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Springs Toledo’s “The Ringside Belle,” Part 3

Springs Toledo

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Jungle Fever 

In 1927, William “Gorilla” Jones, 20, was invited to fight in Akron, Ohio by promoter Suey Welch. Jones accepted the offer, toyed with his more experienced opponent, collected his purse, and then went and blew every dime in a dice game. He approached Welch, hat in hand, and asked for an advance on his next purse. He took that and the fever took him. Off he went looking for “dem bones,” expecting to double back and square up early. Needless to say, he doubled back with his hat in his hand again. It became a routine until Welch let the dice fly himself and signed him. Jones became as much an indentured servant as a fighter under the new banner. During daylight hours, he was at the Welch Athletic Club on South Main Street; by night he was whooping it up in the red-light district. Welch’s father, Akron’s police chief, lent a hand and put out an APB to the gambling dens in the city—“Don’t let Gorilla Jones through the door!”

Jones spent a few years fighting in and around Ohio. He was a defensive specialist who often loafed his way to a decision win but was more than able to send the crowd home early. It depended on the other guy’s ambitions; if those ambitions were too aggressive, Jones would knock him silly. It also depended on Jones’s social calendar; if Jones happened to have an engagement to attend, he would plant his feet, so to speak, to get to the dance on time. Late one night before a fight, Welch heard unfamiliar snoring coming from Jones’s room and opened the door to find a double in Jones’s bed. Jones was you-know-where doing you-know-what.

Late in 1928, Mae West accompanied gangster Owney Madden to the fights at Madison Square Garden. Jones was on the undercard and doing all right. Later, the fighter spotted the movie star and her well-tailored escort in a bar and sent over a round of drinks. West liked his moxie and invited him to see her at the theatre. After the show, West found that she liked his heroic musculature too and invited him to her dressing room.

Maybe the walls caved in. Whatever happened, it must have been stupendous because West began bankrolling Jones’s career and his luck turned for keeps. He filed taxes on his 1929 earnings totaling $85,000 (that’d be $1,158,430 in 2014), drove a shiny new Lincoln Coupe, sported over 90 suits with sharp cuts and side vents, and developed a taste for diamonds that matched that of his new patroness.

By the time West was writing her lines for her Hollywood debut in Night After Night, the man winked at in one of those lines (“Hey Ga-rilla! C’mere!”) —was middleweight champion of the world.

It was 1932. Jones made one defense before losing his crown later that year to a Frenchman who looked like something from The Hills Have Eyes. He soon followed the woman he affectionately called “The Lady” to Los Angeles. Manager Suey Welch went with him and both were put on salary. By 1934, Welch was supervising fight scenes in a Mae West movie and Jones was earning $750 a week. Welch got out of the fight racket for a while and bought a string of theatres. Jones retired in 1940, and as far as the mainstream press knew, got hired as West’s chauffeur, though a chauffeur wasn’t often seen walking a diamond-collared lion on a leash along Central Avenue or fondling his blonde employer in after-hours joints near the Dunbar Hotel. Central Avenue was then predominantly a black community and the residents there knew what blue-eyed gossip columnists could only guess—Jones and Mae West were lovers.

Sometimes word leaked out. There’s a story where some bum made a rude comment about the star and Jones decked him but good. West scolded him for it. “Let ‘em talk,” she said. “I made four million because people were saying nasty things about me and you shouldn’t get in a fight to change that opinion.” There’s another story where the manager of the Ravenswood wouldn’t allow Jones past the lobby to visit West and it was West’s turn to fume —She bought the building.

West’s generosity to Jones was extended to his mother. Daisy Jones, a retired Memphis school principal, was hired on as a wardrobe assistant and travelling companion and stayed on for eighteen years. She adored West. “She is very kind and I like working for her very much,” she told the New York Age.

In the Fifties, Jones taught boxing classes at the Boys’ Club in Watts until his vision began to fail as a result of adult diabetes. In 1957, his almond eyes were obscured behind horn-rimmed glasses and his total annual income was “zero” according to Jet magazine. But West wouldn’t let him live any less than comfortably. She had wisely invested much of his ring earnings into a trust fund, purchased property for him, and paid his bills.

