If you are a boxing fan you MUST read these books:

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by klompton2, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie banned Full Member

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    John Ochs has written a three volume set on the life of Jack Hurley, famed boxing manger who handled the likes of Billy Petrolle, Harry Kid Matthews, Boone Kirkman, Lem Franklin and many others. These books paint an incredibly rich and detailed history of boxing from the 1910s thru the 1970s. Its remarkable just how plugged in Hurley was and how he seems to be the Forrest Gump of boxing. Whenever a major story from boxing history is taking place Hurley is involved in some way shape or form either right in the mix or on the periphery. I cannot stress enough the breadth and depth of boxing history that these books cover and shed new light and a new perspective on events that run the gamut from being largely unreported in recent years to being famed events, the stories of which have been told countless times but, again, which are now being told from a different perspective and shedding new light on them. Hurley himself was a unique character and well worth the effort but if interests are more general and go beyond the life of a literal Runyon character then this book is for you. You wanna read about the greats like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, George Foreman, and Sonny Liston. Its here. You wanna read about more obscure but equally great fighters like Mike Gibbons or Billy Petrolle, its here. Wanna read about the rise of the mafia in boxing or how powerhouse promoters like Mike Jacobs and later the IBC took over? Its here. Wanna read about how Patterson-Rademacher was made? Or the promotion behind Graziano-Zale? Thats all in here. The twin cities, New York, Chicago, Seattle, all of their boxing scenes are discussed in detail. Hurley was right in the thick of things for over 50 years in boxing and these books tell his story and the story of boxing during that time period. I cannot recommend them enough.

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    For some reason I cannot access them via Amazon right now (3/23/2017) but keep trying for them because they will be back up shortly I have no doubt. Id love to have people who read the book come back and post their thoughts here because there will be a lot to discuss.
     
  2. doug.ie

    doug.ie 'Classic Boxing Society' Full Member

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    liked this story i saved a while back...


    Jack Hurley, the tall, thin, caustic manager and promoter who has a genius for developing mediocre fighters into rich ones, began snooping around for another boxer. Into his office one day in 1949 walked a skinny middleweight named Harry Matthews, who had won 67 out of 70 fights on the West Coast, had been fighting for 12 years and had succeeded only in getting deep into debt. Hurley agreed to take him on for his usual 50%. Matthews screamed in anguish. "Listen, young man," said Hurley, "you've been boxing for 12 years and you've made exactly nothing. Now, 50% of nothing is nothing. You don't know how lucky you are. What is happening is that you are getting 50% of me."

    Hurley watched his new gladiator work out and was appalled. "He got all his ideas from amateurs. It's a wonder he hadn't been seriously hurt. His idea of how to defend himself was to grab and run. That's all he knew. He didn't even know how to eat. He'd eat two meals a day. I said, "if you were a truck driver, would you eat like that?' He said, 'No, driving a truck is hard work. If I were a truck driver, I'd eat like one.' I said to him, 'Let me tell you something, young man. If you and I are to stay together, you'll work so hard you'll think truck driving is a soft racket. Don't ever lose sight of the fact that fighting is a hard and brutal business, and you gotta be in shape for it. From now on you eat like a truck driver.' He did, and he finally went up to 182 pounds.
     
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  3. doug.ie

    doug.ie 'Classic Boxing Society' Full Member

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    "But oh, he was such a bad fighter at first. He couldn't punch, he couldn't take a punch. He was an agony fighter. Looking at a fighter that can't punch is like kissing your mother-in-law."

    Hurley brought Matthews along slowly and one night put him into the ring with a carefully selected opponent who had had only 12 fights and was too light to cope with Matthews. "I figured Matthews would make his name overnight," says Hurley. "He figured to knock the kid out easy. But it went 10 rounds and nobody got hit, although Matthews wins the decision. The next day Matthews comes into the office, and he says, 'How did you like the fight?'


