Category Archives: Boxing

Muay Thai Stadium Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled wallops Nueamek Sityaymeaw

We saw the Tunisian whirlwind  Fadi Khaled, put on one of the most exciting Muay Thai performances ever, from ringside, at Pattaya  Max Muay Thai Stadium.

Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled
The Intensity of Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled

An hour later, I would be videoing the unforgettable Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout, a fight that’s destined to become one of the most memorable classics of all time.

So one would expect the preliminary bout between Fadi Khaled and Nueamek Sityaymeaw to fade away into the obscure dustbins of ring forgetathons. How could I even think about putting the two videos up side by side on you tube? Am I out of my mind?

I’ve thought about that before.  Many times.   I am out of my mind.  No, I’m not.  Although both Khaled and Nueamek have far less than perfect records as Muay Thai boxers, this was in its own right a classic fight.

Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled
The scorecards for both fighters show a mixed record. This does not take away the fact that here, in this fight, the  Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled proves that he’s a force to be reckoned with

I had never seen either boxer fight before.  But here I’m coining a new nickname, a moniker that should live on as the Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled to extol the Tunisian whirlwind as a fighting man’s fighter.   And because I think Fadi  embodies even more than what Muay Thai boxing is all about.  For me Fadi represents the true spirit of mano a mano fighting the same way Harry Greb did nearly 100 years ago.

Harry Greb the Pittsburgh Whirlwind

Enshrined for nearly a century as the Pittsburgh whirlwind in boxing legend, Harry Greb was perhaps the greatest middleweight of all time.   This is saying a lot due to  so many outstanding Middleweights who one could easily call, the greatest Middleweight in the history of the ring.  Men like Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and the most devastating Middleweight puncher of all time,  Gennadi Golovkin. And yet there’s not a single film of Harry Greb’s epic fights. He once beat the unbeatable future Heavy weight champion, Gene Tunney in a historic bloodbath that began a series of epic encounters between the two finest boxing tacticians the ring had ever seen.

But Greb was a true Middleweight, whose normal weight stood at around 160 pounds. Whereas Tunney wound up as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world at 190.  As for Jack Dempsey who was quite possibly the hardest puncher of all time, some have said that Tunney could never beat the Manassas Mauler in his prime. Others have claimed that Tunney was so good that Jack Dempsey could never have beat him.

We will never know the answer of whether a much younger Jack Dempsey could have defeated Tunney or not. It is well known, however, that Greb totally dominated Dempsey as Dempsey’s sparring partner. Even though Dempsey outweighed the five foot eight Greb by 30 pounds, several times the pair almost met in the ring.

Jack Dempsey and Harry Greb
Jack Dempsey on the left with Harry Greb to his right. Greb defeating Dempsey, one of the most feriocious punchers of all time? You kidding? NOPE

Greb would wind up fighting 298 professional fights, yet not one of them survives today on video.

Gene Tunney fighting Harry Greb
Harry Greb won his first fight with Gene Tunney in a blood bath. Greb was about the only man to ever defeat Tunney who later beat Jack Dempsey for the world Heavyweight title and then defeated Dempsey in the rematch. Some say in his prime Dempsey would have won while others claim Dempsey could never have beat Tunney whose ring generalship was without parallel for his time. In many ways Tunney was like Andre Ward the current Light Heavyweight champion who hardly ever makes a mistake. But as the bloody matches with Harry Greb proved, Tunney could be a brawler when he wanted to be.

A Boxing Legend for all time

Greb remains today as one of boxing legend’s most unforgettable mystery men of all time. His untimely death at 32 on the operating table when he failed to wake up from the anesthetic hasn’t hurt his enigmatic image. But although the movie cameras never captured him in a real fight, there still exists at least one video of him training.

Back to the Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled

Which bring us to Fadi Khaled. Here you see him in training in Thailand.

At 140 pounds Khaled punches and kicks above his weight.  But unlike Harry Greb, we  have Khaled actually fighting in the ring.

The Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled is all over his opponent

In this bout against Nueamek Sityaymeaw the Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled demonstrates a full range of devastating martial arts weapons, including a full array of powerful kicks along with the punching power of a light heavy weight. Keep in mind that this little guy weighs just 140 pounds while light heavyweights are between 168 and 175 pounds. Notice too, how he flings his entire torso into the body of his opponent.

Big Daddy sitting next to me, put it this way, “I really don’t like the looks of him, but you gotta give him credit. He’s a very good fighter.”

I’ll give him more than that. This Tunisian whirlwind Fadi Khaled represents what true fighting is all about. I’m sure Harry Greb would concur.

If you are interested in learning more about Harry Greb check this out.

Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout one in a million fight

Big Daddy and I are ringside for the epic Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout at the Pattaya Max Muay Thai stadium when the unfathomable happens.

English ring announcers during the Dorian Price double knockout
The Fight Ssport television channel is viewed world wide.  Considering that many of the Muay Thai (Thai boxing) events come out of Thailand, most of the audience is Thai while the  ring announcer  is speaking Thai, to a primary Thai audience. The two Englishman in this picture are doing the international voice broadcasts in English.

Both of us being American, we favor the American fighter, Dorian Price over the Frenchman.  My pal, Big Daddy, who had once been a professional wrestler on international t.v.  wasn’t missing a moment of this unforgettable classic.  Whereas I was missing just about everything. I was too overwhelmed with shooting the video with my Nikon D750  trying to get everything just right.  I had the perfect lens for this event.

The Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout makes international headlines

This fight, this stadium, this one of a kind epic, is big stuff.  It just made U.S. Today.  And to think that I only have to drive 20 minutes on my motorcycle to cover these great fights.  Ironically, I just bought a new lens for my Nikon D750, a Nikon 2.8 24-70 mm that costs as much as my latest motorcycle.  The pictures this lens and camera can get are unworldly.  They are that good.  And the primary reason for getting it was to get an edge covering these fights.   Two weeks later, a one in a million chance occurs–the Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout

Dorian Price double knockout
This picture from “Pattaya Today” shows how the double knockout occurred. Jonathan Lecat is actually dominating the fight when (in my opinion and Big Daddy’s) Dorian Price got lucky. Lecat’s elbow is driving right into Dorian’s face with sufficient force to knock him down. Simultaneously Dorian delivers a hard right to the Frenchman’s head which knocks him down for about 30 seconds. This is a once in a lifetime shot.  Unbelievable, but if you don’t believe it, take a look at my slow motion video on you tube.

I was so involved with my camera work that I didn’t even know that Lecat was winning until the Dorian Price double knockout occurred.

But shooting video, especially in low light, is extremely challenging. For days on end I’ve been practicing, and I have yet to get the results I think I should be getting.  But tonight I think I hit the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  But I still never got to see the fight until I started editing my video.  I was that preoccupied.  As far as I had been concerned I had videoed the two fighters tripping each other up.  Then both had gone down together in a heap with neither fighter taking a major punch.  I take picture taking and doing video that seriously.  And since Dorian Price ended up winning I had thought him to be the dominant fighter.  Only later while editing my video, did I realize that Jonathon Lecat had been beating the hell out of Dorian when the once in a million double knockdown occurred.  A hundred years from now, this fight will be forever immortalized as the Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout.

I had seen the two fighters go down.  About 30 seconds later, the American was able to rise to his feet while the Frenchman remained comatose, dead to the world. “In all my years following wrestling and boxing I’ve never seen this before,” Big Daddy, screamed at me.  “I have never ever seen a double knockdown.”

Big Daddy was an international televised professional wrestler

Well, Big Daddy might have been one of the Assassins appearing on television as a professional wrestler, but I had always been a boxer. And I didn’t have the slightest idea of what Big Daddy meant by a double knockout. The concept was impossible for me to grasp. The whole idea of Muhammed Ali and George Foreman knocking each other out in a single second or two was unimaginable.  But here it was, the Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout preserved for eternity in my  video.

While I was a wanna be college boxing idol

And although I never fought professionally, I had been in more fights than I could count while growing up. Although I had been in several street fights as an adult, I wasn’t really into street fights. But I sure loved putting the gloves on to box strictly for fun. Boxing was my sport.  Always had been and always will.  In my fifties I kept a platform bag setup and heavy bag in my private gym that I had created from a one car garage.  In college I was the best boxer in my dormitory which selected me to fight the best boxer from another dormitory. That wasn’t much of a fight. The gloves were huge and well padded so neither of us were very successful at getting through the other boxer’s guard.  But it wasn’t long after that that I had a very short lived time of glory.

Jack Corbett, promising university Middleweight makes the front page of the Chicago Tribune

I was in the dormitory study room, when a couple of my dorm mates brought in a copy of the Chicago tribune. There I was on the front sports page of the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper had devoted an entire paragraph about me, extolling me as an exciting middleweight boxer from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  “This would be one of the most exciting Golden Gloves tournaments in Chicago’s History”,  the Tribune had printed. And it was because of exciting young boxers like me, a college boy, who’d soon be fighting in a sport that was devoid of College men.

But it was all a big joke–on me

I was foolish enough to go along with it all.  Most of the guys in my dorm got very excited about one of their own fighting for the glory of Lawrence University in the Chicago Golden Gloves. Suddenly there was a lot of talk about hiring a tour bus to take everyone down to Chicago to watch me tantalize the Chicago crowds with my blazing speed.   It turned out that one of the Freshmen in my class, Scott Lewis, had gotten an application for the Golden Gloves and had signed me up as a joke.

