It’s the evening of September 16, 1923, the air is moist on this autumn night. The atmosphere is electric at Sesquicentennial Stadium. Jack Dempsey is heavily favored to retain his heavyweight championship as he takes on a light hitting challenger in Gene Tunney. Lucky me, I’m sitting ringside and one of 120,557 paying customers for the largest live audience in boxing history. It begins to rain as the fighters enter the ring……….
I am at another fight. It’s the evening of September 23, 1952 and Municipal Stadium is packed. After all, this is Jersey Joe Walcott’s second defense of the world heavyweight championship. His opponent, Rock Marciano, is a slight favorite to win the fight. It’s also a PPV event shown from coast to coast but I prefer to be ringside sitting next to Katy Jurado. Maybe the experts picked the wrong fighter. On my card, Jersey Joe is dominating the fight as we begin the 13th round………….
Let’s go to March 3, 1990, and we are at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am here to see a light welterweight fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor. Chavez is known for a powerful performance every fight and Taylor is blessed with great boxing skills. Both fighters are undefeated with Chavez a slight favorite. Taylor is dominating the scorecards as we begin the 12th and final round. We are closing in on the final seconds of the fight and Chavez knocks down Taylor, is up at the count of six, yet referee Richard Steele is about to do the unthinkable………….
My favorite fighters are, Tommy Loughran, Joe Frazier, Jimmy Young, Meldrick Taylor, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Jeff Chandler, Bernard Hopkins, and too many more for this list.
Question: What is the common thread that runs through the above-mentioned fights and fighters?
By know you have solved the puzzle…..Philadelphia is the common thread. Who hasn’t heard the term “A Philly fighter” or “He is a fighter from Philadelphia, enough said.”
Philadelphia has a very long and colorful association with the sport of boxing.
Gabe Oppenheim is a talented young boxing writer who has written the definitive book about boxing in the city of brotherly love. The book, Boxing In Philadelphia, serves as a history of the city through the sport of boxing.
Please don’t miss my interview with Gabe Oppenheim which will be posted tomorrow on this website. You will be amazed by this young man’s answers to my questions.
Funny thing about this sport, just when you think the sport is on its last breath, along comes someone like Gabe with a very different outlook that leaves you feeling good about the future of boxing.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org