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Has the U.S. Lost its Presence in Boxing? Part One of a New Survey

Ted Sares

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More than 50 boxing notables shared their thoughts in our latest TSS survey. They came from all walks of boxing – former fighters, officials, writers, publicists, commentators, and especially boxing historians. We are listing the respondents alphabetically. PART ONE goes “A” through “L.”

I sincerely thank our respondents for their participation, particularly in these very difficult times.

JIMBO AMATO-author, writer, historian and memorabilia collector: From 175 pounds and up the Americans have faded on the international scene. From 168 down they are well represented. There are many potential big money fights there to made at the international level. This could be a very exciting year for boxing fans if the promoters could get these bouts put together.

RUSS ANBER-elite cornerman, trainer, owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: We need to define “major player in professional boxing” and the US still remains the land of opportunity as it pertains to the big fights and big events. The closest rival is the UK but if it doesn’t involve a UK fighter; they don’t have the same interest. The US is still a major player except there are now more players. The World Boxing Super Series is an example.  If you are talking about fighters, the answer is an unequivocal YES. Whether on the amateur or professional scene, the US and many western countries have lost their dominance as a result of the tide of professionals now making their way into the game from the former Soviet Bloc. The amateur game is a glaring example as it becomes a look into the future of what is to come. The US once the most powerful amateur nation in the world has had little success internationally compared to the reign of terror they once had. Two decades ago a top ten in any weight class was filled with  Americans. Those numbers have gone down as Eastern fighters have emerged. From the Klitschkos, to Loma, Usyk, Golovkin, Beterbiev, Bivol, etc. All these great fighters have come from countries that didn’t even turn pro a short time ago.

MATT ANDRZJEWSKI-TSS boxing writer: The US has definitely not lost its presence as a major player in boxing. The biggest fights, such as Fury-Wilder II, still mostly take place in the US and there is plenty of activity on a weekly basis in US based shows. The sport is more than alive and well in the United States.

DAVID AVILA-TSS West Coast Bureau Chief:  Absolutely not. Without being nationalistic, boxing is thriving more than ever before. Fighters come to the U.S. to make more money and have a bigger presence. Anywhere else is a small pond compared to the U.S. A big example remains the California area  remains the Southern California area that boasts more than 100 boxing gyms. Fighters from every part of the world are found in these gyms and get here any way they can. These are facts. Canelo moved from Mexico to the US and makes more money than almost every athlete in the world save baseball player Mike Trout and a few others.

BOB BENOIT-referee, judge, former fighter, and retired Massachusetts State Trooper: Yes, the USA has lost its dominance in World Boxing, thanks to the lack of promotion of pro and amateur boxing. Amateur boxing is run by those who don’t know the difference between a left jab and a right cross.

BRIAN “THE BIZZ” BIZZACK-historian, moderator of “Bizzy On Boxing”: Sadly, I believe this is true. The reasons are many: The collapse of the amateur system, the lack of quality trainers nowadays, the modern-day emergence of professional basketball and football as our primary sports of interest, and last but perhaps not least — the proliferation of sanctioning bodies and ‘world titles’ over the last few decades. This has alienated and confused the more casual mainstream sports fan, and for the young boy or man that once dreamed of capturing a singular WORLD crown (like Louis, Robinson, Marciano, Ali, and many others) what true “glory” is there… in capturing one of four, or god forbid seven or eight???

STEVE CANTON-the face of boxing in Florida: Most definitely. There are no good old-school trainers today who know how to properly train the tried and proven techniques. They are constantly trying to invent new ways and, as a result, we have fighters who can’t really fight. Today, it is two guys standing in front of each other banging away. It is “my turn, your turn” since they don’t know what else to do. When one throws punches the other waits until he is done and then it is their turn to throw punches. Fighters fight so infrequently, there are too many meaningless belts, the best don’t fight the best, too much PED use and cheating in the sport and on and on and on. Meanwhile, around the world fighters are busy, fighting frequently and building big fan bases. I still don’t see much in the way of better technique; I just see more activity which provides more opportunity to fighters in other countries.

