Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obituary written by Mike Silver

Photo courtesy of Hank Kaplan Archive

It is with sadness that I report the passing of my friend, the great Ted Lowry on Monday June 14th. Ted’s heart gave out. He was 90 years old. I use the word great in describing him not so much for his extraordinary boxing career but for the type of man he was and the quality of his character. Any of us who were fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of meeting Ted and getting to know him will agree. He was an intelligent, kind and generous individual, who treated everyone he met with genuine warmth and respect.
Ted was a member of what is referred to today as America’s greatest generation. He was born October 27, 1919 in New Haven, Connecticut, but grew up in Portland, Maine. In high school he excelled in every sport he ever tried, winning letters in track, football, basketball and baseball. He was even the state agate marbles champion and runner-up in the national tournament.
Ted Lowry began boxing professionally in 1939, at the age of 19, to help support his mother and siblings. Even though he had a limited amateur career Ted was such a natural he was fighting main events by his eighth pro fight. He never had another preliminary fight for the rest of his 144 bout career. Ted was fortunate to have an excellent trainer in Panama Roy Brooks, a former New England featherweight champion in the 1920s who was trained by the great Jack Johnson. Brooks taught Lowry many of the defensive maneuvers that Johnson had used to keep himself virtually untouched during his 25 year ring career. Lowry learned the lesson well. He never took a beating and was mentally sharp and active into his late 80s. When Ted was 86 years old I interviewed him for my book and if I had never met him could not have guessed that he had ever been a pro fighter, let alone one with 144 pro bouts to his credit. His speech was articulate and crisp and his memory of his fights astounding. He looked and acted like someone 30 years younger.
Lowry was a well muscled light heavyweight of stocky build who stood 5’ 10” and tipped the beam between 165 and 180 pounds. In the first four years of his career (1939-1943) he kept up a schedule that is hard to believe today but was standard operating procedure for many fighters of his era. In the 45 months before he joined the Army he engaged in 68 professional fights, winning 42, losing 22 with 4 draws. A heavy puncher, Lowry flattened 31 opponents and was never stopped or even knocked down during this time. He lost to the more experienced Coley Welch, Vince Pimpinella, Eddie Pierce (twice) and the feared heavyweight Lee Q. Murray (who outweighed him by 20 pounds).
Ted was often thrown in against heavyweights although he rarely scaled more than 175 pounds. In 1943 he drew with heavyweight contender Eddie Blunt. Outweighed by 30 pounds, Lowry still managed to drop his 6’ 3” opponent.
In examining Ted’s record one cannot help but notice a curious pattern. He would knock out an opponent and then in the rematch drop the decision. Or he would lose a decision to an ordinary fighter and then flatten the same opponent easily when they fought again. This could have several explanations; he was always available and sometimes would be called to substitute for another fighter on a days notice. He always kept in shape but the extremely busy schedule he kept would be hard for any fighter to maintain a consistency of performance. The other explanation is that as a black fighter trying to make a living and often fighting in an opponent’s backyard he was robbed dozens of times, or perhaps promised more bouts if he cooperated and tried not to knock out the local favorite. Ted once told me that of his 67 losses in 144 fights, he believed he actually lost only 23. I have come across a number of Ring magazine accounts of his fights which decry unfair decisions against him. I have no doubt what he said was true.
Like millions of other patriotic Americans Ted answered the call to arms during World War II. When he heard that the Army was starting its first all black paratrooper unit Ted was quick to volunteer. After a thorough vetting process he was admitted to the elite 555th parachute battalion, nicknamed “The Triple Nickels”.
Extensive training at Fort Bragg followed and included over 30 practice jumps. While in the Army Ted was asked to box an exhibition with heavyweight champion Joe Louis who was touring with a USO troupe. He always considered that exhibition with “Big Red” (as Louis was called by fellow Black soldiers) the top highlight of his entire boxing career. After the three round bout Louis told him he had the potential of a champion and could go all the way in boxing. Those words spoken by the great Joe Louis inspired and motivated him to continue boxing if he survived the war.
Ted (now a sergeant) and his fellow soldiers were eager to join the fight and be shipped over to Europe. To their disappointment the battalion was never shipped overseas. Instead they were used on a stateside secret mission that only recently became public knowledge. During the last year of the war Japan launched hundreds of balloons carrying high explosive incendiary bombs and aimed them at the U.S. The balloons were intended to follow the Pacific Ocean jet stream to the west coast of the United States and spread terror and destruction when they hit the ground and exploded. Dozens of these balloons actually made it to the west coast and beyond. Fortunately they landed in unpopulated areas but the explosions started massive forest fires. One family picnicking in an Oregon forest was killed by one of these explosions.
