Connect with us

Featured Articles

Iran Barkley and Junior Jones: After the Final Bell, the Real Fight Began

Avatar

Published

on

Iran-Barkley-and-Junior-Jones-After-the-Bell-the-Real-Fight-Began

Iran Barkley and Junior Jones: After the Final Bell, the Real Fight Began

A TSS CLASSIC — The stifling heat of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn makes for an unforgiving environment, and it seems to be taking its toll on the grunting heavyweights sparring in the main ring.

A muscular black fighter, who has made fifteen professional outings and considerably outweighs his pale amateur opponent, is dominating the affair. With one minute remaining, the pro unleashes a sustained barrage of heavy hooks to his opponent’s
head. The despondent novice is backed into a corner and absorbs the blows with little resistance as his nose ruptures, turning his white face into a crimson mask.

Most ringsiders holler in approval at the striking power. But one observer is not impressed.

“Hey, hey, that’s not right, shouts Iran Barkley, a physically imposing 220-pound ex- pug that wears the remnants of a 63-fight career on a battle-scarred visage. “Sparring is about learning, not getting beat-up. Nobody gets anything out of a beating.

As the vanquished fighter exits the ring holding a claret-stained towel to his nose, he is approached by Barkley. “Yo, you’re not here to get beat-up, offers the three-time world champion. “Don’t let anyone do that to you. You have to look after yourself.

Barkley’s act of empathy contradicts his reputation as a malevolent slugger who held membership in New York’s violent Black Spades street gang.

After consoling the bloody novice, the 49-year-old Barkley strides with his head-down towards a treadmill to begin an hour-long exercise routine that includes calisthenics, weightlifting and shadowboxing.

Midway through the workout Barkley pauses to wipe the trickles of sweat from his shaven skull. His left eye is barely visible through a thick mass of tissue that overhangs his brow; an everlasting consequence of claiming world titles in three different weight
classes, ranging from middleweight [160 pounds] to light heavyweight [175 pounds].

“I like to work out as much as I can, he says. “I also work a few days a week helping out kids in a neighborhood in the Bronx. It gives me something to do.

*****
A bank worker’s attempts to casually ascend the steps from Manhattan’s Penn Station are stymied when an opposing swarm of rush-hour commuters surge down the stairway. His unassuming demeanor proves no match for the bustling horde and his slim frame quickly becomes lost in a wave of humanity.

There is an added element of chaos to the busy walkway on 34th street as noisy groups of hockey fans make their way towards Madison Square Garden. Big events at the fabled arena create a unique energy in the vicinity; energy this worker has experienced in a deeper sense than most.

A nose curved where it should be straight and flat where it was once curved alludes to Junior Jones’s former profession. He fought at the Garden on six occasions during a 56- bout prizefighting career; an occupation far removed from his current employment
in an administrative role at a New Jersey branch of the UBS financial services firm.

These days his work is conducted during daytime hours, but walking past the Garden rekindles memories of big nights at the fabled arena.

“It was such a rush fighting there in front of my hometown fans, says the Brooklyn-born Jones in a soft tone that belies the brashness of his surroundings. “But sometimes in the Garden I tried so hard to impress everybody that I got carried away.”

Inside the ring, Jones was often guilty of letting his emotions overrule rationale; yearning a spectacular knockout instead of utilizing his polished skills. Such an attitude helped him halt 28 of his opponents inside the distance and merit recognition as one of leading fighters of the mid-1990s. That mind-set also saw him suffer five knockout defeats that mark his 50-6 record.

Yet despite the turbulent nature of his former career, Jones has no ill-feeling towards the outcome of a 13-year pro tenure in which he won major world titles in the bantamweight [118 pounds] and junior featherweight [122 pounds] divisions.

“I don’t miss boxing and I’ve no real regrets, explains Jones matter-of-factly as he takes his seat in a Manhattan restaurant. “I know I did the best I could do and fought my heart out every time. I loved fighting and at times I overextended myself. But people come
to see a fight, not to see me run around the ring with my hands up. People pay good money.”

Smartly attired and perpetually understated, Jones seems to take greatest pleasure in talking about his two children and current job, making it difficult to believe he engaged in some of the last decade’s most exhilarating fights. And while his last professional contest was in 2002, he maintains an athletic build and looks younger than his 39 years.

“I work out at a gym I own in Brooklyn and I know that if I train hard, I still have enough left to beat a lot of the guys out there, he imparts with a wry smile.

Iran Barkley and Junior Jones share many similarities. Both fighters managed to distance themselves from street life in their respective deprived New York neighborhoods to achieve world titles and significant monetary rewards. The formative years were challenging for both men and each points to a sister as the catalyst for a boxing career.