    "I says, 'What fight?'

    "He says, 'Last night.'

    "I says, 'Harry, that was the most disgraceful thing I ever saw. If you and that kid were to go down to the street corner right now and go through the same antics, that traffic cop wouldn't even come over and break it up.' "

    But Hurley has never needed a superfighter; all he needed now was a property, and Matthews, game and willing to learn, was it. The two of them set up shop in Seattle, and Hurley began the great campaign. Traveling the Northwest like a couple of drummers, Hurley and Matthews built up a legend that still has boxing's public-relations experts scratching their heads in amazement. The soft-punching, glass-chinned Matthews reeled off a dazzling skein of 35 consecutive wins, 28 by knockouts, and even began to learn a little about boxing. Hurley explains in detail how the feat was accomplished:

    "I made sure he didn't fight any great fighters. I picked 'em mostly by their styles, guys that had styles just right for Matthews. So all his fights appeared to be sensational. I wouldn't put him in there with a fencer and a runner, because this guy isn't gonna fight, and he isn't gonna let you fight. By the time Matthews runs him down and gets him cornered where he might nail him, the guy jumps into a clinch and the referee rescues him, and he's off and running again. This doesn't make for a good fight or good box office, and even if Matthews wins he has hurt his earning power. So I always picked fighters that really wanted to get in there and fight and lick my fellow, and while they were doing this my fighter was counterpunching and looking great."

    As the string of victories began building, sportswriters started to take notice of Matthews, and Hurley decided it was time to throw his "athlete" in with a genuinely tough opponent, "Irish Bob" Murphy. At first glance the fight looked like a cinch for Murphy, and the bookies made him the favorite. Murphy was a sort of left-handed, junior-grade, muscle-bound Marciano; he turned every fight into a street fight, and few could beat him in a street fight. As a pure boxer, however, he would not have lasted six rounds with Maria Ouspenskaya. Hurley knew this, and he also knew that there was one thing Matthews could do superlatively well, and that was fight a southpaw. "He had an instinct for fighting them, and by now he also knew how to fight a guy who comes to him. The fight was a natural for him."

    At the end of the seventh round there came one of those moments that determine whether a manager is worth 50%, 30% or nothing. Matthews had been hit hard on the chin and generally mauled around. He came back to his corner, flopped in the chair and made it plain he could not go on. No one would have blamed him. Hurley jumped in front of the exhausted fighter and blocked his view of Murphy sitting relaxed across the ring. "What a hell of a break!" Hurley whispered. "Murphy ain't coming out!" Matthews tried to peer around Hurley for a look, but Hurley kept getting in the way. "Listen," Hurley said, "I don't think he can come out, but if he does, Harry, step around, move around and let him fall right on his face." Dodging from side to side to block Matthews' view, Hurley poured out an avalanche of phony encouragement: "What a break! And you just getting your second wind at a spot like this! Listen, when the 10-second whistle blows you stand up and glare at him over there. Now, Harry, you got your second wind, you're fine, get in there and feint and let him fall flat on his kisser." The 10-second warning blew, and Matthews jumped to his feet, staring at Murphy. Hurley recalls: "Murphy looked back at him as if to say, 'Why, that dummy so-and-so, he ain't even tired.' " The inspired Matthews went on to win the last three rounds and the decision. Later Hurley explained his psychology:

    "You can't sympathize with a tired fighter. He's looking for sympathy, he's abused, the poor athlete. I got to shock him. I can't give him a slap in the kisser, which is what I'd like to do, and say, 'Well, yeh dog yeh, you're in here, ain'tcha? Now get out there and fight.' No, I gotta make him believe he's caught his second wind and the other guy's through. And it worked. Matthews told me he woke up in bed the next morning and said to himself, 'How did Hurley know I caught my second wind?' "
     
