(July 10, 1943 – April 7, 2009)
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.
By David Martinez
The boxing world lost a legendary historian and writer this past Sunday. Bert Randolph Sugar passed away in Chappaqua, New York from cardiac arrest, after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 74 years old.
My conversations with Bert started many years ago as we both knew another boxing historian, the late Al Nelson. Bert was an expert in boxing and his favorite topic was the golden age of the sport. His top 10 fighters of all time (in order) were Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Harry Greb, Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, Joe Louis, Mickey Walker, Sam Langford, Tony Canzoneri, and Muhammad Ali.
Bert was best known for being editor and publisher of Boxing Illustrated (1969-1973, 1988) and Ring magazine (1979-1983). He wrote more than eighty books and saw every major fight in the past 65 years. He was a colorful man and was ever present with his fedora and cigar.
Bert was inducted into the World Boxing hall of Fame in 1989 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace with the Lord.
By David Martinez / Boxing Historian
I am saddened to report that my friend, our friend, boxer Allen Syers passed away on December 6, 2011. Allen fought in the lightweight (135 lb.) division from 1964 to1967 and compiled a ring record of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws. Born in Liverpool, England, Allen lived in Mission Viejo, California with his loving wife Elise. Allen was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, and was to be honored this weekend, on December 10, 2011, by the Golden State Boxer’s Association as the recipient of the 2011 Don Fraser World Boxing Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a wonderful person in all aspects of the life that he lived and respected by everyone. May his soul rest in peace in heaven with God.
By Rick Farris
(Former professional boxer and boxing historian)
On February 26, 1968, Mashiko “Fighting” Harada, the greatest Japanese boxer of all-time, was scheduled to defend his World Bantamweight title against number one challenger Jesus Pimentel of Mexico. It would be Harada’s fourth defense of the title he’d won nearly three years previous by upsetting the great Eder Jofre of Brazil.
Pimentel was one of the hardest hitting bantamweights ever and had been in contention for a title shot throughout most of the sixties. However, just days before the fight, Pimentel’s manager Harry Kabakoff demanded more money from the Japanese promoter. When the promoter refused to renegotiate, Kabakoff pulled his fighter out of the match and returned to the United States. The story was that Pimentel had taken ill.
Desperate to save the promotion, the Japanese promoter sought a qualified challenger for Harada. The champion had struggled to make weight for the bout and after doing so insisted on fighting. Harada’s plan was one last title defense before moving up to the featherweight division. However, none of the contenders were interested in taking a title shot on such short notice, except one, the Australian Bantamweight Champion Lionel Rose. Rose was considered the perfect replacement because he was not considered a hard puncher like the thunderous punching Pimentel. Rose had a 27-2 record and had scored only 8 KO’s.
Rose and his manager Jack Rennie jumped on a plane for Tokyo and three days later the 20-year-old Australian won the World Bantamweight title with a unanimous fifteen round decision over Harada.
Last week, March 31, 2011, a true icon in boxing passed away: Manager / Trainer / Matchmaker / TV Analyst, Gil Clancy. He was 88.
I will always remember Gil to be a gentle and most knowledgeable man in a sport he loved so dearly.
During his career he worked with Ralph “Tiger” Jones, Rodrigo Valdes, Juan La Porte, Johnny Persol, Jorge Ahumada, Howard Weston, Tom Bethea, Jerry Quarry, Gerry Cooney, Oscar De La Hoya, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton and Emile Griffith; whom he guided to the heights of the Welterweight and Middleweight Championships.
May his soul rest in peace in heaven with God!
With my deepest sympathy,
David Martinez / Boxing Historian
By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
There are certain boxers from my past that in retrospect would be champions today. One such boxer was tough enough to be nicknamed ” Bad “. He was Bennie Briscoe from Philadelphia and brother you better bet he was just that, ” Bad “. He was probably the most feared middleweight of his era and it was a tough time just be a middleweight in Philly. If you were bad there, you were bad everywhere.
Briscoe turned pro in 1962 and would win his first fifteen contests. Among his victims were Charley Scott and Percy Manning. In a return with Manning in 1965, Bennie would suffer his first setback. That year he would also lose to Tito Marshall and Stanley ” Kitten ” Hayward. In 1966 Bennie would halt the highly respected George Benton.
Bennie was now among the middleweight elite. The year 1967 would see him lose two decisions to the great Luis Rodriguez. Sandwiched in between those losses was a draw in Argentina with a fella named Carlos Monzon. In 1968 he would lose to future light heavyweight titleholder Vincente Rondon. He would knock out Rondon in a 1969 rematch.
In 1970 Bennie began to make his march to a shot at the world’s middleweight title. He won eleven straight fights until he was upset by Luis Vinales in 1972. He would stop Vinales in a return match. Finally in November he would meet the reigning middleweight champion of the world, Carlos Monzon. Again they would be fighting in Argentina. This time Carlos clearly deserved the decision the retained his title but he was rocked to his heels by Bennie in the ninth round of that fight. Monzon would always have a great respect for Briscoe. Continue reading