ANTHONY CARDINALE-boxing manager, advisor, and nationally prominent defense attorney: I disagree. While many great fighters are coming out of Eastern Europe and Great Britain, we have many more top ten fighters in every weight class from the USA, and many more scheduled professional bouts. That said, one of the problems I see going forward is the practical demise of our amateur boxing programs here. Too many kids are opting to go pro instead of keeping in top international amateur competition which will only help them in the future.

GUY CASALE-former boxer, retired detective: I agree. The U.S. boxers don’t train or have the mindset of the boxers of years ago. Unlike their counterparts, U.S. fighters lack the hunger/drive!

MONTE COXformer boxer, historian: The number of participants in the U.S has greatly declined over the years. Circa 1920 there were 20 boxing shows a week in New York City alone, that’s more than a thousand shows just in the Big Apple. There were less than 600 boxing shows in the entire U.S for the year 2017, the last year I have stats for. A decline in participants means a decline in performance. So yes, boxing has declined.

JILL DIAMOND-WBC International Secretary; WBC Cares Chair: I don’t think there’s any one player or presence anymore. It’s a global sport and the different internet platforms have reinforced that. Having said that, some of the great talent and promoters are from the USA, and Vegas still draws record crowds.

CHARLIE DWYER-former fighter, professional referee, member of US Marines Boxing Hall of Fame: US dominance in boxing diminished since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Once the Eastern European fighters were allowed turn pro and leave their countries, the face of professional boxing changed worldwide.

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“Today’s fighters have trainers, assistant trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, spiritual advisors, massage therapists, matchmakers, booking agents, promoters, co-promoters, publicists, cutmen, “better training methods,” and assorted hangers-on and… are tired after a few rounds. Yesterday’s fighters had a trainer and promoter….and they went 15 rounds non-stop. The future is not what it used to be.” — Steve Canton

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RICK FARRIS-former Boxer and President of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: I agree that America has lost its place in both professional & amateur boxing. The last American male to win an Olympic Gold Medal was Andre Ward, who was an exceptional pro & amateur champion. He was the last, and I do not expect better in the future. If not for America being so weak in boxing, Eastern Europe would not be getting any notice, as they are not better than they were, just have less competition. I see little future for America in boxing, except for our females who have carried the torch alone.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ- TSS mainstay, lifetime member of the BWAA and 2020 IBHOF inductee: The United States’ domination of basketball ended, in a way, with the great success of the 1992 “Dream Team.” The world observed, and the world wanted its own Michael Jordan. Now the tide is turning in other international sports, including boxing and tennis. The rest of the planet wants what we have, or had, while the USA dares to think it can become a world power in soccer on a par with Europe and South America. A big reason for the lack of depth in boxing: quality big men, who might have become heavyweights, channeling their energies into football and basketball.

JERRY FITCH-writer, author, and historian: I do think boxing is not a major player in the US anymore, certainly not anywhere near what so many have enjoyed earlier, even 25-30 years ago. I feel boxing started going downhill when more and more alphabet groups were added. Then more weight classes were added. And whether anyone agrees or not I feel young kids nowadays could care less about boxing. Those with athletic ability turn to basketball or football. We have a hard time in Cleveland getting anywhere near 100 kids to enter the Golden Gloves. In the 1950s sometimes 100 kids entered from one gym locally. And there are not nearly enough quality trainers these days.

JEFFREY FREEMAN-(aka KO DIGEST); TSS writer: As evidenced by their deranged, degenerate reaction to Fury-Wilder 2 (on the internet and beyond) it is obvious to me that American fans and media can no longer handle heavyweight championship boxing in America. They make a mockery of it. The sport and its participants are much better served by the British fans and by the British business model for big time professional boxing.

RICK GAGNE-historian: The U.S. isn’t the powerhouse that it was, but we still have more champions than any other country. We never were kings of the little men. Our amateur program has devolved far more than the pros.