He loved her right back. When a motion-picture company offered him a quarter-million dollars for his story, he turned them down flat because they tried to make him admit he was one of West’s lovers. The Lady always insisted on keeping her private life private and lying to those outside her world was considered loyalty. Jones’s loyalty had no price. “All the money in the world would be no good without friends,” he said in 1974. “I would never betray a friend who has done everything to keep me on top and let me live the life I wanted to live.”

Lowell Darling is a conceptual artist, two-time gubernatorial candidate in California, and president in perpetuity of the Society for the Preservation of Lowell Darling. In the Seventies, he “fell in with hams and muscle heads” at the Cauliflower Alley Club in Hollywood where, he said, old fighters “regrouped en masse to form a constellation of faint stars.” Gorilla Jones was among them. He was damn-near blind by then and wore a wig that might have been found at the end of a push broom at dd’s Discounts the day after Halloween. Jones’s friends at the club knew the truth about the ageless star and the champ, but weren’t broadcasting it. “Let’s just say,” said one of them, “that Mae always had a soft spot in her heart for Gorilla.”

Jones was doing all right. He was living rent-free in a small white frame house in Echo Park, the one with the little figurine of a gorilla straddling the lattice fence at the front. His neighbors knew him as a “gentlemanly fellow who would hastily button his shirt if a lady approached the porch where he sat on warm days.” Inside the house was a makeshift shrine to his glory years. Darling was one of the few invited inside to see it. One day the phone rang. “That must be The Lady,” said Jones as he groped for the receiver.

“Hello Ga-rilla?”

“I have a present I want to give you,” Jones told her.

“How much will it cost me, Ga-rilla?”

“—I want to give you a telephone for your car so we can talk anytime,   24-hours a day.”

They spoke to each other, said Darling, “like lovesick kids.” Sometimes she sent a car to bring him to the Ravenswood for more than talk. By then, Jones (and millions more) had been in love with the star for over half-a-century.

In 1980, 86-year-old Mae West suffered a stroke and that purring lilt went silent. When she was brought home from the hospital, she would lie in bed watching her old movies, transfixed by a character as fascinating to her as it is to us.

Early on the morning of November 22, 1980 she went to sleep, peacefully, and took her last breath. I imagine a shimmer of sunlight reaching into her bedroom like a finger to touch her cheek.

The African-American press remembered her as a friend and a heroine. Headlines trumpeted her disregard of contrived color lines. “Mae West: Snow White Sex Queen Who Drifted” read Jet. “Mae West Had Her Black Friends” read the Call and Post. Columnist Bill Lane wrote that she had “something within that transcended clear skin and sexy hips. She had a humanness that broad-jumped unpretentiously over whiteness and blackness.”

Her funeral service in the Hollywood Hills wasn’t big and flamboyant like she was when the cameras rolled, like we thought she was. It was an intimate gathering of trusted friends, which is what she cherished most in this world. Gorilla Jones, 74, stood weeping without shame by the casket. Every now and then he’d honk his nose and the wig perched on his head would slip.

West’s body was transported back home to Brooklyn to be buried alongside her mother and Battlin’ Jack.

Jones was left behind.

He stopped going to boxing shows and the Braille Institute. He stopped going to the store. “After she passed on,” said a next-door neighbor, “he just went down.” He began passing-up rides to the Cauliflower Alley Club; and eventually wouldn’t leave the house, wouldn’t eat. His once-heroic musculature wasted away to 102 lbs.

On January 4, 1982 they found his body surrounded by his boxing memorabilia, old newspaper clippings, and framed images of The Lady, her bedroom eyes locked on him.

Her bedroom eyes

spotting someone in the distance, she puts the brakes on her strut and a hand on her hip— “Hey Ga-rilla!” she calls out. “C’mere!”  

