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Old 06-05-2013, 05:58 PM   #1
john garfield
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Default your earliest memories...

...of boxing?
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:00 PM   #2
MrMagic
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

My dad waking me and my brother up to watch some early Mike Tyson fight in the middle of the morning.

What is yours, Joe?
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:10 PM   #3
john garfield
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

I posted something but it was 1800 characters too long. Will try to cut it down, 'n still make sense.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

early 70s when i was in the first grade. we lived in a duplex next door to my best friend. our families would sit out on the front porch on friday nights and bring out the tv to watch a weekly boxing program broadcasting out of mexico. our dads would drink beer and give us nickels so we could bet on the fights between ourselves. we made our bets based on the boxing trunks they were wearing, lol. the feeling of family, friendship and boxing all mixed together was the start of my love for the sport. i cant help but smile every time i think of those times.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

While Mike Tyson was mystifying and drew me into boxing, Nigel Benn really did it for me.

What a brilliant prospect he was coming up, a frightening middleweight.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Ali-Liston rematch.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Saturday afternoons with my dad. He would always wake up and take care of all the yard work. About the time he was done (I was of little help at this stage), there would be fights on TV. Free, over the air fights on one of our three stations.

Over time, I watched a lot of fights with my dad and his friends. The earliest marquee fight I remember is Holmes/Spinks 1.

A lot of those guys aren't here anymore. I miss them. But when a classic fight is on, I can sometimes remember it, and them, like it was yesterday.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

it's a bit faded memory, as a 5 year old, my dad woke me up at 5 or 6 in the morning to watch Golota-Bowe, those were the times when everyone in Poland was awake at 5-6 in the morning waiting for Golota to do something crazy
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:54 PM   #9
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Only three things mattered to a kid growing up in the Navy Yard section of Brooklyn in the '40s: winning a world title; fighting the main-go at The Garden and Stillman's Gym.

Every blue-collar neighborhood in New York was dotted with gyms. Every block had a fighter or a relative of a fighter. It was a sport that was accessible to us. And, sometimes one of our own rose up from the amateurs, got some big wins in local clubs and made it into the Garden, impressed in prelims and watched his name go up in lights as the headliner on the Garden marquee... like Billy Graham and Harold Green.

All we did on Friday nights was elbow each other out of the way to get closer to the radio to listen to the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports to hear the main event from the Garden. And if Rocky Graziano or Joe Louis rallied or won, you could hear the shouts echo in the streets from every open tenement window.

I knew that the big name fighters trained at Stillman's, but never imagined I'd ever get to go there. So, when my dad took me, it was like going to the circus for a kid still running around in corduroy knickers.

Once we were actually sitting in the gallery at Stillman's seeing the greats who were on fight posters tacked-up on every light pole and fence passing only an arm's length away doing floor exercises, warming up and sparring, it was sensory overload.

And while I tried to drink it in, Sandy Saddler and Paddy DeMarco play-fought with me. Bob Montgomery let me unlace his gloves; Beau Jack feinted punches at me. Most of those around us just wanted a glimpse up close of not only the fighters but anybody well known to tell their friends about.

The galleryites were larger than life: fight-greats, showbiz types glad-handing everybody, reporters talking to fighters and A-listers, 'n scary-looking guys like the ones that lounged outside the social club around the corner from me.

Willie Pep and Terry Young worked the crowd, breaking everybody up wisecracking about horses that were too slow or women that were too fast... I was hooked -- knew I had to train there some day.

On a frigid winter day in '48, to follow through on my promise to emulate Graziano 'n LaMotta, I cut school 'n took two trains and a bus to Stillman's.

Just under the faded sign over the gym doorway were 20 or 30 goombahs milling around a rugged young hopeful.

STILLMAN'S GYM
TRAINING HERE DAILY
BOXING INSTRUCTION see JACK CURLEY
(NO LITTERING ON SIDEWALK)
I had to navigate my way through, past the heavy iron door and up the steep, dimly lit stairs to Stillman's.

Stationed in the doorway to collect the 15-cent entrance fee was Jack Curley. He was late 50sh and world weary, with spectacles on the bridge of his nose - always in the gimlet eye of the gym's tyrant-owner, Lou Stillman, so that he could be sure nobody slipped by without paying.

I paid and asked Jack Curley if he could set me up with a trainer.

After appraising me like pawnbroker, he crooked a finger at a character the image of the Penguin in a Batman comic book.

"Izzy, see what the kid's got."

He musta been mid-40s, 'bout 5-7 - bulging wall-eyes, the drained pallor of a lifetime in airless gyms, and dark kinky-curly hair threatening to uncoil but bulldogged down and parted in the middle like a '20s bootlegger.

His nose was much too long for his face and pointy as a dart. He had no chin, no neck, was shaped like a pear and his stomach hiked up his trousers to his chest. He wore what must have been a white T-shirt at one time and 'n unbuttoned cardigan sweater with a towel thrown over his shoulder.

Rocking back on his heels, he shuffled over, chest out straight up and flatfooted; his shoes pointing outward like a Garment Center salesman. The only thing missing was the Penguin's umbrella.

He was my coach for the years I trained at Stillman's. His name was Izzy Blank, and he looked after me like a son.

Though Izzy never gained the notoriety of a Charley Goldman, Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein, and the like, he was respected and embraced by the fraternity and spared -- for the most part -- from Stillman's wrath

As good or bad as I ever got, Izzy never allowed me to forget what he thought unpardonable: As a Tony Curtis wannabe, I did what all the other kids did, I carried a condom in my wallet -- not that I had chance to use it-- but it was expected.

One day while changing, the rubber fell out of my wallet onto the floor and Izzy saw it. If I did anything after that that didn't live up to his expectation, he shrugged: "Sure! How can he fight? He's in the saddle!"

I had to do three times what anybody else did. If I so much as took a deep breathe: "The kid's in the saddle!"

Izzy Blank died...still unsung -- a funny, dear man that was my professor at the University of Eighth Ave.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Interesting JG as always, your very lucky to have grown up in the golden age of the sport and to have had the close up experiences.

For myself it was me and my big brother watching Duran v SRL (first fight) my brother was a big Duran fan (I was aged 5). It was a great introduction to the sport and got me hooked, I have always enjoyed close battles since, and admired fighters with grit and determination to overcome the odds.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Awesome story Joe.

You are truly blessed to have experienced the golden era of boxing.
Beau Jack throwing some feints at you, one of the most fan friendly lightweights of all time!
And Izzy sounds like one hell of a guy, I bet you miss him.

Great as always to read your stories, I never get tired of them.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:36 PM   #12
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Phenomenal post JG. You've set a new high, which is difficult to do with your lofty status.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Good post, JG. Always interesting to hear your accounts of those days.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:03 PM   #14
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Default Re: your earliest memories...

Hagler in them socks I remember watching with my dad.

My dad loved hagler for some reason.
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:13 AM   #15
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Watching the Ali documentary on Nickelodeon. Instantly fell in love with the man's persona and was impressed by the way he danced.
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