Skip to comments.Old Boxing Matches
Posted on 12/29/2009 5:15:27 AM PST by Kaslin
Watching old boxing matches on DVDs tells us something about some of the ways in which American society has changed.
The first thing I noticed about the boxers back in the era of Joe Louis, from the 1930s into the 1950s, is that they all wore regulation boxing trunks and they didn't have tattoos. There was no trying to outdo each other with garish boxing trunks or wild tattoos. They didn't try to stare each other down when the referee was giving them instructions before the fight.
Seldom did any of these boxers go in for showboating during the fight. There was no denigrating the other fighter, either before or after the fight.
After Joe Louis knocked out an opponent, any comment he made was usually along the lines of "He's a good fighter and very game." Sometimes Louis would add, "He had me worried for a while," though there was seldom any real reason to worry.
One of the few fighters who did give Joe Louis a real battle, and who was ahead on points when Louis knocked him out, was Billy Conn. But, when Conn lost his balance in their much anticipated rematch, Louis simply let him regain his balance before continuing the fight. How many boxers today would do that, especially against someone who was a real threat?
Although Joe Louis was widely respected as a model of sportsmanship, he was by no means the only one who behaved like a gentleman in the ring. That became a norm that heavyweight champions after him tried to live up to, until the 1960s.
Early in his career, Louis was upset by Max Schmeling, who knocked him out. Although Schmeling was from Germany and some tried to depict him as a Nazi, Schmeling went over to help Louis to his feet after the knockout.
In their rematch, the first thing Max Schmeling did upon entering the ring was go over to Louis' corner to shake hands with him, even before going to his own corner. It was a gesture that distanced him from the Aryan supremacy interpretation of his victory over Louis that the Nazi regime in Germany had made after their first fight.
The loutish, loudmouth and childish displays that have become all too common today in boxing, as well as in other sports, began in the 1960s, like so many other signs of social degeneration.
What about the quality of the fighters themselves? There have been great fighters in both earlier and later times. Mike Tyson's one-round knockouts electrified many boxing fans but Joe Louis still holds the record for one-round knockouts in heavyweight championship fights.
The only way you can be sure who hit harder would be to be on the receiving end of their punches-- and none of the boxing pundits ever agreed to do that.
Louis' punches tended to be short and quick, but guys went down like they had been struck by lightning. When Louis knocked out Jimmy Braddock-- the "Cinderella Man"-- to win the championship, Braddock lay face down on the canvas without moving while he was counted out, and afterwards his handlers had to come out from his corner to get him back on his feet.
It was much the same story when Rocky Marciano won the championship from Jersey Joe Walcott. After a right to the jaw from Marciano, Walcott fell limp. As he fell, his arm got tangled in the ropes, so that Walcott fell forward, with the top of his head resting on the canvas. He was counted out in that position without moving a muscle-- and his handlers too had to come get him and revive him, before they could take him back to his corner.
How would the fighters of the past do against the bigger and heavier fighters of a later era? We will never know. What we do know is that Rocky Marciano, who was strictly a knockout fighter, never fought as heavy as 190 pounds and Joe Louis was at his best at no more than 200 pounds.
It is much easier to compare the referees. The old-timers didn't keep issuing warning after warning, for round after round. They penalized violations. More lax officiating may be why so many fights in recent times have had so many clinches and so much wrestling and dirty fighting.
That too is unfortunately a reflection of the general trends of our time.
The same thing has happened to the NFL.
Many other sports as well.
You would see a man make a touchdown and, mirabili dictu, all his did was hustle to the bench.
Boxing has been reduced to the level of “professional” wrestling.
Boxing has been reduced to the level of “professional” wrestling.
No ear biting in the old days either. Of all the modern champions the one that seems to have the most class is Evander Holyfield but he’s retired.
Sports used to involve sportsmanship. A great deal of modern sports is now just trash. Frankly, I think it has a lot to do with the demographics and the importance placed on showboating, insulting rivals, and lack ofd respect for rules. But I guess it’s not PC to say so.
I believe it was Vince Lombardi who told a young player who show-boated after scoring a touchdown, “Act like you’ve been there before”.
Trunks and footwear with garish colors and tassels and cha cha balls are meant for one thing. To distract the eye of the opponent, and should be illegal. I stopped watching boxing three years ago, because of ALL the bs involved.
America of olde is gone...
bump for later
He must be referring to Cassius Clay, who at least backed it up with action.
That was my thought too
“Pure Class” is right!”
Likewise the Hollwood stars back then...a bit “corny,”and I never liked their overuse of the word “swell,” i.e., this is swell, that’s sell, swell gal, swell guy, etc.
But a small price to pay for the difference ‘tween then and now, in many cases.
I watched the crowd in many older sporting events on ESPNClassic:
1) The women in the audience, whether baseball or football looked like women and not like shanks.
2) The cheerleaders routines didn’t look like a strippers pole dance....not that there is a problem with that..
3) Everyone was smoking...if it was the late 60’s one can only guess what they were smoking.
4) Athletes were noticeably smaller
5) Only a couple of cameras showing the action
6) TV graphics look quite quaint unlike the flood of graphics shown today.
7) Less stadium music played so one didn’t feel like they were at a rock concert
8) The games were in the DAYTIME as opposed to ending at midnight(MLB!!)
9) The 1970’s NBA classic games look like a Will Farrel movie
10) Joe Namath was a punk whose whole reputation is built on one game.