The government did not want to start a panic or let the Japanese warlords know that some balloons had gotten through, so the public never knew about the fires. The 555th was given a quick course in fire fighting and was parachuted into the forests to try and stop the fires from spreading. They soon acquired a new nickname “Smoke Jumpers”. Their success in accomplishing the mission was not revealed until the 1970s. A documentary called “Smoke Jumpers”, made in the 1990s and hosted by General Colin Powell, tells the story of the 555th all black parachute battalion.
Upon his discharge Ted picked up where he had left off in his boxing career. His problem was that he had all the talent in the world but not the right managerial connections to maneuver him up the ladder. But what he did have was Sam Silverman, New England’s premier boxing promoter, who used him constantly. At least Ted could be guaranteed to have a steady income fighting every two or three weeks. His record reads like a who’s who of top heavyweights and light heavyweight of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Ted crossed gloves with the legendary “Tiger” Jack Fox (L-10), Aaron “Tiger” Wade (W-10), Lee Savold (D-10), Lee Oma (D-10, L-10), Roland La Starza (L-10), Jimmy Bivins (L-10), Jimmy Slade (L-10), Ceasar Brion (L-10), Billy Fox (D-10,W-10).
In October 1949, in Providence, R.I. Lowry met a young Rocky Marciano. The Rock was undefeated, having knocked out 19 of 20 opponents. In the fourth round Rocky was staggered several times by Lowry’s right uppercuts. At the end of 10 rounds Marciano was awarded the decision but most spectators, including the reporter covering the fight for the Providence Rhode Island Journal thought Lowry deserved to win.
Eight months later Ted got one of his frequent calls to substitute for another fighter on short notice. The opponent was Rocky Marciano. Although Ted would have wanted more time to prepare for the re-match he couldn’t help but notice the tremendous improvement in the Rock’s technique. Ted lost the unanimous ten round decision but won Marciano’s everlasting respect. After the fight Rocky said, “I think Lowry would have gone the distance if we had fought a hundred times. I could never get use to his style of fighting.”
Ted’s style was mostly defensive, as he could not afford to get beat up or take too many chances if he was to continue his busy schedule of fighting once or twice every month. But there were times when he knew opportunity was knocking and he gave it his all. It was at these times that we saw what could have been and what Ted Lowry was capable of. In 1948 he fought future light heavyweight champion Archie Moore in Baltimore. After sampling a Moore left hook that nearly floored him in the first round, Ted proceeded to give the great fighter a hard fought battle. He lost a unanimous decision but won at least 3 rounds. In the write-up on the fight that appeared the next day in “The Baltimore Sun” the reporter wrote that the rounds that Moore won were closely contested and the scoring did not reflect how tough a fight it was for Moore whose eye was closed tight at the end.
In 1950 Ted, took the New England heavyweight title from Bernie Reynolds in 12 rounds. And in one of his best performances, in 1952 in St. Paul, Minnesota, he fought light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim in a non-title bout and was robbed of a decision he clearly deserved to win. The fix was in for this one as Maxim’s next fight was against the great Sugar Ray Robinson. There was no way Ted was going to get the decision.
Ted was 35 years old when he decided to retire in 1955. His final stats were 66 wins (43 by KO), 67 losses (KO by 3), 10 draws and 1 no decision for a total of 144 professional fights. Only two fighters were able to stop him. He lost to the power punching heavyweight contender Lee Q. Murray in a bout that Ted thought was stopped prematurely. And he was knocked out by the always dangerous Rusty Payne in the 7th round. Ted had twice gone the distance with both of these murderous bangers in previous fights. There is one other KO loss on his record, to Harry Kid Mathews, that occurred late in Ted’s career. Let’s just say the fight was of dubious veracity and that questions still remain about that “knockout”.
Ted did not get the breaks he deserved during his lengthy career. The fact that he never fought in Madison Square Garden says it all. But he was never bitter. The only time I ever saw him come close to an expression of anger was when he recalled an experience in the Army while assigned to a base in the Southwest that also housed German prisoners of war. The busses that ferried soldiers and prisoners around the base required black soldiers to sit in the back but allowed the German POWs to sit up front.
After his ring career ended Ted operated his own construction business in Norwalk, Connecticut for many years. For the past 40 years he has had the love and support of his wife, Alice. She was fond of saying that in all that time they never had an argument.
Ted believed in contributing to the community. He coached boxing at a local Norwalk gym where he was a father figure to many young men who otherwise would have gone in the wrong direction. He received many civic awards for his work in combating juvenile delinquency. Work was always very important to Ted. He could not sit still and always wanted to remain active. In his late 80s he was working as a bus monitor for a local elementary school.
In 2007 Ted published his autobiography, titled “God’s In My Corner: A Portrait of An American Boxer” in which he describes, in his own words, his fascinating life story.
During his boxing career Ted was considered a reliable journeyman fighter, always in shape, and always counted on to go the distance. 144 fights! I considered him to be a boxing treasure—one of the last links to boxing’s great golden age of talent, activity and popularity. I was proud to call him my friend and proud and honored to have interviewed him for my book to which he added so much.
Ted is survived by his lovely Alice, children and grandchildren. Rest in peace my friend.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fight Night by Amy Handelsman