“I was a skinny teenager and there was a big bully called the Bear who would steal kids’ money and sneakers,” recalls Barkley, who grew up in the menacing environs of the South Bronx Patterson housing projects. “I was really afraid of him but one day he ran
into my sister and he never touched us again.”

Barkley’s sister Yvonne was one of the pioneering professional female boxers and routinely defended her younger sibling. But a few years later Iran grew into a wild street fighter and became a valuable asset to the local gang. As his involvement with the Spades intensified, Yvonne appealed with Iran to turn his attention to boxing. He eventually heeded her pleas and after tasting amateur success developed a fanatical obsession with the sport.

“I trained non-stop,” Barkley says after completing 50 sit-ups on the floor of Gleason’s. “I worked so hard, obsessed to get my world title. When I look at some of my cousins who were dealing dope, now some of them are in prison for 30, 50 years or more, I feel
blessed I chose boxing and didn’t take that route.”

***
Jones’ sister was also an inspiration, albeit in a rather less benevolent manner. “My sister Renee used to beat the hell out of me, hit me with pots and pans, put me out on the fire escape with no clothes,” he reveals with a bashful smile. “People used to laugh that I couldn’t beat her up.”

Jones’s humiliation came to an end when he joined the Police Athletic League gym in Bushwick and eventually gained the respect his neighbors.

“It was rough where I grew up, but the older guys, hustlers and drug dealers got to know me and knew I was doing well at boxing, so I was protected,” he explains. “But I was never a follower. I was in the gym, I was travelling to competitions somewhere. I didn’t
have idle time.”

Jones had an exceptional ability to generate fierce punching power and earned distinction as a world titlist in 1993, overcoming Jorge Elicer Julio. But two consecutive upset defeats to relatively obscure journeymen severely damaged his standing. Even so, he worked his way back to contention and outscored future Hall of Fame entrant Orlando Canizales before being awarded a title opportunity against one of the era’s great fighters, Marco Antonio Barrera.

While many boxing observers rightly denounced Jones’s chances, the fighter retained the unwavering support of his long-time manager Gary Gittelsohn. In an uncommon attempt to instill confidence in his charge, Gittelsohn vowed to forsake his fee from Jones’s purse regardless of the fight’s outcome.

“I didn’t take the money because I always had confidence in Junior that he would win and go on to become a big star,” said Gittelsohn about his act that refutes the grubby reputation of boxing managers.

Jones ultimately repaid Gittelsohn with a rousing performance that resulted in a fifth- round disqualification victory when members of Barrera’s team entered the ring to rescue their dazed fighter. Jones subsequently proved the triumph was no accident by out-toughing Barrera in a rematch five months later.

That win would be the zenith of his achievements and was followed by inconsistent performances. Gittlesohn urged Jones to retire after a loss to Erik Morales in 1998 and again declined to take a management fee from his fighter’s check; this time without the
expectation of future remunerations. And even though Jones didn’t heed Gittlesohn’s pleas, he remembers with fondness the actions of his manager. “I was lucky to have him, remembers Jones. “He always stuck by me. I put the money I made away and invested it in trusts for the long-term. And now I’m not struggling financially, thank God.”

Back in the searing temperatures of Gleason’s, Barkley has just completed six minutes of shadowboxing and is walking towards a set of weight machines when he encounters the black heavyweight from the earlier sparring session. The young fighter, relaxing on a bench, calls out to Barkley.

“Hey man, I recognize you,” he yells. “I know your face.”

Barkley coldly nods his head at the fighter and keeps walking, perhaps disgruntled that his name is not remembered.

“Fighters these days,” remarks Barkley as he picks up a 20-pound dumbbell. “They’re not as tough today; fighting whoever they like. They have it easy, getting paid more and having easier fights.”

Money is a thorny issue with Barkley. Despite reaping an estimated $5 million during his prizefighting career, he now lives a meager existence in the same housing projects he grew up in. He cites a lack of financial knowledge as the cause of his current
predicament.

Barkley burst onto the global boxing scene in 1988 when he shockingly knocked out the much-vaunted Thomas Hearns for the middleweight title in one of the sport’s great upsets. And like Jones, Barkley vindicated his unexpected triumph by out-pointing
Hearns in a light heavyweight rematch four years later.

In between the battles with Hearns, Barkley suffered competitive defeats to some of the period’s elite fighters, most notably Roberto Duran, Michael Nunn and Nigel Benn. He also captured a super-middleweight world championship by overpowering Darrin Van
Horn.

