Today, we have a book that has a title, a writer and a topic all of
which sound like something else, a more famous namesake. That book, Lords of The
Ring (not the famous movie), is written by Doug Moe (not the former NBA
basketball coach), and talks about John Walsh (not the America's Most Wanted
The fact that Lords of The Ring (ISBN 0-299-20424-3, 2004, The
University of Wisconsin Press, www.wisc.edu|wisconsinpress
rights reserved) talks about college boxing, might lead us to think we will read
about Title IX. At least I had presumed that Title IX had to do with boxing's
demise as a sports college. How wrong I was!
Lords of The Ring is a look at a time when the United States were
more train wagon than jet airplane, more apple-pie than Papa John's pizza. At a
time when 24 hour movie, concert and sports television channels like HBO and
Showtime were more of a dream, and people packed basketball courts to watch
boxing. It is also a look at fights that many of us would have never
guessed took place.
Like so many others, I tend to concentrate on professional
boxing, rarely looking at amateur fights (I have to partly blame the tv networks
for that, through). A sub-division of amateur boxing was college boxing. Imagine
this: little attention do we pay to the amateur ranks, how much more little
attention do we pay to (past) amateur college boxing?? So the heroics of people
such as Warren Jollymore inside the ring go mostly unnoticed, but this book
brings them back for public knowledge.
Fighters like Chuck Davey, who enjoyed a professional career in which
he challenged Kid Gavilan for a world title, Bob Ranck, Vito Parisi,
Bob Morgan, Dick Murphy, Cal Vernon, John J. O' Connor, the tragic Charlie
Mohr and so many more are remembered in this book, as are the barnburner fights
that took place between them and other outstanding fighters from other colleges
during that time.
Further attention Charlie Mohr deserves. He was a very good fighter,
and according to the book, a very good person who had several characteristics
going his way. However, the study of his case could very well be used in
today's world of boxing medicine. He had shown signs of mental despair before
his fight with Stu Bartell, April 9, 1960. It is known now that mental health
issues can be a sign of severe brain injury, but in 1960, health medicine was
mostly taboo, and doctors did not have the modern knowledge they do now about
medical aspects of the brain.
The book does great in covering Mohr and Walter Crocker, another great
fighter who also died young, from Cancer.
Lords of the Ring is a joy to read for boxing fans as well as it should be
for fans of the University of Wisconsin and for historians. The wealth of
information it contains makes it worthwhile and makes me want to see more
works on college boxing.