June 6, 2010
Miguel Cotto (Left) lands a blow on champion Yuri Foreman (AP Photo)

June 6, 2010

6:30 p.m.

I arrive early to the Stadium, a little too sparkling clean for my tastes. In the spirit of hospitality (inviting folks to the South Bronx who might ordinarily resist), the Yankee Stadium employees hold up paddles that say, “How may I help you?” This seems a bit too friendly, un-Bronx like—the opposite of my experience at the old venue, when, asking for directions to the D train, a native trumpeted, “The D? The D? You don’t want the D. The D?? What are you--outta your mind?”

With seven fights on the undercard, there are not many people yet in the stands. Banners along the top spell out, “Mazel Tov, Scott,” evidence of the Ballan Bar Mitzvah that had been booked before the fight (and which Top Rank promoter Bob Arum successfully negotiated around, inviting all the guests to attend that evening’s bouts).

Most of the patrons are Cotto fans and wear some symbol of Puerto Rican nationalism. The Orthodox Jewish contingent will show up long after dark.

I worry about the clear ethnic rivalry between these two groups, and how, in a testosterone-filled event, there might be roving groups of guys, spoiling for their own fight. Freddy Colon, a security guard in a pale blue polo shirt, assures me that there was no special training given to handle the crowds, but admitted that there were close to 100 cops hired to help.

7:37 p.m.

I thread between the Mohegan Sun Press Room and the Monument Park Concourse where fans are starting to stream in. There are some decent fights on the undercard in the lighter weight classes; the female referee Sparkle Lee is in the ring. I’m glad they’ve got a woman in there, but her constant movement makes me think she’s not secure in the position. Maybe it’s a style thing.

Styles make the fight, they say. We’ll see how trainer Manny Steward has tweaked that of his boxer, Miguel Cotto. Cotto has taken a beating from the last two fights—against Manny Pacquaio (some say the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of today) and against Antonio Margarito.

Meanwhile, the styles of the Latinas entering the stadium are fierce, girls poured into dresses with backs cut out in strips, tottering on platform gladiator sandals, hips swaying. I admire their moxie. The men are likewise baroque; they sport fancy shaved buzz cuts, elaborate crucifixes nestled against their Cotto T-shirts, the bling of a martyred challenger with a chance of redemption.