But in another parallel to Jones’s career, Barkley’s second victory over Hearns proved to be his final significant pugilistic conquest. One year after that rematch, Barkley garnered $1 million for a one-sided loss to the exceptional James Toney. The subsequent six years saw Barkley traverse America and venture to Australia and Europe in search of paychecks on small-time promotions. He lost as many fights as he won and on many occasions weighed 60 pounds greater than the middleweight limit, as the competitive edge that once earned him the moniker “Blade” steadily dulled. In 1999, his final year as an active fighter, Barkley traveled to Finland to lose a 12-round decision in a pitiful spectacle against former WWE wrestler Tony Halme.

“I take some of the blame for my [current financial] situation, but not all of it,” contends Barkley. “Years ago, I just didn’t know what to do with money when I had it. My family never had much when I was growing up. I didn’t know how to save, how to invest it.”

While Jones had the watching eye of Gittlesohn, Barkley lacked such stable guidance and was under the management of various figures throughout his career. “I had to teach them how the boxing game worked,” Barkley claims.

“I learned that my only real friend is God,” he continues, with his eyes fixed on the grimy gym floor. “Everyone else will let you down in the end.”

Some of his money was invested in apartments and a car wash facility, but the ventures proved loss-making and after tax issues and two divorces his wealth evaporated.

“I don’t know where his money went,” says the owner of Gleason’s Gym, Bruce Silverglade. “But he always helped people out. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He has a heart of gold. Even today he’s always willing to talk at hostels and to kids.”

But such admirable efforts fail to pay the rent.

Barkley now lives in an apartment with his sister and nephew in the Patterson Houses. He lost two of his brothers to cancer and his sister is currently hospitalized after recently developing a long-term respiratory illness.

Earlier this summer Ring 8, a New York-based group that provides assistance to retired boxers, held a benefit dinner for Barkley, but he says the funds generated at the event have already been spent. He claims a return to prizefighting is the only long-term
answer to his financial problems and has informed the sport’s major promoters of his intentions. Thus far his approaches have been firmly dismissed.

“I can’t get a promoter yet,” he reveals. “But someone somewhere will promote me. I’ve no fear of boxing. I got through twenty years without getting hurt.”

At present there is no official financial aid package for retired prizefighters, but Barkley says he has been in touch with a number of politicians in New York with the goal of lobbying for a pension plan. “Look at everything I put into boxing,” he laments. “Ex-
fighters like me should be getting something. I want to have enough to provide for myself and my four daughters.”

Yet Barkley has been presented with multiple opportunities to find a new direction in his life. Post-retirement, he worked brief stints as a car salesman and shop assistant before getting bored with the roles. He also had the opportunity to train fighters, but admits he
found it difficult to relate to pupils that lacked the same tenacity he was renowned for in his prime.

“I want to work for myself and I’m not going to chase fighters around either,” he rasps. “I’m not calling a guy to make sure he comes to the gym. If they don’t have the same determination and commitment that I had then I’m not interested. I want to be able
to find and promote talent, but I have to get a lot of money together before I can do that.”

***

Changing careers can be a difficult endeavor, especially when a man has tasted the adoration that accompanies world championships and million dollar paydays. And as Junior Jones can attest, moving into an alien environment can be intimidating, even for a prizefighter.

“When I retired I’d never worked a day in my life, I was terrified of working,” Jones admits. Sitting in the noisy restaurant, he keenly pulls himself forward on his chair, eager to engage as his widening eyes oppose a subdued voice.

“I’ve got a great job and I like everybody there,” he says. “I really enjoy it. I don’t miss training. I don’t miss anything about fighting at all. I’ve done it at the highest level and I accomplished more than I ever expected to accomplish. What’s better than that?”

Superficially, two years of managing deposit slips and checks at a bank may not seem like the most stimulating time in Jones’ life, but the occupation seems to have provided him with a security that transcends wealth.

“You have to be comfortable who you are,” he says. “I like who I am now.”

Having sprayed a steak sandwich with mustard, Jones prepares to take a bite. But he abruptly becomes uncharacteristically agitated. The subject of aged fighters flouting retirement has just been raised. Jones puts down the sandwich, shakes his head and
exhales in vexation.

“It’s crazy for guys to be fighting past 40,” he says while stabbing his finger at the table. “The fighter knows when it’s over and it’s the fighters that make the sport bad too, not just the promoters. Some fighters like people telling him they’re going to win and get
back to the top.”