 

 

 

 

 


Special thanks to Lowell Darling, Bruce Kielty, Alice Martin, and Alister Scott Ottesen.

Mae West: Goodness Had Nothing to Do With it (1959); Life (4/18/69); Henry Armstrong’s interviewinPeterHeller’s In This Corner…! 42 World Champions Tell Their Stories (DeCapo, 1973); Mae West: The Lies, the Legend, The Truth by George Eells and Stanley Musgrove (1984), p. 143; Jet “Snow White Sex Queen Who Drifted by Robert E. Johnson (7/25/1974); Private detective’s statements in Mae West: Empress of Sex (HarperCollins 1991); Milton Berle: B.S. I Love You (McGraw-Hill, 1987); UP (Jack Cuddy, 6/4/1937 and 9/27/1944); INS 12/6/1933, Los Angeles Herald and Express (1/16/1934); Jim Murray’s opinion in Los Angeles Times (4/25/1961); AP 8/21/1957. Details regarding Chalky Wright found in Baltimore Afro-American (12/24/1960), Milwaukee Sentinel (12/2/1946); UP 8/24/1957, Los Angeles Sentinel (8/15/1957), Baltimore Afro-American (8/31/1957), and Los Angeles Times (August 1957); Mickey Cohen, in My Own Words: The Autobiography of Michael Mickey Cohen As Told to John Peer Nugent (Prentice-Hall, 1975); Alice Martin told this writer that she believed that West paid for Chalky’s funeral. Archived autopsy report performed by Dr. Gerald K. Ridge, M.D., Deputy Medical Examiner on Albert G. Wright, August 13, 1957 at 1:45pm (rec’d 10/2/2014 from Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, County of Los Angeles). Details regarding Gorilla Jones found in “Local History: Akron’s King of Rings” by Mark J. Price (Beacon Journal, 6/8/2009); “Lady Luck’s Frown Starts Jones Upward” by Carl Crammer, AP 2/26/1932; MilwaukeeSentinel, (11/22/1931); Jet (7/16/1953, 4/3/1958 and 1/28/1982); Pittsburgh Press (6/13/1934); Lowell Darling (unpublished manuscript; emails to author); Los Angeles Times, 1/6/1982.   

 

Springs Toledo is the author of The Gods of War: Boxing Essays (Tora, 2014, $25).He can be reached at scalinatella@hotmail.com

 

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Don’t Be Blue! The Met Philly is a Great Fight Town’s New (Yet Old) Boxing Venue

Bernard Fernandez

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Bernard Hopkins, the renowned former middleweight and light heavyweight champion from Philadelphia, once explained his compulsion for adding layers to his boxing legacy by noting that “history is forever.”

Well, sometimes it is. But history, while seldom if ever completely vanishing, can fade with the passage of time. Which is not to say adjustments to what once was can’t be made; in a remarkable trade-off, one chapter in the regal boxing history of B-Hop’s hometown is permanently slamming shut while another just a few blocks away on North Broad Street is about to be rewritten for a new generation and possibly succeeding ones. It is as if Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics – “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – is being played out in real life.

Goodbye forever, iconic fight club Blue Horizon. Hello, Metropolitan Opera House, or as it is now known, The Met Philadelphia, again pristine and gorgeous after a $56 million transformation over the past 18 months. The first of what is being promised as regularly scheduled boxing events at The Met takes place this Saturday night with an 11-bout card, the headliner an eight-rounder pitting undefeated local prospects Jeremy Cuevas (11-0, 8 KOs) against Steven Ortiz (9-0, 3 KOs), for the vacant Pennsylvania lightweight championship. It is a nostalgic nod toward the neighborhood turf wars that once fed the city’s reputation as an incubator of hard-as-nails fighters who made their bones by slugging it out with one another.

