Tuesday, December 26, 2006

His momma named him CLAY; I'm gonna call him CLAY.

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday in countries like England and Canada whereby one boxes up gifts to take to friends (as opposed to the family members).

Plus, Rocky Balboa started recently in theaters.

So, who is your favorite boxer of the Rocky genre? Favorite Rocky foil?
  • Rocky "the Italian Stallion" Balboa
  • Spider Rico
  • Apollo "the Count of Monte Fisto" Creed
  • Thunder Lips
  • Clubber Lang
  • Ivan Drago
  • Tommy "the Machine" Gunn

Boxing is one of the dirtiest rackets in operation, particularly under the realm of that which may be regarded as sport. It has also had some of the shadiest characters in the world intricately involved (e.g., Don King, more than the hair to avoid).

But I still have a passing interest, particularly in its history. I thought to myself, "Self, who's your favorite boxer?"

Joe Louis - the "Brown Bomber" was outstanding and head and shoulders above the competition (a 69-3 record). During the years leading up to World War two the nation got behind Louis who had defeated Germans Max Baer and Max Schmeling, the latter of which had handed him his first loss in 1936.

Louis was a popular figure, which was seen by the love shown him when he had financial difficulties. Frank Sinatra paid for an expensive surgery. Max Schmeling, a German competitor with whom he had split victories, paid for his 1981 funeral. The only character flaw of which I am aware is that he was a liar. He always lied about his age.

Every time we talk about boxing some white boy gotta pull out Rocky Marciano. Rocky Marciano was great AND he beat Joe Louis. Now, Joe Louis was allegedly 137 years old when they fought, but it was still a win.

Cassius Clay proclaimed, "I am the greatest," and he was ... at least in his era. He was stripped of the title for failure participate in the Vietnam War. He had tried to change his name to Muhammed Ali, but his momma named him CLAY; I'm gonna call him CLAY.

He won the Heavyweight title 3 times and really helped put boxing on the map for a lot of people. He did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. That wasn't just talk. Try to catch some of his fights on ESPN Classic.

Incidentally, Clay's 1975 fight with Chuck Wepner was the inspiration for Stallone to write the screenplay for the movie Rocky.

George Foreman - This father of George Foreman II-VI is a great personality and I love his grill, which is great for cooking bacon. He was a great champ back in Ali's day, but shocked the world in 1994 when he won the title at age 45. (I was blessed to get to meet him.)

Evander Holyfield - I fell in love with the Real Deal in college and he's the boxer I have watched perform as his career unfolded. He exposed Mike Tyson and was a great champion and professes to be a believer in Jesus. He is the only man to win the heavyweight title four times. Holyfield had been a Cruiserweight champion, and was an Olympian in that division. In 1984 he took the bronze medal in the Olympics, even though he could/should have won the gold. He lost in the semi-finals by disqualification for connecting with a vicious left hand after the referee called for a break.

He beat Buster Douglas to win the Heavyweight title, the man who had just won it from the overrated Tyson. Holyfield was set to defend the title against Tyson, but Tyson had a rape to pay for instead. He later beat Tyson twice, the second due to Tyson being disqualified due to biting off a piece of Evander's ear.

Jack Dempsey - I like the history of sport and going back into the annals my favorite boxer predates me by generations.

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (June 24, 1895 – May 31, 1983) held the world heavyweight title between 1919 and 1926, is widely regarded as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. Twenty-six of his opponents were knocked out in round one.

"The Manassa Mauler" lost (on points) to Gene Tunney in 1926. The attendance for this fight was a record 120,557, the largest attendance ever for a sporting event. It was reported that when he returned to his dressing room, Dempsey explained the defeat to wife Estelle Taylor by saying,"Honey, I forgot to duck."

Clearly, Dempsey could/should have won in a rematch, but was on the business end of "the long count."

Dempsey was losing the fight on points when he knocked Tunney down with a left hook to the chin in the seventh round. A new rule for boxing at the time mandated that when a fighter knocks down an opponent, he must immediately go to a neutral corner, but Dempsey seemed to have forgotten that rule and refused to immediately move to the neutral corner when instructed by the referee. The referee had to escort Dempsey to the neutral corner, which bought Tunney at least an extra five seconds to recover.

The official timekeeper for the fight counted the time Tunney stayed down as 17 seconds. But, after Dempsey finally went to a neutral corner, the referee started his count, and Tunney got up at the referee's count of nine. Dempsey tried to finish Tunney off before the round ended, but failed to do so. A fully recovered Tunney dropped Dempsey for a count of one in round eight, easily won the final two rounds of the fight, and retained the title on a unanimous decision. Ironically the new rule (which was not yet universal) was requested during negotiations by members of the Dempsey camp. Because of the controversial nature of the fight, it remains known in history as the fight of "The Long Count."
Dempsey's career encompassed 83 fights, 62 wins, 50 KOs, 6 losses, 9 draws, 6 No Contests. After boxing this popular figure fought a few exhibition fights before becoming a restauranteer.

So, who's your favorite boxer? and/or ... Who do you say is the greatest of all time?


At 26 December, 2006 22:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Johnson

At 27 December, 2006 00:00, Blogger GUNNY said...

An obvious favorite of Ron Burgundy as well, this Texas native was the first African-American heavyweight champion.

I can see him being an honorable mention. Thanks for bringing him to our attention.

At 27 December, 2006 07:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite is George Foreman. Afer all, "He helped Joshua fight the battle of Jericho, he helped Daniel get out the lion's den, he helped Gilligan get off the island." The dude won at 44. 44. That's greatness!

When I was a kid my favorite was Sugar Ray Leonard. Who could forget those bouts with Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran?!? (I guess Gunny could....how did you leave him out Gunny?!?)

At 27 December, 2006 13:17, Blogger GUNNY said...

Gunny's bad. How could he forget the greatness of Sugar Ray and those 7Up commericals when we were kids?

I guess I was errantly focused on Heavyweight boxers.

At 27 December, 2006 13:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be considered one of the all-time greatest, but definitely one of the all-time most inspiring, has to be Jim Braddock (aka "the Cinderella Man").

Focusing on the Heavyweights is understandable. No Tyson? ;)

At 29 December, 2006 00:54, Blogger GUNNY said...

Tyson? In contrast to Braddock (great movie), I'm thinking Iron Mike is one of the all-time most UNinspiring!

At 02 January, 2007 17:43, Blogger GUNNY said...


Rebroadcast of Holyfield vs. Foreman (1991) on ESPN Classic at 7PM (1900 hours) Central.

I got the TiVo set!

At 03 January, 2007 01:00, Blogger GUNNY said...

The fight went the distance, which was not expected of the 42 year old Foreman.

The undisputed champ Holyfield won on points after the 12 rounds and retained the titles.

At 13 January, 2007 01:16, Blogger GUNNY said...

The wife and I saw Rocky Balboa tonight.

If you were a fan of Rocky & Rocky II, you'll appreciate the series getting back to its roots.

It was not as good as either of the first two, but there were parts that stirred some of the same feelings as were stirred in the first.

This is in direct contrast to Rocky V, where one's sanity was shaken, not stirred.

The familiar music was comforting, though there were a few holes in the story line.

Taking on a more prominent role, and one that I understand has more to do with Stallone's personal life, was Spider Rico (a character likely only known to us die hards).

My wife was impressed as well that I recognized Marie right away.

Overall, I definitely give it a thumbs up ... a must see for any Rocky fan.


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