Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Matthew Saad Muhammad: The Hard Road of a Warrior

By Peter Silkov
Matthew Saad Muhammad: The Hard Road of a Warrior

When Matthew Saad Muhammad passed away on May 25, 2014, at the young age of 59 years old, it brought an end to a life that would seem to have been written by an over imaginative Hollywood scriptwriter. Saad’s life was one of incredible highs and just as devastating lows, in a world where the tribute of ’warrior’ is bestowed all too often, Matthew Saad Muhammad was one of life’s true warriors, both in and out of the ring. Unfortunately, fate often didn’t give him much of a choice. 

Born Maxwell Antonio Loach on June 16, 1954, in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, life was a battle from the start for Maxwell. When his mother passed away, Maxwell and his older brother were placed in the care of an aunt, who soon decided that she couldn’t support both children, and had the older brother take Maxwell into the city and then abandon him there. In later years, Saad would remember this incident vividly, ‘He took me out in the city, where I wouldn’t know where I was or how to find my way home, and ran away from me. I tried to run after him. I ran as fast as I could. I was five years old, and I was running for my life.  But I couldn’t keep up.’  

Maxwell was discovered by a policeman on the Ben Franklin Parkway and handed over into the care of Catholic Services. Unable to recall his name, Maxwell was renamed Matthew Franklin, and was adopted by a Portuguese family in South Philadelphia, after he had been in numerous foster homes.  Matthew found himself the victim of constant school bullying, at the hands of tormenters who would call him ’the orphan’.  Matthew decided to take up boxing as a teenager in order to defend himself against those who persecuted him because he was an orphan. It was to be another huge turning point in his life. After everything he had already been through in his short life, Matthew discovered that taking pain and punishment inside a boxing ring was almost second nature to him.

Matthew Franklin turned professional on January 14, 1974, scoring a 2nd round stoppage over Billy Early. In the true tradition of the Philadelphia fighter, Matthew was matched tough from the beginning of his career, fighting a mixture of fellow prospects with winning records, and some battle-worn old pros with vastly more experience than him. 

The 1970s and early 1980s saw something of a talent explosion in the often maligned and under appreciated light-heavyweight division. Perhaps at no time since the 1940s had the division been so filled with such a collection of crafty counter-punchers, speedy boxers, iron-chinned sluggers, explosive punchers, and some fighters who could do a good bit of everything. It was a time in which a fighter had to be a little bit special just to make it as a top-ten contender. 

In early 1976, in his thirteenth and fourteenth professional contests, Matthew scored point’s wins over two future world champions, Mate Parlov and Marvin Camel, but was out-pointed by Camel and held to a draw by Parlov, in rematches later that same year. At this point in his career, Matthew was an athletic and strong box-fighter, with a good punch, who concentrated more on his boxing skills, than his big punch; his next fight in early 1977 would change all of that.

On March 11, 1977, Matthew took on another future world champion, Eddie Gregory (who later changed his name to Eddie Mustapha Muhammad.)  After having Gregory on the floor in the first round, Matthew saw his opponent recover, and go on to win a close and disputed point’s decision. After this defeat, Matthew consciously changed his style to that of a far more aggressive fighter, rather than a counter-punching boxer.  This change of style would deepen as his career went on, and would be the source of both his greatest successes, and his eventual decline.

Four months after the defeat to Eddie Gregory,
Matthew faced the unbeaten Marvin Johnson (another future world champion) for the NABF Light-heavyweight championship, and a place near the top of the 175-pound rankings. Against Johnson, Matthew engaged in the kind of sizzling slugfest that would become his trademark over the next few years. After falling behind early, to the fast starting and aggressive Indianapolis man, Matthew came back seemingly from the brink of defeat to wear down and eventually overwhelm Johnson in the 12th round. It was a preview of things to come from Matthew. In his next fight, Matthew defended the NABF title against the dangerous Billy Douglas, and overcame being floored in the 5th round, to knockout Douglas in the 6th.

