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Boxing Obituaries 2018 PART TWO: (H-W)

Arne K. Lang



boxing obituaries

In 2018, the “10 count” was tolled for an unusually high number of notable boxing personalities – so many that we here at TSS elected to publish our annual year-end obits story in two parts. Here is PART TWO.

Joergen Hansen – A 1968 Olympian, Hansen was 78-14 in a 13-year career. He was 9-2 in European welterweight title fights but his lone trip to the United States ended in disaster when he was knocked out in the opening round by Pipino Cuevas on the undercard of a big show at the Houston Astrodome. In 2010 he was diagnosed with pugilistic dementia. On March 15 at age 74 in Aalborg, Denmark.

Brendan Ingle – Born in Dublin, one of 15 children, Ingle made little headway as a pro boxer, finishing 19-14, but became one of the most revered trainers of his generation. His grubby little gym in the hardscrabble east end of Sheffield, England, produced five world champions, most notably Naseem Hamed. On May 25 at age 77 in Sheffield from a brain hemorrhage.

Dave Jacobs – Jacobs and his assistant Janks Morton built an amateur boxing dynasty at a rec center in Palmer Park, Maryland. He guided his most prominent student, Sugar Ray Leonard, to an Olympic gold medal and was an assistant to Angelo Dundee during much of Leonard’s pro career. He was also associated with Mike Tyson when Tyson returned from prison. On March 23 at age 84 in Washington, DC, from congestive heart failure.

Alonzo Johnson – Before assuming the role of a trial horse, he split two fights with future light heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano, outpointed a faded Nino Valdes and troubled a young Cassius Clay while losing a 10-round decision in a nationally televised fight. The former New York Golden Gloves champion was 84 when he passed away on Nov. 22 in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Alvin Blue Lewis – From the meanest streets of Detroit and the meaner confines of Michigan’s Jackson State Prison, Lewis, a heavyweight, was 30-6 in a career that began in 1966. In his most famous fight he was stopped in the 11th round by former sparring partner Muhammad Ali at Dublin’s Croke Park. He was suffering from dementia when he died on Jan. 21 at age 75 in Flint.

John McCain – A passionate boxing fan, the former POW served six terms in the U.S. Senate and was the 2008 Republican nominee for President. An advocate of federal oversight of professional boxing, he designed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act intended to free boxers from the stranglehold of long-term promotional contracts. On Aug. 25 in Cornville, AZ, at age 81 of brain cancer.

Martin McGarry – An immigrant from County Mayo, Ireland, McGarry founded a boxing club on Chicago’s South Side and became a legend in Chicagoland amateur boxing circles. On Jan. 24 at age 66 in Chicago from a rare hereditary disease that had claimed other members of his family.

Rafael Mendoza – The Merida, Mexico native was involved in boxing for more than 50 years, serving the sport as a journalist, booking agent, matchmaker, and manager. He advised 26 world title-holders and was the original manager of Canelo Alvarez. Fluent in many languages, Mendoza was an authority on the life of Frank Sinatra. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015. On March 8 in Guadalajara at age 80 of lung cancer.

Karl Mildenberger – Germany’s biggest boxing star since Max Schmeling, Mildenberger was the European heavyweight champion and had a 49-2-3 record when he became the first southpaw to challenge for the world heavyweight title, opposing Muhammad Ali before 45,000 in Frankfurt. He had his moments in the early rounds but the 24-year-old Ali, at the height of his powers, gradually assumed control and the fight was stopped in the 12th. On Oct. 5 at age 80 in his birthplace of Kaiserlautern where in retirement he worked as a lifeguard.

Elisha Obed – The only fighter from the Bahamas to win a world title, Obed, born Everette Ferguson, accomplished the feat in 1975 when he stopped Brazil’s Miguel de Oliveira in the 11th round in Paris for the WBC 154-pound diadem. Obed, who turned pro at age 14, compiled a 91-22-4 record with 60 knockouts. Most of his losses came very late in his 21-year career. On June 28 at age 66 in Nassau. He had been suffering from dementia.

Graciano Rocchigiani – A world title holder at 168 and 175 pounds, Rocchigiani finished his career with a record of 41-6-1. The four fighters that beat him (he fought Henry Maske and Dariusz Michaelzewski twice) were collectively 183-1-2 when he fought them. Born and raised in Germany, he died on Oct. 2 at age 54 in Belpasso, Italy, when he was hit by a car while taking a walk.

Luis Rosa Jr. – A 26-year-old featherweight with a 23-1 record, Rosa died on Jan. 14 from injuries suffered in a car crash near his New Haven, Connecticut home.

Maria Elena Rosa – Active from 1999 to 2005, Risa compiled a 19-1 record while competing mostly as a flyweight. She retired after losing a split decision to 47-1-1 Regina Halmich in Halmich’s hometown in Germany. On Dec. 18 at age 44 from cancer in her native Madrid.

Farid Salim – The “Rudolph Valentino of the Pampas” was recognized as the middleweight champion of Argentina when he invaded the U.S. where he had six TV fights, defeating Ted Wright and Joey Giambra, but losing to Wilbert McClure, Yama Bahama, Joey Archer, and Hurricane Carter. He finished 46-5-3 and was never stopped. In Salta, Argentina, on July 17 at age 81.

James Scott – A light heavyweight, Scott had 22 pro fights, the first 11 in Miami Beach and the last 11, seven of which were televised, inside the walls of New Jersey’s Rahway  State Prison where he was serving a 30-40 year sentence as a multiple offender. At Rahway, he outpointed future light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, then known as Eddie Gregory, and lost a 10-round decision to future cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi, then known as Dwight Braxton. Paroled in 2005, he died on May 8 at age 70 (or thereabouts) in a New Jersey nursing home.

Jay Searcy – He spent most of his 43-year career as a sports journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. After a 10-year stint as the paper’s sports editor, he returned to writing, his first love, specializing in boxing and horseracing. In 2000 he received the Nat Fleischer Award from the BWAA for excellence in sports journalism. On Dec. 29 at age 84 in Tellico Village, a suburb of Knoxville, TN, his home for the last 18 years.

Don Smith – A freelance journalist, Smith covered the Arizona boxing scene, amateur and professional, with a fine tooth comb. His “Arizona Boxing News and Notes,” which had various homes over the years, was a must-read for anyone with ties to boxing in Arizona. Smith was 75 when he was killed on May 15 by an apparent drunken driver while walking near his Phoenix home.

Grace Sseruwagi – As an amateur he knocked out Idi Amin and sparred with Cassius Clay and went on to become the most celebrated boxing coach in Uganda. On Feb. 6 at 87 in Kampala from complications of diabetes.

Bunny Sterling – Born in Jamaica, raised in London, Sterling was the first fighter born in the West Indies to win a British title. His signature win was an 8th round stoppage of future WBC 154-pound champion Maurice Hope. Matched tough throughout his career, he finished with a record of 35-18-4. On Nov. 16 in London at age 70 after a four-year battle with dementia.

Langton Tinago – A legend in Zimbabwe, Tinago was a three-time British Empire lightweight champion who finished his career 86-20-3. On July 17 in Gweru, Zimbabwe after a long illness.

Jerry Turner – A teammate of ill-fated Charlie Mohr at the University of Wisconsin, Turner won the 1960 NCAA tournament in the 156-pound weight class. He was 6-0 as a pro before becoming a probation officer and then, after earning a law degree, a litigator in Milwaukee. In Mequon, Wisconsin at age 78.

Scott Wagner – He promoted dozens of shows at his family’s banquet hall, Michael’s Eighth Avenue in the Baltimore suburb of Glen Burnie. For a time, Wagner’s “Ballroom Boxing” series aired on various cable networks around the country. At age 49 of liver cancer.

Troy Waters – One of three boxing brothers who each won a national title, the Aussie was a three-time world title challenger at 154 pounds and finished his career 28-5. On May 18 at age 53 in Sydney from leukemia.

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Chris Arreola is Back!

Ted Sares



Chris Arreola

Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola is an emotional and very likable guy. Over the course of his career, there have been ups and downs providing the grist for a compelling story if one were inclined to write it. He’ll kiss a beaten opponent (Joey Abell) or cry if beaten (Vitali Klitschko) and his language during a post-fight interview is, well it’s special.

After his corner stopped the fight following the 10th round with Klitschko, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he thanked the fans (as is his wont) and later, while being interviewed in the ring, said  “F–k that, I’m coming back.”

It was his first loss after 26 straight wins out of the professional gate. For that “terrible” indiscretion, he was punished by the selectively politically correct World Boxing Council. WBC president José Sulaimán proposed a six months ban for vulgar language and the ban was approved by the WBC Board of Governors.

Arreola, who rarely uses filters, was brutally candid again after his first round KO over Erik Molina in 2012. The Nightmare cut loose on Don King, Molina’s promoter, calling him a “f—ing a–hole and a racist,” causing Showtime’s Jim Gray to  terminate the post-fight interview forthwith. “Honestly Don King called me a wetback, and other Mexicans,” Arreola told “That’s a strong word. It’s like me dropping N bombs. You don’t say things like that.”

No ban this time.

Arreola’s weight varies but when he is fit and ready (and under 250), he is a very dangerous heavyweight, especially in the early rounds. Once he has his opponent hurt, there are few boxers who can close as well as this Southern California Mexican American tough guy who was an accomplished amateur fighter and knows his way around the ring.

His level of opposition has been stiff. In fact, his five losses have been to fighters who have held world titles at one time or another. Bermane Stiverne had Chris’s number and beat him twice—the second time by way of a nasty knockout. However, he has a number of solid wins over the likes of Malcom Tann, Chazz Witherspoon, Travis Walker, Jameel McCline, Brian Minto, Curtis Harper –yes, that Curtis Harper who gave Chris all he could handle — and many others who came in with fine records. His first round blowout of once promising Seth Mitchell was quintessential Arreola. Mitchell retired after the fight.

In July 2016, The Nightmare was stopped by Deontay Wilder in yet another title bid but he did not disgrace himself. He then took off for over two years to assess whether he wanted to continue. Boxing fans pretty much forgot about him. Few took notice when he came back to stop the very stoppable Maurenzo Smith on the Wilder-Fury undercard on Dec. 1 of last year.

Fast Forward

Last weekend, on the undercard of the huge Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia PPV fight in Dallas, “The Nightmare” was matched against unbeaten but unheralded Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1).

Chris, now 38, came in at a svelte 237 pounds and looked fit and ready to go. The weary look on Augustin’s face during the announcement said it all. True to form, Arreola was in blowout mode and stopped the Haitian who simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Arreola wobbled Augustin with a brutally hard jab that connected flush to his face in the third round. After more heavy shots, a bloodied Augustin went down and upon getting up, was battered until the referee halted matters. Chris closed things like he had done on so many other occasions and in front of millions of fans tuning in around the world.

With a female interviewer, the elated “Nightmare” was polite during the post-fight ceremonies and, holding his daughter, signaled that he is BACK! That’s good news for boxing fans because when Chris Arreola is fit and focused, he is entertaining and very competitive.

With a current record of 38-5-1 with 2 ND (the “no-contests” resulting from Chris‘s apparent affinity for non-medicinal marijuana), a fight with someone like Adam Kownacki would be a boxing fan’s dream.

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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Nobody Wants to Fight Dillian Whyte

Kelsey McCarson



Dillian Whyte

Dillian Whyte is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world. The 30-year-old is a former British heavyweight titleholder, a former kickboxing prodigy and an undefeated mixed martial artist. Overall, Whyte’s professional fighting record is a sterling 46-2. He’s 25-1 as a boxer, 20-1 as a K1 kickboxer and 1-0 as an MMA fighter.

So while the battle rages on between various television networks and streaming platforms over securing the top talent in the heavyweight division, one that includes Tyson Fury signing a multi-fight deal with ESPN and Deontay Wilder reportedly mulling over his future with PBC, perhaps something just as important right now is that the single most dangerous and deserved heavyweight contender in the world remains without a dance partner for his next fight.

Never mind Whyte being the No. 1 ranked contender by the World Boxing Council. That sanctioning body instead deemed Dominic Breazeale the mandatory challenger to Wilder’s WBC title after the potential rematch between Wilder and Fury fell by the wayside.

Here’s all that needs to be said about that grift. Breazeale only had to defeat Eric Molina to get his mandatory title shot while the WBC wanted Whyte to face Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz, one of the top heavyweights in the sport.

And nobody seems to care that Whyte gave unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua the toughest test of his career (this side of Wladimir Klitschko anyway), when the two squared off in 2015 for the British and Commonwealth titles. Despite the obvious talent gap between the two fighters, Whyte gave the young Joshua just about all the former Olympic champion could handle in a seven-round war.

To hear Whyte tell the story, promoter Eddie Hearn must have intentionally lowballed Whyte for the proposed 2019 rematch in order to ensure Joshua could invade America on June 1 against the likely less dangerous Jarrell Miller. That makes sense for Joshua from a monetary perspective, but it doesn’t do the same in terms of true competitiveness.

According to various reports, Whyte is currently considering a multi-fight deal to appear on ESPN, a move that would give the British battler a path to facing Fury who some consider the lineal heavyweight champion. Fury recently signed a multi-fight deal to be co-promoted by Bob Arum for appearances on the U.S.-based television network ESPN. It’s the move that shelved a potential Wilder rematch and also opened up a huge can of worms in regards to what kinds of fights Fury might actually be able to secure. Currently, the Top Rank-promoted stable of heavyweights is best characterized by fighters who don’t really move the needle in regards to title challenges, fighters like Oscar Rivas, Bryant Jennings and Kubrat Pulev.

Overall, though, the main problem about the heavyweight landscape is that there are three heavyweights who all have a claim to being heavyweight champion. IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua is promoted by Hearn and exclusive to DAZN. WBC champ Wilder is attached to the PBC whose television partnerships include Showtime and Fox. Fury is set to embark on his own ESPN crusade. Long story short, these guys probably aren’t fighting each other anytime soon.

Worse is that while all three men are in desperate need of viable opponents, none have seemed all that interested in tussling with Whyte.

It’s no wonder. As good as Whyte has been over the course of his 7-year professional boxing career, the scariest thing about the fighter is that he always seems to be getting better. In his last two fights, Whyte outfought talented former titleholder Joseph Parker and knocked out gritty UK heavyweight Dereck Chisora. In defeating Parker, Whyte was facing someone absolutely in need of a win to maintain his status among heavyweight contenders. In beating Chisora, Whyte was in tough against an opponent he had only defeated by split-decision two years prior. Both wins illustrate just how far Whyte has come as a professional prizefighter.

As it stands, Whyte is the clear top contender among all heavyweights, especially among those who have not yet been granted a shot at a world title. He’s ranked No. 4 behind Joshua, Fury and Wilder by The Ring magazine and the same by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

The only question that remains is which title claimant will prove the toughest holdout. Whyte’s ultimate choice, in whether to stick with promoter Hearn on DAZN, link up with Arum and ESPN or continue playing the WBC shell game, will probably end up being tied to which path gets him the title shot that he so desperately craves first.

And it absolutely should happen. It’s one thing to crave title opportunities and another to have earned them. Whyte’s done both now, and it’s time for boxing fans and the media to take notice. Better yet, it’s time for Joshua, Fury and Wilder to pit themselves against their most dangerous competition. Since they’re not facing each other, Whyte become the next logical choice for any or all of them.

Because Dillian Whyte is one of the best heavyweight boxers in the world, and he’s done enough by now to warrant the chance to prove it.

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The Hauser Report: St. Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden

Thomas Hauser




Boxing’s three “major leagues” showed their respective wares this past weekend. On Friday night, DAZN presented a nine-bout card in conjunction with Matchroom USA. On Saturday, Fox and Premier Boxing champions teamed up for the Errol Spence vs. Mikey Garcia pay-per-view event. Then, on Sunday, ESPN and Top Rank had their turn in the form of a St. Patrick’s Day card at Madison Square Garden headed by Belfast native and former Olympian Michael Conlan.

The star of the show was St. Patrick, the fifth-century saint widely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. In his honor, there were three Irishmen on the card: Conlan, flyweight Paddy Barnes, and welterweight Lee Reeves. That said; there was a Hispanic flavor to the proceedings. The sixteen combatants included Eduardo Torres, Victor Rosas, Juan Tapia, Ricardo Maldonado, Adriano Ramirez, Oscar Mojica, Joseph Adorno, John Bauza, Luis Collazo, Ruben Garcia Hernandez, and two Vargases (Josue and Samuel).

Irish-Americans have a record of supporting Irish fighters, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day. This was no exception. The announced crowd of 3,712 arrived early. During the final pre-fight press conference, Top Rank president Todd duBoef had paid homage to the fans, although he did voice the view that, on St. Patrick’s Day, “Their cognitive behavior is manipulated by the beer.”

On fight night, the in-arena music was chosen accordingly. What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor? was played twice over the Hulu Theater sound system.

There was also green lighting.

Lee Reeves (2-0, 2 KOs) of Limerick, Ireland, opened the show with a four-round decision over Edward Torres.

In the third bout of the evening, Vladimir Nikitin (2-0, 0 KOs) won a majority decision over Juan Tapia. Nikitin defeated Conlan in the quarter-finals at the 2016 Olympics. Presumably, they’ll fight again at a time of maximum opportunity for Conlan.

Flyweight Paddy Barnes (5-1, 1 KO) of Belfast was a teammate of Conlan’s at the 2016 Olympics but lost in the first round to Spain’s Samuel Carmona. On St. Patrick’s Day, Barnes was matched against Oscar Mojica (11-5-1), who had one career knockout and had gone 3-5-1 in his previous nine outings.

Mojica broke Barnes’s nose in round one and knocked him down with a body shot in the second stanza (although to the mystification of those in the press section, referee Danny Schiavone waved off the knockdown). It was a spirited outing in which both men were too easy to hit for their own good. Barnes rallied nicely in the second half of the bout and arguably did enough to win the decision. But two of the three judges thought otherwise, leading to a 58-56, 58-56, 56-58 verdict in Mojica’s favor.

In the next-to-last fight of the evening, Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) took on Samuel Vargas (30-4-2, 14 KOs).

Collazo now 37 years old, reigned briefly as WBA welterweight champion twelve years ago. Since then, he had cobbled together twelve victories (an average of one per year) against six losses in eighteen fights. Vargas had one win in his previous three outings and has never been able to get the “W” against a name opponent.

It was a phone booth fight, which worked to Collazo’s advantage because Luis’s legs aren’t what they once were. The decision could have gone either way. Two judges scored the bout 96-94; one for Collazo and the other for Vargas. Frank Lombardi turned in a wide-of-the-mark 98-92 scorecard in Collazo’s favor.

Then it was time for the main event.

Conlan (10-0, 6 KOs) is best known to boxing fans for having given the finger (two middle fingers, actually) to the judges after coming out on the short end of a decision in the second round of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. His skill set is better suited to the amateur than professional ranks. But his Irish heritage is a significant marketing plus. And Top Rank specializes in both savvy matchmaking and building narratives.

This was the third consecutive year that Conlan, now a featherweight, celebrated St. Patrick’s Day weekend by fighting at Madison Square Garden. His ringwalk was marked by Irish-themed pageantry. And Ruben Garcia Hernandez, his opponent, was tailor-made for him.

Conlon controlled the fight with his jab. Nothing much else happened. “Mick” emerged victorious 100-90 on all three judges’ scorecards. And the fans went home happy because their man won.

*     *     *

The sad news that New York Mets pitching great Tom Seaver is suffering from dementia and will retire from public life is a reminder that all people from all walks of life are susceptible to the condition, not just fighters.

Seaver was on the list of A+ athletes who rose to prominence in the 1960s when advances in television were redefining the sports experience. Muhammad Ali was at the top of that list. Years ago, sportswriter Dick Schaap told me about an evening he spent with Ali and Seaver.

“In 1969, the year the Mets won their first World Series,”Schaap reminisced, “I spent the last few days of the regular season with the team in Chicago. Ali was living there at the time. I was writing a book with Tom Seaver, and the three of us went out to dinner together. We met at a restaurant called The Red Carpet. I made the introductions. And of course, this was the year that Tom Seaver was Mr. Baseball, maybe even Mr. America. Ali and Tom got along fine. They really hit it off together. And after about half an hour, Ali in all seriousness turned to Seaver and said, ‘You know, you’re a nice fellow. Which paper do you write for?’”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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