Monday, December 16, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Carmen Basilio

Carmen Basilio (April 2, 1927- November 7, 2012) was a two weight class world champion, who began his boxing career in 1948 in Binghampton, New York.  His first professional match was against Jimmy Evans, whom he knocked out in the first round of their bout.  He went 19-3-2 in his career in New York, losing to Connie Thies by way of decision in 1949.
Basilio then took his talents out of New York and on to New Orleans in 1953, where things began to get better for him.  He began winning big fights and found his way moving up in the Welterweight division.  In 1954, Basilio went undefeated in eight bouts and in 1955, he KO'd Tony Demarco, becoming World Champion.
His next fight against Johnny Saxton was allegedly "fixed" by Saxton's manager, Frank "Blinky" Palermo, with Basilio losing his championship title by way of decision in the 15th round.  Basilio and Saxton had an immediate rematch, in which Basilio regained his title with a 9th round knockout.
But Basilio's most notable bout was against the aging 37 year old Middleweight Champion Sugar Ray Robinson.  He won Robinson's Middleweight Championship on September 23, 1957.  Ultimately, Robinson defeated Basilio in their second meeting, and from then on, Basilio fought in spurts until his retirement in 1961.
In the late 1990's, Basilio became ill, and underwent a triple bypass heart surgery.  Carmen Basilio was a great athlete and a major credit to the history of boxing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Billy Backus

Harold William Backus, better known to the boxing world and boxing fans worldwide as, Billy Backus, is a former world boxing champion and nephew of famed boxing legend Carmen Basilio.

Backus started his career with a rocky record, only winning 7 of his first 19 bouts. But in 1964, Backus went on a 4 fight winning streak, ultimately suffering another 3 fight loss. After losing a bout on his 22nd birthday, Backus retired with his record consisting of 7 wins, 7 losses and 3 draws. He resumed his boxing career in 1966, scoring a knockout against Tod Purtell, in his first bout back after retiring. His career went uphill from there, as Backus went on a 7 fight wining streak. His streak was broken by fellow boxer Percy Pugh, but soon went on another streak of winning 8 in a row.

After his last winning streak, Backus became a top ten Welterweight challenger at number 10. In 1970, Backus was chosen by then champ, Jose Napoles, who had an optional defense of his world title, to compete against. Napoles and his camp thought Backus was the perfect "tune up guy" and a easy target. During their bout, Backus landed a punch that opened a cut over Napoles' eye that caused the fight to be stopped in the 4th round. Backus won by TKO, and became the new Welterweight Champion. In a rematch, Napoles KO'd Backus in the 8th round of their bout and regained his title.

Backus' career went on a up and down roller-coaster ride after 1971. After losing and then winning bouts, Backus became the number one challenger elected by the WBA Welterweight Championship. One draw and one knockout later, Backus announced his retirement. Backus went on to become a correctional officer, retiring in 2006 and is currently living in South Carolina.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Panama Al Brown

Panama Brown is a former Batamweight Champion from Panama, who made history by becoming boxing's first Hispanic World Champion. Brown fought during the early 20th century, when boxing records where not accurately kept. Brown was said to have fought 164 times professionally. He was six feet tall and had long arms, two things that contributed to his success in the ring.

While Brown clerked for the United States Shipping Board at the Panama Canal Zone as a young adult, he saw American soldiers boxing and was intrigued. In 1902, he turned pro under the guidance of manager Dave Lumiansky, on March 19, 1922, he defeated Jose Moreno by decision in the 7th. In December 13th, of that same year, he beat Sailor Patchett by decision to earn the Isthmus Flyweight title. Traveling abroad, Brown had his first fight in the U.S. in New York City, which ended in a draw. He established a presence and relocated to New York in 1923.

His career took off rapidly, and in that same year, Brown was rated 3rd best flyweight in the world by The Ring magazine. Brown also began to travel the U.S. fighting and winning until he suffered his first loss against Tommy Russo. In his debut in Paris, France, in 1926, Brown KO'd Antoine Merlo during their bout. Panama loved Paris so much that he decided to live there. He became very popular while fighting and living in France.

Landing a 15 second knockout in one his bouts, Brown made history for this feat, as it was never done before. He made history again on June 18th by beating Gregorio Vidal in a 15 round decision for the vacant Batamweight title, and becoming the first Hispanic to do so.

At the end of career, Panama Brown had retained his title nine times. He died unfortunately of tuberculosis in New York in 1951, homeless and penniless. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and is one of the best boxers of his era.

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Jack Johnson

John Arthur "Jack" Johnson, was a pioneering figure in the rich history of boxing. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson, also known as "The Galveston Giant," became the first African American World Heavyweight Champion from 1908-1915. Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas in 1878, was the son of former slaves and one of six children. Johnson tried unsuccessfully to escape his hometown of Galveston at the age of twelve, and began working in carriage-shop. It was there, where his boss, who was an ex-fighter, taught Johnson how to box. After working on the docks, Johnson would challenge his fellow workers to matches, to make money on the side. Winning his first ever bout, he collected a purse of $1.50.

Johnson made his professional debut in Galveston in 1898, knocking out his first opponent, Charley Brooks in the second round of their 15-round bout. In his third bout, Johnson was matched-up against John Haynes, also known as "The Black Hercules," who had unofficially declared himself the Black Heavyweight Champion. Johnson lost by TKO. After being jailed in Texas, where prize fighting was illegal, Johnson and his opponent, Joe Choynski, was allowed to spar in their jail cell. Johnson proclaims that his time spent in jail, made him recognize his skills, and credits Choynski with his success in boxing.