In his next defence of his NABF light-heavyweight title,
Matthew faced the big- punching Richie Kates, who had only recently given Victor Galindez two tough fights for Galindez’s WBA world light-heavyweight title.  Matthew seemed to be on the point of certain defeat, when Kates dropped him face-first to the canvas near the end of the 4th round. In a show of his amazing recuperative powers, he stormed back in the 5th and dropped Kates flat onto his face at the round’s end.  When the 6th round got underway, Kates was at Matthew’s mercy and staggering around under a hail of fists, until the referee stopped the fight. It was victories like this, where triumph was snatched from the jaws of defeat that gained Matthew the nickname ‘Miracle Matthew.’

Following the Kates fight, Matthew had two non-title fight wins, stopping Dale Grant in the 5th and Freddie Bright in 8 rounds, before taking on the tough Yaqui Lopez, in defence of his NABF title.  Lopez was a teak-tough box-fighter, who had already made three challenges for the World light-heavyweight championship; going the distance with WBA champion Victor Galindez in two very close fights, (the first of which many felt he should have won) and had also losing a close decision to John Conteh for the WBC light-heavyweight title.
 The fight was the kind of fistic war that was
becoming a trademark for Matthew, as the action went back and forth, at a terrific pace and intensity, with Lopez pressuring and Matthew using his jab to counter the Mexican’s scything attacks. In the 8th round, a Lopez punch drove Matthew reeling into the ropes; at that point, Lopez launched a tremendous two-fisted attack of about 30 plus punches. Matthew laid on the ropes and tried to dodge or duck some of the punches coming his way, but took many of them.  When it seemed that Matthew would surely crumble, he fought his way off the ropes, laughing at Lopez, and then launched a two-fisted attack of his own that shook up the Mexican.  Another trademark of Matthew Franklin’s warrior spirit would be his penchant for laughing when under the most severe of attacks. The round ended with Matthew on the attack and Lopez having to give ground. From the 9th round onwards, the momentum of the fight slowly shifted to Franklin. Although it was still tough and tightly competitive, Lopez had shot his bolt in the 8th round and by the 9th, his right eye was closing.  In the 11th round, a furious attack from Franklin worsened a cut over the left eye of Lopez, who by now could see nothing out of his closed right eye, and the referee Frank Cappuccino waved a halt to the carnage. It was just another day in the office for Matthew Franklin, from now on; every fight would be a war. 

Six months later, Matthew would face Marvin Johnson again, and this time it would be for the WBC world light-heavyweight championship. Since their first fight, Johnson had rebounded from his loss to put together a useful string of victories, which had culminated with him travelling to Italy, and winning the WBC world light-heavyweight championship from Mate Parlov, on a 10th round stoppage.
Four months later, on April 22, 1979, Johnson was going to make the first defence of his world title against the man that had beaten him previously in such a spectacular and exciting fashion. When asked in the run-up to this fight why he had chosen to pick such a hard opponent for his first defence, Johnson replied “Because he beat me.” 

This was the era when almost, without exception; world champions felt compelled to put their titles on the line against the very best and most dangerous challengers available. On the night, the crowd at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana, saw Matthew Franklin and Marvin Johnson, serve up one of the most savage and intensely fought world championship contests seen in modern times. This was a fight in which both men stood toe-to-toe and exchanged fistic bombs, in a fight where the momentum seemed to shift with every explosive exchange. The finish came in the 8th round, when both men stood head-to-head, throwing bombs at each other, something had to give, and two cuts opened up over Franklin’s eyes, sending blood coursing down his face. Instead of retreating, or looking for a breather by holding, Matthew launched a two-fisted attack at Johnson, which verged on the maniacal, as if all the anger and fear of his youth was being released in those punches. Johnson wavered under the assault, like a drunken man trying desperately to keep his feet, then he finally fell to the canvas, and although he regained his feet and beat the count, he could hardly stand, and the referee wisely ended the fight. Matthew Franklin was now world champion. 

One of the first things that Franklin did after winning the WBC title was to announce that he had become a Muslim and was changing his name to Matthew Saad Muhammad. The man, who had been abandoned by his family, and left with nothing at the age of 5 years old, was now on top of the world.  Now, everyone wanted to be Saad’s friend, or part of his new ‘family.’ After he won the world title, Matthew decided to search for his blood relatives. He offered a reward for any information that would lead to their whereabouts. It didn’t take long for the aunt who had abandoned him when he was five years old to come forward and reveal herself; unfortunately, she seemed more interested in claiming the reward, than renewing her relationship with her nephew.  Muhammad soon discovered that, even though he had realized his dream of winning the world championship, there are not always happy endings, especially when human nature is involved.