I would have done it. And my classmates were just crazy enough to get up enough money for a tour bus. Then one of the Lawrence wrestlers got a hold of me in the gym while I was suiting up for a Cross Country team practice run.

Jerry Nightingale star Lawrence University wrestler saves me from myself

I still remember exactly how he was looking at me and his exact position as he sat in front of me explaining the facts of life.  Jerry Nightingale was a black guy from Chicago.  I think he was a welterweight, weighing in at 145 pounds or so, which was about 15 pounds less than me.  Jerry was extremely quick and if I remember him right, he had always won most of his matches.  Not only was Jerry a very good wrestler, he was also the epitome of cool.

They are going to kill you in Chicago if you compete in the Golden Gloves

“You go down to Chicago and they are going to kill you,” Jerry warned.

“Why do you think that?” I asked. “I’m fast. And I’ve got an excellent punch. I think I have a very good chance of winning the first round or two in the elimination.”

“These guys in the Golden Gloves are from the ghetto. They’re poor. Most of them are uneducated. The only way out for many of them is fighting.  You can get seriously hurt if you go in the ring with them,” Jerry advised me.

Jerry Nightingale becomes my Guardian Angel

I sure as hell respected Jerry Nightingale.  He was a fine athlete.  He had a good head on his shoulders and he was a good guy.  Although I really enjoyed boxing, and thought I was faster than nearly everyone else, the prospect of meeting up with even faster guys who would relish cutting my face to ribbons sure wasn’t appealing. I immediately banished the thought of tour buses and being the school idol out of my game plan.

For me, boxing is still the king of all sports

Now I’m an old guy, even though I’m running 12 kilometers in the sweltering heat along Pattaya Beach. I can do it, but I’m all used up by the time I finish. But God, I sure love boxing. Even if I’m not doing it anymore. I’m an avid fan of guys like Andre Ward, Sergei Kovalev, and Gennadi Golotkin. I can hardly wait for the Andre Ward Kovalev rematch. I’ve got a few Russian friends now, not to mention a few other Russians I don’t know who I run into at the Centara Hotel physical fitness center. Russians take exercise seriously. Or at least a sizeable percentage of them do. That’s why the Soviet Union usually won more gold medals than the U.S. did in the Olympic.

It wasn’t just that those Communists herded their best athletes in like cattle in modern gulag training camps where they fed them steroids every day. Russians are tough and they pride themselves on their athletic ability. I think they always were this way, and one of the reasons they could defeat the U.S. in the Olympics is back in the bad old days of the U.S.S.R. there were more Soviets than Americans to choose from to field all those Olympic teams. Since the breakup of the U.S.S.R. Russia now has a population of only 140 million compared to 325 million Americans. But I do like having the Russians around because then I’m around people who take fitness as seriously as I do.

Big Daddy and I are still fighters in our hearts

So here we are, Big Daddy and I, alone among all our friends who really enjoy fighting. We are at the right spot at the right time to experience first hand that one in a million fight when both boxers go down for the count. in this Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout classic for the ages.  We have already seen another top notch fight between the Tunisian Fadi Khaled and Nueamek Sitjaymeaw of Thailand. This will be my next video on you tube. What’s terrific about living here in Thailand is I get to experience first hand what’s being shown on the Fight Channel on international television. My condo’s only 20 minutes from the new Pattaya Max stadium. A lot of the Muay Thai top events come out of Bangkok, but I’ve just learned that the Pattaya Max Muay Thai stadium is handling just as many top ranked fights. This stadium has a seating capacity of nearly 3000. The men sitting directly in front of us are doing the international English broadcasts that are seen worldwide.

But back to the Jonathan Lecat Dorian Price double knockout. Dorian Price won this one.  But when they meet again, I’m betting on the Frenchman.  It promises to be a great fight.  But it’s going to take years for anything to measure up to this Jonathan Lechat Dorian Price double knockout classic.

Nikon D750 Thai boxing video

Nikon D750 Thai boxing
You can’t beat a good SLR for capturing the action. Carrying all that extra weight around can really be worth it if it’s quality you are after

I shot this Nikon D750 Thai boxing video at the Max Muay Thai Stadium Pattaya using a Nikon 28 by 70 2.8 lens.  This is the same lens I used shooting digital stills of strippers and feature entertainers with a Nikon D-1 X.

Nikon D750 Thai boxing
Nikon D750 Thai boxing I shot a sequence of these shots using burst mode You can’t do this with a smart phone.

The Nikon D750 has awesome video potential

Weighing in at a full 2.2 pounds on that professional Nikon SLR with a powerful flash–this was a lot of weight to be carrying around on one’s neck all night long.  So I understand how the Nikon 28 by 70 2.8 lens earned its nickname, “The Beast”.   The lens was also very expensive.  But I noticed that this lens almost produced a three dimensional effect that lesser lenses were incapable of achieving.

My new Nikon D750 camera is an awesome piece of equipment.  Its resolution is four times greater than my old Nikon D1x.  Although it can function as a point and shoot, it has so many features that it would take me a lifetime to master them.   My main problem was that I could never shoot decent video with it.   Yet this camera had outstanding video capabilities according to all the photography reviews I had read.  I just couldn’t get it to change its focus when I went from short range to long range subjects.  But my little Panasonic LX-7 with its superb Leica lens came through every time.

But so far shooting video with it has ended in abject failure

All my video experiments with the Nikon D750 wound up in failure.  Then I found a one and a half minute video on you tube that pointed out a very important step I had never taken.  Suddenly all my focusing problems seemed to go away.  And tonight I was going with Big Daddy to the Max Muay Thai Pattaya Stadium.   There would be sufficient light at the stadium for accurate focusing of the camera.  While in the ring there would be a lot of fast moving action to challenge the camera’s focusing ability in video mode.

The Nikon D750 Thai boxing video vindicates the camera’s potential

For the first time my Nikon D750’s video performed up to expectations.  The Thai boxers were all over the ring, moving from its opposite side to only a few feet away from me.  Big Daddy and I had first row seats.  Being so close to the fighters did pose two challenges, however.  There was a post right in front of me, which would obscure my subjects from my camera whenever they moved behind it.   The second challenge was the ring’s ropes.  I’m sure that my camera was constantly focusing on the ropes instead of the fighters.   I could at least edit out those portions of the video that had the two fighters going at each other behind the post.  But there was no way getting around having to shoot between the ropes that formed the perimeter of the ring.    The camera would often tend to focus on the nearest object.

Overall, I think the results were outstanding.  The twin stereo speakers in the Nikon D750 reproduces very strong audio bass.  I think that the series of 20 odd digital stills at the end of the video show that there is really nothing like a good SLR camera when it comes to zeroing in on the action.  Nikon D750 Thai boxing



Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight was a draw

The Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight was a draw,  the way I see it.   But after losing the decision by just 1 point,  Kovalev, cried foul.  “I’ll beat Ward’s ass in the rematch,” he vowed.

My Russian friends
On the beach only 150 meters from our condo with my girl friend and two Russian friends. Five Russian families own 5 out of the 62 condos here. 3 of the 5 are from Siberia. I really have to watch it here to stop the Russian friends from picking up my tab under my nose so that they can treat us to free food and drink.  I used to view Russians  as the bad guys inhabiting the evil empire (the Soviet Union).   Well, believe me, my opinion on Russians has completely changed.  If anything I would have preferred the Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight going to the Russian.  But not by much.

After it was over, most commentators, felt that Kovalev had won, and since the fight had been held in Las Vegas, the judges were biased for their fellow American.   I say forget the bias be it Russian bias for the Russian fighter had this fight been held in Russia or for the American.  Make me the judge.  I always thought that Ward would win, but sentimentally I favored the Russian.

So why would I root for Kovalev over Ward?   I like both men, and  I really didn’t want either man to lose.  I’m not anti black and I’m not anti Russian.  I live here in Thailand in a 62 unit condo where I’m the chairmen over a 5 man committee that runs our building.   5 of them have Russian owners.  About one month before the Andre Ward, Sergei Kovalev fight, while I was drinking  at our favorite beach restaurant with several of my Russian friends,  I asked the Russians which fighter they wanted to win.

After a few Guiness Stouts I told the Russians what my brain and my heart were telling me.  “I like both men,” I told the Russians and I hate to see either one lose because both of them deserve to win.  But I  prefer Kovalev’s style.  Andre Ward is boring by comparison.  Kovalev comes right at his opponent.  His record is 30-0-1 with 27 of his 30 wins by knockout. “But I believe Andre Ward will win and when he does, I will really be sad.”

After the Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight  was over, I read that Kovalev had finally proved that he was an excellent boxer.  But I knew that already after watching a number of Kovalev’s fights on you tube.  I had also learned from watching his fights on you tube that Kovalev was very smart.  I  also enjoyed listening to Kovalev being interviewed on you tube finding him to be honest, to the point and very incisive.  But as fast as he is,  ring savvy,  and  his commanding power, I just didn’t think he would win against Ward, who I  believed was slightly faster and nearly incapable of making mistakes.

