I consider my first meeting with Ken Norton to be the night of July 2, 1970. My late wife (girlfriend at the time) Constance and I went to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles to see Ken Norton fight an unknown fighter from Caracas, Venezuela by the name of Jose Luis Garcia. In what I call (to this day) one of the biggest upsets I have seen in any arena, Garcia knocked out the previously unbeaten Norton (16-0 / 15 by KO) in eight rounds.
Ken Norton passed away on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at the age of 70. He is always remembered by boxing fans for his three fights with Muhammad Ali.
In that trilogy, he beat Ali in 1973 (breaking Ali’s jaw as well) in their San Diego bout by a split 12 round-decison. Later that same year, he lost to Ali in Los Angeles by a split 12 round-decision. In their final bout at Yankee Stadium in 1976, many, including myself, thought he beat Ali. He lost the bout and his bid to gain the heavyweight championship by a close, but unanimous 15 round-decision.
In his career (1958-1977) Griffith posted 85 wins, 24 losses, 2 draws, 23 knockouts, with 1 no-contest.
By David Martinez Boxing Historian
This week the boxing world lost a great champion. Carmen Basilio passed away on November 7, 2012. He was 85 years old.
Basilio, who was known as the Upstate Onion Farmer because his Italian immigrant father worked in the onion fields near Syracuse, wanted to be a fighter since his younger days.
Cleveland’s Bivins Battled The Best.
Although he was born in Dry Branch, Georgia it was from Cleveland, Ohio that Jimmy Bivins made history. He was a major player in putting Cleveland on the boxing map during the 1940′s and 50′s. He may well have been the best heavyweight and light heavyweight to ever come out of this great boxing town.
Jimmy Bivins was born on December 6, 1919. His professional career began as a middleweight in Cleveland on January 15, 1940. In his sixth pro fight he beat a solid veteran in Nate Bolden. On September 3rd Jimmy was good enough to outpoint the highly respected Charley Burley. This has to be considered an outstanding feat at this stage of Jimmy’s budding career. Bivins closed 1940 by splitting a pair of tough bouts in Cleveland with Anton Christoforidis. The loss in the second bout to Anton was the first of his career.
The year 1941 saw Jimmy lose a few bouts but he was really in with top shelf opposition. He beat Teddy Yarosz and Curtis “Hatchetman” Shepperd. He lost decisions to Lem Franklin and Tony Musto. He defeated Nate Bolden again but lost to Melio Bettina. Jimmy was a full fledged light heavyweight by now. In some fights he was coming in as a heavyweight.
Jimmy started 1942 with a bang as he outscored Billy Soose and Gus Lesnevich. Bivins then lost to the smooth boxing Bob Pastor. On June 6th at Cleveland Municipal Stadium to of the greatest boxers in Cleveland’s history met. Jimmy squeaked a split decision over the crafty Joey Maxim.
Then Jimmy went on a rampage. In this order he defeated Joe Muscato, Tami Mauriello, Bob Pastor in a rematch. Then he beat Lee Savold to close 1942. He opened 1943 beating Ezzard Charles and winning a rubber match with Christoforidis. He defeated Mauriello again and then beat Watson Jones, Pat Valentino, Lloyd Marshall, Herbert Marshall and Bettina in a return engagement. The year ended with a win over Lee Q. Murray.
On June 4, 2012, at the age of 87, Enrique Bolanos, top contender, passed away. I never saw him fight, but had the pleasure to meet him and his lovely wife Ruby at various boxing venues. According to people I know that saw him fight, he was a magnificent boxer that packed southland arenas and stadiums in the Los Angeles area like no other in the golden era of boxing (the 40’s and 50’s). Continue reading
By David Martinez
It was three years ago that I tearfully, but honorably, delivered the eulogy at St Raphel’s church, in Santa Barbara, California, for one of my best friends, Frankie Rivas. The month of April now has a new meaning, as I annually pay him tribute and remember his passing.
A lot of people think that I met Frankie through boxing, which is a good guess; but I actually first met him when I was a boy in the early sixties. He was a young apprentice waiter at a local restaurant named “Leon’s” and my parents would go there and ask for him to be our waiter. I will always remember one of the early times going there for dinner; after he took our food order he asked “What can I bring you to drink, David?” Before I could say “A soda pop or glass of milk would be fine”, he said “A Shirley Temple is what I will bring you.” At that time in my life I had no idea what a Shirley Temple was and I thought Frankie was going to bring me a little toy doll. That evening, he introduced me to what was actually 7-Up and grenadine with a cherry! There are so many other stories that I have of Frankie, but this one is the first which I will remember forever.
It was boxing that kept Frankie and I bonded as friends, like brothers, for almost fifty years. Frankie boxed as a successful amateur. He also made time to help the youth of our city with his services. He was right by my side as a referee and judge at many boxing shows in our community, as well.
Here’s to a well respected man that was my friend – my best friend – Frankie Rivas. Please join me in prayer as we remember him today.