8:21 p.m.

I ask the guy at the concession stand why there are only Cotto posters for sale. He turns over the stack—Yuri Foreman’s image is on the flip side. “Have there been any Foreman fans?” “Quite a few,” he says. “The bandanas are all sold out.” It is then I start to notice them, Jewish-American kids from Westchester and Long Island, in T-shirts that say “Advantage, Federer.” One wears a map of Israel with the inscription, “Let My People Stay.” These guys look like they might never have been to a prizefight. Next come some Israeli paratroopers, in considerably better shape.

9:50 p.m.

It’s more than 18 minutes after sundown (when the Sabbath officially ends), and Yuri has been whisked by police escort from the east side of Manhattan up to the Bronx. He won’t have much time to warm up and get his hands wrapped, and that worries me, too. Meanwhile, the last four fights have gotten better, gone the distance in unanimous decisions.

The Orthodox are streaming through Gate 8. It’s easy to distinguish the Modern Orthodox from the Chassids, the first in baseball caps or neat kippahs; the second, in black hats or fedoras, tallit hanging under their shirts. There’s a long line at the kosher food stand near the entrance. They look a bit stunned to be there, giddy that their boy made good. A fighter and an aspiring rabbi—how much better can you get? Talk about redemption…

10:13 p.m.

The final bout on the undercard is in the ring, for the NABF & NABO Super Welterweight titles: Joe Greene from New York, NY v. Vanes Martirosyan from Glendale, CA. They’re both good fighters, but my money is with the Armenian kid from Cali—he’s got Freddie Roach in his corner.

I stand next to big guy in a Mets uniform at Gate 8. I joke that he can’t wear that outfit in Yankee stadium. He tells me he’s not afraid. I say, “It’s just not right. When in Rome…” He tells me he can’t talk to me—I’m a Yankee fan. Next to him is a cop. Usually they’re in pairs. It occurs to me that the Mets guy may be a cop, too. I ask, “Are you undercover?” He says, “I can’t answer that.”

The city is doing everything it can to prevent what happened at the last Yankee Stadium bout 34 years ago, when Ali defended his title against Norton. The cops were on strike and roaming gangs went wilding. Despite an advance sale of some 30,000, only eight seats were sold at the gate.

There’s a bit of hysteria in the air now—a buzz from hype, adrenaline, and temptations of the flesh—liquor, blood, the potential for sex. A fight breaks out in front of me—two large black guys who could be football players in their size and grace. One has spilled the other’s beer. They are yelling, then suddenly freeze, touch fists and embrace. Meanwhile, a jostled sanitation worker calls out, “What the hell are you bumping into me for?”

I pass the concession stand—the Yuri Foreman posters are now right-side-up, next to the Miguel Cotto ones.

What looks to be former Yankee David Wells appears in a Red Sox uniform. He’s roundly booed and waves it off.

Vanes Martirosyan beats Joe Greene in a 10-round unanimous decision.

The Lead-in to the Fight

Cotto, the challenger, enters first to salsa music, wearing Ecko, his face solemn. He looks like he’s walking to his execution, his hand resting on the shoulder of his young son. He lost his beloved father in January. When asked about it, the boxer gets both wistful and defensive, saying his father’s never left him, he’s always there.

Foreman arrives to the call of the shofar, grinning, and to the singing voice of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Schneerson. I think about the Jewish boxers that went before him: Benny Leonard, Barney Ross, Lew Tendler, Kid Berg, Maxie Rosenbloom. Such was their popularity that Max Baer, who was assumed to be Jewish because of his name, never disputed it.

And in another homage to paternity, Arthur Mercante, Jr. is the third man in the ring. His dad, Arthur Mercante, Sr., who recently passed, refereed the Ali v. Norton fight in the old Yankee Stadium.

