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Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

September 20, 2016 Leave a comment
By Proverb Orsino

By Proverb Orsino 26W-4L, 22KO

I was born in 1925 in the Great Lankville Southern Basin Area. The first thing I remember was the Great Flood of 1931, you remember that? No, of course not, what year were you born? 1982? What a bullshit year that was. What a bullshit time to be born in. You shoulda’ been born in 1925, really.

Anyway, the river rose 325-feet and everybody drowned. The only people that didn’t drown were the people on the Great Hill above the Great Basin and guess what? (The interviewer could not guess). Whattdya’ mean you don’t know? Why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you, 1982? (The interviewer could still not guess). Because I lived on the god damn Great Hill, that’s why. C’mon, 1982– you asleep or something?

Anyway, the thing I most remember is the legend of the Hard Time Killer. You know about that? Of course you don’t, 1982. All you know about is them calculators, am I right? Am I right? (Orsino was mostly right). The Hard Time Killer was this boogeyman, I guess you could say that afflicted areas that was going through a hard time and the Southern Basin Area was sure as hell going through one. He went around and took people in the night and you never saw them again. Nobody never did find out if he was real or imagined but I think he was real. And since Ma and Pa were too poor to afford any kind of a gun or anything (although we did have an uncle that had a gas chamber), I figured on training up in boxing so’s I could defend the family. And that’s how I became a boxer, 1982.

I trained with L.D. Swans who had been a bare-knuckle fighter– he lived on the Great Hill too. L.D. was able to get me some fights in some of the larger towns in and around the Basin. One time, we was driving somewhere and we heard on the radio about the great Basin fighter Proverb Orsino. I remember the commentator saying something about how I was “moving north, licking opponents as they came”. I always remembered that. Felt good about that, 1982, know what I’m saying. You have any accomplishments like that, 1982? You ever get your name mentioned on your little calculator, there? You’re god damn right you don’t.

Anyway, that’s just what happened, I moved north and took on challengers and I licked them all. And then I got to Lankville City and that’s where I ran into some tough customers. There was the Lynn Dickey fight– you do any homework on that, 1982? (1982 had not). That was in the Round Garden and they had a big lavish puppet show before the fight. There was like a thousand puppets. It was some kind of a war commentary cause the war was on by then. Some of the puppets was dressed in Island uniforms, you know, with the jackboots and all that nonsense. At the end, the good puppets, the Lankvillian puppets shot a bunch of the bad puppets. Christ, they used real bullets and everything. I never did see a puppet get shot, let alone a good couple hundred of ’em. I know that because on my way into the ring I saw all the damn bullet holes in the floor, in some of the chairs– Christ, what a mess.

Anyway, Lynn Dickey wore me out. He let me hit him pretty much at will for the first three or four rounds and I was boxed out by then. Then he just jabbed me in the sternum for the entire fifth round. When I came back to the corner after the fifth, L.D. said– “Jesus, Proverb, he’s hitting you in the sternum.” And I said, “yeah, L.D. I know’s it.” But L.D. didn’t have no advice for me. He just took a big sponge that didn’t have no water on it– I mean, this sponge was dry as a bone, and rubbed it all over my jaw. It weren’t effective, I’ll say that now.

So, I come out for the sixth and it was over after thirty seconds. Just one sternum punch after another– couldn’t get my hands up. At one point, Dickey was like, “hey Proverb. Aren’t you gonna’ protect your sternum none? I feel kind of like an ass about just hitting you there over and over again.” But then he hit me in the face and I went down and that was it.

I had won 26 straight fights before that Dickey fight but then I lost four in a row. And I hated to lose, let me tell you, 1982. Hated it. I lived in a modest apartment over a bakery back in the Basin and every time I’d go back after losing, I’d tear the hell out of the place. Got so where I didn’t have anything left. And one time, the baker, Mr. Mendenhall said to me, “hey Proverb, you better quit that. Or I’ll toss you out on your ass.” And that was a wake up call. I sent a telegram to L.D. and that was that. Then I took up with Mr. Mendenhall, he gave me a nice little job. I handled the breakfast hand cakes for 22 years and then I took over the place after they came and beheaded Mr. Mendenhall. And I run it another 9 years before I sold it to some corporation. Made a nice little profit off it.

