The Brief Stardom of Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by toybulldog, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. toybulldog

    toybulldog New Member Full Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    I wrote this piece on troubled 1950s heavyweight Tommy "Hurricane" Jackson, who challenged Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title in 1957. Definitely a sad story.

    In 1954, Jackson lived up to his nickname in New York, upending Rex Layne, Clarence Henry, and Dan Bucceroni in successive fights at the Eastern Parkway Arena in Brooklyn. With his oddball style, windmill philosophy, and inhuman capacity to absorb punishment, Jackson was an instant crowd favorite who alternately amused and outraged a hard-bitten city with his antics, including stunts that some newshawks mistakenly considered showboating. Between rounds, Jackson would occasionally forgo the customary stool and, instead, perform aerobics/calisthenics/isometrics in the corner, underscoring both his indefatigability and his hyperactive nature. His frenzied approach in the ring—even during rest periods—gave the impression of a man who might one day erupt, like the Great Whatsis in Kiss Me Deadly. (If Jackson had been born fifty years later, he would have been a prime candidate for Adderall.) In addition, Jackson specialized in bizarre non sequiturs and free-association quips, which gave him a certain amount of charisma during the bland Eisenhower era, when fighters were distinguished primarily by the color of their trunks on black and white telecasts. Sometimes Jackson was even outspokenly glum about his career. “My managers all did wrong and they know it,” he said, after losing his only title shot, in 1957. “They pushed me along pretty fast. My time was up, that’s all.”

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  2. The Funny Man 7

    The Funny Man 7 Boxing Addict Full Member

    Apr 1, 2005
    Wow great stuff. Always knew the guy was said to be eccentric, but it seems like a case of genuine illness.

    Never heard about the 'Yagash' punch before.
  3. Tonto62

    Tonto62 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    Jackson was mentally deficient.
  4. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Not here for the fairy tales Full Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Yeah, from the articles I've read it seems pretty clear that Jackson had some profound cognitive disabilities. Seems like some boxing insiders made laughed at him for being "kooky" (an old John Garfield thread really captures that:
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    ) but he was actually mentally disabled. Came across as a young child in a man's body and everybody treated him as such. Never learned how to read and write, and he ended up without a dime and had no idea why.

    I saw one article from the mid-60s (when his career was over and he was shining shoes), where he waited outside of MSG to catch up with Floyd after the Chuvalo fight but Floyd's brother didn't recognize him and wouldn't let him through. The reporter told Floyd about it in the hotel room afterwards and Floyd seemed sad and concerned about Jackson. Floyd reminisced about how Jackson used to follow him around like a little brother when they trained together (even though Jackson was older), and how Jackson would always ask him to take him to shoot rats in a nearby dumpster (Jackson also would pretend to shoot imaginary rats with an imaginary gun at times). He was known for playing on the street with the neighborhood kids on his block, and he probably got along better with them than with adults.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019

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