CLARENCE GEORGE-writer and historian: The U.S. is still a major player, though perhaps not as major as it once was. A significant change is the location of heavyweight championship fights. But this phenomenon predates Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. II by several decades. Think of Joe Frazier vs. George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 22, 1973; Foreman vs. Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 26, 1974; Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, that October 30; and Ali vs. Frazier in Quezon City, the Philippines, on October 1, 1975. Harrumph — all those bouts should have taken place at Madison Square Garden.

LEE GROVESwriter, author, researcher and CompuBox punch counter: I don’t think the U.S. has lost its presence as a major player but it is sharing the stage with more players. Fighters outside of the U.S. still see value in being seen — and being marketed — in America (see Tyson Fury) but boxing has become an even more global sport thanks to the Internet. To me, the more the merrier. As long as boxing grows, it’s all good.

HENRY HASCUP- boxing historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: Up until the late 1960’s the three most popular sports in the US were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Now boxing is way down the list because we have so many other sports that are played or we watch on TV. I believe the fighters are much more popular in some other countries as US major sports stars are in other sports! However, in 2019 the US had a total of 603 shows, which is still more than any other country.

CHUCK HASSON-historian and writer: For over a century U.S. boxing was the pinnacle of world boxing. But in recent years, with the influx of top Eastern European boxers helping to infuse huge interest throughout the continent and terrific fighters from Britain, Ireland, Germany, it has made for a golden age of European boxing. After being behind the U.S. for so long, it’s nice to see them stepping out from under our shadow. But I am hopeful we can take back the mantle soon.

DANNY HOWARD-boxing writer: Boxing is a global sport and the decline of a strong American presence among competitors was only really a talking point for the heavyweight division. This isn’t anything new. The biggest fights in the world still happen in America. Americans aren’t exactly flocking to support their homegrown heroes, they just want blood and guts like every other fight fan, regardless of what language they speak or where they come from.

BRUCE KIELTYbooking agent; boxing historian: There is no question that US boxing continues a long slide downhill. Amateur boxing is on life-support in most areas. Today’s millennials find MMA far more violent and entertaining and perfect for those with minute attention spans. MMA has been successfully marketed as a blood sport and doesn’t have the number of corrupt sanctioning bodies that are such a drag on boxing. Also, boxing during periods of high employment is seen as an unnecessary low-paying and dangerous pursuit.

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“They ought to cut this junk-throwing at boxing. The mollycoddles  and pinheads  never gave it a square deal.”  – John L. Sullivan

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STUART KIRSCHENBAUM-Boxing Commissioner Emeritus, State of Michigan: I agree the US has lost its presence. Once the King of Sports, it’s food chain…young amateur boxers, have virtually dried up. As a way out of ethnic ghettos there are easier ways to success, some not legal. The sport is homeless in the sense that public recreation centers and privately owned gyms with boxing programs are too costly to maintain and liability is too rampart. Regular local boxing shows are rare with the disappearance of promoters willing to risk financial loss and contracted professionals with no venues to develop their careers. Newspapers and TV news have done away with boxing writers. You can never see the top boxers on TV unless you skip paying for your prostate medication and subsidize some temporary millionaire via your cable bill. The average sports fan is clueless who the major boxing champions are.

JIM LAMPLEY-legendary anchor of the HBO broadcasting team; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Obviously it is premature and exaggerated to suggest the US is not a “major player” in boxing or in any other form of entertainment. The audience here is too big for that. Is the nation’s position in the talent pool diminishing?? Maybe, but that has mostly to do with the growth of talent development in other countries. Pacquaio and Mayweather demonstrated the economic pyramid is no longer controlled by heavyweights exclusively, so now the whole planet wants to get on board. It’s the natural momentum of globalism, and it cannot be wished away.

ARNE LANG-TSS editor in chief, author, historian: There are actually three questions here depending on how one chooses to define “lost its presence.” Forgetting Saudi Arabia for the moment, the richest fights are still held on U.S. soil. All foreign pros dream about fighting in the U.S. From a skillfulness standpoint, however, the former Soviet bloc countries have vaulted ahead of us, notably in the four weight divisions from 160 to 200. How do I feel about it? I’m indifferent, but it would be nice to see the USA Olympic team recapture some of its lost glory.