You want something else, 1982? (1982 declined and the interview was ended prematurely).

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Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

July 28, 2016 Leave a comment
Rocky "Fancy Boy" Pheft (1949-1962), 52-25, 33 KO)

Rocky “Fancy Boy” Pheft (1949-1962), 52-25, 33 KO

I grew up on a farm in the Outlands and my old man, he wasn’t no good at farming so we were always starving. Just about all of us died of starvation. The old man, he wasn’t real good at fixing things either, so the house kept falling over. Eventually, we were all living under a tarp in the dead cornfield. “This is the fault of Adam and Eve,” the old man would say. “We was meant to live forever.” Nobody had no idea what the hell he was talking about.

Anyways, I was determined you could say to make a better life for myself. So, after a bunch of us died of starvation one winter, I took off in a buddy’s car and headed for the Lankville Central Urban Area. And when I got there, this one guy, he said, “you got big hands, kid” and he sent me down to Staller’s Gym which was a famous place back then.

I trained under the old Desert Area fighter Buck Sundays. He got my first fight in the Lankville Square Arena in 1949 and I won that and then I won about 7 or 8 fights in a row and I started to make some dough. First thing I did was buy a beautiful silk suit and after that they all started to call me fancy boy. I had hats too, you should have seen them hats. Big giant hats– that was the style then, giant hats. I had boxes of ’em.

Everything was going along well until 1955 and that’s when I faced Emile Bread. That was a Friday night fight on TV and a title fight and right before I got into the ring, a couple of wiseguys stopped me on the way out of the dressing room and told me to throw it. “Go down in the 4th, kid,” they said. “If you don’t, we’ll take all your giant hats.” Well, they had me over a barrel. There was nothing I could do. I fell in the 4th and Bread kept his title. And after that, I felt like everybody knew. I couldn’t get no good fights after that. Just carnivals, carpet store openings, just bush league fights. I couldn’t afford the good suits and the giant hats and they stopped calling me Fancy Boy. Well, I kept on for awhile but in 1962, I was fighting for pennies at some place where they didn’t even have no ring. We just fought in a big cardboard box. You’re done Pheft I said to myself.

So, after that, I got married. Her name was Inez. She was a lovely little thing. She was foreign. We was married 32 years. She was blown away by the wind. God, I miss her.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

July 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Gene “Tea-Sipper” Supps (1936-1944, 21W 3L, 12KO)

Gene "Sippin-Tea" Supps, 1938

Gene “Tea-Sipper” Supps, 1938

I really got no memory of how I came to be a fighter. I was born on a mountain and we had this little one-room schoolhouse and it was without fire. And the professor was a little man from over the next mountain and he had a thing about shapes. He wanted us to know all the shapes. “I don’t care if you come out of here with no knowledge at all,” he would say. “Long as you know your shapes.”

So anyways, he was going on about the shapes and then these two men come in and they scanned the room. And the one man, he pointed to me and the other man came and picked me up by the collar. And the next thing I knew, I was on a big gunboat.

And they said, “See if you can lick everyone on this ship.” So, I fought a bunch of ’em in a makeshift ring they had set up including a couple of big Chunkers*.  And the one man, he nodded the whole time and it turned out later that he was the old bare-knuckled fighter Skip Binders.  Skip was with me for my first couple of fights until they cut his head off.

One time, I sipped some tea before a fight.  And one guy said, “Look at that hillbilly.  He’s a tea-sipper.”  And a couple of days later they put that name on a poster and I thought, “Well, that’s that.  It’s on a poster now.”  So, after that, I was always introduced as Gene “Tea-Sipper” Supps.

I won my first five professional fights all by knockout and then I come up against the Moderately-Portlyweight Champion at the time, Buddy Weisko, from the Teets Islands.  Weisko had a funny way of fighting where he’d bend over at the waist so he was looking at your shoes.  I just pounded him on the back until his kidneys gave out and they stopped the fight.  So, I got the Moderately-Portlyweight championship in 1938.