Jones retired days before his 32nd birthday after taking a sustained beating from unheralded journeyman Ivan Alvarez. Even though a fighter may leave his profession with faculties intact, the symptoms of punch-induced brain damage can take years to
appear. A variety of observers have expressed concern at the apparent decline in the clarity of Jones’ speech. His voice was never particularly voluble, but in recent years it does take greater effort to discern his sentences.

In contrast to Barkley’s dismissive approach, the physical costs of a boxing career do perturb Jones, whose pensive personality has led him to explore the worst possible scenario. His eyes look downward as he describes the brutal consequences of a
prizefighting vocation.

“You’re getting hit with an eight or ten ounce glove with a pair of [hand] wraps on and gauze and tape,” he says with a sense of reluctance. “Your brain sits on top of your head in fluid and every time you get hit, your brain hits against the skull. It crashes the wrong way.

“I want to stay the way I am now, he declares. “I want to be like this as my kids go to college and remember everything they do.”

While Jones has successfully redefined his life since retirement, no matter how far he distances himself from boxing he knows nothing can reverse the effects of absorbing countless head blows. “I’ve been fighting since I was ten; all that adds up,” he acknowledges. “I’m fine now but will I be the same when I’m 50 years old? The scary truth is it’s not a guarantee.”

***

After leaving the highly-charged atmosphere of Gleason’s and sucking back a bottle of iced tea, Barkley seems rejuvenated as he takes a deep breath of the cool air and heads toward Clark Street subway station.

“It’s good to do a workout,” he says. “I always feel good afterwards.”

Upon entering a crowded subway carriage, Barkley moves to sit down in the last remaining seat but quickly jumps back up when he sees a woman with a crying young boy enter the train.

“These subways can be intimidating if you’re not used to them,” he remarks in reference to the wailing child.

Barkley then spends the short journey making comical faces at the boy, pulling goofy smiles in a successful effort to put the youngster at ease and distract him from the daunting surroundings. The distinctive facial features that were so intimidating in
Gleason’s now act as a soothing source of comfort.

Leaving the train, our conversation turns to Barkley’s past trips to Europe and the sudden death of Tony Halme earlier this year.

“Wow, no way!” Barkley exclaims, evidently surprised at the news. “Wow, I didn’t know he died.” Barkley pauses and looks into the distance. “Halme seemed so big and strong,” he finally remarks. “You never know what’s around the corner. I guess it puts
my problems into perspective.”

Editor’s note: This story by award-winning writer Ronan Keenan first ran on Aug. 17, 2010. The photo is of Gleason’s Gym.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

WeekendBoxing-Recap-The-Mikey-Garcia-Stunmer-and-More

Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Boxing was all over the map on the third Saturday of October with many of the shows pulled together on short notice as promoters took advantage of relaxed COVID constraints to return to business as usual. When the smoke cleared, a monster upset in Fresno overshadowed the other events.

Mikey Garcia, a shoo-in to make the Hall of Fame, was on the wrong side of it. Spain’s Sandor Martin, in his USA debut, won a well-deserved decision over Garcia at a Triple-A baseball park in Fresno.

Garcia, a former four-division belt-holder, was 40-1 coming in with his only loss coming at the hands of Errol Spence. Martin, a 28-year-old southpaw, brought a nice record with him from Europe (38-2) but with only 13 wins coming by way of stoppage it was plain that he wasn’t a heavy hitter. His only chance was to out-box Garcia and that seemed far-fetched.

But Martin did exactly that, counter-punching effectively to win a 10-round majority decision. Two judges had it 97-93 with the third turning in a 95-95 tally.

Neither Garcia nor Martin were natural welterweights. The bout was fought at a catch-weight of 145 pounds. After the bout, the Spaniard indicated a preference for dropping back to 140 where enticing opportunities await.

There was another upset, albeit a much milder one, in the co-feature where Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez improved to 25-3-1 (14) while shearing the WBO world flyweight title from the shoulders of Mexicali’s Elwin Soto (19-2).

Soto was making his fourth defense of the title and rode into the match with a 17-fight winning streak. Gonzalez, a southpaw, had formerly fought for the WBO world flyweight title, getting stopped in seven rounds by Kosei Tanaka in Nagoya, Japan.

One of the judges favored Soto 116-112, but he was properly out-voted by his colleagues who had it 116-112 the other way.

Riga, Latvia

The first major fight on Saturday took place in Riga, Latvia, where hometown hero Mairis Briedis successfully defended his IBF cruiserweight title with a third-round stoppage of Germany’s Artur Mann who was on the deck three times before the match was halted at the 1:54 mark.

Briedis (28-1, 20 KOs) was making his first start since dismantling KO artist Yuniel Dorticos in the finals of season two of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. He scored the first of his three knockdowns in the waning seconds of round two when he deposited Mann (17-2) on the canvas with a straight right hand.