Other matchups of interest have Samuel Teah (15-2-1, 7 KOs), of Northeast Philly by way of his native Liberia, going against Tre’Sean Wiggins (10-4-1, 6 KOs), of Johnstown, Pa., in an eight-rounder for the vacant Pennsylvania junior welterweight belt; welterweight Malik Hawkins (13-0, 9 KOs), of Baltimore, swapping punches with Gledwin Ortiz (6-2, 5 KOs), of the Bronx, N.Y., in an eight-rounder, and junior welter Branden Pizarro (13-1, 6 KOs), of the Juniata Park section of Philly, taking on Zack Ramsey (8-5, 4 KOs), of Springfield, Mass., in a six-rounder.

“The place is definitely beautiful. Breathtaking,” Cuevas, 23, a North Philadelphia native now residing in South Philly, said after a tour of The Met on Tuesday. “Who wouldn’t want to fight in such a beautiful venue in his hometown? I’ve always wanted to be involved in something like this, and now I’m here. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. But I have to win. Do that and what’s already a special occasion becomes a little more so.

“The hype is astounding, as it should be. I have a chance to help bring it all back to Philly, and to do it in style.”

Manny Rivera, president of Philadelphia-based Hard Hitting Promotions, is excited about the prospect of a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Live Nation Philadelphia, a company whose primary business is concert promotion and whose list of recording artists is topped by popular Philly rapper Meek Mill. Although Saturday’s fight card is the launch of The Met Philly’s reincarnation as a boxing venue, the facility, which first opened in 1908 and hosted boxing events from 1934 to 1954, has been operational since Dec. 3, when 77-year-old folk-rock legend Bob Dylan prophetically ushered in a new yet somehow familiar era by performing many of his hits that dated back to the 1960s, as did the majority of his audience.

Maybe what goes around really does come back around again, if someone with the will and the finances is determined to make it so.

Rivera said Hard Hitting Promotions expects to stage six fight cards at The Met in 2019, the next on a yet-unspecified date in April, “and go on from there,” adding layers onto the next-phase legacy of an again-grand facility that had fallen into disrepair and might have been marked for demolition were it not been for the intervention of Geoff Gordon, regional president of Live Nation Philadelphia, who saw the potential of the crumbling old palace and was willing to back his vision of a glorious future with a massive financial infusion.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for boxing and we have a wonderful spot to watch competitive boxing on North Broad Street,” Gordon said of the restored, multi-purpose Met, whose 858 North Broad Street address is just five blocks below the site once occupied by the Blue Horizon at the 1314-16 North Broad. But the Blue Horizon (as it had been known since 1961, so dubbed by fight promoter and then-owner Jimmy Toppi), which was constructed in 1865, hadn’t staged a fight card since June 4,  2010,  when featherweight Coy Evans scored a six-round unanimous decision over Barbaro Zepeda in the main event. Almost immediately thereafter, Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspection again cited the Blue for electrical code violations, among other things, and co-owners Vernoca Michael and Carol Ray, unable to pay for necessary repairs and mounting tax bills, were obliged to shutter the building until the debt rose to a point where they had no alternative but to sell.

Historical preservationists – hey, it’s Philadelphia, where tens of thousands of tourists come annually to check out Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and other 18th-century monuments to a significant period in America’s past – argued that it was imperative to prevent the Blue Horizon from decaying to the point where it might be unsalvageable. Boxing aficionados were also at the forefront of the ultimately failed crusade, noting that The Ring magazine had declared the 1,346-seat Blue as the very best place in the world to watch boxing, while an article in Sports Illustrated contended it was the “last great boxing venue in the country.” But those tributes were ultimately negated by pragmatic politicians who argued that while the Blue was indeed historic, it wasn’t “historic enough” for another governmental bailout after the facility had received a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as a $1 million low-cost loan from the Delaware River Port Authority.

Although Michael and Ray, African-American women who had quit their jobs and gone $500,000 into debt to purchase the building, used the funds to make several cosmetic touch-ups, Michael complained that the Blue was “in continual need of repair” and they would require another $5 million in grants or private contributions to make enough renovations to bring it up to code. The people controlling the purse strings in Philly and Harrisburg said thanks but no thanks, which is why the Marriott hotel chain is sinking more than $25 million into the former Blue Horizon site, which is being transformed into a 140-room micro-hotel as part of the chain’s new Moxy brand, which a press release promises will “bring a lifestyle experience to a new level.”