I defended it six times and then I lost it about 1941.  That bout was against Kid Vanilla at Lankville Round Garden.  It was a main event and we followed a big clown show.  I was beating Kid Vanilla on points going through eight rounds.  When I came out for the 9th, I swear to The Ghost that the Kid had something on his gloves.  Next thing I know, I couldn’t see none.  And that was that.  Kid Vanilla pounded me all over the body and then on the chin and I was blind as a bat.  I went down into the ropes and it was all over.

Course, we protested but the commission couldn’t find any wrongdoing.  Years later, when the Kid was dying in the hospital, I went and saw him.  I said, “Kid, you had something on your gloves, didn’t ya?”  He said, “Yeah, I’m sorry Tea-Sipper.  They made me bleach my gloves.”  I thought about that for awhile and then I left but later I came back and punched him in the face.  I think he died a couple of days later.

I retired in 1944.  I haven’t done nothing since.  I mean, nothing.  Just sitting in chairs.  I sit in chairs all the time.

Oral Histories of former pugilists will continue in future issues.

*Derogatory term for those hailing from the Chunk Islands, 125 miles southwest of Lankville.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

November 30, 2014 Leave a comment
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By Victors Weese (1971-1978, 28W-16L, 14KO)

I was working nights at the bowling alley up off of 258. 258 used to be a major roadway and then they built 64 and you had to take this long-ass ramp to get down onto 258 and nobody wanted to do it. So, just about every business they had on 258 went out and, for some reason, they just bulldozed everything and put up these houses for all these god damn Chunkers* that came around and took over everything.

Anyway, I worked nights and was in charge of the counter. Served all kinds of food in there– Christ, that menu was like a beautiful, majestic food cornucopia. All that food to waste though cause people wouldn’t come down onto 258 like I was verbally illustrating before.

So anyway, one night some guys come in and they were all in suits. Seemed like they might have been gangsters but I don’t mean gangsters like them god damn Chunkers think they are, I mean real honest to goodness tough guys. And one of them came up and he said, “I won’t lie to you kid, I’ve got a real hard-on for something like a tube shape and maybe with some cheese and meat sprinkled on it. Think you can make that?” And I give it all I got and I come up with something just what he described and he watched me the whole time and then he took a bite and then he took it into the bathroom and when he come out, he didn’t have it no more but I didn’t say nothing. So, he come back up to the counter and he said, “Kid, I watched you make that tube thing back then and I gotta’ say, I mean it was good and all that shit but I was watchin’ your hands. You got good hands. Fast. Ever think about taking up boxing?”

Well, the next thing I know, I got me a manager. Clarence Sharp.

Clarence started me out in the juniors but I progressed pretty fast. My first big fight was in ’71 and that was against Curt Vogel. Curt was little but built like a barrel– I mean, just strong as some of those big women they got working at five-and-dimes. He beat me up pretty good– knocked me out in the 7th. I just couldn’t stay up.

Well, I figured on Clarence maybe dropping me then but he said it was alright. “Everybody takes their lumps,” he said. He tried some kind of parable but it didn’t hold any water, couldn’t make it stick and he knew it. We spent the rest of the evening watching something fuzzy on TV.

Next up, it was Keith Belliard. I knocked him out in the first round– he tried to bend down and pick up a pencil that had fallen out of his ear and I just went to work on the back of his head and his neck. I don’t know whatever became of Keith after that. I think maybe they’d take him out occasionally. Some girls, you know, community service, that kind of shit.

Well, I had a decent career. Look, I don’t wanna’ take up too much of your time. Clarence, he died in ’98. I used to drive up to the country and see him. He had a house by a graveyard. We’d sit out on the patio and he’d look at the graveyard and try to say something profound but it never did hold any water. I’d bring him up one of those tube meat things and he’d thank me and take it in the bathroom. I never did see them after he came back out.

I got a little place now. Nothing much– four tables, little counter. [The interviewer made fun of Weese’s lousy establishment]. Yeah, I know it. It’s alright though.

*Derogatory term for people hailing from the Chunk Islands.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

October 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Rudy Ferguson

Rudy Ferguson

(1952-1959, 15W 9L 4KO)

I was East Lankville Amateur Junior Abundantweight Champion from 1950-1952 and I worked days at the Buntz Mallows factory. Knew Ferdinand Buntz a little bit. He was a friendly guy. Always had a big open box of mallows on his desk. Funny, they were mallows made by some other company. He preferred ’em.

