|"The Harder They Fall" - Buddy Boggs, A Real Renaissance Man
By Sunset Thomas (with Frankie Gambino), Doghouse Boxing (Sept 6, 2013)
Photo: Left to Right - Dick DiVeronica / Buddy Boggs
- Boggs wins by points in the 10th/1971.
They retire ships, sometimes with great fanfare; more often than not, simply scrapped.
Sadly, but in so many ways, old pugs are a lot like old battleships.
“A sinking feeling,” Frankie Gambino lamented, downing yet another shot of Irish whiskey. We were at Davy’s Locker in Las Vegas, our little hole in the wall away from home.
Old fighters, at least those of distinction, are often paraded at autograph signings, inducted into halls of fame and seated ringside at big payday bouts. But for most of the old-timers there is no regaling, not much glory, certainly no pension plan or health coverage (unlike their brethren in football, baseball and basketball). Usually, all they have are memories and some yellowing newspaper clippings on a wall or in a scrapbook.
That’s why my Ghost of a Gumbah and I are so keen to seek out the old salts, and Davy’s Locker (originally opened in the 1960’s by Davy Pearl) has proven to be fertile ground.
Christopher (AKA Holla) was walking the planks and pouring drinks—neat. That’s when ex-welterweight Buddy Boggs and his compadre Brian McMahon entered the bar. They sat beside us. We knew Brian, he and Gambino have that East Coast thing going on.
Anyways, the B&B Boys (Buddy and Brian) moved to Vegas in the early 1990’s. They were both Iron workers in Washington D.C (Local 5). “They paid more here in Vegas,” Buddy explained. “So we took our skills to the desert.”
Buddy speaks in a whispered tone, he responds to questions with few words. Brian, on the other hand, is animated and flamboyant and every bit the Buddy Boggs historian (when Buddy doesn’t remember or is sketchy Brian fills it the blanks).
“Buddy used to look after me,” Brian explained “Now I kind of look after him.”
Buddy Boggs never fought for a title, but he fought in Vegas back in the day when the Silver Slipper was Vegas’ premiere boxing venue.
Buddy also had the distinction of being managed by a genuine American Hero—Audie Murphy, the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II and a Hollywood icon.
“I started out as Mr. Murphy’s bodyguard. I lived in his home. He became my manager,” Boggs reminisced with great pride and admiration for his benefactor.
Buddy recalled being furloughed from the Maryland House of Corrections (aka The Cut), under the watchful eye of Murphy. He fought in Vegas 9 times and never lost!
“Audie had juice,” Boggs grinned, sipping his soda while Gambino and I pounded down yet another shot.
Buddy recalled, with a sly grin, the time he fought here in Vegas (again on furlough) and a gal ringside (who happened to have been his high-school sweetheart) made her presence known. Buddy won twice that night before heading back to the joint the following day.
Buddy was brought in as a sparring partner for Bob Foster when he stepped up in weight to fight Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
The great Heine Blaustein was his trainer.
Buddy’s in the Washington D.C. Boxing Hall of Fame.
“What got you into the fight game Buddy?” Frankie asked.
The Irishman answered “I lived in a black neighborhood.”
Buddy went on to tell about how Vernon Mason (a pretty fair Maryland/D.C.fighter himself) knew him from the Hillcrest Heights Boxing Club and also from the Norton Reformatory. Brian piped in; “Vernon told me that everyone hated Buddy. He was just a bad-ass who loved to toss his mitts around, inside the ring or out.”
Boggs got reflective and distant as he reminisced about his older brother Jimmy (also a promising pug) who died in a house fire.
He smiled as showed off a bullet hole in his right shoulder (he’s been shot and stabbed multiple times during his rough-n-tumble life).
Both Buddy and Brian beamed when they spoke of D.C. legend Holly Mimms (Mimms fought Sugar Ray Robinson, Jimmy Ellis, Dick Tiger, Emile Griffith and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter).
Brain bragged about how Buddy was a real renaissance man, he drag raced Harley’s, appeared in a movie with Audie Murphy (rode a motorcycle off a bridge in that one). Boggs was, and is, a man’s man and he was always a straight ahead fighter.
“If I didn’t cut so damn easy, I’d have won more fights than I did,” he lamented, though his record is still big-time at 30-9-1. He fought Vito Antefuermo and was ranked as high as 8th in the world!
By the time Boston Dave had spelled “Holla” behind the bar and another bottle of Irish whiskey had gotten a lot lighter—lost all its amber glory, it was time to say goodbye to Buddy Boggs and Brian McMahon.
Keep Buddy in your prayers fight fans!
The day of our interview was the last time Brian McMahon saw Buddy Boggs. For days Brian called the writer, providing updates that included calls to the local police, jails, hospitals and even the morgue.
Just found out that Buddy Boggs is in protective care in Denver. Apparently once he left this interview he decided to hitch a ride back to Washington D.C.
(Atta boy Buddy!)
Buddy was not in the best of shape but in better shape then the mooks who tried to rough him up.
Brian is heading East to fetch Mr. Buddy Boggs, who is alive and well—still tossin’ those mitts and still, Frankie Gambino and I, sincerely hope, is in your prayers!
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