Over the next two and a half years Saad would defend his world championship successfully eight times. His defences were mostly exercises in Saad’s extraordinary heart, punch, and endurance over coming challengers who often seemed poised to overcome ‘Miracle Matthew.’  Saad was turning his slow starts into an art now, almost as if he needed to feel his own blood, or to be rocked and punished by his opponent’s blows before he could get properly started himself.

Saad’s first challenger was John Conteh on August 18, 1979. The talented Conteh was a former WBC world light heavyweight champion and used his slick boxing and artful jab to take an early point’s lead, and cut up Saad badly over the left eye.  However, Saad roared back in the later rounds, flooring Conteh twice in the 14th round and pulling out a close point’s decision. Conteh was granted an immediate rematch, partly due to his first showing against Saad, and partly due to the fact that during the first fight Saad’s corner men had used an illegal substance on his badly cut eye to stop the bleeding. The rematch, seven months later, was a disaster for Conteh, as a fired up Saad dominated him from the start, then overwhelmed him in the 4th round, flooring him five times, before the referee stopped the action. Two months after the Conteh fight, on May 11, 1980, Sad had one of his easier defences when he dismantled Louis Perjured for a 5th round stoppage. 

On July 13, 1980, Saad engaged in possibly the most savage, thrilling, and sapping fights of his career.  Saad met Yaqui Lopez for the second time, in a fight, which mirrored their first classic. Once more, Muhammad came close to defeat, never more so than in the 8th round, which was an almost eerie carbon copy of the 8th round of their first fight. Saad was hurt, then cornered into the ropes, and almost stopped, as Lopez unloaded a huge blitz of over 30 unanswered punches. Yet, just as in their first fight, Saad weathered the almost disturbing amount of punishment he was receiving, to fight his way off the ropes, and have Lopez in trouble at the end of the round. One of the most amazing sights of the whole fight was Saad literally laughing as he came back at Lopez. Perhaps it is not so surprising that after this round Saad slowly gained the upper hand in the fight. Lopez exhausted himself and perhaps Saad’s inhuman resistance to his punches, had broken something inside of him. Lopez did not win another round after the 8th and was finally stopped in the 14th round after being floored four times. 

Saad’s next defence was a much more straightforward performance against Lotte Mwale, with Saad winning by a 4th round knockout. Three months later, on February 28, 1981, Saad made his eighth defence of his title against the lanky Vonzell Johnson.  Johnson proved to be another troublesome challenger, landing often, and having the temerity to out-box Saad at times. The champion’s big punches eventually took their toll, as Saad walked through everything his challenger had to throw, until he finally caught up with Johnson in the 11th round. 

Despite the punishing nature of his contests, Saad remained a busy fighter and champion.  Just two months after disposing of Vonzell Johnson, the champion found himself defending his title against the canny and rugged Scot, Murray Sutherland.   Early on, Saad looked slow and sluggish and Sutherland started confidently. Things got even worse for Saad when a Sutherland punch split open his lip. Saad’s title seemed to be slipping away from him, until one of his patented right hands dropped Sutherland heavily in the 9th round. Although Sutherland seemed to just beat the count, controversially, the referee counted him out. 

Saad had what constituted as a short rest (presumably to let the cut lip heal) before re-entering the ring again five months later, against the short and dangerous Jerry ’The Bull’ Martin.  Saad again started slowly, he seemed to have made the slow start an art form all his own. Sure enough, by the mid-rounds, Saad was countering Martin’s rushes, and replying to ’The Bulls’ body attacks with wide lefts and rights to the head.    In the 11th round, two right hands from Saad staggered the exhausted Martin, and the referee Larry Hazzard stepped in and stopped the fight. It seemed as if Saad was truly invincible, it didn’t matter how slow he started a fight or how far behind he went in rounds; he always came back to win. The constant wars had become almost predictable. Saad must have felt it too, surrounded by the ever-growing number of admirers and hangers-on. Did Saad feel invincible?  Or did he always know deep down that one day the wave he was riding would come crashing down?