Anyways, Mr. Buntz, he sponsored me for awhile, that’s when I was amateur champion. I did some radio ads for him. It was Mr. Buntz that encouraged me to go professional. It was a shame when they murdered him.

My first pro fight was at the South Lankville Tent Park. They’d take a dirt lot, see, and they’d set up about ten different tents and one of ’em would have a fight in it. I fought Cocoa Peebles to a draw. 15 rounds that was. Later, some of the Tent people, they said, “We can’t have no draw. Throw those baboons back in there.” So, we fought another 3 rounds and I knocked Cocoa out. Right through the ropes and into a rolling cart that had some salads on it. What a mess.”

Next up, it was Billy “The Doll” McGee. They called him “The Doll” cause he made little dolls. He had a business and everything. He did well with them little dolls. Had a catalogue. Oh, he ran that little doll thing for years.

I tore Billy up. Knocked him out in the third round, right through the ropes and into a rolling cart with some salads on it. I dunno why they kept having them at my fights but honest to Christ, that’s what happened.

Well, after that, they started pairing me with some tough guys. I got beat four straight at one point. I remember I tried to make the weight, move up a class to Unwieldyweight and I just got killed. I fought at the Lankville Round Garden against Rocky Peat [Unwieldyweight Champion, 1955-1959] and the Rock knocked me out in the first round. I ended up in the hospital. For about two weeks all I could do was piss in the air. I’d just piss straight in the air and fall back asleep. Nobody could figure it out. I fell outta bed once into a rolling cart of salads and it was like I suddenly woke up. I was alright after that.

I fought just a little after that but mostly concentrated on my work pulling levers at the mallow factory. I didn’t take it serious none after that. I knew I’d never be Unwieldyweight champ and that was the rage then. Anything less was nothing.

My last fight was in ’59 back at the Tent Park. I thought, “Damn, I’m back at the Tent Park, I ain’t moved up none at all.” I fought a 4-round no decision against some foreign guy whose gloves kept falling off. It was ridiculous.

I retired from Buntz in ’79. Built up a little patio in the yard. It’s been nice.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

June 13, 2014 Leave a comment
By Lerd "Candyman" Wassler (1945-1959, 82W, 75L, 29KO)

By Lerd “Candyman” Wassler (1945-1959, 82W, 75L, 29KO)

 

I was born in a log cabin. My Dad was some kind of a laborer– he was the guy that would stand in a hole and they would pile dirt on him. I never did find out what kind of profession that was– never did hear about it being an actual profession again, never knew anybody else who had that profession and believe me, I asked around. Mom stayed at home with the kids and made candy for a shop the next town over. That’s how come I got the nickname “The Candyman” even though I didn’t actually like candy, was sick to death of the stuff and later on, after I made some money, I specifically sought out a town to live in that was bereft of candy shops which, let me tell you,  isn’t easy to do.

So, one time Dad came home just covered in dirt as usual and told me that there was going to be a boxing match between two hillbillies. “Bare-fisted too,” he said, through the dirt. He took me and some of my brothers down to see it and there was these two shirtless guys in overalls and one of them had a two-by-four and the other had a snake and he had some bells around his neck– I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to be about.  And they had this loudmouth prancing around outside the ring with one of those telemegaphones that he had taken off some old phonograph player. Well, turns out it was wrestling. And, I’ll tell you what, Dad never did know the difference between the two sports. He always proudly told people that his son was a big-time wrestler after I made it big. One time I brought him a boxing magazine with my picture on the cover and the title of the magazine was “BOXING” in big bright orange letters and he teared up (he was covered in dirt even then) and said he couldn’t believe that his son was on the cover of a wrestling magazine. I never did try after that.

Anyways, turns out the syndicate behind that hillbilly wrestling match also organized boxing and I went and tried out for it. They put me in the ring against a guy who was wearing a paper hat– I never did understand it– but I knocked him out anyway and then they brought in this ex-con from the next town over and I knocked him out too and so then that was the beginning of my career after that.