Maybe that indeed will be the case, but you have to wonder if the ghosts of Bennie Briscoe, Matthew Saad Muhammad and other beloved and departed Philly fighters who learned to ply their brutal trade at the Blue will wander the corridors of the Moxy like restless spirits on an endless flight.

The Met Philadelphia – at least in its original incarnation – is in its own way just as rich in boxing history as the Blue Horizon. Built in 1908 by Oscar Hammerstein, it started out as the home of the Philadelphia Opera Company. Toppi, who later owned the Blue Horizon, began staging regular fight cards there in the 1930s, during which time the Cuban great, Kid Gavilan (a record eight appearances), Lew Jenkins, Percy Bassett and George Costner were among the headliners. And, unlike the “not historic enough” (at least in some people’s estimation) Blue, The Met has been certified by the Philadelphia Historic Commission by its listing on both the Pennsylvania State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Perhaps of most significance to fight fans, The Met’s configuration for boxing should make for a rewarding viewing experience. With a seating capacity of 4,000 or so for concerts, 800 floor seats will be removed on boxing nights for placement of the ring, which will be surrounded on three sides by curved rows of seats, all of which will offer splendid sight lines, with additional seating on the elevated stage. Rivera said he anticipates a turnout of 2,500 to 3,000 spectators.

“This building is like the Blue Horizon 5.0,” gushed Rivera, who points out that, unlike the Blue, The Met offers patrons multiple and modern concession stands and rest rooms.

All that remains is for The Met to live up to its obvious potential as a fight site that fans will want to keep returning to, which has not been the case with several one-and-done venues that were tried out as replacement or augmentary alternatives to the Blue.  Other Philly boxing sites that were more than suitable for the purpose and for a time found their niche were allowed to slip away for whatever reason, victims by turn of progress or abandonment.

So say goodbye not only to the Blue, but to Sesquicentennial/Municipal Stadium, site of the first Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney heavyweight title bout on Sept. 23, 1926, which drew a crowd of 120,757, and Rocky Marciano’s dethronement of heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott on Sept. 23, 1952 (attendance: 40,379), and to the Spectrum, home to so many well-attended fights in the 1970s, which was demolished from Nov. 2010 to May 2011. Say goodbye also to Convention Hall, the Pennsylvania Hall at the Civic Center (demolished in 2005), the Cambria (affectionately known as the “Bucket of Blood,” closed in 1963); the Arena in West Philly, the Hotel Philadelphia in Center City, the Alhambra, Olympia, Broadway Athletic Club and National Athletic Club (all in South Philly) and Eli’s Pier 34 along the Delaware River waterfront. Less-entrenched in Philly’s boxing culture, in some cases still standing but seldom if ever still utilized as boxing venues, are Poor Henry’s Brewery in Northern Liberties, the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly, Woodhaven Centre, Felton Supper Club, Wagner’s Ballroom and the University of the Arts.

It should be pointed out that The Met is not and will not be the sole destination for boxing in Philadelphia moving forward. There is the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus, which on March 15  will be  the site for an IBF junior lightweight defense by champion Tevin Farmer (28-4-1, 6 KOs), of North Philly, against Ireland’s Jono Carroll (16-0-1, 3 KOs), as well as a women’s lightweight unification matchup of IBF/WBA ruler Katie Taylor (12-0, 5 KOs) of Ireland and WBO titlist Rose Volante (14-0, 8 KOs)) of Brazil. Fifteen days later at the 2300 Arena in South Philly, the converted warehouse (capacity: 2,000) which has undergone a number of name changes (among them Viking Hall and the New Alhambra), it’ll be WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs), of Ukraine, defending his belt against Doudou Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KOs), of Congo. There also are periodic cards at the SugarHouse Casino, with a nice but small room that can accommodate maybe 1,100 fans.

Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz, who has been staging fight cards in Philadelphia since 1969, is still going strong at 72 and he welcomes the addition of The Met as a local outlet for boxing and hustling promoters, such as Rivera, to provide the sort of competition that can only make for an improved overall product. He got a peek inside The Met during its restoration and said it represents a long step toward a Philly pugilistic rebirth, but it will take more than spiffy new digs to bring the glory days all the way back.

“It’s all good if the fights are good,” said Peltz, who is co-promoting the two world championship cards in March. “If the fights aren’t good, the site won’t matter quite as much. It all depends on the quality of the fights.”

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A Logbook of Boxers Behaving Badly…Really, Really Badly!

Ted Sares

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This isn’t about a fighter biting off part of his opponent’s ear, nor is it about saying, “no mas.” Those incidents have been well-vetted. This is about lesser known and in some cases more reprehensible incidents in which certain fighters behaved in a manner at odds with the standard set by the thousands of fighters who boxed before them.

Tony Anthony (1984) “The Blindside”

In November 1984, Detroit’s “The Fighting Schoolteacher,” Tony Anthony (16-2), took out heavy-handed Mike “Hercules” Weaver with a crunching left hook. A stunned Weaver sagged to the canvas like he had been sapped. The shocking ending came in a fight at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Mike was done. But then, so was “The Schoolteacher.”

The punch, which hit the defenseless Weaver in the back of the neck, landed after the bell had sounded ending round one as Weaver, having been dazed by a legal punch that landed at the bell, wandered back to the wrong corner.  School ended early for Tony as he was summarily DQd. The stunned crowd hooted and howled as Tony lamely tried to explain that he did not hear the bell.

Some years later, the “Harlem Hammer,” James Butler, would take this scenario to a more horrific level when he slugged defenseless Richard Grant at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.

The Harlem Hammer (2001) ”Cuff him!, Cuff him!, Cuff him!”

”He hasn’t been able to eat since the fight…I’ve never seen anyone get hit with a punch like this, blood squirting out of his mouth. He looked like he was dead.”— Promotor Jimmy Birchfield

One of the very worst losers in boxing history was James “The Harlem Hammer” Butler when he sucker-punched Richard Grant following their 10-round bout. The heavily bleeding Grant, who had just upset Butler, winning a unanimous decision, received 26 stitches, his jaw had been injured, he had some loose teeth and he later experienced severe headaches. Butler had used his bare hand.

As the crowd (with 500 police officials attending) chanted ”Cuff him!; cuff him!; cuff him!,” Butler was arrested and arraigned the next day on a second-degree assault charge for which he served four months in jail.

This was a precursor to a subsequent and unimaginable tragedy in 2004 in which Butler bludgeoned to death Sam Kellerman (brother of Max), a sportswriter who had befriended him. He murdered Kellerman with, yes, a hammer.

This entire sordid affair is one of the lowest points in boxing history with long-reaching implications. Every list has a “worst,” and this incident is it for this list.

Zab Judah (2001 and 2006) “It’s a Family Affair”

2001

When the undefeated and cocky Judah met the undefeated and humble Kostya Tszyu in November 2001, he said, “Tszyu’s style is made for me…He’s strong, stands up straight and comes forward. His style is like Swiss cheese – full of holes.” Unfortunately, Zab never had time to find those holes as Tszyu caught him with a perfect right hand in the second round and the famous “Chicken Dance” ensued, leading referee Jay Nady to waive it off. Zab then lost it (no pun intended) and went after Nady, first by throwing a stool at him and then holding his glove under Nady’s throat. It was uncomfortable for Nady and uncomfortable to witness.

2006

Later, Zab was involved is still another unseemly affair. In a fight tainted by a 10th-round brawl, Floyd Mayweather Jr. won a 12-round UD against Judah in April 2006 in Las Vegas in front of a near-sellout crowd of over 15,000 screaming fans. With seconds remaining in the 10th round, all hell erupted in the ring after Judah fouled Mayweather with a low blow. All of a sudden, it became a family affair. Mayweather’s trainer and uncle, former world champion boxer Roger Mayweather (who had predicted that something like this might occur) jumped in the ring and went after Judah. Zab’s father and trainer, Yoel Judah, then went into the ring from the other corner. Others also rushed into the ring before order was restored. Judah, his father, and Roger Mayweather were all fined and had their boxing licences revoked for one year.

