|11-03-2012, 06:52 PM||#1|
ESB Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Book review: The Name of the Game
ĎThe Name of the Gameí by Adam Heach. 2012 softcover.
This story concerns the life and boxing career of Thad Spencer who at one time was the #1 ranked contender for the heavyweight championship of the world in the latter part of the 1960ís. On pages 324-325 the author, Adam Heach, writes about Muhammad Aliís fight with Jerry Quarry in 1970 after his boxing license had been reinstated and says that when Spencer read about the fight he was jealous to the point of making himself physically ill. ďIt was the Muhammad Ali bout Thad had wanted his entire career. Instead he was the forgotten man. ĎIt should have been me,í Spencer thought regretfully. ĎIt should have been me.Ē
Yeah, thatís pretty much what happened I thought as I read that part of the book, Spencer, a talented heavyweight basically became the forgotten man. I have to admit that prior to reading Adamís fine book about Spencer I had no knowledge of Thadís boxing career whatsoever. Then again there are quite a few of the heavyweights of the 1960s other than the likes of Ali, Liston, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry and a few others that I havenít really researched all that much. For example, the likes of Eddie Machen, Earnie Terrell, Amos Lincoln, Brian London and Zora Folley. But, I have heard those names often enough over the years that Iím familiar with them and could have at least told you a bit about them. But, Spencer, he was another story altogether. I wouldnít have been able to tell you a thing about him.
Well, 412 pages later thatís changed. I now feel as though I not only know everything I need to know about Thad Spencer but Iíve been brought up to speed about a number of the other lesser known heavyweightís of the 1960s. Iím not sure what possessed Adam to write a book about such a flawed character as Thad Spencer, but Iím glad he did. The book is extremely well researched and makes for fine reading
Spencer was one of eight fighters that participated in the WBA heavyweight elimination tournament to crown a new champion when Ali was stripped of the title for refusing induction into the armed services. And, when he defeated Terrell he was the odds on favorite to win the tournament. But, Spencer, who was partying heavily and neglecting his training despite everything at stake, underestimated Jerry Quarry and suffered a 12th round technical knockout loss in the next bout.
It was all downhill from that point on. Rather than use the loss as motivation to turn his life around and rededicate himself to clean living and serious training, Spencer continued to party and indulge in alcohol and drugs and the losses continued to mount. The story of the downward spiral of his life and career are meticulously detailed by the author and the reader, like Spencer himself, is left to wonder what might have been if the fighter had been able to forego the night life and had been more dedicated to his boxing career.
In all fairness to Spencer, he did make attempts to salvage his career, at one point even going on a strict vegetarian diet, but by then his body had been too ravaged by his hard partying ways.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who would like to learn more about this period of heavyweight boxing history.
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