Spike Lee sits next to Ray Mancini at ringside. The Puerto Ricans in the pressroom join in with Frankie Negron to sing their national anthem. Shalva Berti croons a mournful HaTikvah (“The Hope”), and I think about the public relations disaster of the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla this week. A 16-year-old Andrea Rosario delivers our “Star-Spangled Banner” to the troops overseas. Michael Buffer invites us to rumble.

The Fight

Cotto clearly takes the first two rounds. He looks crisp, better balanced. He’s working his jab and double-jab. He’s not as fast as the elusive Foreman, but his timing is right. Steward did say that Cotto was a very willing student. In the second, Cotto knocks Yuri with a huge right hand. Yuri finally connects. He can control the tempo of the fight if he stays outside, but he’s no match-up for Cotto’s power.

The third round is up for grabs, most likely Cotto’s. Strangely, Cotto looks faster than Foreman; Foreman is slow to warm up. Cotto is also protecting against Forman’s jab by keeping his left hand high.

Foreman rocks Cotto with a right hand in the fourth. One of the announcers says, “Speed could be power.” The other, “Well, it is that.” Another right from Foreman.
He has to be careful he doesn’t leave himself open to Cotto’s deadly left hook. Foreman feints with the left and lands the right. Foreman slips in this round, but he’s shown more aggression and likely wins it.

In the fifth, Cotto looks sharp. Whoever said he was worn out from the recent losses didn’t count on this. Foreman is quicker, Cotto landing harder punches, and a fierce uppercut. (“You’d think he was Mexican.”) It’s a pivotal round—too close to call.

In the seventh, an announcer says that it looks like this fight might go to decision. It may be up to “who can make the other guy change.” Styles make the fight. Foreman’s right knee suddenly buckles—he goes down at a weird angle. He gets up, falls again. Mercante wants to call in the doctor; Foreman shakes it off. But it’s clear that he can’t pivot on his right, can’t even put much weight on it. For a boxer who relies on his speed and mobility, it’s questionable how long he can continue.

Foreman answers the bell for the eighth round and it seems foolish. He can barely move. We see Foreman’s beautiful wife Leyla Leidekcer (a model and fellow boxer) entreat Joe Grier, Foreman’s main second. From his corner, a white towel is thrown; it hits Cotto on the shoulder. Everyone assumes the fight is over—the white towel being a universal sign of surrender. But as corner men and press pour into the ring, Mercante throws the towel back out; he consults with Foreman, orders everyone to leave. Astonishingly, the fight continues after a 2:57-minute delay. Less than a minute to go in the round, Cotto holds back and Foreman is all heart.

The pressroom is electric with disbelief: Why didn’t Mercante stop the fight, either accepting the trainer’s surrender, or protecting a fighter who couldn’t be relied on to protect himself?

In 0:42 seconds of Round 9, Cotto delivers a left hook to Foreman’s body. Foreman crumbles and the fight is mercifully stopped.

12:45 a.m. Post-Fight Press Conference

Bob Arum addresses the crowd as a hungry press awaits the boxers. He thanks his partners at Yankee Stadium, thanks the 20,2072 attendees, thanks the weather for “cooperating.” Bobbing and weaving, Arum not so deftly addresses the question of the thrown towel. “Who threw it? I don’t know. But it didn’t come from the fighter’s corner!”

Arum commends Foreman’s heart but says, had the fight gone to decision, it most likely would have been Cotto’s. What’s next? That depends if Pacquaio v. Mayweather comes together. And it should. The issue of drug testing is off the table.

The first fighter out is Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan, along with trainer Freddie Roach. Martirosyan tells us he enjoys the boos from the crowd—that’s what you hear coming up from the amateurs.

Cotto follows. He’s still not smiling. Cotto manages to appear both humble and arrogant. He says he’s donating his shoes from the fight to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Arum gamely holds up one shoe, asking, “So, where’s the other?”