On December 19, 1981, Saad made the 9th defence of his world title against a sawed- off shotgun of a man (at five foot 6 and a half) named Dwight Braxton. Saad’s defence started even worse than usual when he was two pounds over the weight limit and had to go to the sauna to get off the excess poundage. Things didn’t improve once the fight started. Saad tried to jab and out-box Braxton, but the diminutive challenger was impossible to hold off. Within a few rounds, Saad’s face was bloodied from his challenger’s own brutal jabs, which were constantly tearing through his guard. Saad’s usual slow start had become a one-sided beating, only made competitive by Saad’s enormous courage, and refusal to quit.  Again and again he tried to mount attacks of his own and force the challenger back, but Braxton just grinned at him through his mouth guard and kept up his almost demonic assault. Saad’s brave, foolhardy resistance came to an end in the 10th round when a hook sent him down to the canvas. It wasn’t any harder than countless hooks he had already take in the rounds before, but it was that one punch too many that finally reduces even the toughest men to submission.  Saad beat the count, there was never anything wrong with his heart, but the well of miracle comebacks was over.  After Braxton landed just four more punches upon Saad, the referee stopped the fight.  Saad’s world title reign of thrills and brutality was over. Perhaps it was inevitable that the glorious victories would descend into a gory defeat. It seems there is a price that warriors like Saad have to pay. Sadly, it would get worse for Saad, much worse.

Blaming his weight problems for his defeat to Braxton, Saad tried to pull off another miracle eight months later, when he attempted to regain the title from Braxton. This time Saad could not be competitive. Pressed up against the ropes for most of the time, Saad took an unrelenting beating that was painful to watch. It was as if all of those miracle comebacks, in all those extraordinary fights, had finally taken their price from Saad. The referee mercifully ended the ‘fight’ in the 6th round. 

It should have been the end, but all too often is the case with many of boxing’s greatest warriors; it was just the beginning of the long slide down from fame and riches, and back to somewhere sadly reminiscent of where it had all started. 

The hangers-on and friends drifted away as Saad’s boxing career came off the rails.  The money soon went too, much of it with the departing entourage. Saad responded in the only way he really knew, by continuing to fight.  Saad was only 28 years old when he had his second fight with Braxton, an age where most fighters are at their peak, but Saad’s body had been through hell and back just too many times, and there was nothing left inside. Whatever made Saad the amazing fighter he had been at his thrilling peak was gone, burnt out. The next decade was a series of futile comebacks for Saad, fighting in obscure places against obscure opponents.  Always Saad said that his aim was to regain his world championship and that he just needed to put together some good wins in order to get himself back on track.  The good wins never came and Saad’s record for the final 10 years of his career was 16-11-2. Finally, when Saad retired, his troubles adjusting to life away from the ring continued mostly away from the public gaze.

In 2010, Saad walked into a homeless shelter in Philadelphia; it seemed to be the final fall for the proud champion. Once again, Saad displayed a kind of extraordinary courage that so few people are blessed with. Saad spoke out about his predicament, in the hope that it would bring attention to the plight of so many who have lived ordinary anonymous lives, only to find themselves cut adrift from society for a variety of reasons. In his last years of his all too short life, Saad emerged as a brave and articulate spokesperson on the plight of homeless, and joined forces with the Philadelphia ‘One Step Away’ street newspaper, to try and make a difference for the city’s homeless population.  Muhammad joined the “Knockout Homelessness” campaign, which brought publicity, awareness, and to benefit ‘One Step Away’ on their mission to end homelessness in the Philadelphia area.

It is hard to sum up the life of a man such as Matthew Saad Muhammad. He knew both great glory and terrible lows. He was a fantastic fighter with seemingly inhuman resources at one time, ultimately, he was simply a normal man who had the courage to go face to face with adversity all through his life and never quit. Perhaps the best epitaph for Saad is that he was an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things during his life and will never be forgotten by the countless people whom he inspired both in and out of the ring.

