Scar Tissue Part 14: Speaking of Ron Lyle
By Jess E. Trail (July 7, 2005)
After being decked in round two by one of the best left hooks Earnie Shavers ever threw, Ron Lyle got up. At the end of the bout, he walked away with Shavers lying face down on the canvas.
I can still hear the crack of the first hard right hand he landed on George Foreman in round one of the Super Brawl in Vegas in 1976. I still see Foreman awkwardly attempting to avoid Lyle’s vicious body attack. I can still see the devastating right hand he landed in round four, after which George hit the floor hard. Though he didn’t win, he had Foreman down twice and seriously hurt. Ali had outboxed and outfoxed Foreman. George fell as much from exhaustion as from the final right hand in his bout with Ali, which was Ali’s plan. Lyle battered Foreman unlike any fighter ever did. Both men gained mutual respect in this bout. As Foreman said after that bout, “no good, lowdown, good hard hitting young man.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ron Lyle. He said, “George Foreman is heavy-handed… when George Foreman hit you, it felt like the house fell on you.”
I remember the angry red welts on the sides of Joe Bugner as Lyle ruthlessly pressed the tall and talented Brit. Bugner was as durable as they made them during the greatest and most talent-laden era in heavyweight boxing history. Very few could have concluded that bout on their feet. Lyle said of Bugner, “he could box, he could punch and he could take a punch. And if you weren't on your game, guess what you got an ass whuppin’.”
Ron Lyle was on a short timetable. The splash he made on the division during its absolute peak was remarkable. Had he been on the scene from the beginning, he would’ve been in the mix during Ali’s exile, in his prime and experienced. As impressive as he was in his thirties, I believe he would have been devastating.
I found a Ron Lyle who seems wise, philosophically sound and seems to have gained character from a life that has never been easy. He said, “…coming from prison, I felt as though I had something to prove to the people and to myself and to my parents and to the authorities... that I made a mistake and they gave me a chance to rectify that mistake…I don't think you can ever really prove anything, other than to yourself, so in that sense, I proved to myself that no matter how far down you go, if you don't quit, you can always climb the ladder back up.”
I don’t mind telling you that Ron Lyle was ‘my’ heavyweight. I was proud of all he did in the ring. Hey, he was my guy remember? Today, he is working with youths of Denver, Colorado in the Denver Red Shield Boxing Program. He is making an impact, giving those who may wish to fill their time in destructive pursuits, such as gang activity, an outlet. “Some are gang members, some are not. Some want to be, some trying to be.” He is imparting learned skills. He is giving them exposure to an icon from heavyweight boxing’s golden age. “They need an outlet. They need an outlet to go to the professional ranks. But at the same time, they need someone that will protect them until they can protect themselves, in proper managing and moving them right.”
He concluded the interview with a message for the people of New York. “And I want to say to the people of New York that when I came to New York to train, they made me feel like I was a New Yorker... I had a chance to learn at Gleason's Gym, under Bobby Lewis I learned to box. And the things I learned, I am teaching my kids here in Denver and I want to say thanks to the people of New York.”
Interviewing Lyle was a great time. I love the past of the sport and I love all the players and personalities that made it what it was.
I now introduce my newsletter called Roadwork. It is devoted specifically and exclusively to the past of the sport. If you are interested in taking a monthly nostalgic journey with me, you will find in the current issue the entirety of my interview with Ron Lyle as he discusses Muhammad Ali, his fights with Foreman and Shavers, Joe Bugner, Jimmy Young, Oscar Bonavena as well as his current obsession, The Denver Red Shield Boxing Program… and more. There are also articles on the never-ending Ali-Louis debate, Mike Tyson’s legacy and the Shavers-Norton fight. I also have a heavyweight all-time ranking that includes my top ten and one change that I have made after years of being torn between two that were a virtual deadlock. The change was not taken lightly and is highly unlikely to ever be reversed.
ROADWORK, the nostalgic newsletter is available in e-newsletter format, directly into your inbox. It is $3.00 per month in e-copy. For those who don’t like to print documents but prefer to have it in their hands, it is available in hardcopy for a higher price, due to printing and shipping costs. Hardcopy is $5.00 per month.
A year subscription is provided at a discounted rate as follows:
A subscription is payable through Paypal to Roadwork26@hotmail.com. Checks or money orders are also accepted, payable to Jess E. Trail at 635 North Main St, Marion OH 43302.
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 1: Louis vs. Ali
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 2: Holmes vs. Frazier
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 3: Liston vs. Foreman
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 4: Imposters unmasked
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 5: Going after Goliath
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 6: Marciano vs. Holyfield
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 7: Brutality borrowed
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 8: A hook for the books (Weaver vs. Tate)
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 9: De La Hoya vs Duran
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 10: The Minister of Defense (Wilfred Benitez)
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 11: Felonies in disguise
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 12: The End of Absolutes
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 13: Cream
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