Foreman is all sheepish grins. It’s impossible not to like this guy. He tells us that he saw the towel being thrown—“it was a lot of commotion”—but when Mercante asked if he wanted to continue, he answered, “Of course.” He slipped not because there was a wet spot, but because the lateral movement put a strain on an old bicycle injury. He was just 15, and the family was too poor for medical insurance. An ESPN reporter asks Foreman if he thinks it’s a torn ligament. Arum pipes in, “That’s a stupid question.” The reporter shouts back, “It’s not a stupid question, Bob! It’s not a stupid question!”

Joe Grier, Foreman’s main trainer, has the last word. Grier did throw in the towel; he did it after not being able to get the referee’s attention. His fighter showed a lot of heart but started getting hit by shots. “I wanted him to leave with some dignity.”


Amy Weighs In....

June 4, 2010

Pedro, one of Foreman’s trainers, said his fighter would do a light workout at Gleason’s on Friday, the day before the fight, but I doubted it. Yuri was not at the gym this morning; I knew I’d see him later at the weigh-in.

My journey to Yankee Stadium on the No. 4 train was filled with anticipation. I’d missed going to a home game last year and while faithful to the old stadium, I was anxious to see the new one. This was an emotional homecoming of sorts for me, too, as my love of boxing came from my father, a Bronx boy and die-hard Yankee fan. I think about the old greats, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake La Motta, Mohammed Ali, even Jack Johnson. I think about when fights went as long as the opponents were standing; I even think back to the days before gloves. In any event, there’s a long tradition of watching fights out of doors.

The announcer at the weigh-in invokes the line from “On The Waterfront,” :

A title shot…outdoors…in a ball park

Two fighters on the undercard come out first—super-welterweights Joe Greene from New York, and Vanes Martirosyan from Glendale, Ca. Freddie Roach is Vanes’ trainer, representing the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood where I once trained. It is good to see Freddie—good to see him so successful. (He trains Manny Pacquaio).

For the Main Event, Miguel Cotto comes on stage first. He is all glowering menace, in aviator shades. He quickly doffs headphones and a black knit cap and hands them to a rotund factotum standing guard beneath him. He shrugs off unlaced sneakers, his white Argentina # 28 Polo shirt; his navy cargo shorts, even his necklace. His tattoos are fierce. He wears royal blue Superman underpants and cups his hands demurely over his genitals. He weighs in at 153.5.

Foreman enters to boos. It’s a largely Latino, home crowd, with only a sprinkling of Orthodox Jews wearing skull caps and tallit. Yuri throws a few punches before getting on the scale and keeps his black booties on his feet. His underwear is also black, threaded with an elegant gold pattern, and he wears a signature jaunty cap. He weighs in at 154, a half-pound more than the challenger, but, at a rangy 5’11”, appears puny in comparison. Yuri grins impishly; Cotto never breaks a smile.

The fighters pose for photos side-by-side. They turn for the ritual stare-down. It seems contrived. But there will be plenty of people there tonight to “represent”: the Puerto Rican from Caguas vs. the Jew from Belarus by way of Israel.

I overhear Bob Arum say that someone’s nephew (Arum’s or Yuri’s) would be coming over from Israel to blow the shofar as Foreman enters the ring. It’s not an anomalous gesture. Before being used for religious practices (most notably at Rosh Hashonah) the shofar was blown as an Israeli call to war. One more marriage of spirituality and the fistic science.

Amy Handelsman on Yuri Formeman

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My boxing training has taken me back to Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, home to Yuri Foreman; I’ve become obsessed with the June 5th bout. To my delight, Yuri comes in to train while I am there this morning; I eye him keenly, trying not to stare but anxious to pick up pointers. We jump rope in tandem across the gym floor, a line of duct-taped heavy bags between us. He steps into the ring to shadowbox; he’s as fluid as an eel. I am reminded of the predictions about the fight—that Cotto has the superior punching power—but I’ll take a boxer over a banger any day, and Foreman may be too quick for him. In any event, it’s also said that Foreman will go against his natural instinct as a counter-puncher and be more aggressive, bringing the fight to his opponent.

