1952 Ring Magazine Rehash

By Daniel Attias on September 15, 2014
1952 Ring Magazine Rehash
“Jimmy Carter is a real champion, much better than the public had generally tabbed him.”

“His was an attitude of despair. In his mind he apparently was living out Louis’ fate, wondering how to avoid the same for himself…”

The Ring Magazine may have become just another pawn in today’s quagmire of boxing politics but it was actually considered “The Bible of Boxing” in years gone by and for many collectors, readers and writers alike its pages are a true glimpse into the past of the world of boxing. Welcome to 1952.

January 1952

Louis KO Starts New Era – Nat Fleischer

A young, up-and-coming Rocky Marciano faced the sternest test of his career in October of 1951 when he took on “The Brown Bomber,” former world champion Joe Louis. Louis may have been well past his best by the time the ‘50s rolled around but he was considered a big test for Marciano at the time and a steppingstone to a potential title shot.

When the former Brown Bomber became the 33rd victim in an unbroken string of 38 triumphs for Rocky, the Brockton aspirant to heavyweight honors automatically thrust himself into the forefront of challengers for a title shot.

Marciano was a crude slugger in the eyes of many, yet he held appeal to the public for the power he wielded in his hands. Such a puncher is born not made, and we all know the infatuation that the public has for a knockout. Marciano’s power was always going to pose problems for an older Louis.

The Dark Destroyer had met the doom that had been predicted would be his unless he hung up his gloves. The youthful opponent who turned the trick had succeeded Louis as boxing’s biggest attraction, far stronger in gate appeal than either Walcott or Charles. He has fistic power – that’s what counts.

Marciano was to be given less credit than he may have deserved when beating an aging Louis but The Ring writer James P. Dawson was prepared to go against the grain of public opinion in his column entitled “False Credit to Old Age for Marciano’s Feat.”

They’ll have to call Rocky Marciano by a new name in the future. It will be Old Age! Because, old age, not Rocco, is the guy who pounded Joe Louis into the second knockout of his career, inflicted on the Bomber the third defeat he had suffered in seventeen unprecedented, unparalleled years of ring warfare, and battered Louis into retirement.

Marciano didn’t do this, mind you! The guy’s name was Old Age.

This opening stanza was gathered from the public prints and is what was said to be the general consensus amongst boxing fans of the day. There are few who were willing, back then, to bet that Marciano had the style to beat Louis in his prime. Dawson was one such pundit who was keen to see Marciano gain his just dues for his knockout over Louis.

By unanimous consent it was agreed Marciano’s punches had little or nothing to do with Louis’ downfall. It was Old Age. Which is astonishing, all things considered. The Marciano who pounded Louis into unconsciousness could have done the same thing in Louis’ first defense of the title back in 1937, had the Brockton strong-boy been contemporaneous.

Dawson went on to explain that it was in fact Marciano’s style that in fact troubled Louis and not the aforementioned ‘Old Age’. Boxing is full of clichés and the old axiom that styles make fights may seem as clichéd as any but it’s one that rings true within the sweet science.

As a definite thing, it was style, more than age, that accomplished Louis’ downfall. Forget sentiment and consider.

The record is there to support this view. From the start of his career back in 1934 Louis has never been able to handle a crouching fighter.

Remember the night Louis and Galento fought? Recollect how Galento, backed to the ropes near his own corner, came up out of a crouch with a left hook to the jaw? Remember how Louis dropped in his tracks and with difficulty arose? Remember how the late Joe Jacobs yelled himself hoarse begging his Two-ton to “stay down, stay down and wing him again”? Remember how the brash Two-ton contemptuously waved aside the advice and went into an erect pose popular in the prints of bare-knuckle days?

Dawson went on to explain that it wasn’t only Galento who had given Louis trouble by fighting out of a crouch, something that Marciano did with aplomb. Adding to that style, Marciano had enough power to knock out a plethora of men so you have as good a man as any to stop the great “Brown Bomber” at almost any stage of his illustrious career.

Carter is a Real Champ – Harry Winkler

Much has been said about the many fighters who have been associated with the mob over the years and Jimmy Carter’s sketchy fight record and known links to the mob have made him one of the more morally corrupt fighters the sport has seen but what many forget is that he could fight!

Forget the dubious losses on Carter’s résumé and look no further than his win over the tough, rugged Californian Art Aragon in November of 1951. Carter was the world’s lightweight champion in 1951 after winning the title from Ike Williams in a fourteenth round TKO in May of ’51. He reeled off five straight victories in non-title bouts before facing the Californian; Aragon in August where he lost a split decision in what was another non-title fight.