My first match was at the old Lankville Round Garden against Floyd Dean, who ended up getting his head chopped off a few years later, you may remember.  Anyways, Floyd was a guy who’d throw a hell of a lot of punches, not land any of ’em and then he’d tend to fall over backwards.  And that’s exactly how we played it out and sure enough, Dean fell over backwards in the 4th.  His manager was hot– kept saying that he’d chop Dean’s head off himself and all this other stuff about chopping heads off and so I guess it ain’t no surprise what happened to poor Floyd in the end.

Wassler vs. Porps, 1945.

Wassler vs. Porps, 1945.

After that, I won a lot of $500 (Lankville) fights where you’d get paid $250 to show and $500 to win.  I ran up a pretty good record along that circuit which was mostly out in the prairies or in the desert.  Then, I went back to the Garden and fought for the Tawny Gloves Competition and I beat Ray “The Scotch” Woolson and then they gave me a big trophy and at the very top of the trophy was these two boxers squaring off and they was in gold and you couldn’t miss it.  So I went back up to see Mom and Dad and I went into the living room and there was Dad, covered in dirt and with all these rolled-up posters on the couch next to him.  Must’ve been a hundred of ’em.  I never did find out what that was supposed to be about and, believe me, I asked around.  Anyways, I go up to Dad and I say to him, “Dad, look at this boxing trophy I won”.  And he took it in his dirty hands and he looked at the bright, shimmering cloth along the sides and he cried and said that I was a good wrestler and so that was the last time I even worried with trying to explain that whole business.

The matches everybody remembers me for best are my fights with Glenn L. Porps in 1948. And I think that’s because Glenn L. and I just pounded one another for 12 rounds and finally they said, “OK, that’s enough. We’ll settle this later” and everybody just walked away. Glenn L.  and I couldn’t figure on any of it– they just emptied the arena real fast and left us there. It was the damndest thing and I never did get no adequate explanation for it. And then they said, “You boys come back and we’ll try this again”. So they had a rematch and Glenn L.  and I both said at the weigh-in, “Now there’s gonna’ be a winner tonight, right?” and they said they wouldn’t guarantee nothing and a couple promoters got real hot at us and I saw one guy put our checks in a safe.

This time, we both took it easy. There was a round, the 4th I think, where we didn’t throw a single punch, neither one of us. The crowd started booing, started throwing things like popcorn boxes and chairs and wet towels.  But we kept on about it.  But anyways, they did announce a winner for this one and it turned out to me but it just as easily could have been Glenn, nobody had no idea. I don’t think Glenn ever did recover from any of it. Last time I saw him, he was sitting in the woods eating fried chicken by himself. He wasn’t even using no napkin– his face and his chin was just glistening from chicken grease. It was a sad sight.

After that I lost as many as I won and I just called it quits in ’59 after I found myself boxing at the opening of a grocery store. I thought, “this is sad here, Lerd, you’re better than this” and then I did end up buying some groceries but still I didn’t have no passion for it no more.

Spent twenty years in the highway business. I’d go stand on the highway, wait for somethin’ to happen. It was alright. I’m retired now and I keep a good house. Never did marry. I always did say that why would you buy the cow when…”

(Wassler suddenly became very confused and was unable to finish his aphorism).

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

December 17, 2013 Leave a comment

By Gern Naglers  (1958, 0W, 3L, 0KO)
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I was never what you would call a boxer.  I’d get in the ring and give the other guy a mean look and then he’d knock me out.  After that, I’d go back to my little huts.  Sometimes, I’d go out and jump some guy.  Tie him to a chair, take his pants off, take everything out of the pants and then give him his pants back.  It was nothing weirdo, or anything.  I just wanted what was in the pants.  You know, wallet, car keys, food, whatever.

I had a manager by the name of Bickford but he didn’t want to mind no criminals.  So, he dumped me.  After that, I did a lot of pants robbing and then I got sent up to the Lankville State Pen in 1960.  I remember the judge, he said, “Mr. Naglers–I would like to sentence you to a beheading but I cannot do that.  So, you’ll go to the Pen instead.”  That was all.

In the Pen, I became champion.  I was champion from 1961-1970, no one could beat me.  They’d have a match about six or seven times a year and they’d let all the fellows sit on folding chairs around the ring.  They had a photographer one time from Boxing Matters that came in; later I got a letter saying that none of the pictures had come out right.  “It was all just your knees,” the photographer wrote.  I didn’t have any idea.

