.

Former champions

An expected battle between flashy ex-super bantamweight world champions didn’t deliver the goods as Jessie Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) defeated Rico Ramos (30-6, 14 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a featherweight contest for a vacant WBC regional title.

A tentative Magdaleno was cautious and deliberate against Ramos who seemed to be stuck in slow motion for the first half of the fight. Behind some lefts to the body and snappy combinations Magdaleno mounted up points for six rounds.

Ramos stepped up the action in the seventh round and began stepping into the danger zone while delivering some threatening combos inside. Magdaleno resorted to holding and moving as the action shifted in Ramos’s direction.

But it was never enough as Ramos seemed to lack pep. The last two rounds saw Ramos engage with Magdaleno but neither landed the killing blows. After 10 rounds all three judges saw the fight in favor of Magdaleno 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 who now holds the WBC USNBC featherweight title.

“It was a long layoff and I took a fight against a tough, tough veteran and former world champion,” said Magdaleno, whose last fight was the loss of the WBO super bantamweight title to Isaac Dogboe last May. “Got to go back to the drawing board. I boxed as good as I could, he’s just a tough fighter.”

Other Bouts

Max Dadashev (13-0, 11 KOs) was dropped in the second round by muscular Filipino southpaw Ricky Sismundo (35-13-3, 17 KOs) and had a look of surprise. He turned it up in the third round and caught Sismundo rushing in with a slick counter left-right combination on the button. Sismundo was counted out by referee Tom Taylor at 2:30 of the third round of the super lightweight clash.

Former Olympian Javier Molina (19-2, 8 KOs) had a rough customer in Mexico’s Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22 KOs) who never allowed him space to maneuver in their super lightweight match. After eight close turbulent rounds Molina was given the decision by scores 78-74 twice and 79-73.

South Africa’s Chris Van Heerden (27-2-1, 12 KOs) thoroughly out-boxed Mexico’s Mahonry Montes (35-9-1, 24 KOs) until a clash of heads erupted a cut over his right eye. The fight was stopped in the sixth round and Van Heerden was given a technical decision by scores 60-54 on all three cards.

Welterweights Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8 KOs) and Jonathan Steele (9-3-1, 6 KOs) slugged it out for six back and forth rounds at high intensity. There were no knockdowns but plenty of high level stuff going on. The bigger Mominov had the advantage and tried to take out Mitchell, but the smaller welter from Texas was just too tough and skilled to be overrun. Judges scored it 59-54 three times. Good stuff.

Detroit’s Erick De Leon (19-0-1, 11 KOs) survived a knockdown in the fifth and rallied to win by technical knockout over Mexico’s Jose Luis Gallegos (16-6, 12 KOs) in the seventh round of a lightweight clash. A barrage of unanswered blows by De Leon forced referee Ray Corona to halt the fight at 1:55 of the seventh round.

L.A.’s David Kaminsky (4-0, 2 KOs) out-pointed rugged Arizona’s Estevan Payan (1-7-1) to win by unanimous decision after four round in a middleweight contest.

Tyler McCreary (15-0-1, 7 KOs) fought to a draw with Mexico’s Roberto Castaneda (23-11-2) after six rounds. He got all he could handle from the Mexicali featherweight as both traded blow for blow throughout the contest. It was good experience for the young McCreary who looked good but tried too hard to take out the hard headed Castaneda.

Eric Puente (2-0) beat Alejandro Lopez (1-4) by decision after four rounds in a lightweight match by 39-37 scores all three cards. It was a very close match with little separation between the two.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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