November 7, 2011 |
The bitter rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier went beyond their epic clashes, spilling out of the boxing ring and into the better part of three decades. Both would trade verbal jabs through the media as it seemed the hostility only grew in the absence of another fight. But on Sunday afternoon, as Frazier remained in serious condition in hospice care, Ali was one of the many boxing greats who sent their well-wishes. "The news about Joe is hard to believe and even harder to accept," Ali said in a statement.
September 20, 2011 |
Legendary Philadelphia boxer and trainer George Benton died from pneumonia early Monday morning at St. Joseph's Hospital. He was 78. As a middleweight, Mr. Benton compiled a 62-13-1 record, with 37 knockouts, over a 21-year career that was highlighted by victories over future world champions Jimmy Ellis, Freddie Little, and Joey Giardello. In 1970, Mr. Benton was an innocent bystander but suffered a gunshot wound that ended his ring career. He went on to train some of the sport's top combatants, including Philadelphia's Bennie Briscoe and Joe Frazier as well as Evander Holyfield, Leon Spinks and Pernell Whitaker.
July 26, 2011
NEWS REPORTS say that legendary boxing promoter Butch Lewis died of a massive heart attack. That sounds about right to me. Because Butch had a massive heart. He was a paradox, a contradiction in terms. He was the original little big man, a fierce boardroom brawler who could strip you clean in a bargaining session, then become your most trusted partner when the deal was done. When he carried the shield for one of the fighters or entertainers he represented, Butch could be tough as nails.
July 24, 2011
Philadelphia native and former WNBA star Dawn Staley is among the six inductees to the 2012 class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The inductees announced Saturday also include Robin Roberts , a Good Morning America host; two-time Olympic gold medalist Nikki McCray ; former Old Dominion star Inge Nissen ; five-time Division III national championship coach Nancy Fahey ; and former South Carolina star Pam McGee ....
January 5, 1997 |
Three or four times a week, when his pockets are empty and his spirit is willing, the former heavyweight champion of the world reports to a labor pool and awaits his day's assignment. One morning he might be sent to Kiel Center, to clean up concession stands or wipe down the St. Louis Blues' sideboards. Another day he might be unloading trucks, or doing factory work. The temp agency is called Labor World. The pay is $4.75, minimum wage, the work not much steadier than any other aspect of his life.
June 27, 1991 |
Milt Bailey has made a living sopping up the sweat and blood of such heavyweight champs as Sonny Liston and "Smokin' " Joe Frazier. He is the aging master of a secretive trade. Bailey, 81, of North Philadelphia, is a veteran boxing corner man known as a "cut man. " He is a 60-second doctor who patches up fighters between rounds, then sends them out for more mayhem. "I believe I can stop any cut in two rounds," Bailey said. "I guess it's just the magic that's in my touch.
March 30, 1989 |
Denny McLain is playing "Moonglow" on his Korg Mi-1 synthesizer, standing about six feet in front of a table containing a 30-pound roast beef and happy- hour hors d'oeuvres. He has a broken E-flat in the middle of his keyboard, but nobody knows the difference. After all, this is the Denny McLain, the last 30-game winner in baseball. McLain turned 45 yesterday. He is 10 months younger than Tommy John, who is still throwing baseballs for the New York Yankees. McLain has been out of baseball for 17 years - and out of prison for seven months.
November 3, 1988 |
"I go outside once each year and look up at the starry Tennessee sky and say, 'God, are you there?' " - Rip Kirby, minor league coordinator for Baseball Chapel. Christmas of 1984 was just two days off and Leon Spinks, wearing an expensive red fox fur coat, strode through the door of the Union Grace Missionary Baptist Church in the heart of Detroit. Six sad and troubled years had elapsed since he had beaten Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship in New Orleans, and now, with his career at a standstill, he had started back in training at the Coleman Young Recreation Center and seemed convinced that he could still get in shape and turn his life around.
June 28, 1988 |
When he finally got up - and he had been down for a while - Michael Spinks walked over to the corner buckle and raised his hands to signal that he was all right. The signal was aimed to the fifth row, where Leon Spinks stood worrying about his younger brother. Leon, the former heavyweight champion, was a forgotten man at last night's fight. As former champions like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Jersey Joe Walcott drew thunderous ovations, Leon received only a smattering of polite applause when he was introduced to the crowd of 21,785.
June 23, 1988 |
A man who defeats a legend should have the same status conferred upon him. Beat a hero, become a hero - it seems only fair. Life does not work that way, however, and Leon Spinks never expected it to, not really. "I'm not the greatest," Spinks said, after defeating Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title Feb. 15, 1978. "I'm just the latest. " Spinks was right. He was the latest - the latest in a seemingly endless line of prizefighters to reach the top, only to fall back down before they could savor their success.