Photos by David Martinez, March 19, 1970, Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, Quarry vs. Scrap Iron
By Rick Farris
( Former professional boxer and boxing historian )
In early 1999, I was watching ESPN, hoping to hear the result of a fight that had taken place earlier in the evening. When the sports news came on, I waited thru football scores, and golf, until the sportscaster finally said . . . “And now from the world of boxing”.
I expected a report on the fight. Nothing else going on in boxing at the time. Instead, I heard something that made me forget about the fight result I’d been waiting for. I still remember the words . . .”A sad note to report in boxing today, former heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry has died at the age of 53.” I was stunned.
I was aware that Jerry had not been doing well and suffered from Dementia pugilistica. I knew that he had been living with his mother Arawanda in a mobile home park near the Hemet area of Southern California and was under her care. Mutual friends from the past, such as former middleweight Mike Nixon, Jerry’s brother-in-law, had told me that Jerrycould no longer handle simple daily tasks, such as shaving. Jerry’s older brother Jimmy would help him with such things. I remember how sad it was to hear this a couple years back, and that Jerry would no doubt die young. However, I couldn’t imagine him dead at 53.
I wasn’t the only person surprised to hear of Quarry’s death. However, in my case it was something very personal. As a kid, all I wanted to do was become a boxer. Jerry Quarry helped make this possible. Jerry Quarry’s success and accomplishments are a part of boxing history. Being close to a boxer who won the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight title in 1965, and went on to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship as a pro, is a part of my history.
When I was twelve-years-old I had a dream that was a bit unusual for a middle class kid growing up in Burbank, California. I was going to be a professional boxer. I didn’t just want to be a pro fighter . . .I was going to be a pro fighter. I set a goal for myself and nothing was going to stop me. Nobody took me seriously, but it didn’t matter, I took myself seriously. However, this was not going to be easy. There were no boxing gyms in the Burbank area, or close by where I could start out. The YMCA didn’t have a boxing program and even if it had, I was looking for a place where real boxers trained, amateurs and pros.
In early 1965, the Western Regional Golden Gloves Championships were televised in the Los Angeles area and, naturally, I was glued to the TV. The heavyweight final was won by a 19-year-old from Bellflower named Jerry Quarry. Quarry scored a decision over Clay Hodges and would represent Los Angeles in the national tournament the following week in Kansas City. There was something special about this fighter and I couldn’t see anybody beating him in the Nationals. I was right.