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Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Luis "El Feo" Rodriguez: World Welterweight Champion

By Peter Silkov

Luis Manuel Rodriguez was an exceptional fighter, who from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, mixed it with the best welterweights and middleweights of that era.
Rodriguez was born in Cuba and another great example of the technically brilliant fighters that are produced so often by that country. Rodriguez was a brilliant boxer-puncher, with picture-perfect boxing skills, that were backed up by blazing hand speed, and a decent stopping punch. The pinnacle of Rodriguez’s career came on March 21, 1963, when he out-pointed Emile Griffith for the World welterweight championship. Just three months later, Rodriguez lost his world title back to Griffith, when he was out-pointed by Emile. One year later, Rodriguez and Griffith met again for the World welterweight title and once more Griffith won a wafer thin decision over Luis. Following his losses to Griffith, Rodriguez moved up to middleweight and after an impressive string of victories he challenged champion Nino Benvenuti for the World middleweight title on November 22, 1969. Luis was doing well in the fight and seemed to be on his way to a famous victory, as he was out-boxing Benvenuti, until the 11th round, when a Benvenuti left hook caught him suddenly, and had him knocked out before he hit the deck.

Rodriguez carried on fighting on until 1972, when he retired with a final record of (107-13, 49koes).

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Tommy Burns: The Little Giant of Hanover

By Peter Silkov

Tommy Burns is one of the most underrated boxers to have worn the World heavyweight championship. Born Noah Brusso in Ontario, Canada, Burns started his fighting career as a middleweight and never weighed much more than a light heavyweight, yet, he often fought fighters far bigger than himself. Standing just five feet and seven inches, Burns was a strong and clever fighter, who fought out of a crouch, and offered his opponents an elusive, busy target. Despite his lack of size, Burns had a decent dig in his punch, along with good hand speed. Unfortunately, Burns’ career will always be marked by the fact that he lost his championship to Jack Johnson on December 26, 1908, making Johnson, the first coloured man to win sports greatest prize. It was a defeat that Burns was never truly forgiven in many quarters. Yet, he deserves credit for being one of the few white champions of his time who was willing to defend his world title against a black man, rather than continue to hide behind the 'colour bar' as previous champions, from Sullivan to Jeffries, did before him.

Burns won the world title after beating Marvin Hart on February 23, 1906, and went on to make an impressive 13 defences of his title over the next two years. Throughout his time as champion, Burns was continually hounded and challenged by Jack Johnson. Johnson followed Burns through out America, then to Europe, and finally to Australia, where Burns finally agreed to put his title on the line against the determined Jack Johnson. The match was no match at all, as Johnson played with Burns, before the police stopped the one sided beating after 14 rounds. After losing his title, Burns had a few more fights and even made a short comeback in 1920 at the age of 40, but could never escape the name of Jack Johnson. Although Burns was not a great heavyweight, he was undoubtedly an outstanding fighter to have spent most of his career fighting men so much bigger than him and only being outclassed when he came up against one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Had Burns stayed at the lighter weights of middleweight or light heavyweight, he may well have gained recognition as one of the greats. Tommy Burns’ final record was 46(34koes)-4-8

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Rocky Marciano Vs. Ezzard Charles: World Heavyweight Championship

By Peter Silkov

60 years ago today, Rocky Marciano defended his World heavyweight championship against the former champion Ezzard Charles. It was a fight which pitted the smooth boxing skills of Charles versus, the brute strength and endurance, of 'The Rock'. Charles was also trying to beat the almost legendary jinx on former heavyweight champions trying to regain their old title. Marciano was the favourite with the bookies and most of the fans. Charles was a respected, rather than loved, fighter, whereas Rocky had the blood and guts style that excites most boxing fans. Charles was a technician, despite possessing a formidable punch of his own, often chose to stick to his boxing skills in order to win his fights. This quirk of Ezzard’s was partly due to the tragic death of one his opponents some years previously.