Well, I got released in 1982 and by then, of course, it was too late for a comeback.  I got a little bit of land in the Lankville Desert and a pop-up camper.  I go into town and pick up some bologna and bread and a pack of cigarettes and that’s all I need.  I don’t got no TV.

A guy wrote me one time saying he wanted to write a book about me being that I was prison champion.  I told him to come out for an interview.  He did and I stole his pants.  Didn’t give ’em back either.  He went away and I never did hear nothing after that.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment

By Oort Cloud Cook  (1949-1950, 8W, 1L, 6KO)
allan-cooke
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I boxed for a long time in the amateurs– never getting anywhere.  And it killed me because I had bought this nice little ice cream truck, painted it green, ran a good business in the summer.  I’d take that truck through the alleys and rake in a hundred a night on the hot days.  “You’ve got a career in that,” my wife used to say.  “Forget about boxing.”  Then, she’d wipe down the plastic tablecloth and I’d think Christ to Hell I want to get that wire foundation bra off of her and get all over those cans.  But you gotta control yourself.

One time I was careening through an alley and this guy we called the professor stopped me for a Frozen Mallows Bar.  Started talking about random comets or some such nonsense.  But I thought it sounded good so I wrote down this Oort Cloud rubbish on account of it sounding good.  And my agent, he worked up a whole thing about my punches being like comets coming out of nowhere.  The press bought it up.  And that’s when I went professional.

Started out against Wayne Lemons down out at the Boulevard Theatre.  They had taken all the seats out and put a ring in there.  I beat Wayne in four rounds– it was a simple jab to the jaw and he went down like a stack of pancakes.  I went to him later in the dressing room.  “Good fight, Wayne,” I said.  He gave me a sneer and told me he was going to wait for me outside.  I couldn’t believe it.  Sure enough, when we went out to the parking lot, there he was– he even had a little blade.  “I’m gonna cut you,” he said.  A bunch of guys intervened and that pretty much ended Wayne’s pro career.  You gotta control yourself.  A few years later, they cut Wayne’s head off.

I won eight straight, six by knockout.  But then I came up against Andypop Lennus.  Christ, this kid wasn’t even a pro yet and when he did become a pro, he was terrible.  But he kicked hell out of me that day.  In the seventh round, we snuck a piece of chain into one of my gloves– we were looking for an edge, I admit it.  I let the chain come out just below the bottom edge of the glove and raked it across Lennus’ face three or four times.  Damn near took his nose off.  Then, I hit him with a folding chair.  “Getting close there, Cook,” the ref said.  “Might have to call that next time.” But Lennus, he still knocked me out.  And after that, I lost my taste for boxing.

My wife was wiping down the plastic tablecloth after that– I recall it was a checkerboard sort of pattern that amused me.  And she said, “Forget about boxing.  Think of your ice cream truck business.  Think of the children.”  We didn’t have any children but I figured on her talking about the ice cream kids.  So, I said, “Alright, I’ll retire”.  She looked real pleased by my decision and I was able to get that wire foundation bra off that night.

I retired in 1981.  We vacation at a trailer at Lankville Beach every year.  I think boxing has gone downhill.  You got all these foreigners and hillbillies now.  I don’t have no thoughts on it.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

August 5, 2013 Leave a comment

By Sonny Shorts (1924-1930, 33W 5L, 26KO)
boxer
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I am 108 years old so you will have to forgive me if my memory is not very good.  I have been in this Charity House for a very long time.  I grew up here.  Not in the Charity House I mean, I grew up in a house down the street.  My father and mother ran a barrels store.  It’s all farmland around here.

The Charity House is haunted.  Did you know that?  There is a vast monstrosity that lurks here.  I told the front desk about it and they moved me to another room.  They put a man named Heinz in the old room and he was killed.  When I continued to complain, they tore the walls out.  There was nothing there but ancient newspaper, balled up to create insulation.  But you could see something else as well.  It was not immediately visible but it was there.

I owned a house for a long time.  Had a lovely garage with the smoothest concrete floor imaginable.  I lived all alone; a confirmed bachelor.  For many years, there was an empty, untilled field behind the hedges in my yard.  I was pleased by this.  And then, one year, they planted corn.  The husks blew into my backyard, creating a scenario of deep confusion and resulting in melancholia.  I know it seems strange now to speak those words aloud but that was the feeling that came over me then.  It remained that way for a number of years.