RON LIPTON-former fighter, current pro referee, boxing historian and writer, member of the New Jersey and New York Boxing Hall of Fame and retired police officer: The U.S. has not lost its presence as a major player in professional boxing. The allure to defending your championship in the magic atmosphere of Madison Square Garden will never lose its prestige and luster. The boxing history there is written in stone and has an electricity that you feel and take with you after each major fight show. The fight fans that come to so many venues throughout the U.S. with so many wonderful locales radiating boxing excitement, keep the U.S. at the forefront of boxing excitement on planet earth.  I have respect for all the fan loyalty in other countries and what it means to all the boxing fans therein, yet we here in the U.S. feel the same way.

Coming Next: PART TWO (M-W) plus observations.

Photo: Ukrainian stablemates Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Oleksandr Gvozdyk

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Art of Boxing Series: Sergio ‘The Latin Snake’ Mora of East L.A.

David A. Avila

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Art of Boxing Series: Sergio ‘The Latin Snake’ Mora of East L.A.

Not all prizefighters are built or fight the same. This is a series devoted to those who mastered the art of boxing.

Meet Sergio Mora the “Latin Snake”.

Thumping neighborhood boys in an East Los Angeles backyard led to eventually winning a reality television tournament called The Contender, to winning a world championship and now sitting as an expert analyst for DAZN’s boxing series.

It’s been an extraordinary journey for Mora, the boxer from East L.A. who traded punches against neighbors and relatives as a teen for fun.

“We called it barbecue boxing,” said Mora of his inauspicious discovery of his talent. “We used to box each other when I was a kid in junior high. We made videos of the fights. You can look it up. I was knocking out older guys.”

A few boxing experts advised that he should look deeper into the sport and he did. After a few hits and misses looking for a gym, he found a perfect location at a Montebello gym. He hooked up with a trainer named Dean Campos and advisor in John Montelongo and they made history together.

“I owe it all to Dean and John,” said Mora now 39.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Mora’s natural abilities included quickness, agility and the ability to absorb punishment. He also relished competition and proving others wrong.

But the East L.A. youngster finally put all of his traits together artistically when he followed the advice of the young trainer Campos whose radical boxing ideas fit perfectly.

“Nobody believed in his unorthodox ideas but they worked for me,” said Mora.

For several years Mora and Campos and Montelongo befuddled the amateur competition, first in Southern California and then nationally. He made the semi-finals of the 2000 Olympic Trials and fought to a draw with Darnell Wilson. Somebody decided to determine the winner by who threw the most punches. Wilson threw more punches and moved forward.

It was a severe disappointment for Mora.

The Contender

After three years of dwelling in the amateur boxing world Mora and his team entered the non-structured prizefighting universe not knowing what to expect.

Though Campos taught an unorthodox style of fighting to Mora, the youngster didn’t feel confident in using its assets to full capacity in the beginning.

“It wasn’t until I fought a guy named Charles Blake that I used everything that Dino (Campos) taught me,” said Mora who fought the undefeated Blake at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim in 2001. “I did everything he told me and I won pretty easily.”

It was also the first time I spotted Mora and quickly determined he would be difficult to beat especially with that fighting style that utilized his speed and agility. I had never seen or heard of Mora before but he stood out.

Two months later he fought again at the Pond and then in June 2001 he fought a hard-charging opponent named Warren “War Dog” Kronberger. It was a middleweight fight set for six rounds but War Dog kept running into Mora’s punches and was stopped in three.

After the fight I met the team and discovered Mora was from East L.A. near my family’s home. I don’t know if he remembers, but I told him he was going to be a world champion someday. It was the first time I ever said that to a fighter though I had been a boxing reporter since 1985.

For the next several years Mora kept knocking off opposition with his crouching tiger style and soon a television production company came calling. Actually, it was a radio announcement during a morning Hip Hop show calling for all boxers interested in making $1 million dollars in a television tournament.

“I was driving in the morning listening to Big Boy when he made the announcement,” said Dean Campos who trains Mora. “I couldn’t believe what I heard and I told Sergio and John about it. They didn’t believe me at first until we went to San Diego to spar somebody and they asked if we were going to try out.”

A reality television show called the Contender pit young talented fighters against each other and housed them together in a studio-made home. Week by week the NBC network telecast the show to millions of living rooms across the country.

After months of auditions and tryouts Mora was among those selected.

Filming was done in Pasadena and those prizefighters who participated were Peter Manfredo Jr., Ishe Smith, Alfonso Gomez, Jesse Brinkley and several others including Mora.

The fights were taped and later shown to the public in edited form. But few outside of the production crew knew who the winners were for many weeks. The finals of the first season took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The winner would take home $1 million dollars and a free truck among other things including a promotion deal.

Fans of boxing did not like watching edited fights but despite the many criticisms from hardcore fans, when the finals took place on May 24, 2005, thousands of fans showed up in Las Vegas to watch Manfredo battle Mora in the championship fight.

Manfredo’s fans arrived in droves and shouted “Pi-Ta!” “Pi-Ta” which confused many who were not familiar with the New England accent. Manfredo fans were shouting the first name Peter but it comes out as Pi-Ta. Southern California fans arrived but were muted in comparison to the East Coast fans.

It was a surprise to see Manfredo in the semi-final because he had lost earlier to Alfonso Gomez. But he returned as a wild card participant and vanquished his way to the finals against Mora who had defeated Najai Turpin, Ishe Smith, and Jesse Brinkley to get to the finals.

In the finals the boisterous crowd saw Mora defuse Manfredo’s attacks and win the seven-round middleweight The Contender championship fight by unanimous decision. Mora went from unknown boxer to a nationally and internationally recognized prizefighter in not just the boxing world, but households everywhere.

The East L.A. youngster who was 24 years old at the time, suddenly morphed from impoverished boxer to bankable fighter. His team also benefited from the massive exposure. It also remained the same three members from start to finish with Dean Campos serving a trainer and manager, John Montelongo as assistant trainer and benefactor and Mora the fighter.

“Rolando Arrellano who worked as a manager and promoter said he couldn’t believe we had been together that long with no changes,” said Campos, who managed Mora’s fighting career without a written contract. “Nobody else does that, but we never wrote anything down.”

Montelongo, a motorcycle police officer, always took care of the team’s needs especially in terms of equipment and facilities. In the beginning Mora would train at the Montebello Police headquarters small gym.

Forrest, Mosley and More

For several years Mora continued fighting under the Contender promotions banner and always sought better competition. After a 10-round draw against Elvin Ayala in Carson, the East L.A. native decided to accept any world title match.

“I didn’t want to slip up so I figured let’s just go for a big fight,” said Mora. “That’s when we got the offer for Vernon Forrest, may he rest in peace.”

When the fight was announced only two boxing writers picked Mora to win. Those two were the only journalists familiar with the boxing abilities of the stance switching fighter. It was not seen as a competitive fight by other writers or announcers.

“Vernon Forrest really under-estimated me,” said Mora who had sparred Forrest once at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood years earlier. “It was my one of my most satisfying wins because I proved I was good enough to beat one of the best.”

Mora utilized his crouching style to perfection and basically stymied most of Forrest’s attacks. Though it appeared the East L.A. boxer won clearly, one judge saw it a draw but two saw Mora out-performing the champion.

After capturing the WBC super welterweight title Mora went on a celebration binge according to his own words. Three months later they fought again.

“We had a rematch clause and I partied too much,” said Mora. “I was in no way ready for Vernon Forrest in the second fight. He beat me good in the rematch.”

Two years later Mora accepted a fight against Sugar Shane Mosley at the Staples Center on September 2010. It remains the biggest disappointment in Mora’s career.

Mosley and Mora battled 12 rounds in a slow-moving battle in which both engaged in counter-punching. There was a weight problem Mora suffered that resulted in him weighing 157 pounds instead of the 154 contracted weight.

“There was something wrong with the scale in the hotel for the B side of the fight card,” said Mora. “Almost everyone on the B-side missed their weight.”

Regardless of losing weight before the fight, Mora felt he was far enough ahead in the fight to win handily against Mosley.

“I should have listened to my corner,” said Mora. “Dino told me that I needed to throw more punches, that it could be a close fight. But I thought I was comfortably ahead. It was a huge mistake on my part. I lost a lot of money because of it.”

Sergio measures Shane

Sergio measures Shane

After 12 rounds the fight was scored a split-decision draw. The HBO commentators eviscerated Mora and not Mosley.

Mora remained a viable contender for the remainder of his career and on August 2015 he was offered a shot at the WBA middleweight title against Daniel Jacobs at Brooklyn, New York. He eagerly accepted the fight.

“He really underestimated me and thought he would run over me,” said Mora of their clash at Barclays Center. “He knocked me down with a punch. I’ve never been hit that hard before. But then I knocked him down when he ran into my punch. It was a perfectly placed left hook.”

The fight proceeded but in the second round the two middleweights got entangled and Mora went down to the floor writhing in pain from a severe ankle injury. He could not go on.

“Jacobs leaned on me with his full body and it just tore my ligament,” said Mora.

The fight was ruled a knockout win for Jacobs and though they would meet again Mora’s leg had seen better days. He lost in the rematch badly a year later by technical knockout in the seventh round.

“I had no legs anymore,” said Mora regarding the rematch held a year later. “It was my worst training camp. I don’t think I ever looked good even in sparring. But Jacobs was the better man and was definitely the hardest puncher I ever faced.”

Mora fought once more against his old pal Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo. They had sparred many times over the years especially when they both trained at the same gyms in South El Monte and in Montebello.

“I love Angulo but it was a fight,” said Mora. “I won the first half of the fight and he won the second half of the fight. But fans will tell you it was one of the most entertaining fights I’ve ever been in.”

Mora won the fight that night on April 2018 and it was the final time Mora entered the prize ring.

DAZN

One day Mora received an unlisted phone call and answering it led to another change in his boxing life.

“I never answer unknown numbers but for some reason I answered it. I’m glad I did,” said Mora.

That phone call was from John Learing of Perform Group who wanted him as an analyst for the DAZN boxing series. They put Mora on a live broadcast for a prize fight and ever since that night he has been a regular analyst on DAZN’s boxing shows.

“It’s been one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had,” said Mora. “Not only do I get to stay in boxing, I love what I do and I love the challenges. It’s hard work and I’m learning every day.”

Mora has steadily established himself as an acute analyst whose own ring intelligence plays out with his new work as a boxing journalist. He’s always been a quick study especially when it pertains to the sweet science.

“Now I’m learning the other side of boxing,” said Mora who had 36 pro bouts in an 18-year career as a prizefighter. “I really love it.”

Few would have predicted that the East L.A. kid who didn’t pack a big punch would last in this business. Instead, Mora mastered the art of boxing that allowed him to match blows against some of the best that ever fought. And he won.

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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Re-visiting the Walker Law of 1920 which Transformed Boxing

Arne K. Lang

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One hundred years ago this week, on March 24, 1920, a boxing reform bill sponsored by Sen. James J. Walker passed the New York State Senate. The bill ultimately became law and its provisions came to be adopted by law-makers in other states, bringing some uniformity to the most anarchic of popular sports. And what better time to re-visit this transformative legislation than now, the centennial?

Prizfighting was an outlaw sport in the Empire State until 1896 when the legislature passed the Horton Law which allowed bouts up to 25 rounds with five-ounce gloves in buildings owned or leased by a chartered athletic club. New York was a beehive of world class boxing during the days of the Horton Law, but the hubbub was short-lived. A spate of fixed fights and ring fatalities sparked a cry for reform and the law was repealed in 1900.

The Lewis Law, which supplanted the Horton Law, reduced the maximum number of rounds from 25 to 10 and stipulated that no decision would be rendered. The Lewis Law also restricted patronage to members of the athletic club sponsoring the event.

The Frawley Law of 1911 re-opened the fights to the general public but otherwise left the provisions of the Lewis Law pretty much intact. The most important fight in New York during the Frawley Law days was Jess Willard’s defense of his world heavyweight title against Frank Moran at Madison Square Garden in 1916. The fight went the distance, the full 10 rounds, and Willard had the best of it although you wouldn’t know that from the official decision as there was none.