I expected Ward to win by decision.  And although Ward is not known for his knockout ability I would not have been surprised if Ward  knocked Kovalev out.  What I didn’t expect was for the Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight to be so close.

Living in Pattaya, Thailand, I couldn’t find a way to actually watch the fight on television.  I would gladly have paid the Sixty dollar pay per view that HBO was charging.  But I was not a subscriber to HBO. I couldn’t find any bars advertising the fight.   And I got the date wrong.  Thinking that the fight was on November 27th, I’d purposely avoid  news coverage of the fight until a couple days after the fight.  That way I could view it on you tube without knowing the final outcome.

But suppose that Kovalev or Ward had injured himself in training and the fight had been postponed.  I had to know.  So I googled Andre Ward vs Sergei Kovalev.  The first results I saw  had Kovalev defeating Ward.  Not by knockout but by decision.  This I found to be odd because I even though I felt Kovalev was  underrated as a boxer, I felt there was no way Kovalev could win a decision over Andre Ward who was an even better boxer.

I went directly to the fight on you tube.   When Kovalev floored Ward in the 2nd round I believed that there would be no way that Ward could survive past the 4th round.  But he did, and the fight went to the 5th, then the 6th round.  Then the 7th and the 8th.  By this time I truly felt that Kovalev had established beyond any doubt that he was Andre Ward’s master.  But Ward was hanging in there.  For the first few rounds Kovalev dominated the fight.   But by the time the fight had gone past the sixth round I could not see   either fighter dominating the other.

Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fightIt was proving to be a good fight after all.  By the middle of the fight Kovalev was well ahead in points but I could also see that Ward was slowly closing the gap.  In the closing rounds it also seemed to me that Kovalev was weakening whereas Ward was getting stronger and landing far more punches.

But remember.  I already knew that Kovalev had won the fight.  So I now imagined myself as the only judge.  Okay, Kovalev is the champion while Ward’s the challenger.   I had learned from my study of boxing that a challenger had to clearly take the title away from the champion  before he could be crowned as the new champion.  This meant by knockout, tko or by demonstrating convincingly that he had clearly dominated the fight.

Certainly Ward could not be awarded the decision by proving himself to be dominant.  But neither could Kovalev had Ward been the champion and Kovalev were the challenger.  Based on this criteria neither man would have dethroned the champion.  In the end the two men had proven to be an even match.

Then another idea  crossed my mind.  Back in the old days of boxing,  in the bare knuckle days of John L. Sullivan, fights often went well past the 20th round.   And it was the 26th round of a scheduled 45 round fight that Jack Johnson finally lost the heavyweight title to Jess Willard in the hot Cuban sun.   Had the fight gone just 12 or 15 rounds, Johnson would have probably kept the championship belt by decision.  But by the 20th round he was showing signs of past his prime tiring.

As Ward was steadily closing the point gap, there was little doubt that he’d win the decision if the Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight   were to go a full 15 rounds instead of the scheduled 12 rounds.   Kovalev could no longer match Ward’s speed.   He was also losing the ability to connect with his punches.  I had also noticed that Ward had snapped Kovalev’s head back several times in the latter rounds.   If the fight were to go on long enough, Ward would clearly be the dominant fighter by a mile.

The way I see it, the decision in  the Andre Ward Sergei Kovalev fight could have gone either way.  But to contend that Kovalev had been robbed is utter fallacy.  If there is to be a rematch, I’ll be betting on Ward.


Big Bad Sonny Liston unwanted champion of the mob

Big Bad Sonny Liston would go down as the unwanted champion of the mob and #1 ogre of the ring.  I hated him.  But now I wish I had been nice to him.  But how could I have ever hated a man I had never met?

Big Bad Sonny Liston
Man. Sonny sure looks like evil incarnate in this picture which is exactly the way I saw him as an 11 year old boy as he sat directly behind me during the Virgil Atkins welterweight title fight at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis

In a way I did meet him.  That was on June 6, 1958, and I was 11 years old that night Big Bad Sonny Liston glowered over me the night Virgil Atkins knocked out Victor Martinez for the Welterweight boxing title at Kiel Auditorium.  My step grandfather had been teaching me to how box since I was 10 so I had a year of trying to spin a speed bag with my elbows before he took me to St. Louis to watch the title fight.  Atkins was a hometown boy from St.  Louis and since Grandpa Timmerman and I were both living just 40 miles from St. Louis and Kiel Auditorium was hosting professional fights in those days, my seventy year old mentor had decided he just had to take me to the Atkins–Martinez fight.  Sitting directly behind me by his lonesome was a big black man.   The man did not smile.  He had no friends near him.  It took just one look from his impassive eyes to scare the hell out of me.  Grandpa soon explained that the big monster sitting just three feet behind me was none other than Big Bad Sonny Liston.  He will be the next heavyweight champion of the world, Grandpa told me.

Back in those days to my unschooled eleven year old brain there were two kinds of black men in the U.S.  There were the bad guy black men who Eldridge Clever would call field niggers in his masterpiece, “Soul on Ice” and there were the house niggers.  To some Eldridge Clever was akin to a terrorist.  But so was Malcom X and it was Malcom X who first started  the field nigger house nigger comparisons.  Later I’d love them both, Eldridge Clever and Malcom X.    However, my new attitude would not come until much later when I got into my twenties and started having a few black friends.  But when I was 11 there were only two kinds of blacks, polite ones who knew their place and rebellious blacks, who didn’t.  In other words–field niggers.  And Big Bad Sonny Liston was most definitely the most terrifying field nigger of them all.

That night when Atkins knocked out Victor Martinez, Liston nearly knocked me down as he got up to get out of Kiel in a big hurry.  Anyway, it seemed to me that he almost knocked me down.  But that was my simpleton 11 year old mind telling me that.  Much later on I’d learn to truly appreciate men like Eldridge Clever and Malcom X.

As for Virgil Atkins, only a few months later he’d lose his welterweight title to Don Jordan as I watched the whole sorry episode on television.  Compared to Liston, Atkins was pretty clean cut.  I’d start to explore the singularities between the two boxers only one week ago.  But I’ll get into such similarities later.

Big Bad Sonny Liston knocks out Floyd Patterson
Floyd Patterson had virtually no chance at defeating the super strong seemingly indestructible Sonny Liston

For now, it would be Floyd Patterson (who a lot of Eldridge Clever types would call an Uncle Tom black man) and Big Bad Sonny Liston, who later Muhammad Ali would call “the Big Ugly Bear”.   To me, Floyd Patterson was an acceptable black man.   He was polite and as heavyweight champions go, small, weighing just 190 pounds.  He was essentially a slightly beefed up light heavyweight.  He had been good enough to knock out the legendary Archie Moore who is oftentimes called the greatest light heavyweight of all time, and he had beaten several other good fighters.  But a true heavyweight he wasn’t.  But Big Bad Sonny Liston was.  And whereas Floyd Patterson was often accused of ducking the best heavyweights in order to preserve his heavyweight crown, Liston took them all on.  There was no way Patterson could beat Liston Grandpa Timmerman kept telling me.

Back then Liston had just about the longest reach in boxing He had the biggest fists on record.  At his prime fighting weight he fought at around 215 so right there he had 25 pounds over Patterson.  He got his initial boxing training at the Missouri State Penitentiary, after becoming infamous throughout St Louis as a hoodlum who was much hated by the police.

Henry Cooper, the British champion, said he would be interested in a title fight if Clay won, but he was not going to get in the ring with Liston. Cooper’s manager, Jim Wicks, said, “We don’t even want to meet Liston walking down the same street.”  (Wikipedia Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston)

Boxing promoter Harold Conrad said, “People talked about [Mike] Tyson before he got beat, but Liston was more ferocious, more indestructible….When Sonny gave you the evil eye—I don’t care who you were—you shrunk to two feet tall.  (Wikipedia Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston)

Which is exactly how I felt that night I was 11 years old and met Liston.  Liston was Count Dracula, the man eating Annaconda, and the Terminator all rolled into one.  Nothing could stop him, Grandfather Timmerman kept telling me, and by the time he knocked Floyd Patterson out in the first round and knocked out Patterson a second time in the first round of the rematch I knew that my grandfather was right.

But a new heavyweight rapidly came onto the boxing scene.  The new man was Cassius Clay who suddenly started taking the limelight as a gifted, tremendously fast loudmouth known as the Louisville Lip.   Patterson had proven to be hopelessly outclassed by the unstoppable Big Bad Sonny Liston human wrecking machine, but at a mere 190 pounds he just wasn’t big enough to have a fighting chance against one of the heaviest punchers the ring had ever known.  And Liston wasn’t too slow either, having one of the best jabs in the fight game.  But Clay was three inches taller than Patterson, which at six foot three made him even taller than Liston.  At this prime Clay fought at 210 which was within 5 pounds of Liston’s best fighting weight.

Clay had no chance. The odds pitted him as a 7 to 1 underdog.  What the world didn’t know back then was that Clay had an iron jaw, unequaled courage an unquenchable desire to win, and the fastest hand speed the heavyweight division had ever seen.