At home, I read up on Yuri’s rabbinical training at the Iyyun Institute with Rav Dov Ber Pinson, a world-renowned Kabbalistic scholar. The rabbi has been recommended to me by other observant friends who know I am a spiritual seeker and looking for my next teacher. I watch YouTube videos of Foreman being asked how he reconciles his boxing with his rabbinical studies. He says that boxing is his job, while his studies with the Pinson are his schooling, and that they complement each other. The Iyyun website argues further for the balance of heart, mind, and body. I feel a surge of energy reading this, as I have always felt that being in the ring was a kind of sanctuary, and that my immersion in boxing, religion, and theater was all part of the same stew.

The Night Before Slugfest by Amy Handelsman

June 5, 2010

Friday night. Shabbos. I decide to attend services in the place where Yuri Foreman and his wife pray. There is construction near the building, so they will be held at the home of Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson, followed by the traditional Sabbath meal. I am a little shy about going—I won’t know anyone, and I even doubt Yuri will be present—but I remember how welcoming Orthodox Jews have been to me when I’ve shown up unaffiliated.

The Rabbi gives a talk after dinner on the Parsha of the week, Sh’lach. Moses sends 12 spies from the desert into the land of Canaan—a land supposedly flowing with milk and honey. The Rabbi says that Moses and G-d had an argument before sending out the spies; G-d wanted women sent; Moses wanted men. G-d let Moses have his way, knowing the outcome would not be as good. Indeed, 10 men came back and said that they came upon giants and were as grasshoppers, indicating a vast inferiority complex. Only two spies saw the possibilities. And this tells us that we see things not as they are, but as we are. I am reminded of the work of Einstein and the physicists who say that the act of observing changes the observed.

We learn that there are two ways of acquiring the land—through vision, and through conquering. We could not achieve the good by vision; our vision was distorted. It was left to Joshua to acquire the land through acts of conquering.

There were many friends of Yuri’s at the Shabbos dinner. None had been to a prize fight and many would be setting out, like Yuri, 18 minutes after the sun sets to trek to Yankee Stadium for the battle. But Yuri is being given an NYPD escort for a seamless delivery (and a delivery in style) to the stadium.

The Rabbi also talked about words trumping thoughts and actions trumping words.

Mike Silver's Reaction to Slugfest....

I went to the fight--just couldn't stay home and watch it--had to witness in person. It was a good fight while it lasted because of the opposite styles of the fighters. Within a minute of the first round I saw that Yuri was in over his head and I wasn't sure at that point that he would last the distance. If not for the knee giving out I think he would have lost a unanimous decision. Cotto is not the fighter he was but still had too much ability and experience for Foreman who gave a great effort and won the respect of the crowd with his courageous effort.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Boxing Historian Mike Silver Weighs In

"I'm getting excited about the upcoming Yuri Foreman vs. Miguel Cotto title fight at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night. I love the hype. Reminds me of the old days when stadium fights were a regular feature in the greatest fight town of them all!
Here is a fact about the original Yankee Stadium (opened in 1923) that might interest you: During construction the stadium an engineer and partner of Jacob Ruppert designed a hydraulic lift that was placed under second base. A boxing ring was erected on the hydraulic lift and when fights were held, the direct around second base was removed and a trap door opened through which the ring was hoisted and set at second base. That's how big boxing was in those days!
It's ironic that the first world title fight at the new Yankee Stadium involves a Jewish champion. The first world title fight at the old stadium involved not just one Jewish fighter but two! Both the champion Benny Leonard, and the challenger, Lew Tendler were Jewish. Guess you couldn't lose if you bet on the Jewish fighter to win!
For more facts about the golden age of boxing read my book "The Arc of Boxing" The rise and Decline of the Sweet Science."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'll drink to that!

Mike E. Collins was the inventor of Light-Welterweight weight class in boxing. He was also promoter of boxing matches and publisher of "The Boxing Blade" in 1920s. We have a good number of Collins' newspaper, which he published in Minneapolis. Here's one issue, dated April 12, 1924, which featured on its cover a "quintet of athletic frauleins from the land of the pretzel and schnapps."