Home > Oral Histories of Some Lankville Pugilists, Sports > Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

By Chico Shermey (1945-1955, 62W 15L, 27KO)
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I grew up in a tough part of Eastern Lankville– Christ, there were five or six beheadings a day.  It was an old Island Crime Syndicate– they had never renounced their back-ass ways.  You could always see them on the little beach, eating pancakes in a tent.  I mean, who the hell does that anymore, right?

I started boxing when I was 13.  Saved me from the streets.  Hooked up with Gino Rices.  Gino had a great boxing mind.  He was all of about four feet tall but he could whip anyone.  “It’s all about geometry, boys,” he would say.  We were never sure what he was talking about, not being educated.  Then, sometimes he’d say it was all about the angles.  “Learn your angles and you’ll never lose, not once.”  Then he’d tell us all about them– the acute, the obtuse, Knapp’s Patience, all of them.

I guess I probably had about ten fights in the amateurs.  I faced off against Junior Spotts for the Tawny Gloves Competition in early ’44 and beat him in 5 rounds on a knockout.  Junior tried to come up with this big uppercut and he missed and he got off balance and fell straight out of the ring into the press row.  Well, the press, they started just wailing on him and then they threw him back in the ring and by then it was a done deal.  I got that beautiful silver belt, hand-engraved in the Outer Depths.  Used to wear that thing everywhere– I’d go out just to the bank or something and I’d wear that belt, no shirt.  Finally, this policeman, he said, “Chico, we need you to put a top on.  We can’t have that with all the women around.”  I didn’t want no trouble so I started wearing a little button-up number but I still wore the belt underneath.  I was proud.

It was about that time that I met my wife.  We used to go everywhere and by then, of course, I was a pro and we used to get good tables at all the big places– Ted’s Eatery, the Meretricious Top Hat, Gelsey’s French Toast (that’s before it went pornographic).  We had a good life for awhile and then I found out about her fucking this blonde pretty boy and it was all I could take.  I’d go into the ring just fuming and I’d take all that jealousy out on the other fighter.  I won 13 straight at one point, all by knockout.

Gino, he tried all the could to get me a prizefight.  They’d never give me a go at the champ though.  I know about ’52, ’53, I would ‘a won.  Not a doubt in my mind.

Things started to go downhill from there.  I got injured one time playing Lingus Nets over the summer and my shoulder never was right again.  I became estranged from the wife– I just could never not picture her fucking that blonde pretty boy.

Before I even knew what hit me, I was out of boxing.  I was living in a filthy room above an electronics store– Christ, they had peeling wallpaper coming down every place.  There was a guy in the next room who was fairly quiet except twice a day when he would suddenly scream SMILE, PEOPLE!  Always scared the Christ out of me for a second but then I got used to it.

Eventually, things got a little better for me.  Moved out to Sherryville in the Inner Depths– got a little place with a porch.  They got a bus station over there and I watch them come and go all day and I read the paper and listen to the radio.  Sometimes, I look past the station to the Big Hill where an enormous pumpkin fire has been burning for over five years.  They can’t figure out what the hell to do with the damn thing.  Everything smells like burnt pumpkins.  You can’t get that shit out of the your clothes.  Don’t matter how hard you try.

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