But Liston had been a hoodlum.  He had been owned by the mob.  This is something he had in common with the other homegrown St. Louis boxer, Virgil Atkins.  Was he still owned by the mob?  He had reputedly been owned by the worse names in organized crime.   Men such as Frank Carbo of Murder Incorporated for example.

Clay won the fight with Liston mysteriously quitting after the sixth round.  Liston claimed he had injured his shoulder in the first round and that by the end of the sixth round he could no longer fight. Also…a couple of rounds earlier something got into Clay’s eyes.  It is said that Liston’s ring handlers had put ointment on either his gloves or shoulders.  Whatever happened Clay fought more than an entire round almost blind, and Liston was unable to capitalize on his nearly helpless opponent.

Perhaps this is why Liston never came out after the sixth round.  He couldn’t even put away a blind man.  But the blind man was Cassius Clay who would soon announce his membership in the Islam nation and become Muhammad Ali. I will always contend that Ali was the greatest.

The rematch ended in the first round with Ali scoring a knockout against the indestructible Liston.  The punch that took Liston out was so fast that many didn’t see it.  Rocky Marciano who observed the fight from ringside later said that the punch that many felt would hardly hurt a bantamweight, was delivered so fast that even the camera could not pick up how Ali had accelerated the blow in its last 6 inches of travel.  The punch whether really hard enough to take a tough guy like Liston out or not became infamously known as the Phantom Punch.

So let’s take all the horseshit out about organized crime paying Liston to make a dive or Liston betting against himself to make an easy million or two.  I’ll tell you what I really think.  Muhammad Ali really was the greatest.  I don’t think he ever was credited with having all the punching power that he possessed.  There’s many fights I’ve seen on you tube where I can’t see the knockout blow actually being delivered, even in slow motion.  I can also say that I’ve been in a few fights myself when I’ve knocked down my opponent but I felt he had slipped.  I’d have people around me tell me I had knocked the man down with my fists but I had never felt a thing and had believed I had never punched my opponent at all.

Things would not end well for Liston.  A few years later he was found dead in a hotel room with syringes and heroin scattered throughout the room.  Obviously he had been a heroin addict.  The problem was, Liston had always been deathly afraid of needles.

Recently my opinion of Sonny Liston has changed. For one thing, I have learned that he loved children.  So I’m sure that had I been friendly that night I saw him at the Atkins fight, he would have made a very positive impression on me.  He was given a lot of bad press as Big Bad Sonny Liston.  Among other things he was constantly in trouble with the St. Louis Police department.  But I had gotten it all turned around.  It was the police who were constantly the instigators.  They persecuted him mercilessly.  And he had a wonderful sense of humor.  Once he said, “If I ever get the electric chair, I want my manager to get half the juice.”

He couldn’t read, but he was a common sense kind of guy, with a direct way of putting things.  After he knocked out Patterson the second time in the first round, a reporter asked Liston:  “Did Patterson fight better the second time?” Liston replied, “Didn’t you see the fight?”

When he was asked whether nor not Patterson should retire, Liston replied:  “Who am I to tell a bird he can’t fly.”

Another time he was asked how long he hoped to retain the title.  Liston replied, “That’s like asking God how long you want to live–as long as I can.”

In an event leading up to his first fight with Cassius Clay, Liston urinated on a copy of “Time Magazine” that had Clay’s picture on the front cover.  In the middle of Las Vegas in broad daylight no less.

Now I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but the more I read about Liston, the more I like his particular brand of humor.

Anticipating his upcoming first fight with Clay, Liston remarked,  “I’m liable to be locked up for murder if I fight him.”

He was an inveterate practical joker.    Once he used an electrical buzzer on a cop as he started to shake the officer’s hand.  He had to pay hundreds of dollars of fines and court costs afterwards but for Sonny, the prank had been well worth it.  He used to carry a double headed quarter with him at all times.

But Big Bad Sonny Liston was still an ex con who kept getting in scrapes with the police, and that’s what I kept hearing in the media.

The more I keep reading about him the more I like him.  Then of course there’s all those links to organized crime.  But back in his time, professional boxing was nearly totally controlled by organized crime.  In those times about the only way you could get to the top was to go through the mob.  Very few top fighters were able to escape being connected on one level or another with the underworld.

Then there’s that last enduring image of him dying from a heroin overdose.  Except practically everyone who knew him said he was afraid of needles.  Some say he had a heart attack.  Others claim he was murdered by either his mob connections or other unsavory types he might have crossed.

Joe Louis called Big Bad Sonny Liston the greatest heavyweight of them all.  But he lost twice to Muhammad Ali who fought Liston under his slave name Cassius Clay.  There’s a lot of controversy about both fights.  And even if he hadn’t thrown either one, he was still forty at the time of his rematch although his given age was more like 32.  And forty year old fighters very rarely win heavyweight titles nor do they successfully defend them.  So how good was Liston really?  Just watch the you tube videos I’ve listed below and judge for yourself.

Sonny Liston vs Cleveland Williams II–March 21, 1960

Liston vs Eddie Machen–September 7, 1960  Eddie Machen was one of the few fighters to go the distance with Liston.  Machen felt that he had Liston’s number and knew how to beat him.  Well–almost.  But almost only  counts in horse shoes.

Liston vs Albert Westphal–December 4, 1961
An easy victory for Liston?

Liston vs Patterson 1–September 25, 1962 He would have been a great fighter had he been a light heavyweight.  But after allegedly ducking the cream of the heavyweight division, Floyd finally had to face reality in the form of Sonny Liston–a reality that had most likely been Floyd’s worse nightmare.

Liston vs Patterson 2-–     the rematch  Once again Liston demolishes Patterson in just one round.  This time it takes one minute and fifty seconds

Liston vs Muhammad Ali–Both fights, Ali vs Liston 1 and Ali vs Liston II for the rematch,  You be the judge.  Could Liston have ever really beaten Muhammad Ali?

But now look at this one.  It’s August 6, 1958 when Liston knocks Wayne Bethea out in the first round.

In 1958 when he defeats Burt Winehurst by knocking him out of the ring in the 10th round as the bell sounds on the count of nine.

Sonny Liston vs Cleveland Williams I–April 15, 1959 Cleveland Williams was one of the heaviest punchers in the ring when Liston was in his prime.

It’s  December 9, 1959 when he TKO’s Willi Besmanoff in 6 rounds

In 1960 when Liston knocks out Roy Harris in the first round.

I see another Liston here.  Is this the man Joe Louis called, “The Best Heavyweight of all time?”   When for many Joe Louis was the best of all?  This is before Big Bad Sonny Liston  knocked out Floyd Patterson in their two title fights, twice in the first round.  In my opinion Sonny Liston hit his prime during these years before the  Patterson bouts that brought him the heavyweight crown.  By the time he fought Patterson he was already starting to show his age, which was reputedly around 40 when he first faced Clay.  

I wish I had spoken out to him back at Kiel Auditorium.  There is too much that has been said about the other side of Sonny Liston.  And he loved kids, both white and black.



Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king

With 49 wins, 43 of them by knockout and zero losses, a book might be titled Rocky Marciano  undefeated knockout king of heavyweight boxers.

Rocky Marciano undefeated and Ezzard Charles
A bruised and battered Rocky Marciano knocking out Ezzard Charles

Rocky Marciano alone out of all the heavyweight champions retired undefeated with a perfect record.  He knocked 87.5 percent of his opponents out, eleven of them in the first round.   An excellent athlete, Marciano strongly considered becoming a professional baseball player.   Yet Marciano seemed to lack the physical attributes of the best heavyweights.  At five foot ten, he was too short for a division that’s usually dominated by six foot two and even taller men.  He was too light at 185 pounds.  His arms were way too short.   Most of the men he fought had such a reach advantage that they could  stand out of range while jabbing his face to pieces.  But Rocky could be likened to “the Terminator”.  He always fought in superb physical condition.  He was relentless.   Constantly moving in he’d never give his opponents a moment’s rest.  And he was almost impossible to stop, having been knocked down only twice in his career.  He fought with a crab like style, hunching down low as he stalked his opponents.  This made him a smaller target while making his chin harder to hit.  In my opinion this crab like style did not make Marciano appear like a champion.  He was boring to watch, and he absorbed a lot of punches.  Obviously it was very effective though.  Although Marciano threw more punches than practically everyone else, his connection rate was abysmally low.  He was the opposite of Joe Louis, whose style was one of economy and grace.

One of the reasons Marciano missed so often is he had a habit of putting his entire body behind his punches.  In December 1963  “Boxing Illustrated”  measured Marciano’s punch and found it to have 1000 foot pounds of energy, which is enough force to lift 1000 pounds one foot off the ground.  Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano are oftentimes compared against each other.  Both men were highly regarded as knockout artists.  But whereas Jack Dempsey is usually rated as the more formidable of the two, Jack Dempsey had this to say about Rocky Marciano.

“What everyone forgets is that Marciano can punch harder with a right hand than any modern day heavyweight.  In his first fight with Walcott, Rocky needed only one blow to win the title.  The power in his right scrambled Jersey Joe’s brains at Chicago.  I’ve scored my share of knockouts along the way, but more often than not my opponents got up after being knocked down and had to be knocked down repeatedly.  The same is true of Joe Louis.  But Marciano needs only one solid smash and it’s all over.  That’s why Rocky Marciano is the hardest hitting heavyweight champion I have seen.”