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  4. doug.ie

    doug.ie 'Classic Boxing Society' Full Member

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    With this win, plus one over Rex Layne, Matthews and Hurley had the ammunition for an assault on the IBC's lock on the heavyweight championship and the big money. Jersey Joe Walcott was the champion. Rocky Marciano was the No. 1 contender. Hurley began a whirling-dervish publicity campaign to force a Marciano-Matthews fight, the winner to meet Walcott for the title. The IBC wanted no part of a Marciano-Matthews fight: if Matthews should score a lucky win, Hurley would become a powerful figure in the heavyweight picture, and the IBC and Hurley were deadly enemies. Hurley began making cracks like: "How about Marciano, this great star they're keeping in cellophane? Did he or did he not stink out the joint with Lee Savold?" The campaign took hold. Wrote Frank Graham later: "By word of mouth, person to person or on radio or TV, in letters to newspapers or interviews with sportswriters, Hurley created such an uproar that it reached the halls of Congress where Senators and Representatives howled that Matthews was being discriminated against." The heat was on from Washington; the IBC had to give in.

    Stuck with the fight, the IBC began beating its own publicity drums, but Hurley got all the lines. He lampooned Marciano's talents so convincingly that Toots Shor was moved to remark: "If I listened to Hurley for a week, I'd take off 30 pounds and fight Marciano myself." Hurley boomed Matthews as the all-American boy, told one sportswriter: "Harry and his wife are unusual people and very decent and, while I'm no softy, I'm beginning to get an emotional kick out of seeing how well they are getting along and how wonderfully happy they are. I sometimes go over to their home in the evening just to enjoy the wholesome character of the place and the lovely kind of life they live." Brushing away a tear, Hurley would go back to his hotel and wait for the quote to appear in print, whereupon he would buy 500 of the papers and mail the clipping to sportswriters all over the country, who in turn would describe the touching scene in its endearing entirety. The fact was that Matthews and his wife, later divorced, were fighting like wildcats, but Hurley did not feel that this information would help the gate.

    The IBC sent out prefight placards bearing a picture of Hurley leaning over Matthews in the corner. No one could remember when a manager had ever been pictured on such a placard, and Hurley asked James D. Norris about it. Explained Norris: "Matthews is nothing without you." It was one of Norris' truer utterances.

    The fight was held on July 28, 1952. There are those who say it was a grotesque mismatch from the beginning, that Matthews never had a chance. Jack Hurley, who no longer has a Matthews ax to grind, thought and thinks differently, and he backed up his opinion with a $10,000 bet on his man. "There is a way to beat any fighter," he says. "If Harry had never heard of Marciano or even had been fighting him in his own familiar territory out West, he'd have won in a breeze. I explained to him before the fight, 'Harry, here's a case where you're safer being close to danger than out in the open. If you stand close and lean in about two inches, all his wild swings will go around your neck. And don't grab him in the clinches. He's too strong. Let him grab you, put your hands beside your chest, and as he reaches around, punch up, up. Those left-and right-hand uppercuts do murderous damage inside.' So in the first round everything went exactly according to plan. Matthews busted up Marciano pretty good and raised a knob on his eye. When he comes back to the corner I say, 'Harry, this guy's a soft touch. Now you know the way to fight him, Harry, you've proved it already, now just get out there and stay close; don't get scared and pull back or you'll get in the path of one of those wild swings.'

    "Matthews went out for the second round and all of a sudden he breaks out of a clinch, and he realizes he's fighting in Yankee Stadium in front of all those people, and he just gets frozen with fear. The guy threw a cuffing left at him and Matthews leaned back, and it hit him right on the bad chin. There was nothing on the punch, but Matthews leaned back, scared to death, and the fellow threw a second cuff and Matthews couldn't move. He coulda stayed close all night, but he leaned back and he got hit and he got knocked out. Let me tell you, it's a long way from that ring to the dressing room at Yankee Stadium, and all the way back people are saying, 'Where's your great fighter now, Hurley?' and there I am bleeding in my shoes."