Although boosters of fast-rising WBO champ Lawrence Okolie would disagree, the Latvian is widely regarded as the best cruiserweight in the world. His only setback came when he lost a narrow decision to current WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk in this ring in January of 2018. Now 36 years old, Briedis has yet to appear in a main event outside Europe. That’s undoubtedly about to change and a rematch with Usyk is well within the realm of possibility.

Newcastle, England

Chris Eubank Jr, whose fight two weeks ago in London with late sub Anati Muratov was cancelled at the 11th hour when Muratov failed his medical exam, was added to this Matchroom card and his bout with Wanik Awdijan became the de facto main event. A 26-year-old German, born in Armenia, Awdijan was 28-1 and had won 21 straight (against very limited opposition), but he was no match for Eubank Jr who broke him down with body shots, likely breaking his ribs and forcing him to quit on his stool after five frames.

Eubank Jr, 32, improved to 31-2 (23) His only defeats came at the hands of former world title-holder George Groves and BJ Saunders. He dedicated this fight to his late brother Sebastian Eubank who died in July while swimming in the Persian Gulf.

In other bouts, Hughie Fury, the cousin of Tyson Fury, stayed relevant in the heavyweight division with a stoppage of well-traveled German Christian Hammer and Savannah Marshall successfully defended her WBO world middleweight title with a second-round TKO of Lolita Muzeya.

Akin to Eubank-Awdijan, the Fury-Hammer fight also ended with the loser bowing out after five frames. A biceps injury allegedly caused Hammer to say “no mas,” but Fury, in what was arguably his career-best performance, was well ahead on the cards.

The Marshall-Muzeya fight was a battle of unbeatens, but Muzeya’s 16-0 record was suspicious as the Zambian had never fought outside the continent of Africa. She came out blazing, but Marshall, who improved to 11-0 (9) had her number and retained her title.

Brooklyn

In the featured bout of a TrillerVerz show at Barclays Center, Long Island’s Cletus Seldin, the Hebrew Hammer, knocked out William Silva in the seventh round. It was the fifth-straight win for the 35-year-old Seldin, a junior welterweight who was making his first start in 20 months.

Silva, a 34-year-old Brazilian who fights out of Florida, brought a 28-3 record. His previous losses had come at the hands of Felix Verdejo, Teofimo Lopez, and Arnold Barboza Jr. Seldin improved to 26-1 (22 KOs).

In other bouts, junior welterweight Petros Ananyan, a Brooklyn-based Armenian, improved to 16-2-2 (7) with a 10-round majority decision over local fighter Daniel Gonzalez (20-3-1) and Will Madera of Albany, NY, scored a mild upset when he stopped Jamshidbek Najmitdinov who was pulled out after five rounds with an apparent shoulder injury.

Najmitdinov, from Uzbekistan, was making his U.S. debut but he brought a 17-1 record blemished only by former world title-holder Viktor Postol. Madera improved to 17-1-3.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholand / Matchroom

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

David A. Avila

Published

on

Emanuel-Navarrete-Retains-WBO-Featherweight-Title-in-a-San-Diego-Firefight

SAN DIEGO-WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete won by unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in a slugfest that had fans cheering nonstop on Friday night. Fans were mesmerized by the savagery.

More than 2,000 fans saw Mexico City’s Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) and Southern California’s Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) bounce brutal shots off each other for 12 successive rounds at Pechanga Sports Arena.

Both Navarrete and Gonzalez were about equal in height with the champion maybe a slight taller, but not by much. As soon as the first bell rang the two featherweights opened up in furious fashion.

Gonzalez was making his second attempt to grab a world title. His first attempt fell short a year ago. He was eager to atone for the defeat by clobbering Navarrete. Body shots were the weapon of choice.

The Mexican fighter Navarrete was accustomed to battling shorter fighters, this time the two were equal in size and in fury. Blows were flying in bunches and by the third round Gonzalez suffered a cut on his right cheek.

At several points Navarrete would connect with a solid blow and eagerly seek to finish the fight. Each time it happened Gonzalez would fight back even more furiously and beat back the champions attacks.

Gonzalez also connected with big shots and moved in for the kill only find Navarrete take a stand and fire back. Neither was able to truly gain a significant edge. After 12 rounds of nonstop action the decision was given to the judges. One scored it 118-110, two others saw it 116-112 all for Navarrete.

Fans were pleased by the decision and even more pleased by the breath-taking action they had witnessed.

Welterweights

Local fighter Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Tijuana’s Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The two southpaws were evenly matched.