So who really was the greatest heavyweight champion of them all?  Was it Joe Louis?  Jack Dempsey?  Muhammad Ali? Or Rocky Marciano undefeated out of all of these great heavyweight champions.  We will never know.  I have listed a number of you tube videos below.  The last one is an extended computer simulation that pitted an in their prime boxing years Muhammad Ali  against Rocky Marciano.  As he’s losing in points towards the end of the simulation, Rocky knocks out Muhammad Ali in one version of the simulation.  In another, the one that the Europeans got, Ali emerges as the victor.  But computers cannot measure what’s really lurking down deep in a man’s mind or heart.   The simulation was done in 1969.  This was done while Muhammad Ali was being suspended from the ring, before his comeback, and before he proved in his later fights many strengths that he had never shown before.

Joe Louis Fight 10-26-1951  In his quest of proving worthy of fighting the reigning heavyweight champion,  Rocky Marciano knocks out a still dangerous but aging Joe Louis.

Marciano defeats Jersey Joe Walcott to win the heavyweight title Sept 23. 1952.  This is a very interesting fight because it exemplifies how a seemingly outclassed Rocky Marciano shows off how his superior physical stamina and conditioning enables him to physically wear down his opponents.   The end comes in the 13th round.  It comes as a bolt of lightening.  The fight, particularly the end, shows off a very important Marciano attribute that allows him to triumph over all his opponents and that is one of supreme confidence.  Although throughout most of the fight Marciano appears to be losing, he never always seems confident of its eventual outcome.  Such confidence is very evident moments after he knocks Joe Walcott out.    Marciano knows there’s no getting up from the two blows he’s just delivered.  The right hand’s probably enough, but just to make sure a split second later Marciano delivers the Coup de Grace with his left.  He casually turns away from this fallen opponent without so much as a single  glance to see whether or not he’s terminated the affair.

Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott 2  5/15/1953  This one’s no contest as in this rematch, Marciano knocks Jersey Joe out in the first round.

Rocky Marciano vs Roland La Starza 9-24-1953  Often called Marciano’s toughest title defense.

Rocky Marciano vs Ezzard Charles II  9-17-1954  Ezzard Charles who had formerly held the heavyweight title is a faster and much more clever fighter than Marciano, but being fast and clever is not enough.

Rocky Marciano vs Archie Moore 9-21-1955  Archie Moore’s in his element as a Light Heavyweight.  But he’s also one of the all time greatest punchers in the ring with a never equaled ring record of 131 knockouts.  He goes on record for holding the light heavyweight title longer than anyone else.   In this fight Moore will drop Marciano down in the 2nd round, which is the 2nd and last time Marciano’s ever been knocked down.  But in the end Marciano simply has too much firepower for the old Mongoose.

Rocky Marciano vs Muhammad Ali (computer simulation) July 1969

Muhammad Ali sizes up Rocky Marciano and rates his chances against Rocky in their prime years  “he hits so hard”.  (Ali)

But here’s the other version of the Computer simulation of Ali vs Rocky Marciano and in this version Ali wins.

in the first version, Marciano is “The Terminator” because no matter how many punches he throws Ali simply cannot put Marciano down.  Marciano is in superb physical condition.  As was true in nearly all his fights he’s untiring.  His punching power is horrific but Ali due to his speed and tremendous boxing ability is able to escape Marciano’s onslaught until the very end.  We must keep in mind, however, that whatever data was fed into the computers is based on what was known about Ali before he was stripped of his title.  It was only after he made his comeback and started fighting in his post prime years that other huge strengths of Ali’s became known.  First, in his fight against Ken Norton when he fought with a broken jaw, Ali’s courage was obviously just as great as Marciano’s.  Later in his three fights against Joe Frazier, there could no longer be any doubt as to both his courage and his durability.  Before 1969 when the “super fight” was stimulated by computers Muhammad’s ability to take a punch was in question.  But after he knocked out George Foreman when he reclaimed the heavyweight title, the question of whether or not Ali had a glass jaw or not was answered forever.   I don’t think there’s ever been a heavyweight champion who was as durable as Ali and this includes Rocky Marciano.  The Super fight video in which Marciano knocks Ali also shows Ali as being deficient in the punching power department.  In 1969 Ali was not highly regarded for his punching power being credited as being able to stop his opponents with a flurry of punches instead of one or two single blows.

Unquestionably George Foreman was a very durable strong heavyweight, but when it came time to put him away, Ali put Foreman down with the greatest of ease.  There’s also the controversy over the infamous phantom punch where Ali knocks out Sonny Liston in the 1st round.  Opinion as to the authenticity of the phantom punch is very divided.  In one camp, Ali and Liston’s detractors contend that Liston intentionally threw the fight and that there’s virtually no evidence that shows Ali punching hard enough to put Liston down.  However, when you go to You tube and study the Foreman Ali fight, seconds after Ali puts Foreman down the announcer is yelling, “This is no phantom punch.  This is no phantom punch.”  There’s no doubt in the announcer’s mind that Ali has convincingly and quite easily stopped Foreman.  But I think there’s a little more to it than that.   The announcer is very excited when he screams into his microphone, “This is no phantom punch.  This is no phantom punch.”  At this very moment in time I believe the announcer believes that there never was a phantom punch in the first place.  The announcer is saying in effect that Ali’s ability as a fighter is simply off the charts and that Ali did in fact knock Liston out with a single blow.

Then again, all of this is only my own opinion.  But I will say this.  When you are actually observing a fight instead of watching it on television you see a lot of things that are never picked up on television.  The action is much faster than it appears to be on television for one thing.  Also…the intensity of the blows actually landing is of much greater force than what they appear to be when televised.

Rocky Marciano might not have been the undisputed King of the heavyweights.  Certainly both Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey are equally deserving of such distinction.  It’s likely that George Foreman could hit even harder than Marciano.  Or Sonny Liston, who just might have been credited a better champion than he was fated to become thanks to the mysterious Phantom Punch.   Or that Liston had the bad luck to be pitted against a Muhammad Ali, who had in equal measure the same virtues of stamina, heart, an iron jaw, and the relentless drive to win as Rocky in addition to the fastest hands the heavyweight division ever saw.   But Rocky Marciano had one claim no other heavyweight could make which could have been put in his epitaph as  Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king

The Greatest Boxer–of all time–Ali

Five Reasons why Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer who ever held a championship title.

by Jack Corbett

Muhammad Ali the greatest boxer of all time
In the return match after Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight championship Ali knocked out Liston in the 1st round. Here you see Ali taunting Liston by screaming, “Get up you bum.” In this controversial fight the knockout blow was notoriously called “The Phantom Punch.” Did Ali really knock Liston out or did Liston intentionally throw the fight by taking a dive? The cameras show that the punch was not hard enough to knock a man out, let alone a man as tough as Sonny Liston. But I beg to differ. Although Muhammad Ali was not renowned for his  knockout punch, I think you will all agree when you see all the videos here that Ali oftentimes knocked out an opponent in a seemingly effortless manner.

Who was the greatest heavyweight champion of them all?   The verdict of the most respected boxing experts are pretty much evenly divided between Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis. But let’s forget for a moment that the BBC ranked Ali as the greatest sports personality of the century or that Sports Illustrated called him the sportsman of the century.  Forget the fact that during his championship years Ali’s face was the most recognizable face in the world.  Forget that he was more famous than the U.S. president or any dictator or king on the planet.  I’m focusing on one thing only, and that’s who was the greatest boxer of all time.  Was Ali greater than Joe Louis, or Jack Dempsey.  Or how about Rocky Marciano who retired undefeated as heavyweight champion after winning 49 out of 49 of his fights–43 of them by knockout?   Louis, Dempsey, Marciano, and Ali were all heavyweight champions.  How about Sugar Ray Robinson who is generally acclaimed as the greatest boxer ever considering all the weight divisions altogether?  Well, I disagree, and I’m going to give you five reasons why Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer of them all.

First is superior speed.  Muhammad Ali’s hand speed has been timed as being even faster than Sugar Ray Robinson’s and here we are talking about a 215 pound heavyweight against a 165 pound Middleweight.  As the old saying goes, speed kills, and since Ali was even faster than Robinson this means his killing speed is even better.

Second is the  Ability to take a punch.    Ken Norton broke Ali’s jaw, yet Ali continued to fight until the bitter end.  Or ask George Foreman about Ali’s ability to take a punch.  Prior to being knocked out by Ali, Foreman had won 40 out of 40 fights,  37 of them by knockout.

Third is personal courage.   Certainly Ali’s ability to stand up to the heaviest punches of a George Foreman or Joe Frazier is a huge part of such measurement.  But Ali’s personal courage went far deeper than the ability to withstand the heaviest punishment an opponent could deliver.  In his prime years Ali took his stand against the Vietnam War by refusing to be inducted by the U.S. military.  As a consequence he was stripped of his heavyweight title while being deprived of his passport which meant that for three years he couldn’t fight anywhere in the world.  Had he allowed himself to be be inducted by the military, Ali would have had a soft and lucrative time of it fighting in exhibitions for the entertainment of U.S. servicemen, getting to tour the world, and making money endorsing various products from Wheaties cereal to fashionable cars.  He almost had to go to prison for standing up for his rights and his religious beliefs.