I sold the house and moved to a smaller house.  It had a small side porch that looked out over the fields.  I would put out a TV tray with a little radio and some lemonade and a plate of meat.  If I tilted the radio in such a way and pulled the antenna all the way out, I could receive distant signals from over the mountain.  Every once in awhile, I could pick up a Lingus Nets match out of Lankville.

The new house did not have a garage.  It just had a pebbly little driveway that suddenly fell off into a deep chasm.  I purchased a package of these large funny balls for youngsters and tied them to some string so that I could tell where I had to stop the car before it fell off into the precipice.  But it rained once and the car slid forward anyway.  That elicited a second, deeper period of angry befuddlement, crying and inner pandemonium.

It was then that I became a recluse.  I placed heavy cardboard over all the windows and created a complex booby trap system about the house.  I called an insurance salesman.  “Come over right away,” I told him.  “I want to buy TONS of insurance.”  I heard him pull up in the pebbly driveway.  He knocked on the front door and I waited in the darkness behind a couch.  After some time, the knob turned slowly.  He stepped into the room and called my name.  He was beheaded instantly.

I went away to prison.  It was a special ward for the elderly.  The ward was also haunted.  The same abomination was there as it had always been.  I was assigned the job of…

An intern suddenly entered the room and informed Shorts that it was time for a snack.  The interview ended without Shorts discussing boxing.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

June 17, 2013 Leave a comment

By Andypop Lennus  (1952-1953,  3W 10L, 1KO)
Jack-Dormer-2
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I worked at a lunch counter in the daytime and boxed at night.  Everyone went to Fuller’s Gym.  Fuller hated everybody.  Would hardly let you in the place.  He sat up on a raised platform and would throw trash at you.  Terrible guy.

They farmed me out to the Islands and I boxed there for awhile.  That was in the late 40’s or thereabouts.  I did some commercials for soup.  I’d sit there with my gloves on and try to grip a spoon and I’d say, “look at this soup” and then some music would come on.  Made more on that than I ever did in the ring.

When I came back to Lankville, I found that I had lost something.  A sort of philosophical spirit had vacated my body and perhaps taken refuge in some caves because after that I had no ability whatsoever.  I searched and searched for that spirit but never found it.  I ended up in the desert for a long time.

So, there’s not much to say about it.  I won 3 fights.  I had one knockout.  I got all my clothes for free by answering questions about the kind of car I’d like to have.  That went on for many years.  More years than I’d care to remember.

Lennus suddenly passed away.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

June 5, 2013 Leave a comment

By Herm Mount-Vince  (1941-1949, 26W, 24L, 9KO)
boxer
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Well, when you first came by here, I thought you wanted to compliment me on my lawn.  Look here, I’m 85 years old and I keep a good lawn.  You look at the areas near the sidewalk, you see them?  Normally people got big god damn mud patches there.  I can’t stand the sight of that.  But look at my lawn.  Grass all the way to the sidewalk.  Run your hand through that.  Go on, run your god damn hand through it.  [The interviewer was reticent but Mount-Vince insisted to the point of near-violence].  Alright, that was easy enough, wasn’t it?  What was the big god damn deal?  You feel that– that’s what they call LUSH.  I keep a good lawn.  Best in the neighborhood.

Anyway, I wasn’t what you’d really call a serious boxer.  I had quick hands but they used to say I had concrete legs.  They meant that I couldn’t move my legs, not that they were strong as concrete– just that they were, didn’t move, right?  Do you understand?  Heavy legs.  So, usually a guy would dance around me and I couldn’t keep up.  I’d get tired out and then after awhile I’d just sort of fall down.  I got knocked out quite often.

I remember one time out in the Desert region.  They had a place called the Boulevard Arena and I fought there often.  They put me on a bill with Curtis Extension-Wand [middleweight champion, 1946-1948].  I got to meet him beforehand.  He was alright.  He had a funny habit of putting a toothpick in his mouth.  That’s much as I remember.  I think I got knocked out in that fight.