On this night, Ezzard was still stung by the loss of his world crown 3 years before to Jersey Joe Walcott, and by the fact that he felt he had never received the recognition and affection due to him while he was champion. Charles entered the Yankee Stadium ring that night, against Marciano, wanting to prove himself all over again. He wanted redemption. The fight was one of the most grueling and brutal ever waged for the World heavyweight title in modern times. After out-boxing Rocky early on, Charles tired by the middle rounds, and unable to keep the champion at arms length any more. Charles elected to stand toe to toe with Rocky. The exchange in this fight were brutal in the extreme, as Rocky pulled out all the stops to subdue his challenger. Ezzard took more punches than he ever had before in any fight during his career, and at times it seemed he must waver, but every time he looked as if he was about to be overwhelmed, he would storm back with an attack of his own at the champion. At the end of 15 bloody rounds, both men were cut and bruised facially, and on the point of exhaustion, but Rocky's edge in strength and power saw him win a close decision. Charles had failed to become the first man to regain the World heavyweight title, but he had succeeded in winning the affection and respect of the public in a way in which he never had before. Fans marveled at Ezzard’s courage and spirit against Marciano and the boxer often condemned as 'dull' or 'boring' had shown himself to be a warrior. Just three months later, the two would meet again, and this time Ezzard, (who was still not fully recovered from their first fight) was stopped in the 8th round, but it didn't matter, Ezzard Charles had already proved himself three months before in their first fight; on the night when he would not go down.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Advice From A Father to His Son: Do Not Let Your Fears Get The Best Of You

By Peter Silkov

Buster Mathis and his son Buster Mathis Jr. are a father and son who both had substantial careers as heavyweight boxers. Mathis Sr. was born in Grand Rapids Michigan, on June 11, 1943, was an outstanding amateur boxer, and if the fates had been kinder, could have been Olympic champion. In 1964, Mathis scored two impressive wins over Joe Frazier and looked all set to go to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Bad luck intervened and a broken hand meant that Buster was forced to pull out of the Olympics and instead, he watched as Frazier went in his place, and duly won the gold medal. Mathis turned professional soon after his Olympic disappointment and put together a respectable string of victories under the guidance of Cus D’Amato. Mathis was a large man who stood 6’ feet 4” and during his amateur career weighed in at over 300 pounds. Despite this bulk, Mathis was an extraordinarily fast and fluid boxer, with a good jab and decent power. However, he was unlucky in that he was operating at a time where the heavyweight division was blessed with the greatest talent that it has ever seen in its history.

At the beginning of his career, Mathis weighed 300 pounds, but over the course of the next three years he worked off much of this poundage. After 23 wins in 23 fights, Mathis Sr. faced Joe Frazier on March 4, 1968, for Frazier’s New York State World heavyweight championship, but after a tough fight, found himself stopped in the 11th round. Mathis bounced back with a run of victories, including his career best win, on February 3, 1969, a point’s victory over the rugged George Chuvalo, after a wildly exciting fight. In his next fight, Mathis was beaten on points by Jerry Quarry and then stayed out of the ring for over two years. On his return, Mathis was facing ‘The Greatest’ himself, Muhammad Ali, and hindered by inactivity and a weight gain, Mathis found himself out-classed by Ali, but showed a lot of heart to last the distance, for a point’s defeat. Mathis had had two more fights, a comeback win over Claude McBride, was followed by a 2nd round knockout loss to the big-punching Ron Lyle. Mathis did not fight again, retiring with a record of 30(21koes)-4.

Mathis is often talked about regarding his weight, and sometimes ridiculed for this, but the truth is, that he was a very talented heavyweight boxer who just happened to operate at a time when the opposition was extraordinarily talented.

Buster Mathis Jr.was born on March 24, 1970, and took up boxing like his father had in order to boost his self confidence and fight back against the school bullies who ridiculed him because of his weight. Although shorter than his father, at 6 foot, Mathis Jr. shared his father’s heavy build, but also had the fast hands and fluidity, which seemed to belie his size. Turning professional in 1991, Mathis scored good wins over top contenders Carl Williams and Tyrell Biggs, but a fight with Riddick Bowe ended in controversy when he was hit and knocked out after going down onto one knee, and the fight was eventually ruled a no-contest. On December 16, 1996, Mathis Jr. faced Mike Tyson and after a good start was knocked out in the 3rd round. Mathis Jr. had two more contests and retired after being stopped in 7 rounds by Lou Savarese. Mathis Jr. retired with a 21(7koes)-2

Since retiring, Buster Mathis Jr. has formed the Buster Mathis Foundation, in memory of his father, who died in 1995. The foundation aims to make a positive difference for youths in foster care.
The objective of the Buster Mathis Foundation:

-To work with school systems and identify client-students that are motivated to enter the skilled trades.
-To counsel client-students on the merits and opportunities of entering the skilled trades.
-To instill pride and confidence in client-students who choose skilled trades rather than college.
-To assist client-students in acquiring quality training and apprenticeships in selected skilled trades.
-To develop entrepreneurial skills in client-students that plan to operate trade-based businesses.