Fourth is all around boxing skills.  This includes footwork, the ability to duck and slip punches and the ability to take an opponent out.  While I was an adolescent studying Ali’s fights I was firmly convinced that Ali could knock any opponent out, and that when he didn’t, it was simply because he was playing games.  Examples of this include both Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell.   Ali could have knocked out  either man.  Instead he chose to humiliate both by dragging each fight out to the end as he toyed with each of them like a cat would with a mouse.

Fifth is, it’s difficult to lose at anything when you are firmly convinced that you have God on your side.  Muhammad Ali was a devoted Muslim following the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.  Much of the reason behind his taking his stand against the Vietnam War was because of his religion which prohibited the killing of other human beings.  Undoubtedly whenever Muhammad Ali stepped into the ring he absolutely believed that Allah would not allow him to lose.   Let me go one step further to say that Ali was in every sense of the word, Allah’s or God’s messenger.  His sacrifice of his heavyweight title and what would have been his most successful years as a boxer is in my opinion the same type of sacrifice that was made by Jesus Christ or Buddha who sacrificed all of his material wealth in order to teach the principles of Buddhism that he was bringing into the world.  I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that Ali would have sacrificed his own life for his principles.

I would classify Muhammad Ali’s career in four stages.  The first is one of establishing himself as being worthy of taking a run at the heavyweight title.  This stage of his career starts with his winning the gold medal for the U.S. in the 1960 world Olympics.  When he turned professional soon afterwards he fought a number of fights that brought him so much attention that Sonny Liston, who was then the Heavyweight champion could not ignore him.  The second stage of his career are his prime years as Heavyweight Champion before he was robbed of his title.  This starts with his first Liston fight and ends with his last fight against Zora Folley.  The World Boxing Association stripped him of his title soon after the Folley fight.  Over the next three years, as usually happens to a fighter after a long layoff, Ali’s boxing skills became seriously eroded.  He’d never be able to reclaim what he had lost in his prime years.  The third stage of his career were his resurgence as Champion.  Keep in mind that even though the WBA had stripped him of his title, Ali never ceased to become world champion in the hearts and minds of his millions of fans across the world.  A new champion would arise in the form of Joe Frazier after a series of elimination bouts were established.  And although Joe Frazier was certainly worthy of the world heavyweight title, the real champion had always been Muhammad Ali.  In order to be recognized as the real champion by anyone or anything other than the WBA Frazier would have to defeat Ali in the ring.  Which he did.  Or did he really?  I suppose that Frazier actually did defeat Ali in the first Ali Frazier match up, but he did it by the narrowest of margins.  Ali Frazier 1 has been recognized as one of the toughest and best in heavyweight championship History.  And for many, Muhammad Ali was still the reigning heavyweight champion regardless of what the referees had to say about it.  Later Ali would go on to defeat Frazier in their next  fight.  He then knocked out the “invincible” George Foreman and then he finally settled his score with Frazier by scoring a TKO in the last round after another grueling battle.

Ali’s supreme boxing skills had no doubt never been what they had once been during his prime years, but during this third stage of his career, Ali showed that as a ring commander he was second to none, and that he could take a punch as well as any man who had ever stepped into a boxing ring.  So in spite of his no longer being as fast or tireless as he had been in his prime he was now at the top of his game.  He had knocked out both Foreman and Frazier.  Both men were far more formidable than any of Joe Louis’s or Dempsey’s opponents, with the exception of Rocky Marciano who knocked an over the hill Joe Louis out.  Or possibly Gene Tunney who twice defeated a past his prime Jack Dempsey.  I mentioned possibly because I’m not sure how well Gene Tunney would have fared against a younger Dempsey or a Joe Frazier or Foreman, who were both extremely powerful punchers.

This is when Muhammad Ali should have quit.  He should have ended his career while he was on top.   By now he was simply getting too old.  He had absorbed far too much punishment in the ring and it is quite likely that Parkinson’s disease had already set in.  I will call stage 4 of Muhammad Ali’s career as “Eclipse”.    I will not contribute any videos that fall into this category for many reasons.    After all the subject of this piece is,  “Five Reasons why Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer who ever held a championship title” rather than a complete history of Muhammad Ali.

I’m  putting up a lot of you tube videos here both for my own personal enjoyment and for those who want to revisit the remarkable boxing careers of the greatest heavyweights of all time.

Stage 1 of Muhammad Ali’s Career.  Proving he’s worthy of fighting the world champion

Winning the Olympic Light Heavyweight Gold Medal  8/18/1960

Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Banks 2-10-1962

Muhammad Ali vs. Billy Daniels 5-19-1962

Muhammad Ali vs. Archie Moore 11-15-1962

Muhammad Ali vs. Doug Jones 3-13-1963

Muhammad Ali vs Henry Cooper  6-18-1963


Stage II in Ali’s Career.  In his prime as world heavyweight champion

Sonny Liston 1 vs Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title    2-25-1964

Muhammad Ali’s first title defense vs Sonny Liston   5-25-1964

Muhammad Ali vs Floyd Patterson 1     11-22-1965

Muhammad Ali vs. George Chuvallo    3-29-1966

Muhammad Ali vs. Henry Cooper 5-21-1966

Muhammad Ali vs. Brian London  8-6-1966

Muhammad Ali vs. Karl Mildenburger  9-10-1966

Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams  11-14-1966

Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell  2-6-1967

Muhammad Ali vs. Zora Folley  3-22-1967


Stage III of Ali’s Career Resurgence as World Champion (but past his prime years)

Muhammad Ali vs. Frazier 1       3-8-1971

Muhammad Ali vs. Jimmy Ellis 7-26-1971

Muhammad Ali vs. Floyd Patterson 9/20/1972

Muhammad Ali vs. Bob Foster 11-21-1972

Muhammad Ali vs. Jerry Quarry   6-27-1972

Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton 1   3/31/1973

Muhammad Ali vs. Frazier 2    1-28-1974

Muhammad Ali vs. Foreman    10-30-1974

Muhammad Ali vs. Frazier 3        10-1-1975

From November 22, 1965 when he defended his title against Floyd Patterson and November 11, 1966 when he TKO’d  Cleveland Williams, Muhammad Ali defended his title 8 time.  Think about that.  Here’s a man who risks losing the heavyweight championship 8 times in a single year when most heavyweight champions fight only twice a year.   In his prime Muhammad Ali would fight and beat all comers.  Ali  knew he was the greatest boxer of all time.  He always said he was.  And I believe that with the passage of time, he will be regarded as so much more than the greatest boxer ever.


Was the ferocious Jack Dempsey the hardest puncher of all time?

Many boxing enthusiasts consider the ferocious Jack Dempsey  to be the most brutal heavyweight fighter of all time.

The ferocious Jack Dempsey training
Jack Dempsey in training. My step grandfather, who had been a boxer himself oftentimes spoke of Dempsey’s ability to knock a man out with a punch that traveled 6 inches or even less.

But does this claim for unparalleled ferociousness really stand up against other fearsome Heavyweight champions who were perhaps equally noteworthy at knocking their opponents out?  At his best fighting weight of 190 pounds, Dempsey could easily knock out any opponent with a single short punch delivered from only 6 inches away.  But so could Joe Louis.  Ring Magazine gave its number one rating to Louis as number one out of its list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.  And Louis held the heavyweight championship for a record 12 years during which he knocked out 57 out of his 70 opponents.  Dempsey’s record stood at 57 knockouts out of 83 fights.  Which gives Louis  a knockout record of 81 % versus Dempsey’s 61 %.  But—when  you take Dempsey’s last 36 fights from 1918 through 1927 he knocked out 29 of his opponents.  Which comes out to an 80 % knockout rate, a figure that’s nearly identical to Joe Louis’s.

With the possible exception of Muhammad Ali Joe Louis is rated by most boxing experts as the greatest heavyweight of all time.  If it were up to me, I’d replace the word possible with probable, but I’m not about to explain that right now.  So you will just have to wait for me to defend my position in my next article, which will focus on Ali.  But I will say right now that it’s almost impossible to fault Louis’s style in any respect.   And as far as Louis’s ability to quickly put away a weakened opponent, to watch him is like watching poetry in motion.

But there’s nothing poetic about Rocky Marciano who knocked out 43 out of his 49 opponents for a knockout percentage of 86 percent.  And unlike Louis or the ferocious Jack Dempsey Marciano never lost.  Being able to retire as the undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world put Marciano in an elite category of one.

Or how about George Foreman?  In his prime before Ali defeated him, Foreman was 40 and 0 with 37 knockouts for a 92.5 percent knockout rate.  And whereas Louis was at his best fighting weight at 205 pounds while Dempsey was just 188 pounds when he knocked out Jess Willard for the heavyweight title,  Foreman was a six foot four giant weighing 220 pounds.

There were others who could justifiably be considered the most fearsome heavyweight puncher of all.  For example, Mike Tyson won 26 out of his first 28 professional fights by knockout, 12 of them in the first round.

The ferocious Dempsey was oftentimes called a tiger in human form, but how would one compare Dempsey to Tyson who bit both of Evander Holyfield’s ears during a fight leaving part of one ear on the canvas?