Jack Johnson's boxing style was like no other in the sport at the time. In the early rounds of his bouts, he was patient with his opponents, beginning cautiously, then becoming aggressive. He would carry on conversations with people at ring side during his fights. When Johnson became annoyed with a opponent, he would fight to punish. Many in the press deemed Johnson't fighting style as "cowardly" but praised the World Heavyweight Champion, Jim Corbett, who used the same techniques as Johnson.

After becoming the first African-American Heavyweight Champion on December 26, 1908, defeating Canadian, Tommy Burns, he vacated his World Colored Heavyweight Championship. After defeating Burns, there was a call to find the "Great White Hope," to take out Johnson, to no avail. Johnson's effort to fight the then Heavyweight Champ, James Jefferies, went unanswered for six years because Jeffreies refused to face him. But in 1910, Jeffries, who had long retired, agreed to a bout against Johnson with a lot of prodding and the promise of a purse of $120,000. Johnson vs Jeffreies was considered the "Fight of the Century," as racial tensions arose. Johnson, the younger fighter, out-boxed Jeffries and his corner threw in the towel in the 15th round, to avoid a knockout on his record. Johnson silenced his critics and Jeffries was humbled by the loss, proclaiming, "I could never have whipped Johnson at my best."

Johnson continued fighting professionally until he 60 years old, when age finally caught up to him. He died on June 10, 1946 at the age of 68, in a tragic car crash. In 1954, Johnson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. His life and career foreshadowed the career of boxing legend Mohammed Ali, and his legacy will always be remembered as a man who became a boxing legend who could not be ignored by the establishment of that era.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Riddick Bowe

Known as one the best heavyweight boxers of all time, Riddick Bowe dominated the sport, in both his amateur and professional careers. Born on August 10, 1967, Bowe was the twelfth of thirteen children from his mother. He lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, which was considered a low income slum. Bowe's path to boxing greatness began as an amateur boxer, winning the prestigious New York Golden Gloves Championships four times, among other tournaments. After losing in the Olympics, Bowe turned pro and was trained by Eddie Futch, who deemed Bowe, "as having more potential than any other boxer that he had ever trained."

Bowe is a former two-time World Heavyweight Champion, winning the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in 1992, making him the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. He had a second reign as heavyweight champion in 1995, when he won the WBO title. Two of Bowe's most notable bouts, and one that is considered to go down in boxing history, is his match-up against Evander Holyfield. In their first meeting, Bowe won a unanimous decision against Holyfied, but the 10th round of their bout, it was considered "epic and brutal, with back and fourth exchanges," making it Ring Magazine's "Round of the Year." In their rematch, Bowe lost the belts by  majority decision to Holyfield, only to knock him out in their third bout in 1995. Bowe became the only fighter to get a knock out over Holyfiled.

In his most bizarre bouts, Bowe went head-to-head with Andrew Golotta, who was disqualified for throwing shots to Bowe's groin, causing a major riot in the arena between both fighters camps, that spilled over into the crowd. Their rematch proved to be just as strange as the first. Golota was once again disquailified for punches to Bowe's groin, in which his camp contested to be overturned. After his bouts with Golota, Bowe retired, only to return to the ring in 2004 before retiring from boxing indefinitely.

In 2013, Bowe announced that he was beginning a professional wrestling career, and will make his debut for the UK based Preston City Wrestling Organization in March 2014.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Alexis Arguello

Alexis Arguello, also known as "The Explosive Thin Man," was a Nicaraguan professional boxer, who became a politician after his retirement. As a boxer, Arguello was a three-time World Champion, having never lost a title in the ring, instead giving them up each time he moved up in weight class. He is ranked 20th on the Ring magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all-time along with other honors.

Arguello's professional career began on a sour note. He suffered a first round TKO in his debut bout, but astonishingly went on to win 36 of his next 38 match ups. These victories led him to a Featherweight Championship bout against the WBA champ, Ernesto Marcel. Arguello lost the 15-round unanimous decision in what came to be Marcel's retirement bout. He then went on to capture the Featherweight title.

After becoming Featherweight Champ, Arguello moved up in weight class to Junior Lightweight, and defeated Alfredo Escalera. Arguello moved up in weight  two more times, first challenging Lightweight Champion, Jim Watt, claiming a 15-round decision, making him the 6th boxer to win world titles in three divisions, and secondly, taking on Hall-of-Famer Aaron Pryor. Pryor's victory over Arguello in the 14th round was marred by controversy and a rematch was immediately ordered . Pryor KO'd Arguello in the 10th without speculation.

After his retirement from boxing, Arguello became active in Nicaraguan politics and in November of 2008, he was elected mayor of Nicaraguan's capital city. He was fatally killed on July 1, 2009.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Logic Behind the Leather" Who Are They: Ike Williams

Ike Williams is a former Lightweight World boxing Champion from Brunswick, Georgia. He was well known for his thunderous right hand and was named to The Ring Magazine's 100 greatest punchers list of all time as well as Ring Magazine's Fighter of the Year for 1948.

During his career, Williams faced and defeated former Lightweight Champions Sammy Angott, Bob Montgomery and Beau Jack. Williams won the NBA World Title in 1945 against Juan Lurita, and held on to his crown until May 1951.

Ike Williams' career did not come without controversy, as he admitted to taking a dive against Chuck Davey, a much hyped contender for the welterweight crown. Williams accused other boxing mangers of black balling him because he wanted to manage himself. He ultimately allowed the infamous Frank "Blinky" Palermo to manage his career, whom he claimed robbed him of his purses, and in 1961, Williams testified in front of Congress on the matters of antitrust in boxing.

Williams left the boxing world with an astounding record of 125 wins, 24 losses and 5 draws. He died on September 5th, 1994, in LosAngeles, California.