Action Plan:
-Establish collaborative relationships with school systems throughout Michigan.
-Evaluate and certify high-quality skilled trades training institutions.
-Provide professional career counseling and physical training for client-students.
-Work with labor unions and businesses to acquire apprenticeship opportunities for client –students.
-Provide financial assistance based on motivation, commitment and need.
If you would like to learn more about the Buster Mathis Foundation check them out on Facebook.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Davey Moore Vs. Roberto Duran: WBA World Light-middleweight Championship

By Peter Silkov

On June 16, 1983, a legend was reborn when Roberto 'Hands of Stone' Duran brutally deprived Davey Moore of his WBA world light-middleweight championship, to win the third world title of his astonishing career, in front of a wildly ecstatic crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden. For Duran, it was a rebirth , after the humiliation of his 'No Mas' rematch loss to Sugar Ray Leonard. That defeat, followed by subsequent losses to Wilfredo Benitez and Kirkland Laing, had convinced many that the 'Hands of Stone' had crumbled and was no more a force in the boxing world. On this night, which also happened to be his 32nd birthday, Roberto Duran rolled back the years and brutally exposed the much younger Davey Moore, with a display of skilled violence that had not been seen from Duran since he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard in their first fight. Duran showed an incredible ability to return from the fistic dead and reclaim his place amongst the legends of the ring.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Randolph Turpin: The Leamington Licker

 By Peter Silkov

Randy Turpin was undoubtedly one of the most exciting and talented fighters that Britain has ever produced. His outstanding and often sensational career was one that burned bright then faded away all too soon and his life ended in tragedy.

Born Randolph Adolphus Turpin on June 7, 1928, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, Randolph and his two brothers and two sisters were the product of a mixed marriage between their English mother and Guyanese father. His parent’s marriage made for a tough upbringing due to the prejudices of the time. The Turpin’s life became even harder when Randolph’s father died when Randy was just twelve months old, due to the after effects of the gassing he had suffered in WW1. With an early life that was marked by poverty and discrimination, it is perhaps hardly surprising that all three Turpin boys made a career out of boxing. The first to turn professional was elder brother Dick, who would in 1948 became the first boxer of colour to win a British championship. Randy had his first taste of boxing at about nine years of age when he and his brother Jackie (who would himself be a good featherweight fighter) would put on spirited exhibitions against each other on the same bills as Dick’s early professional contests.  After beginning his own official amateur career at the age of twelve, Randy ran up a record of 100 fights, of which he won 95. This culminated in him winning the ABA welterweight championship in 1945 and becoming the youngest winner of that title. Turpin was also the first coloured fighter to win an ABA championship.
Randy, in time, would develop into a sensational boxer-puncher, with a good strong jab, and often underrated technical skills to go with his knockout power in both hands.
Turning professional in 1946, with the nickname ‘The Leamington Licker’, Randy’s rise to the top was swift and impressive, and only checked by his youth.  In his nineteenth contest, he out-pointed the British Middleweight champion Vince Hawkins, in a non-title bout. Randy was still too young, by two years, to fight for the British championship. Three months after his victory over Hawkins, Randy’s older brother Dick out-pointed Hawkins to win the British Middleweight crown. 

Randy had to wait until October 17,1950, before he finally got his shot at the British middleweight title, and took full advantage of it with a 5th round knockout over Albert Finch, who six months earlier had taken the title from Randy’s brother Dick.

The Next nine months would prove to be a blaze of glory for Randy that would highlight and define his career.  On February 27, 1951, Turpin added the European Middleweight title to his collection, when he knocked out Luc Van Dam in the 1st round. After four more quick wins inside the distance, including a defence of his European championship, Turpin was matched with Sugar Ray Robinson for the World middleweight championship.  When Turpin entered the ring with Robinson on July 10, 1951, in London’s Earls Court, Sugar Ray was already a legend of the ring, with just one defeat in 131 professional contests (and that had been 8 years before) and universally acknowledged as the greatest boxer in the world pound-for-pound.  Yet, Turpin, confident of his own ability, and trained to a peak of fitness like he would perhaps never be again, gave one of the greatest performances ever seen by a British boxer, to dethrone the seemingly invincible Sugar Ray. Randy surprised Robinson with his confidence, his speed, strength, and both out-punched and out-boxed the champion, so that by the later rounds, Robinson was fighting just to survive the distance. He was winning so clearly, that Turpin was being hailed by the Earls Court crowd as the new champion, long before the 15 rounds were over.