Aragon earned a shot at Carter’s title three months later but Carter showed his superior skills in the return bout and ruined the night for many a Californian who had hopes of seeing the hometown boy take the title as it was Carter who showed what a true champion he was.

The bout definitely established one fact – Jimmy Carter is a real champion, a much better fighter than the public had generally tabbed him. Many fans, sceptical of the New Yorker’s ability, had been inclined to attribute his victory over Ike Williams in New York to Ike’s weight-making ordeal. But in his decisive triumph over Aragon, Carter convincingly demonstrated his titular fitness.

The fight itself was one that Carter looked to be in control of throughout. Apart from a second round scare whereby Aragon landed a big left hook – which gave the pro Aragon fans their biggest thrill of the fight – it went mostly the champion’s way.

The second round gave the crowd its first big thrill and Carter his first scare. Aragon nailed Jimmy with a terrific left hook which staggered the champion, caused him to sag and one glove touched the canvas, which made it a knockdown, although not for a count. And then for a whole minute it looked as though there was to be a new champion.

Carter weathered the early storm however and left little doubt when the bout had gone the full 15 rounds just who the better man was despite the crowd’s disappointment.

It was bitter disappointment to California fans when their favorite, Art Aragon, failed in his bid for a world championship. But it was some consolation to them to know that when their Golden Boy lost, it was to a real champion.

Ray’s Two Year Plan – Barney Nagler

Ray Robinson is often referred to as the greatest of all time by many well-versed boxing pundits and historians, and with good reason. His résumé and achievements are monumental and his title reigns in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions are simply awe-inspiring.

At the conclusion of 1951 Robinson was the undisputed middleweight world champion and the speculation of what his future held was rife in the fistic universe. Robinson had grand plans of going out on top as Barney Nagler’s article attests.

The day after Ray Robinson had earned $248,000 in the act of retrieving the world middleweight championship from Randy Turpin at the Polo Grounds last September, he sat in the Harlem office of his corporate alter ego and said, “They don’t remember you for the great fights. They remember you the way you went out. I’m going to try to go out looking good.”

Robinson had planned just a mere five more fights in his illustrious career before hanging up the gloves as his manager George Gainford explained.

“So we have come to the conclusion that, excepting Ray Robinson’s defense against Carl Bobo Olson in San Francisco, December 20, we will have four more championship fights. Two in 1952 and two more in 1953. I concede, of course, that anything can happen and that Ray Robinson can lose his title. We consider that a possibility and nothing more.”

The words were to be prophetic when in 1952 Robinson fought Bobo Olson to a 15-round decision win before fighting two more title fights that year. One against Rocky Graziano, which Sugar Ray won in the third round via knockout before attempting one of the biggest challenges of his career when he took on Joey Maxim for the light heavyweight championship of the world. Robinson would famously lose the title in a bout fought in 104-degree heat before his short-lived first retirement.

It’s no secret Robinson fought on too long in his hall of fame career but his story is not unlike many a fighter as financial issues dictated his need to fight. It seems that even back in 1952, Robinson’s financial woes were in full effect.

Earlier, Gainford (Robinson’s manager) had told his one man audience that Robinson had been involved in some income tax difficulties before the bout in September with Turpin. He said that the Internal Revenue Bureau had insisted, even before Sugar Ray went into the ring with Turpin, that he pay about $30,000 to wipe out a bill for tax arrears.

Ray Robinson may have had grand plans of getting out of the game at his peak, as his two and a half year layoff between 1952 and 1955 attests, and his visit with Joe Louis after his knockout loss to Rocky Marciano in 1951 may have played a part in the initial retirement.

The night Louis was disassembled by Rocky Marciano in the Garden – a night that shall live in memory not so much because a young heavyweight beat an old heavyweight, but rather because a great heavyweight was permitted to stay around long past bedtime – Ray Robinson sat on a table in Louis’ dressing room.

Sports journalists, more or less, clustered around Louis, who lay on a rubbing table muttering a rationalization of his knockout. Robinson sat on the table, off in a corner, and did not concern himself with Louis’ verbal tussle with the press.

Instead, he just sat and stared. Alternately, he wiped his brow with his right hand and wrung both hands. His was an attitude of despair. In his mind he apparently was living out Louis’ fate, wondering how to avoid the same for himself.

Robinson, like so many fighters, found out that the prize in prize fighting often only lasts as long as the fighting does, and as history shows, he, like Louis before him, fought on longer than he should have due to financial woes. Such is the sweet science.

Ring Fadeouts – Daniel M. Daniel

Just as it is true that “They never come back” in boxing, so it is axiomatic that “They never want to quit.”