I’m going to let all of you readers be the judge.  Before I’m through I am going to have some of the best fights of Marciano, Louis, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Sonny Liston all together in this forum.  But now it’s time to get to the ferocious Dempsey who is after all the subject of this piece.

Let’s check this fight out first, when the ferocious Jack Dempsey defeated Jess Willard for the heavyweight championship of the world. The 6 foot six and a half inch  Jess Willard will fight Dempsey at 235 pounds.  Dempsey’s a mere wisp of a man in comparison weighing a mere 187 pounds and being nearly six inches shorter at 6 foot 1.

This bout is generally considered to be the most brutal heavyweight championship bout in History.  If Dempsey appears as if he’s made of iron, he nearly was.  Earning his fearsome reputation as a devastating puncher in the mining camps of the American West, Dempsey used to ride the rails for transportation to his earliest fights.  He was a pimp, bouncer and exhibition fighter who would take on all comers.

On December 7, 1920 Dempsey fought Bill Brennan for his second title defense.   The fight lasted 12 rounds, ending with Dempsey scoring a left hook to Brennan’s jaw which he instantly followed with two devastating punches to the body.


Once he became champion, Dempsey’s ex wife came out of the shadows to tell the world about how Dempsey had dodged the draft during World War 1.   Although he was World Champion, this made Dempsey a traitor to many who felt a man should never shirk his duty to God and Country.  This setup the fight between Dempsey and Georges Carpentier, a Frenchman who was regarded by his fellow Frenchmen as a war hero.   In this fight Dempsey played the role of anti hero and draft dodger while the handsome Frenchman became the white knight of France.  The two fighters would become lifelong friends but up to and during the fight both men were able to play their parts very well.   Carpentier was a fearless fighter with excellent boxing skills.    The Frenchman succumbed to  the ferocious Jack Dempsey’s  firepower  in the fourth round.


Dempsey’s next fight was with Luis Firpo, who was applauded by his fellow Argentinians as the Bull of the Pampas.  This became one of the most exciting fights in History.  Dempsey knocked Firpo out 7 times in the first round.  Yet  Firpo managed to knock Dempsey out of the ring.  To this day there is still controversy over whether or not Dempsey could have managed the ten count had he not been aided by several sports writers pushing him back into  the ring from their front row seats.  The ferocious Jack Dempsey does manage to get back into the ring, however, where he finishes Firpo off in the 2nd round.


Just keep in mind that in his earlier professional fights Dempsey weighed just 85 kilos (187 pounds).  But here he’s utterly demolishing huge men such as Firpo and Willard with body punches.  Willard suffers several broken ribs from Dempsey’s tremendous blows to the body.  It is said that Dempsey had developed a special technique that put his entire body behind his blows.

In July 1923 Tommy Gibbons fought an entire 15 rounds against the ferocious Jack Dempsey.  This is an interesting fight because Gibbons was then considered the number one boxer in the heavyweight division.  Note, that I wrote boxer, not fighter.  Gibbons weighed only 175 pounds so he was giving away 15 pounds to Dempsey.  Dempsey was given the decision however, so this was not a case of the fearsome puncher beating up the weaker but much faster and skillful boxer.  In his prime Dempsey had fast hands along with some excellent boxing moves.  So when you watch this video you might ponder how a Jack Dempsey in his prime might have fared against Gene Tunney, a man who was far more renowned for his technical boxing ability than his raw punching power.


Three years pass, and Dempsey’s not fought one championship bout.  He’s been spending  a lot of time traveling.  He dabbles in the movies, as an actor, although not a very good one.

Tunney and the ferocious Jack Dempsey
Tunney’s got the size, strength and the courage to mix it up with Dempsey

Meanwhile a new star has arisen from the Heavyweight ranks, in Gene Tunney.  Like Tommy Gibbons, Tunney’s an excellent boxer although he’s not renowned for his knockout punch.  But unlike Gibbons, who fought Dempsey at 175 pounds, Tunney is the same size as Dempsey at 190 or so.  It’s 1926.  Tunney beats Dempsey on points.


There’s a rematch in 1927.  Dempsey’s outclassed almost as totally as he had been in 1926.  But in the later rounds, Dempsey scores heavily with a barrage of punches that send Gene to the canvas.  However, the rules of the ring had recently been changed.  Under the new rules once a fighter knocks his opponent down he must immediately go to a neutral corner.  Dempsey’s not used to the new rules so he winds up hovering over his opponent.  In all likelihood he’s probably planning on demolishing Gene as soon as he starts to get up off the canvas.   The referee doesn’t start the count until after Dempsey finally goes to a neutral corner.  4 seconds have elapsed with Gene sitting on the canvas before the referee finally begins the count.  At the count of nine, Gene finally regains his feet.  A total of 13 seconds have passed with Gene either unwilling or unable to rise off the canvas.  Gene gets up and immediately gets on his bicycle as he backpedals away from Dempsey’s punches.  After several minutes he’s back to his normal form.  Once again he shows that he’s the superior fighter and wins the fight by unanimous decision.

Could Tunney have risen off the canvas before the count of ten had Dempsey gone immediately to a neutral corner?  There’s been a lot of controversy on that one.  But no matter what anyone else says, you can see the long count for yourself and make up your own mind from the following video on You Tube.  This video is silent.  It also happens to be of superior quality than all the other videos I’ve seen of the Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney rematch.


Gene Tunney didn’t remain champion for long.  Gene gave up his championship, after fighting one more fight in which he scored a technical knockout against Tom Heeney .

So how good was Jack Dempsey?  He most certainly faded fast once he started playing movie star and spent all that time over in Europe.  As you can see in the videos above the Jack Dempsey who knocked out Jess Willard and Luis Firpo was not the same fighter who later succumbed to Gene Tunney.  After he emerged from riding all those rails and fighting for small money in Colorado’s mining towns, Dempsey was a very hungry fighter.  He was lean and mean. In the ring he was pure animal with a single thought in his mind, which was to utterly destroy his opponent.  When the rules allowed it in his earlier professional bouts, he wouldn’t wait for a floored opponent to rise off his feet and regain his footing.  He’d hit the man as soon as he attempted to rise off the canvas.

And how about Tunney, the man who defeated the great Dempsey?  Ironically, although Dempsey was reviled as a draft dodger soon after he defeated Jess Willard, he became extremely popular later on.  His style was pure aggression and that appealed to the fans.  Dempsey also had a wonderful outgoing personality.  In time he became a real American icon, a hero who embodied the true spirit of the old American West.  Tunney never enjoyed such widespread acclaim.  For one thing, he was a book worm and an intellectual.  Americans in the 1920’s did not feel comfortable with intellectuals.  They still don’t.  The public also found Tunney’s boxing style to be boring.  He was generally regarded as a light puncher while his highly refined skills as a ring technician, did not bring on the excitement that a Dempsey or Luis Firpo brought to the ring.  Unfortunately there’s not a single video of the great Middleweight Harry Greb who had been Tunney’s nemesis while fighting in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions.  But those fights he had with Greb were gory blood baths during which both men proved they were as brave as they come.  Tunny’s professional record stands at 65 wins out of a total of 66 fights with 48 of those wins by knockout for a Ko percentage of 72 %.  Which is not bad for a man who had been considered a  light punching heavyweight.

You’ve got the fights now so you can be your own judge over just how good Jack Dempsey was and whether or not the ferocious Jack Dempsey was the most fearsome heavyweight of all time.  I think the fights against Willard and Firpo show that Dempsey was absolutely devastating in his prime, and certainly much faster than he was when he faced Gene Tunney.  But it’s difficult to measure the true greatness of Tunney.  He was an intellectual after all, and let’s face it, his style no matter how effective it might have been was boring.

I regard the ferocious Jack Dempsey in his earlier years as a professional as a man who was cut in the mold of Joe Louis.  Or is it, Joe Louis was cut of the same cloth as Dempsey?  Both men could easily take out virtually any opponent with a punch that traveled no more than six inches.  And either man was almost without peer when it came to putting away an opponent who was already in trouble.  They were roughly comparable in speed.  But as great as he was, Joe Louis had been punched out by Max Schmeling.   So Louis was potentially very vulnerable to the ferocious Jack Dempsey.  Who’d win is anyone’s guess.  But I don’t care, I still think the greatest of them all was Muhammad Ali who in his prime was simply too fast for even a Joe Louis to beat.  But my take on Ali will have to wait for my next prize fighting story.  But first I will leave you with one more Jack Dempsey video you might find interesting.


Was Joe Louis the best Heavy Weight Champion of all time?

Was Joe Louis the best heavy weight champion of all time or was it Muhammed Ali?  or Jack Dempsey, Foreman, Marciano, Liston?

Neither was Heavy Weight Champion in 1936
Joe Louis vs Schemling in their first fight in 1936

You be the judge because we are showing the videos of the finest heavyweight champions of all time.

Here’s some of my thoughts though.  Joe Louis’s style was  beautiful. With his hands held high where they should be, Louis was the epitome of economy as he stalked his opponents.  His punches were short and to the point. Accurate and lethal, he delivered them on que with what his mind was calculating.  Although obviously fast, Louis seemed more methodical than quick.  Joe Louis was confident and businesslike with none of the bravado of a Muhammed Ali.  A master finisher, Joe Louis  took his opponents out with punches that seemed  effortless.