 Luis Alberto “El Mosquito” Lazarte (2012) “Riot Time in Argentina”

 Lazarte had a record of 49-10-2 and was a former IBF light flyweight world champion when he took on the young Filipino John Riel Casimero with an interim world title at stake. However, four of his losses had come by way of disqualification, two in world title fights. Well known for his dirty tricks, Luis “El Mosquito” Lazarte was one dirty Mosquito and in this fight he reached a new level of loathsomeness.

“Lazarte tried to bully his way through Casimero’s defense from the start,” wrote Philippine Star reporter Joaquin Henson. “He bit the Filipino’s shoulder twice, butted, elbowed, threw rabbit punches and held his head down while belting out sucker blows. A point was deducted from Lazarte’s scorecard in the sixth for repeated butting.”

Casimero bent the rules too and didn’t help matters by gloating. In the ninth he knocked down Lazarte twice and was battering Lazarte in the 10th when the referee Eddie Claudio stopped the fight. This ignited a full-scale riot. Here’s how Dan Rafael reported it: “As (Claudio) was stopping the bout, spectators at ringside began throwing debris into the ring and eventually it became a full-scale riot — the worst boxing has seen since one erupted at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1996 after heavyweight Andrew Golota was disqualified for repeatedly hitting Riddick Bowe below the belt in the first of their two fights.”

This ugly scene, which is on You Tube, has to be seen to be believed. The liquored-up pro- Lazarte crowd went bonkers and threw drinks, empty bottles, scores of chairs, chains, and other debris into the ring hitting Casimero and his cornermen who then wisely hid under the ring for some 30 minutes. It seemed like every chair in the house was in the ring.

 Worse than his infractions was what “El Mosquito” said to Claudio as he was being deducted a point in the sixth round: “Do you want to make it out of here alive?”

Later IBF President Daryl Peoples wrote “There is one measure that we are taking into our own hands and that we will enforce,…As a result of Luis Lazarte threatening the life of referee Eddie Claudio while receiving a points deduction in the sixth round, Lazarte is banned from being involved in any capacity in any IBF-related fight that takes place in Argentina or around the world.” But like many suspensions this one last only 29 months. El Mosquito fought four more times before retiring in 2015 with a 52-12-2 record–and a likely place in Boxing’s Virtual Hall of Shame.

Andrew Golota (1992-2013) “Boxing is 10% Physical and 90% Mental,”

Headbutting, biting and elbowing, the Pole from Chicago by way of Warsaw became known as the “The Foul Pole” and actually became a serial quitter of sorts as he took the DQ route against Riddick Bowe twice and quit against Michael Grant and Mike Tyson. Mental meltdowns were not uncommon for this man who possessed solid talent (41-9-1) that he went and squandered with his lack of stability in the ring. When someone says “boxing is 10% physical and 90% mental,” Golota quickly comes to mind.

“Vicious” Victor Ortiz also comes to mind given his documented serial-like propensity to quit.

Juan Manuel Lopez (2012) “Accident Waiting to Happen”

Juanma’s post fight behavior, winning or losing, has been bizarre on more than one occasion. However, after he lost in a tremendous battle with Orlando “Siri” Salido for the second time, a groggy Lopez whined during the  post-fight interview and accused referee Roberto Ramirez and his son Roberto Ramirez Jr (who was the third man for the first Salido-Lopez fight) of having gambling problems. (Of course, he might still have been on Queer Street while being interviewed by the ever-opportunistic Jim Gray.)

Gray went on to induction into the IBHOF while the often concussed Lopez remains a possible accident waiting to happen if he continues to box.

Can you think of other really bad losers?

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and Strongman competitors and plans to compete in at least three events in 2019. He is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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