Before Floyd Patterson regained the heavyweight world title in 1960 beating Ingemar Johansson with a pinpoint left hook to the jaw in the fifth round of their fight in New York, no big man had ever regained the heavyweight crown. Many had thought themselves capable of beating their successors but none had been able to achieve the feat.

Many a fighter’s career ended in this fashion, crumpled in a heap on the canvas, flattened by a lesser man. Of course there have been glorious ring fadeouts, stories of men going out while they’re still on top of the world but the story more often than not follows the path of the former.

Old Jem Mace, who was forty when he fought his last fight, faded out gracefully. The Gypsy and Joe Coburn went 12 rounds to a draw on Nov. 20, 1871, at Bay St. Louis, and then Jem called it a career.

The colorful, brawly John Morrissey, who held the American title in 1858, faded out gorgeously. He never defended the championship he had taken from John C. Heenan by a knockout in eleven rounds.

Morrissey retired, went into politics and gambling, served in the House of Representatives and in the New York State Senate, had much to do with the development of Saratoga Springs into a popular resort, and died there at the age of 47.

For every story of good fortune after boxing there are twice as many of fighters who struggled to adapt to life outside the ring.

Jake Kilrain who lost a memorable fight to John L. Sullivan in 75 rounds, faded out miserably. Jake continued in the ring far too long, and closed out his career on September 14, 1897, in Baltimore, when he was knocked out by Frank Slavin in 2 min. 45 sec.

The great Sullivan doubtless would have done much better by his pride, his reputation and his worshippers if he had retired, as he threatened to do, after his 1899 victory over Kilrain.

However, John L. was persuaded to take on the younger, faster, better conditioned Jim Corbett in New Orleans on September 7, 1892, and was knocked out for the first time in his life, in the twenty first round.

Bob Fitzsimmons was one of those former champions who went on and on.

Bob was 52 years of age when he took part in his last bout. It was a six round draw with K.O. Sweeney at Williamsport, PA, in 1914. Three years later Bob was dead of pneumonia.

Fitz lingered in the business far too long. But he pleaded, as Joe Louis is pleading now, “I don’t know anything else but boxing.”

It’s a scene that hasn’t changed over the course of time, as today, just like in 1952 and the years preceding it, some boxers just don’t know when to hang up the gloves. Mostly it’s poor decisions made with money during the duration of what is usually a very successful career. But in a lot of cases, as proven by what Fitzsimmons and Louis remarked in Daniel’s article, these men just haven’t learned to do anything but the art of boxing and when that’s taken away, there’s a certain emptiness left to fill; much like a man who retires only to find his waking hours are spent seeking something to replace the hollowness he feels.

The Fighting Dentist – Charley Rose

The list of fighters that this articles author, Charley Rose, has managed is a who’s who of boxing greats. Names such as Sam Langford, Max Schmeling, Holman Williams, Lew Jenkins and Cocoa Kid, to name just a few, all owe something to Rose and his association with the fight game and his all-time rankings are still talked about to this day.

Rose saw so many of the greats do their thing inside the ring, including a lightweight by the name of Leach Cross, who Rose ranked as the tenth best lightweight he’d ever seen fight.

Cross fought between 1910-1921 and was a stalwart of the New York boxing scene during an era that holds some of the greatest lightweights in boxing history.

There have been few champions who have had a more brilliant career or who left as strong an imprint on the game as did Leach Cross, one of New York East Side’s standard bearers of boxing in a period when the world boasted of the best lightweights.

Cross’ influence on the Jewish community in New York at the time was immense.

He had a following that could have packed any indoor arena. His followers were legion and they included men in all walks of life. He caused the East Side to flare with love and enthusiasm for boxing. Wherever he appeared, he sowed the seeds of interest and enthusiasm for the sport. His success blazed the trail and lighted the path for Benny Leonard.

Cross certainly didn’t look the part of a fighter. He was a skinny, anaemic and gaunt looking man who often used this lack of a menacing appearance to his own benefit. Not only did Cross use his looks to his advantage but he was known to play cat and mouse with his opponents, one such instance was described by Charley Rose in the article as Cross spoke to his brother Sam between rounds.

“My head’s clear now, Sam. I’m going to feint him by feigning grogginess and I’ll cut loose with all I’ve got left. It’s win or bust now.”

When Cross wasn’t knocking out opponent’s teeth he was fixing them. Cross’ other profession was dentistry. It wasn’t uncommon for Cross to spend his day practicing his profession of fixing teeth only to spend his night attempting the opposite as he fought his way to a marvelous career.

I was in his office for an interview one evening when he got a phone call asking if he could take on Mike Glover at the Dry Dock A.C. He accepted and on the night of the fight he had a patient in the chair, finished his job and hurriedly left for the club to fill his fighting engagement. He knocked out Glover in the fifth round and next day was back in his dental chair.

January 1952 was an exciting time in the boxing world and so many fans of the sweet science relied on The Ring Magazine for their boxing fix during what was a golden era for the sport. In today’s modern age it’s a real treat to own and share such a piece of fistic history and there will be more to come for Boxing.com readers as I bring you a rehash of all twelve issues of The Ring from 1952 in the coming months.

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Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Rocky Marciano KNOCKS OUT Joe Louis

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Ray Robinson vs Bobo Olson II.

1960-06-20 Ingemar Johansson vs Floyd Patterson II (FOTY)

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  1. Roger Donaldson 11:55pm, 09/16/2014

    yes, Rocky Marciano would have beaten every one of Joe Louis’ apponents, although Max Baer and Max Schmelling would have given him a run for his money. Jersey Joe Walcott may have beaten Rocky on occassions when in his prime, Walcott is a very underratted fighter.

  2. oldschool 02:05pm, 09/16/2014

    Louis-Marciano, prime for prime would have been hell of a fight. I always considered their 1951 match-up as PAST PRIME Louis vs. PRE-PRIME Marciano. Marciano, like Arturo Godoy, would have given Joe problems because of his crouching style and unorthodox punching. Marciano had good power in his left hook which is often overlooked.  Charles stated the following to Frank Blunk of the NY Times after his second fight with Marciano. “Rocky is a strong fellow. He has a peculiar way of fighting. You get out of the way of a right and your jaw catches a left. He feints with his fists and he feints with his feet. And too often you can’t see where his punches are coming from. I wasn’t hurt too much in the second round. And after I cut his nose and his left eye I thought I was going to win. I didn’t think he could go more than two or three more rounds, and I was feeling strong again. You’ll have to tell me what hit me in the eighth. I just didn’t see ‘em coming.”

  3. Eric 12:01pm, 09/15/2014

    The thing about the Louis-Marciano bout was, although somewhat competitive at first, you get the feeling that it was just a matter of time before Joe would wilt under Marciano’s attack. Though giving up nearly 30lbs in weight to Louis, Marciano is clearly the stronger of the two. Can’t see Marciano being defeated by anyone of Louis’s top opponents much less members of the “bum of the month club.” Max Baer, Buddy Baer, & of course Carnera would’ve had a huge size advantage over Marciano, and that might have presented some problems, but Marciano probably remains undefeated in the Louis era.

  4. nicolas 10:29am, 09/15/2014

    Barry: People I believe aged a lot faster back then than they do now. How great many of the fighters that Louis fought at the tail end of his career is debatable, save to say that he lost to Charles and Marciano. he beat a past his best years Jimmy Biven, and perhaps proved that he would have beaten Biven’s when he was in his prime in the early 40’s. As for Marciano,, beating Louis should never be taken away from him. He was outweighed by Louis in that fight by 30 pounds, and Louis probably would have been able to defeat most of the heavyweights around, he was still top ten at the time.  it has been suggested that had Marciano somehow got on the ‘bum of the month club’, he might have surprised Louis with an upset at that time.

  5. Barry 10:09am, 09/15/2014

    Eric, i agree with your analysis of Joe Louis looking older than Mayweather, BUT. i feel Mayweather does not and has not fought the level of opponent, which Joe Louis fought at the tail-end of their careers. Mayweather is fighting Class C and D level fighters in, Maidana, Alvarez, Ortiz , Guerrero and old Mosley.. Can you imagine Joe Louis avoiding Ezzard Charles for 7yrs? putting every obstacle imaginable in the way of them meeting in the ring. Joe Louis was a real World Champion. Floyd Mayweather is a boxer afraid to face the World Champion, even for the highest purse in professional sports history.

  6. Eric 08:39am, 09/15/2014

    Hard to believe that Louis was just 37 years old when Marciano knocked him through the ropes and into retirement. Louis was roughly the same age as Floyd Mayweather is today. Louis looked much older at 37 than the relatively youthful looking Mayweather. Louis looked older at 37 than Bernard Hopkins does at 49.  Joe didn’t age well at all, in a photo of Louis and the older Schmeling taken years after their retirements, Louis looked a good deal older than Schmeling. Marciano had the style and punch to beat Louis in his prime, but the Louis that Marciano fought was nowhere near his prime. If Max Schmeling could beat a prime Louis than Marciano was certainly capable of pulling it off, however, I would favor Louis to win more often than he would lose against the Brockton Blockbuster.

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