San Diego’s Santillan was able to outwork Ruiz in almost every round. Though Ruiz has heavy hands he was not able to hurt Santillan even with uppercuts. It was clear very early in the fight that Santillan was the more technical and busier of the two. No knockdowns were scored.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 100-90 for Santillan and a third saw it 99-91.

Other Results

Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) battered and knocked down fellow Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2) in the last round of an 8-round super lightweight bout, but could not score the knockout win.

Delgado, a Mexican Olympian, was the quicker and stronger fighter yet discovered Garcia Mendez has a solid chin. All three judges scored it 80-71 for Delgado.

Puerto Rico’s Henry Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) defeated Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6) by decision after eight rounds in a lightweight match.

Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) soundly defeated Darryl Jones (4-3-1) by decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Jones was tough.

Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd Diaz (3-0) knocked down Tucson’s Jose Ramirez (1-1) in the first round but was unable to end the fight early. Diaz won by decision.

Heavyweight Antonio Mireles (1-0) knocked out Demonte Randle (2-2) at 2:07 of the first round.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank for Getty Images

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Book Review

Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Thomas Hauser

Published

on

Russell-Peltz's-Thirty-Dollars-and-a-Cut-Eye-Nook-Review-by-Thomas-Hauser

Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Russell Peltz has been promoting fights for fifty years and is as much a part of the fabric of Philadelphia boxing as Philly gym wars and Philly fighters. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 and deservedly so. Now Peltz has written a memoir entitled Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye that chronicles his many years in the sweet science.

Peltz started in boxing before it was, in his words, “bastardized by the alphabet groups” and at a time when “world titles still meant something.”

“I fell in love with boxing when I was twelve,” he writes, “saw my first live fight at fourteen, decided to make it my life, and never looked back.” He promoted his first fight card in 1969 at age 22.

Peltz came of age in boxing at a time when promoters – particularly small promoters – survived or died based on the live gate. Peltz Boxing Promotions had long runs at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia and both Harrah’s Marina and the Sands  in Atlantic City. His journey through the sweet science included a seven-year stint as director of boxing for The Spectrum in Philadelphia. At the turn of the century, he was a matchmaker for ESPN.

Along the way, Peltz’s office in Philadelphia was fire-bombed. He was robbed at gunpoint while selling tickets in his office for a fight card at the Blue Horizon and threatened in creative ways more times than one might imagine. He once had a fight fall out when one of the fighters was arrested on the day of the weigh-in. No wonder he quotes promoter Marty Kramer, who declared, “The only thing I wish on my worst enemy is that he becomes a small-club boxing promoter.”

Now Peltz has put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard. “The internet is often a misinformation highway,” he writes. “I want to set the record straight as to what actually went on in boxing in the Philadelphia area since the late-1960s. I’m tired of reading tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram accounts from people who were not around and have no idea what went on but write like they do.”

Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye is filled with characters (inside and outside the ring) who give boxing its texture. As Peltz acknowledges, his own judgment was sometimes faulty. Russell once turned down the opportunity to promote Marvin Hagler on a long-term basis. There are countless anecdotes about shady referees, bad judging, and other injustices. Middleweight Bennie Briscoe figures prominently in the story, as do other Philadelphia fighters like Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, and Matthew Franklin (later Matthew Saad Muhammad). Perhaps the best fight Peltz ever promoted  was the 1977 classic when Franklin knocked out Marvin Johnson in the twelfth round.

There’s humor. After Larry Holmes pitched a shutout against Randall “Tex” Cobb in 1982, Cobb proclaimed, “Larry never beat me. He just won the first fifteen rounds.”

And there are poignant notes. Writing about Tanzanian-born Rogers Mtagwa (who boxed out of Philadelphia), Peltz recalls, “He couldn’t pass an eye exam because he didn’t understand the alphabet.”

Remembering the Blue Horizon, Peltz fondly recounts, “”The Blue Horizon was a fight fan’s nirvana. The ring was 15-feet-9-inches squared inside the ropes. No fighter came to the Blue Horizon to pad his record. Fans wanted good fights, not slaughters of second-raters.”

That ethos was personified by future bantamweight champion Jeff Chandler who, after knocking out an obviously inept opponent, told Peltz, “Don’t ever embarrass me like that again in front of my fans.”

Thereafter, whenever a manager asked Peltz to put his fighter in soft to “get me six wins in a row,” Russell thought of Chandler. “I enjoyed promoting fights more than promoting fighters,” he writes. “If I was interested in promoting fighters, I would have been a manager.”

That brings us to Peltz the writer.