Following his win over Robinson, Randy, already a popular fighter in Britain, became an overnight sensation and celebrity, with seemingly the world at his feet. However, he was contracted to give Robinson a rematch within 90 days, and on September 12, 1951, at the Polo Grounds Stadium, New York, Robinson snatched back his World middleweight title with a controversial 10th round stoppage. The fight had been evenly contested for much of the early rounds, even though Turpin was not reproducing the form of their first match, he was still holding his own with Robinson, who was still finding him difficult to deal with.  In the 10th round, things changed when a Turpin punch (although Robinson would later say he had been butted) opened up a bad cut over Sugar Ray’s left eye, sending blood pouring down his face. The blood sent Robinson into a fighting frenzy, and he went after Turpin and unleashed a barrage of punches, culminating in a right hand that drove Turpin to the canvas. Although Turpin beat the count, he was still visibly groggy and Robinson renewed his assault, driving Randy onto the ropes, and throwing punch after punch onto Turpin. The cornered Turpin laid and sagged against the ropes, as he tried to block and dodge some of the punches coming his way.  

After Turpin had been under this attack for some 30 seconds, the referee Ruby Goldstein stepped in, and halted the fight. There was eight seconds left to go in the round.  Questions about whether Turpin should have been stopped or whether he should have been allowed to continue have persisted to this day.  Given the chance, he may well have recovered during the minutes rest between rounds, while Robinson, after having thrown so many punches and badly cut, maybe have shot his bolt.

In only sixty-four days, Turpin’s world title was gone, and he was left with just the fame and in some cases notoriety that his initial victory over Robinson had gained for him.  Randy was soon to find that the various pressures and pleasures of fame were not conductive to a successful boxing career.  Although he would win other titles over the next few years, including the European middleweight title, and the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles, Turpin would never again be world champion, despite all of his ability.

 When Sugar Ray Robinson retired, while still world champion in late 1952, Randy was given a great chance to regain the World middleweight title when he fought Carl ’Bobo’ Olson for the vacant championship on October 21, 1953, at Madison Square Gardens,  in New York.  Randy’s preparations for this fight were left in disarray by personal problems outside of the ring and quarreling within his camp. After making a good start for the first four rounds, the inadequately trained Turpin faded under the constant pressure of Olson and spent much of the remaining fight pinned onto the ropes, and under attack from the rugged Olson. On his way to losing a wide point’s decision, Randy was floored in the 9th and 10th rounds and made groggy by Olson on numerous other occasions, and in the end, only his heart allowed him to last the distance.

This defeat would quicken the decline, which set in following Turpin’s fights with Robinson.  Seven months after his loss to Olson, Randy lost his European middleweight title to Tiberio Mitri, when he was shockingly knocked out in 65 seconds of the 1st round. The Mitri defeat signaled the end of Turpin as a world-class operator; although he did manage to comeback and win the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles, he was only a shadow of the fighter who had beaten Sugar Ray Robinson. 

Randy’s last official fight took place on September 9, 1958, when he was knocked out in the 2nd round by the heavy-punching Trinidadian, Yolande Pompey, after having Pompey down in the opening round. 

Turpin would have two more fights that were unlicensed by the BBBC, but the Pompey defeat was really the end. His final record was 66(45koes)-8-1.

In retirement, Turpin discovered how fast fair-weather friends and hangers-on disappear when the paydays and fame come to an end. In the early 1960’s, the one-time star of the boxing ring, was reduced to taking part in wrestling contests, in an effort of make ends meet.  In debt and being chased by the taxman for money, which he claimed he had never received, Turpin was found dead of gunshot wounds to the chest and head on May 17, 1966, and the coroner ruled his death as a suicide.

Although his life took a dark and tragic turn, Randolph Turpin still ranks as one of Britain’s greatest and most exciting fighter of modern times, and his victory over Sugar Ray Robinson, arguably the finest ever by a British boxer.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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