    The Marciano debacle would have shoved many a fighter into limbo, which is probably where Matthews belonged anyway, but Hurley set about rebuilding "the athlete" into a card, and soon succeeded in getting him a Seattle fight with British Empire Heavyweight Champion Don ****ell. Matthews lost the decision, but a rematch was scheduled in London. Hurley began talking as soon as his feet touched British soil, and the press was goggle-eyed. "****ell is the best heavyweight you've ever sent to America," Hurley announced, knowing full well that no sportswriter in England could resist printing this line. "No British fighter has ever made such an impression on the West Coast. ****ell could beat Marciano on the best day Rocky ever knew. Marciano can't box, he's just a crude swinger. ****ell would be too smart for him. Who has Marciano ever beaten, anyway?"

    Said a reporter: "Well, Matthews, for one."

    Hurley shot back: "Matthews wasn't beaten by Marciano, he was beaten by Yankee Stadium. He was overawed. He would have beaten Marciano in three rounds if they had fought in Seattle."

    The sports pages were full of the fight, although a less important contest could hardly have been imagined. John Mac-Adam of the Daily Sketch wrote: "Mr. Hurley can sling words faster than either ****ell or Matthews can sling punches.... Hurley convinces you against your will that Matthews is the fighter of the century while you think in your heart he is not." Wrote Noel Joseph in the News-Chronicle: "Personally, I feel ****ell must win, but when I hear Hurley talking I feel Matthews has atomic power." The result, on a damp, chilly June night, was an attendance of 35,000 and a decision for ****ell. Hurley accepted the purse and the decision with becoming stoicism: "I thought it was a dead even thing. The referee could have given it either way." Matthews and ****ell fought a third time, in Seattle, and ****ell knocked him out. Soon after, Matthews retired; he now has a tavern in Seattle. Hurley came back into boxing's limelight in 1957 when he promoted the never-never land fight between Pete Rademacher and Floyd Patterson; he has been "between fighters" ever since.

    (by Jack Olsen - 1961)
     
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  5. Contro

    Contro Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Angelo dundee's book in the corner, Holyfield's autobiography "becoming holyfield", Tyson's undisputed truth, atlas' "atlas", at the fights, artur mercante sr's book, and lost in boxing are good reads as well
     
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  6. Rope-a-Dope

    Rope-a-Dope Boxing Addict Full Member

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    I'm going to start reading "The Black Lights" by Thomas Hauser in a few days. I've been meaning to read it for years.
     
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  7. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie banned Full Member

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    Please post about other books in a different, general thread on books. Im interested in discussing Hurley and his book in this thread.
     
  8. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie banned Full Member

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    Thats a great article. The great sportswriters who wrote about Hurley really convey a lot of the color he brought to the them. W.C. Heinz and Damon Runyon wrote some really good pieces on him as well.
     
  9. Saad54

    Saad54 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    That is a great book

    I read it back in the late '80s.

    Let's just say your opinion of Don King will not be raised by what you read about him in this book. LOL.
     
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  10. Saad54

    Saad54 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Joyce Carrol Oates wrote an excellent book consisting of short stories related to Boxing. I recommend it.

    Regarding Boxing journalists of yesteryear, Jimmy Cannon was a great one. He could paint a picture with words.
     
  11. Seamus

    Seamus Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Thanks for the heads up, SK. Ordering today.

    In further contributions to the thread topic, Steel Magnolias is a great movie.
     
  12. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie banned Full Member

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  13. Cmoyle

    Cmoyle Active Member Full Member

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    Just now seeing ths thread. I have all three books and am very early into reading the first one. But, I've read excerpts of various parts over the past few years as John worked on these. This is thoroughly researched and well-written work by an individual that I consider a premier boxing historian. I cannot recommend these highly enough.
     
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  14. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Thanks very much for the heads up .
     
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  15. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    I have this great read!