Inwoodian wrote: I believe it was Vince Lombardi who told a young player who show-boated after scoring a touchdown, Act like youve been there before.
..... Beautiful! What a perfect pinprick to the ego balloon. There is NO comeback to counter that remark.
I watched the Marciano-Walcott fight on tv a few weeks ago. While Walcott was ahead on points before he was knocked out, he had taken a beating from Marciano (and given Marciano a good one too) up to that point. That undoubtedly made it easier for Marciano to knock him out. A tired and beaten Jersey Joe couldn’t stay away for the final three rounds. They said Marciano usually took two punches to get in one of his own, and that fight epitomized that analysis. Walcott, like most of Marciano’s opponents, was a better boxer, but Marciano’s steel in his gloves and in his chin proved the winner in the end.
The tragedy is not decorum or manners, but that boxers were permanently damaged from boxing. It damages the brain so assuredly that none escaped serious brain damage. The moment their career ended, they were and are discarded, most to live in poverty, their wealth having been looted from them by corrupt management.
Ironically, it is the smarter ones today, or at least their management, that goes for the sideshow, the color, that the author objects to. They do so to make their matches more entertaining and interesting, thus to get better box office. Instead of just titillating the blood lust of the “purists”, they would rather go home having put on a show, yet not being crippled in the deal.
I cannot find fault in this. Is a dog fight more entertaining than a dog show?
He must be referring to Cassius Clay
Yep, the Mouth from Louisville changed the dynamics of the “sport”.
Just watch an episode of 24/7 on HBO with Floyd Mayweather and the family.
The elder Mayweathers look like crack fiends in high dollar pimp clothes. And no. Money can’t buy class.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of classy guys still in boxing, but they don’t get the airtime afforded to Mayweather et al. Money May should relaize the gift he got in his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo.
Mayweather needs to quit making excuses and fight Pacquiao. He’s looking like a scared little girl at the moment.
It happens EVERYWHERE now.
EVERYBODY’S a rock-star nowadays, in WHATEVER field they’re in.
For boxing, I believe it was Cassius Clay who opened the door for this. I think he was GREAT, but a lot of the attention he got was for his outspoken, over-the-top behavior outside the ring.
And, of course, after him comes the next guy who has to be even bigger, louder and badder... and so on...
The decline, FTW ;)
It is considered the greatest knockout in heavyweight boxing history.
the actual knockout punch
Greatest Fight I ever saw was the third Ali-Frazier - The Thrilla in Manila.
That was Marciano's first Championship fight. He was the challenger.
Marciano retired as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion. 49 fights, 43 by knockout.
Gerald McClellan seemed pretty classy, too, but he was badly injured in a fight with Nigel Benn and is now blind.
I remember that the showmanship started with Ali and though he and others were good fighters boxing as a sport went downhill as Dr. Sowell noted.
I really liked the Hearns-Hagler punchout. The first round was just about the most intense I've ever seen. After that, Hagler chased Tommy around 'til he got him.
I've always loved this painting.
At least there's still golf... oh wait...
Evander cheated with headbutts. He was headbutting like crazy in the fight where Tyson bit his ear off.
Thanks for the ping jaz.
Thanks for the chuckle Scythian.
That thought hit me also.
“The moment their [potential to supply tax dollars] ended, they were discarded, most to live in poverty, their wealth having been looted from them by corrupt [government].”
Amazing similarities, don’t ‘cha think? ;)
Boxing is not the sport for me. I understand the fascination, but I decline to participate. I could get seriously hurt, LOL!
heheheh...having read many of your posts over the years, I think you could prolly handle yerself...
That was disgusting.
Heck, even a sport as genteel as figure skating has gone out of bounds-the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing, then Oksana Baiul, then the whole Usova/Zhulin and Grishuk/Platov pairs skating soap opera (they switched partners in real life). You knew things had gone south when skaters from the former Soviet Union got in on the act. I don’t even watch anymore, too much hamminess, not enough skill. Michelle Kwan was the only one who stayed classy, but she set the unfortunate trend of very young girls competing, who may have jumps but don’t have artistry or consistency.
Oh, and Surya Bonaly’s shameful behavior on the podium when she wouldn’t accept the silver and took it from her neck.
Oops, Grishuk/Platov and Usova/Zhulin were ice dancers, not pairs skaters. Oh well, more than a few don’t even consider that a sport, LOL.
I don’t know much about football (despite a husband who’s been immersed in it for decades, from the betting angle), but I caught that game that’s called, I think, the “Ice Bowl” on ESPN Classics one time, and watched it. Now THAT was a football game.
I could’ve enjoyed football back in the day when they still had male cheerleaders (not directly for that reason, LOL, just using that as an indicator of the time frame I mean), and women still dressed up a bit for the college games. I understand from my daughter-in-law that the games at Ole Miss still have that kind of atmosphere.
I’m only 5’1”...I ALWAYS hit below the belt, LOL!
I had a DI in the past who was a whopping 7 footer. He was an awe-inspiring monster of a man and only had to call me out once to discipline me. When I reported to him and stood at attention facing him, my face was at crotch level.
In a low voice he said to me, “Trainee? I think you understand the embarassing nature of this. If I EVER have to call you out again in front of the squad, there will be big trouble. Understood?”
You bet I understood! I still laugh about that today...and so do some of my life-long Army pals, LOL!
I’m glad you mentioned Ezzard Charles; one of the most under-rated fighters of all time.