I used to have all my clippings.  Used to get real angry when my clippings weren’t favorable.  There was one writer who said, and I’ll never forget it, “Mount-Vince is distinctly mediocre; the sort of blinkered individual that comes along upon occasion taking the same route that feces might take along a sewer pipe.”  Yep.  Then later in the article he said that I was a “travesty” and “an aggregation of different feces that causes a system clog thereby requiring service.”   Now, I never done nothing to this guy.

I met him outside a restaurant one time, me and some of the fellows.  We took his coat and shoved it into a newspaper box.  I know it don’t sound like much but that was a big insult back then.

You need to seed your lawn in the fall.  When you get them cold nights.  That’s the best time.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

May 23, 2013 Leave a comment

By Pineapple Duvet  (1938-1942, 10W, 5L, 8KO)
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My first fight was in Southern Lankville.  And they had a guy there that said, “why do you fight in them leather trunks?  Don’t you know we got the cotton down here?  It breathes better.”  He took me out to a field and the next I knew I was, you know, actually working in the field.  I got confused.  So, I missed the fight.

I got blackballed after that.  For about 13 years.  By the time of my next fight, I couldn’t keep my hands up.  Fortunately, I could throw a real haymaker.  I’d take hundreds of blows straight in the face and then I’d throw that ol’ haymaker and knock the guy out.  Long as I could get that haymaker off, I’d generally win.  Then, I’d sit at a table, carve up a pineapple and listen to Richard and the Postman on the radio.  That’s how I got my nicknames.  I was known by Pineapple in the ring and “The Postman” out of it.”

One time, after I knocked out Floyd Roh, I was sitting at the table carving up a pineapple.  And there was this girl there.  I don’t know where she come from.  I don’t know who let her in the house.  But she never did leave and I couldn’t argue with her cause she started buying the pineapples.  I let her stay and I give her a room in the attic and then we got married and she come down to my room.  We decided to have children and we gave it a go once and we had Lance.  Then we give it a go again and we had Belinda.  And then she went back up to the attic.  But she always had them pineapples.

I had to give up the ring in ’42 when I got drafted for the First Great Depths War.  I was on a big gunboat that got lost at sea.  We were lost for about five years or so.  It was quite a time.

I worked for General Magnets after that.  We made magnets in a general way.  Like them little grapes you put on a refrigerator.  But I’m glad for my time in the ring.

Oral Histories of Some Former Lankville Pugilists

May 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Curt “High-Socks” Vogel  (1967-1975, 33W-16L, 14KO)

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Curt “High-Socks” Vogel today.

They used to put on these short movies and they’d have cartoons and then they’d roll out a boxing ring and I’d fight.  Maybe 4, maybe 5 rounds.  Got to be where I’d beat up pretty good on these guys they’d bring in so after awhile I got a manager name of Brisbane.  It don’t matter what his first name was.

Brisbane would get me these fights they’d stage in hotel rooms.  They’d rent a hotel room for a weekend and they’d bring a boxing ring in piece by piece by the back stairs.  So, I did that awhile.  Then Brisbane started getting me these fights in museums.  They’d have some security guard that’d let us in and we’d set up a ring between a bunch of dinosaurs or something.

Finally, I said to Brisbane, “Look, whyn’t you get me a proper fight.  Why are we always having these fights in these weird places?”  He had no answer to that so I let him go.  That’s when I turned professional.

My first legitimate fight was against Whitt.  He was a great fighter, of course, a champion, but by then he was finished.  I knocked him out in the 4th.  A bunch of managers courted me after that and I got a lot of newspaper attention.  I hooked up with Billy “Noodles” Sears and he got me a lot of big fights after that.

I was always willing to fight.  I never feared nobody.  But the champions, they wouldn’t fight me.  Said I was dirty.  I admit it now, I’d punch guys in the sack a lot.  I’d usually do it real early in a fight before the ref could do anything about it.  Usually, like ten seconds in.  I knew they wouldn’t want to call a fight after ten seconds, so I’d usually just get a warning.  I harmed a lot of guys that way though.

My last fight was in ’75 against Roog Yount.  Roog was young then, real fast with a hell of an uppercut.  He knocked me out in two rounds.  So, I hung it up.  I knew I was finished.

Ended up buying a little wood counter with a cubby hole for mail in back of it.  I run a good business.  It pays the bills.