The first thing to be said here is that this is a book for boxing junkies, not the casual fan. Peltz is detail-oriented. But do readers really need to know what tickets prices were for the April 6, 1976, fight between Bennie Briscoe and Eugene Hart? The book tends to get bogged down in details. And after a while, the fights and fighters blur together in the telling.

It brings to mind the relationship between Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw. The noted playwright and heavyweight great developed a genuine friendship. But Shaw’s fondness for Tunney stopped short of uncritical admiration. In 1932, the former champion authored his autobiography (A Man Must Fight) and proudly presented a copy to his intellectual mentor. Shaw read the book and responded with a letter that read in part, “Just as one prayer meeting is very like another, one fight is very like another. At a certain point, I wanted to skip to Dempsey.”

Reading Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye, at a certain point I wanted to skip to Hagler.

There’s also one jarring note. Peltz recounts how, when Mike Jones fought Randall Bailey for the vacant IBF welterweight title in Las Vegas in 2012, Peltz bet five hundred dollars against Jones (his own fighter) at the MGM Sports Book and collected two thousand dollars when Bailey (trailing badly on the judges’ scorecards) knocked Jones out in the eleventh round.

“It was a tradition from my days with Bennie Briscoe,” Russell explains. “I’d bet against my fighter, hoping to lose the bet and win the fight.”

I think Russell Peltz is honest. I mean that sincerely. And I think he was rooting for Mike Jones to beat Randall Bailey. But I don’t think that promoters should bet on fights involving their own fighters. And it’s worse if they bet against their own fighters. Regardless of the motivation, it looks bad. Or phrased differently: Suppose Don King had bet on Buster Douglas to beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo?

Philadelphia was once a great fight town. in 1926, the first fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney drew 120,000 fans to Sesquicentennial Stadium. Twenty-six years later, Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott at same site (renamed Municipal Stadium) to claim the heavyweight throne.

Peltz takes pride in saying, “I was part of Philadelphia’s last golden age of boxing.”

An important part.

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, he was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Triller-Fight-Club-Boxing's-Keystone-Kops
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Triller Fight Club: Boxing’s Keystone Kops

David-Avanesyan-Dazzles-Again-on-a-London-Card-That-Lost-Its-Main-Event
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

David Avanesyan Dazzles Again on a London Card That Lost Its Main Event

Tal-Singh-Aspires-to-Become-the-First-Sikh-to-Win-a-World-Boxing-Title
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Tal Singh Aspires to Become the First Sikh to Win a World Boxing Title

Avila-Perspective-Chap-153-The-Canelo-Plant-Rumpus-Adelaida-and--More
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 153: The Alvarez-Plant Rumpus, Adelaida and More

A-Big-Upset-in-London-as-Oleksandr-Usyk-Outclasses-Anthony-Joshua
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

A Big Upset in London as Oleksandr Usyk Outclasses Anthony Joshua

The-Hauser-Report-Oleksandr-Usyk-Upsets-the-Applecart
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

The Hauser Report: Oleksandr Usyk Upsets the Applecart

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-The-Russian-Lion-An-Exemplary-Judge-and-More
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: The Russian Lion, an Exemplary Judge and More

The-Official-TSS-Wilder-Fury-III-Prediction-Page
Featured Articles1 week ago

The Official TSS Fury-Wilder III Prediction Page

A-Cornucopia-of-Heavyweights-Joshua-Usyk-in-the-Vanguard
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

A Cornucopia of Heavyweights: Joshua-Usyk in the Vanguard

Reconfiguring-the-Championship-Rounds-What-if-There'd-Been-3-More-or-3-Less?
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Reconfiguring the Championship Rounds: What if There’d Been 3 More or 3 Less?

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-Not-Even-Manny-Pacquiao's-Exquisite-Boxing-Career
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Nothing Lasts Forever, Not Even Manny Pacquiao’s Exquisite Ring Career

Avila-Perspective-Chap-153-Manny-at-the-Olympic-and-More
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 153: Pacquiao at the Olympic and More

The-Hauser-Report-Ken-Burns-Explores-Muhammad-Ali
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

The Hauser Report: Ken Burns Explores Muhammad Ali

Fury-KOs-Wilder-in-the-11th-in-a-Brutal-Slugfest
Featured Articles1 week ago

Fury KOs Wilder in the 11th in a Brutal Slugfest

A-Snapshoy-of-Hall-of-Fame-Boxer-Tony-DeMarco-Who-Has-Passed-Away-at-Age-89
Featured Articles7 days ago