During the last years of the nineteen-teens, several boxing reform bills were presented to the New York legislature. In fact, the Walker Bill was one of four that was taken under consideration. When it finally came to pass, the no-decision rule had been struck down by a 1919 amendment to the Frawley Law that gave the referee the authority to designate the winner.

A key feature of the Walker Law was that everyone involved in a boxing match — from the lowliest spit-bucket carrier to the promoter — had to be licensed. This included managers, matchmakers, referees, judges, ring doctors; even the ring announcer. The licensees were accountable to the boxing commission, a panel appointed by the governor. The commission had the power to approve matches, assign the officials, and establish and collect fees.

The Walker Law approved matches up to 15 rounds and allowed official decisions. Two judges would determine the winner and if they disagreed, the referee would act as the tie-breaker.

Previous laws allowed prizefighting under the guise of sparring exhibitions. The Walker Law made no distinction and this took the police out of the equation. Historically, it was the Sheriff’s responsibility to determine if a bout should be stopped because it had become too one-sided; too brutal. And if, pray tell, one of the contestants died as a result of blows received, his opponent and his opponent’s chief second and perhaps others would be arrested and charged with manslaughter.

Under the Walker Law, the decision of whether to stop a match rested with the referee or the ring physician or the highest-ranking boxing official at ringside. A boxer could now fight full bore without worrying that he could be charged with a crime.

After passing the Senate, the Walker Law passed the Assembly by a margin of 91-46. It was signed into law by Gov. Al Smith on May 24, 1920 and took effect on Sept.1. This ignited a great flurry of boxing in the Empire State. By March of 1924, the state had licensed 6,123 boxers.

The Walker Law became the template that lawmakers in other jurisdictions followed when they introduced their own boxing bills. Cynics would have it that the most attractive feature of the Walker Law to those that embraced it was the tax imposed on gate receipts. In New York under the guidelines of the Walker Law, it was 5 percent.

This wasn’t too far off the mark. The drive to legalize boxing picked up steam in the Depression when state coffers were depleted and new sources of revenue were needed to cushion the fallout. By 1934, boxing was legal in every state in the union, but not in every county. Nowhere was the Walker Law adopted word for word – every politician had to put his own little spin on it, tweaking this and that – but the map of boxing, from an organizational standpoint, became less disjointed.

For the record, the first boxing show under the imprimatur of the Walker Law was held on Sept. 17, 1920 at Madison Square Garden. Joe Welling fought Johnny Dundee in the featured bout. It was the eighth meeting between the veteran lightweights. Welling won a unanimous decision, which is to say that both judges gave the bout to him (their scores were not made known). Ten weeks later, after two intervening bouts, Welling returned to Madison Square Garden to face lightweight champion Benny Leonard. This would go into the books as the first title fight under the Walker Law. Welling was stopped in the 14th round.

James J. “Jimmy” Walker spent 15 years in Albany, the first four as an Assemblyman, but would be best remembered as New York City’s flamboyant Jazz Age mayor. He served two terms, defeating his opponents in landslides, but was forced to resign before his second term expired, leaving office in disgrace. In January of 1941, at the third annual dinner of the Boxing Writers Association, Walker was honored for his “long and meritorious service” to the sport and in 1992 he would be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Walker (pictured) was a fascinating man, the big city version, in many respects, of Louisiana’s colorful Huey “Kingfish” Long. In a future article, we’ll peel back the layers and take a closer look at the man who did so much to popularize boxing.

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Think you know boxing? Then Man Up and Take Our New Trivia Test

Arne K. Lang

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Thin-you-know-boxing?-Then-Man-Up-and-Take-Our-New Trivia-Test

Beneath his salty exterior, Roger Mayweather had the soul of a scholar when the subject turned to the history of boxing. We suspect that Mayweather, who left us on March 17, would have fared pretty well on this 15-question multiple-choice trivia quiz and we dedicate it to him.

All good trivia tests should have a connecting thread. Here the common theme is “places,” more exactly U.S. cities and towns.

This isn’t an easy quiz. We have too much respect for our readers to dumb it down. Get more than half right and give yourself a passing grade. Twelve or more correct answers and proceed to the head of the class.

Here’s the catch: To find the correct answers, you need to go to our FORUM (Click Here). There this trivia test will repeat with the correct answers caboosed to the final question.

  1. In 1970, Muhammad Ali returned to the ring after a 43-month absence to fight Jerry Quarry in this city:

(a) Miami

(b) Atlanta

(c) Houston

(d) Landover, Maryland

 

  1. Rocky Kansas and Frank Erne, recent inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Old-Timer category, were products of this city:

(a) Buffalo

(b) Hartford

(c) Scranton

(d) Portland, Maine

 

  1. The July 1, 1931 match between heavyweight title-holder Max Schmeling and Young Stribling was the icebreaker event in the largest stadium ever built to house a baseball team. What city?

(a) Detroit

(b) Cleveland

(c) St. Louis

(d) Milwaukee

 

  1. Jake LaMotta was from the Bronx, but he acquired his most avid following in this city where he lifted the world middleweight title from Marcel Cerdan.

(a) Detroit

(b) Chicago

(c) Cleveland

(d) Syracuse

 

5.  Jess Willard was called the Pottawatomie Giant because he hailed from Pottawatomie County. What state?

(a) Oklahoma

(b) Kansas

(c) Montana

(d) West Virginia

 

  1. There is a statue of former welterweight champion Young Corbett III, born Raffaele Giordano, in this California city.

(a) Oakland

(b) Bakersfield

(c) Anaheim

(d) Fresno

 

  1. Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011, this iron-chinned bantamweight was stopped only once in 163 documented fights. Fill in the blank:

______ Pal Moore.

(a) Laredo

(b) Memphis

(c) Peoria

(d) Pasadena

 

  1. More of the same. Fill in the blank.

(a) George Lavigne, the ______ Kid            Boston

(b) Jack Johnson, the ______ Giant            Joplin

(c) Jeff Clark, the _______     Ghost           Saginaw

(d) Jack Sharkey, the _______ Gob            Galveston

 

9. In the 1930s, there was a second Madison Square Garden in this southwestern city. Future light heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis had several of his early fights here:

(a) Albuquerque

(b) El Paso

(c) Pueblo

(d) Phoenix

 

  1. Match the fighter with his nickname.

(a) Max Baer                  (1) Astoria Assassin

(b) Paul Berlenbach      (2) Fargo Express

(c) Billy Petrolle            (3) Livermore Larruper

(d) Bud Taylor              (4) Terre Haute Terror

 

  1. Match these boxers with the city with which they are associated.

(a) Fritzie Zivic and Charley Burley         (1) San Francisco

(b) Johnny Coulon and Ernie Terrell       (2) New Orleans

(c) Abe Attell and Fred Apostoli               (3) Chicago

(d) Pete Herman and Willie Pastrano      (4) Pittsburgh

12. The first great prizefight in Nevada, pitting James J. Corbett against Bob Fitzsimmons, was held here:

a. Goldfield

b. Carson City

c. Reno

d. Las Vegas

 

13. On March 28, 1991, Sugar Ray Leonard headlined a boxing show at the new Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. Who was his opponent?

(a) Larry Bonds

(b) Wilfred Benitez

(c) Donny Lalonde

(d) Floyd Mayweather Sr.

 

  1. Match these Hall of Fame boxing writers with the city in which they spent the bulk of their newspaper careers:

 

(a) Jack Fiske                   (1) New York

(b) Michael Katz              (2) Philadelphia

(c) Jerry Izenberg            (3) San Francisco

(d) Bernard Fernandez    (4) Newark

 

  1. Match these Hall of Fame boxing promoters with the city that served as their headquarters:

(a) Herman Taylor         (1) Boston

(b) Rip Valenti               (2) Philadelphia

(c) Sam Ichinose           (3) Los Angeles

(d) George Parnassus    (4) Honolulu

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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