The six foot one 197 pound Joe Louis won the heavyweight title from James Braddock.   This put him on the small side compared to most modern heavyweight champions.  From 1937 to 1948 Louis successfully defended his title 25 times. Of those, only three of his opponents went the distance.  Out of 68 professional fights, he lost only three times, while scoring 54 knockouts for an average 80 percent Knockout ratio .   As impressive as these numbers are, they are still just numbers.  To get the full measure of Louis as heavyweight champion and how he stacks up against other great champions, you must watch him fight. Thanks to You Tube, we can bring those memorable fights back in time.

The first is of Joe Louis winning the heavy weight title against the heavy weight champion, James Braddock, who had captured the adoration of his fans as the Cinderella Man. It takes one punch for Louis to finalize the bout, and he delivers that  single punch perfectly.


The next fight pits Joe Louis against ex heavy weight champion Max Baer, a formidable puncher who had lost his title against Braddock.


Here you see him against Max Schmeling in two all time classics. In the first fight (1938),  the German, who had been knocked out by Max Baer in an earlier bout, knocks Louis out in  the 12th round.


In the return match held in June, 1938,  Louis now Heavy Weight Champion after his knockout victory over James Braddock,  easily dispatches Schmeling in just 2 minutes and 4 seconds.


One of Joe Louis’s most memorable heavyweight championship fights  was against the Light Heavyweight champion,  Billy Conn.  Louis weighed 199 pounds to the brash Irishman’s 169. The fight went 12 rounds with Conn well ahead of Louis on points. Instead of coasting to what might have been one of the most outstanding boxing upsets of all time, the audacious Irishman threw all caution to the wind and went for the knockout. It was a very unwise decision and Louis turned the tables  by knocking Conn senseless with a perfectly timed right uppercut followed by a left hook.


This last fight pitted Joe Louis against Primo Carnera, the six foot six giant who had been slaughtered earlier by Max Baer. You might want to compare this fight against Jack Dempsey’s championship bout against Jess Willard who equaled Carnera in size.


In some ways Dempsey and Louis were similar heavy weight champions. Both could easily take an opponent out with a punch measuring no more than six inches. Both men were among the very heaviest punchers the heavyweight division had ever seen. But whereas Louis was a methodical and patient fighter who would masterfully set his opponent up, Dempsey was pure aggression incarnate. His savagery was palpable. So who would win if Louis and Dempsey could have fought each other in their prime? And how would either of them have fared against Muhammed Ali, who was the fastest heavyweight champion the world had ever seen? Well–it’s going to be awhile before I get those videos up of Dempsey and Ali, but when I do, I’ll let you make that call. Because I won’t.

Max Baers fights and the man himself

Was Max Baer a villain as portrayed in Cinderella Man or one of the most likable fighters of the 20th Century?  The following videos show  some of Max Baers fights, plus a few that show the wonderful appeal of the man.

The man behind Max Baers fights had movie star good looks
In real life Max Baer was a handsome showoff, who loved to make people laugh. His clownish behavior no doubt caused him to fall short of the boxer he might have been. When he died, his last words were, “Oh God, here I go.” Over 1500 people attended his funeral. Among his pall bearers were Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis

At heart he was a handsome fun loving comedian with the charisma of a movie star.  Which is exactly what he became out of the ring, performing in nearly 20 movies.   There are ten videos of Max Baer here. Some of you might ask, “Why would I put so many boxing videos out there, especially of Max Baer?

Perhaps it’s because I was once a boxer myself.  I never went even to the Golden Gloves, but I fought enough both in and out of the ring to feel the exhilaration of victory and accomplishment.  Perhaps it’s because all my life I’ve viewed boxing as the greatest sport ever.   Which it is.

There’s nothing else quite like it.  It pits not only one man against another, but the fighter against himself.  He must be able to overcome fatigue that courses throughout his entire body.  He must be in complete control of his mind at all times, especially when his mind keeps telling him to quit.  He must train his body relentlessly so that he is totally fit.  He must be willing to endure both fear and pain.  And he must be able to fight all out for ten and sometimes even fifteen rounds.  He has to be both strong and fast.

In the videos to come, you will see what happens to very large men who are not gifted with speed or skill in the videos to come starting with  the one on this page where Max Baer destroys Primo Carnera for the heavyweight championship.  Later you will see what happened to the six foot seven 245 pound Jess Willard  when he lost the world championship to a hungry 187 pound Jack Dempsey.   You will also see the fight in which Billy Conn,  a slender Light Heavyweight at 175 pounds nearly defeated the 200 pound Joe Louis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.  It is my intention on this site not only to put together in one place a large assortment of some of the memorable fights ever.  It is also to provide a sense of the great champions themselves both in and out of the ring.  It is nothing less than to these great boxers back to life here in the Fun House.

This first video is of Max, the man, a man who could have become the most memorable fighter ever, if only he would have taken his fighting more seriously.  Covered here is the real story behind Killer Baer, the man who was vilified in the movie, “Cinderella Man”.   In the movie, Baer is portrayed as a heartless fighter who’s killed two men in the ring.  As you will see in the video, Baer, actually did inflict enough punishment on his opponent to lead to the man’s death the following day.  The difference is the real Max Baer was haunted by the accidental killing which likely cost him the single minded drive to destroy his opponents most true champions possess.

The first video of Max Baers fights is his world championship bout  against Primo Carnera.  At six foot six and weighing in for his fights as much as 275 pounds Carnera was a giant in a world when the average male was only five foot six inches tall.  Obviously such a giant among men could enjoy enormous appeal as a fighter.   So the story goes that Carnera became a creature of organized crime, which carefully nurtured his career.  Eventually Carnera became world champion after a History of beating up on unskilled boxers that were reputedly hand picked by the mob.  Then there were the more skilled boxers Carnera dispatched who had taken dives for their mobster bosses.  Eventually Carnera was forced to fight a high quality fighter.  That fighter was Max Baer, and you can see what happens to Carnera when he has to fight a real fighter in the following video.

Max Baer would later star in The Prizefighter and the Lady, a film, that is closely based on the career of Primo Carnera.  Keep in mind that this 1933 film actually preceded the championship fight between Baer and Carnera.  One year later in 1934, the Primo Carnera-Max Baer bout is for real, but this time, Baer slaughters the inept Carnera.  Which makes it one of the most interesting of Max Baers fights.

poster of the movie Prizefighter and the Lady starring Max Baer
Ironically in this film Max Baer plays the actor who’s fighting a real Primo Carnera who’s not playing himself but a made up character based on the mob controlled Primo Carnera.

The film features performances from the real Jack Dempsey as well as Primo Carnera.

Max Baer training.  If you think that boxing in the ring is easy just try to go a single three minute round with someone with gloves on.  My step grandfather, who taught me how to box, used to train as an amateur fighter on the speed bag and heavy bag then he’d spar a few rounds with a friend, and after that the pair would jog 18 miles from Staunton, Illinois to Litchfield to complete their training session.  

This  second of Max Baer’s fights is of his match against Max Schmeling in 1933.  Schmeling  had been crowned world champion in 1930 after suffering from a low blow from the reigning world champion Jack Sharkey.    Sharkey would win the title back from  Schmeling in 1932 due to a controversial split decision.  Future world champion, Gene Tunney, would claim that Schmeling was the better man and had been robbed.

And this is Max Baer telling the press about his chances in his upcoming fight with James Braddock.  This is the same fight that’s recently been popularized in the movie, “Cinderella Man“.

Steve Bierko as Max Baer
Steve Bierko playing the villain, Max Baer, in “Cinderella Man”

So take Max Baer’s measure in this short film and ask yourselves, “Is this the same Max Baer, we saw Craig Bierko play in Cinderella Man?”

The third is when he lost his title to James Braddock, the Cinderella Man.

And here he is in the movies, in “Prizefighter and the Lady”.

Last fight is against Joe Louis.

Interview of Max Baer with Joe Louis several years after their fight.

Max Baer in “Fisticuffs”.   Once again, he’s in the movies.

Last, is Max Baer in The Harder They Fall.  It’s 1956, almost twenty years since Baer’s fought Schmeling and Louis.  And Baer’s acting alongside Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger, two of the finest actors in the business.  I tried to put up a 7 1/2 minute segment of this film after gathering bits and pieces of the original film, putting it into my video editing program and figured since I had only very short clips I could get around the copyright infringement issues, but this was not to be.  I was immediately flagged by You Tube as in only minutes.  This is a great film to watch, however, as it mirrors both Max Baer’s career and Primo Carnera’s.    But in this film, Max Baer plays the bad guy, who’s killed a man in the ring while the Carnera part is played by Mike Lane.  It is Humphrey Bogart’s last film.  An older and much more mature Max Baer shows solid acting credentials in this film.  Also appearing in the movie is Jersey Joe Walcott, who won the Heavyweight title in 1951.

This set the stage for the much later movie, “Cinderella Man” depicting Max Baer as an arrogant villain.  The videos I’ve collected here should present a much more accurate picture of Max Baer.  Up next will be Joe Louis.