A Snapshot of Hall of Fame Boxer Tony DeMarco Who Has Passed Away at Age 89

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Notes-on-Canelo-Plant-Probellum-and-Adrien-Broner
Featured Articles5 days ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: Notes on Canelo-Plant, Probellum, and Adrien Broner

Adelaida-Ruiz-Grabs-WBC-Silver-Title-in-Pico-Rivera-and-More
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Adelaida Ruiz Grabs WBC Silver Title in Pico Rivera and More

AIBA-Confirms-Corruption-at-2016-Rio-Olympics-in-Other-News-Water-is-Wet
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

AIBA Confirms Corruption at 2016 Rio Olympics; in Other News, Water is Wet

Wayne-McCullough-Remembers-Eddie-Futch-Who-Passed-Away-20-Years-Ago-This-Sunday
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Wayne McCullough Remembers Eddie Futch Who Passed Away 20 Years Ago This Sunday

The-Future-of-Non-Traditional-Boxing-Events-a-New-TSS-Survey
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

The Future of Non-Traditional Boxing Events: A New TSS Survey

WeekendBoxing-Recap-The-Mikey-Garcia-Stunmer-and-More
Featured Articles19 hours ago

Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Emanuel-Navarrete-Retains-WBO-Featherweight-Title-in-a-San-Diego-Firefight
Featured Articles2 days ago

Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

Russell-Peltz's-Thirty-Dollars-and-a-Cut-Eye-Nook-Review-by-Thomas-Hauser
Book Review3 days ago

Russell Peltz’s “Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye”: Book Review by Thomas Hauser

Avila-Perspective-Chap-156-A-World-Title-Fight-in-San-Diego-and-More
Featured Articles4 days ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 156: A World Title Fight in San Diego and More

Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Notes-on-Canelo-Plant-Probellum-and-Adrien-Broner
Featured Articles5 days ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: Notes on Canelo-Plant, Probellum, and Adrien Broner

A-Snapshoy-of-Hall-of-Fame-Boxer-Tony-DeMarco-Who-Has-Passed-Away-at-Age-89
Featured Articles7 days ago

A Snapshot of Hall of Fame Boxer Tony DeMarco Who Has Passed Away at Age 89

Boxing-Scribes-Take-to-Twitter-to-Celebrate-the-Fury-Wilder-Fight
Featured Articles1 week ago

Boxing Scribes Take to Twitter to Celebrate the Fury-Wilder Fight

Fury-KOs-Wilder-in-the-11th-in-a-Brutal-Slugfest
Featured Articles1 week ago

Fury KOs Wilder in the 11th in a Brutal Slugfest

Undercard-Results-from-Las-Vegas-Helenius-Kownacki-and-More
Featured Articles1 week ago

Undercard Results from Las Vegas: Helenius-Kownacki and More

Results-from-Liverpool-Liam-Smith-TKOs-Fowler-Plus-Undercard-Results
Featured Articles1 week ago

Results from Liverpool: Liam Smith TKOs Fowler plus Undercard Results

The-Official-TSS-Wilder-Fury-III-Prediction-Page
Featured Articles1 week ago

The Official TSS Fury-Wilder III Prediction Page

Avila-Perspective-Chap-155-James-Toney-and-More
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 155: James Toney and More

Wayne-McCullough-Remembers-Eddie-Futch-Who-Passed-Away-20-Years-Ago-This-Sunday
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Wayne McCullough Remembers Eddie Futch Who Passed Away 20 Years Ago This Sunday

Boxing-Odds-ans-Ends-Richard-Schaefer-Returns-and-a-Bare-Knuckle-Fatality
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: Richard Schaefer Returns and a Bare-Knuckle Fatality

Triller-Fight-Club-Boxing's-Keystone-Kops
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Triller Fight Club: Boxing’s Keystone Kops

David-Avanesyan-Dazzles-Again-on-a-London-Card-That-Lost-Its-Main-Event
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

David Avanesyan Dazzles Again on a London Card That Lost Its Main Event

AIBA-Confirms-Corruption-at-2016-Rio-Olympics-in-Other-News-Water-is-Wet
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

AIBA Confirms Corruption at 2016 Rio Olympics; in Other News, Water is Wet

Avila-Perspective-Chap-153-Manny-at-the-Olympic-and-More
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 153: Pacquiao at the Olympic and More

Nino-Benvenuti's-Akron-Misadventure-A-Don-Elbaum-Production-Natch
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Nino Benvenuti’s Akron Misadventure: A Don Elbaum Production (Natch)

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-Not-Even-Manny-Pacquiao's-Exquisite-Boxing-Career
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Nothing Lasts Forever, Not Even Manny Pacquiao’s Exquisite Ring Career

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement