Beautiful Glorious Loser

By Michael Schmidt on July 25, 2012
Beautiful Glorious Loser
“Professor” Peter Buckley fought 19 years and retired in 2008 with a 32-256-12 record.

Old fighters, like fisherman and old hunters, are apt, as they sit around together, to “expand” their wins and titanic battles…

“It was here. The battlefield was here. The Carthaginians defending the city were attacked by three Roman Legions. The Carthaginians were proud and brave but they couldn’t hold. They were massacred. The Arab women stripped them of the tunics and swords, and lances. And the soldiers lay naked in the sun. Two thousand years ago…You know what the poet said: ‘Through the travail of ages, midst the pomp and toils of war, have I fought and strove and perished countless times upon a star. As if through a glass, and darkly the age old strife I see—Where I fought in many guises, many names—but always me.’ Do you know who the poet was? Me.”—General George S. Patton

To give proper respect and as preface to the comments and fighters names that follow I would be remiss in not saying, at the outset, that the chronology of misfortunes, by number of losses of those named fighters, are to be respected for in fact they are amazing by their sheer volume and what they say of the participants beyond the ledger. They are…MEN! They are, in the truest sense, GLADIATORS TO BE RESPECTED

In many ways that single word, losers, is so expansive in its connotations that it is a terrible word and no more so than in the world of “the sweet science.” There are no “losers” in the world of boxing, at least not in the honorable sense, for those with the courage of spirit, the gladiatorial audacity to take physical pain, and the courage, to step through those ropes time and time again. The won-loss does not even remotely tell story upon story. “And the winner is…”

The other day, and for another day, the name of fighter Alexandru Manea of Romania crossed my desk. He last fought, as far as I know, last year and sports a perfect 0-53 campaigning as a cruiserweight and heavyweight. It gets a man to thinking does it not? There have been some beautiful glorious losers over time. Those failed practitioners of the sweet science, so flawed by the record and so prodigious in their losses, that even the most cynical of media scribes must temper their thoughts. “Fighters Last Stand.” Some of the following beautiful glorious losers, and not in any way reluctant warriors, have lost time and time again, often not standing rather than last standing.

Eric Crumble fought for 13 years. Think of that for a moment. Thirteen long years of boxing and Eric Crumble retired with a 0-31, all by knockout. Fighting, amongst others, the likes of Angel Manfredy and Antwun Echols, Eric crumbled from “Banana Joe’s” in Chicago to “Shooting Star Casino” in Mahnomen, Minnesota, having his star shot in less than three minutes. At the “8 Second Saloon” in Indiana he crumbled, in more than eight seconds but less than two minutes of the first round. In fact Eric crumbled some twenty-two times in the first round. What would one say to Eric as a friend, spouse, relative or perhaps co-worker? “Hey, you gave it a good go, maybe next time…” Or perhaps, “you know the other guy maybe was just a little better, maybe more experienced, you will get him next time.” Maybe, just maybe, you say nothing. In fact, without the Eric Crumbles of the boxing world we would not have many Hall of Famers of the opposite spectrum. Those would be the same Hall of Famers that built up their records while refining their trade with the likes of Eric Crumble. Such is boxing. They are “opponents” these beautiful glorious losers.

Speaking of opponents one should not forget Peter “Professor” Buckley. The “Professor” having fought nineteen years retired with a 32-256-12 record. It is to be noted that the “Professor,” fighting from “Ice Rink” to “Leisure Centre,” from “York Hall” to Cardiff , Wales, Piccadilly, “Kings Hall,” Dublin, Nottingham, Wembley and so the list goes, was only stopped eight times in those 300 fights. Close to 16 fights per year, for 19 years and only eight stoppages. That is one tough Professor!!! In 2006 “The Professor” really hit the lecture circuit fighting twenty–two times! Think of the durability this man had.  How many times did he show up to the Monday morning day job, if he had one, looking like he had met a few of the lads in the back alley of the worst pub in town? There should be a Hall of Fame in some form or fashion for these “Professor” types and I do not say that tongue in cheek. 

Jerry Strickland would certainly qualify in the beautiful glorious losers Hall of Fame. His career spanned some 19 years in which time he compiled a 13-122 record. Like the “Professor” he must have been one tough durable gladiator having, in those 136 fights having been stopped only five times. In a two-year span from 1977 to 1878 he fought 29 times! Amongst the names that pop up in a career fighting in places such as “Hitter’s Sports Park” in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “Little Bit of Texas” in Indianapolis, “Felt Forum” in New York City, are the likes of Randall Bailey, Lonnie Smith, Robbie Sims, and Hector Camacho. Great company.

I was in Las Vegas recently, ringside, at the Hard Rock Café watching Michael Katsidis fight. One of the great all-time trainers, Kenny Adams was ringside and I mentioned that I had taken the “red-eye” in and was feeling tired. He chuckled. It was a chuckle of wisdom and “give me a break” I suspect. The other point, aside from the sheer number of fighters that were coming over to say hello to Kenny in full respect, was a young fighter that had just stepped out of the ring having lost. He was naturally upset but on the other hand he was clearly still exhilarated by the battle he had just been in. It was the sheer fact that he had been part of “the show.” This brings me to our final beautiful glorious loser and perhaps the best of the bunch, Reggie Strickland.

An examination of Reggie Strickland’s record leaves one with many thoughts. His career is exceptional and the thing of Hollywood script. What stories he must have. It is hard to fathom how Reggie Strickland even managed to get from one venue to another, to one hotel or back, if in fact he was given a hotel, of a car sleep spot or another, given the sheer volume of fights he had. 

Like many of our beautiful glorious losers one is left wondering how they coped with lonely nights, missed hotel rooms, rides that did not show up, purses that were short or simply not paid, of arriving for a fight not knowing who would work your corner, if anyone. 

Reggie Strickland! Where does one start with respect to his Hall of Fame career? Over an 18-year career he had 363 fights! That is some 20-plus fights a year. In 2004-2005 he had 25 fights. In 2003 he had 22 fights. In 1998 he had 42 fights! In 1997 he had 28 fights and in 1993 he had 41 fights. During one stretch Reggie Strickland fought nine times in one month and three times in four days!!!!! In all of those fights, in the ring with the likes of Randall Bailey, Charles Brewer, Reggie Green, Cory Spinks, Lonnie Smith, Derrick Harmon, Tony Menefee , Harold Brazier, Strickland was stopped only 14 times. Stunning, given the competition and lack of recovery time between fights. Durable, tough, hungry and whatever else mixed in, like the other beautiful glorious losers. From the “Boot Scootin’ Bingo Parlor” in Lafayette, Indiana to the “Majestic Star Casino” in Gary, Indiana, Reggie kept on punching. The road trip, on multiple occasions, having him cross three or four state lines in less than a month, sounding like a James Brown Night Train beginning and perhaps, on occasion, on a train. “From Bowler, Wisconsin, ten days to Memphis, eleven days to Lawton, Oklahoma… take the night train.”  Or “From Sioux City, Iowa, seven days, to Topeka, Kansas, six days, take the night train…” In the fall season, October country,1993, take the “night train”  nine times! Take the night train from “Kansas City, Yellow Rose, Iowa, Bristol, Tennessee, from Kentucky, Indianapolis, Wichita, Kansas, take the night train, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa take the night train…” all in one month and six different States! 

Old fighters, like fisherman and old hunters, are apt, as they sit around together, to “expand” their wins and titanic battles. While our beautiful glorious losers, whether sitting at a bar one night, or by the fire with a nephew over Christmas, as the case may be, may have their own version of battles won or lost, they will have the pride of so many, many stories of stepping through those ropes in all those wonderful locales, and all those other traveling man stories that go along for the ride; of lives lived with all that boxing brings; pride, disgrace, sorrow, pain, both physical and mental, naked humanity. Thank you “Professor,” Reggie and all of the rest, you win of what you made and make of your own world. If by chance you come across this scribble do drop a note, a story, a line as to how you are and what you are doing. The Win vs. Loss column not even remotely telling what, how, and why it happened in and out of the ring including your own moments of glory stepping through the ropes!

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  1. Mike Schmidt 11:43am, 05/14/2013

    To the list—Gabor Balogh and Attila Nemeth

  2. The Tache 08:13am, 07/26/2012

    Nice piece on the opponents of the boxing world, I have often thought it must take more courage to get in the ring knowing you are supposed to be a mobile heavy bag, rather than the one dishing out the blows.

    It is all too easy to label these fighters as bums or tomato cans etc, but I certainly wouldn’t repeatedly get punched in the face for little money, and then more again next week!!

  3. mikecasey 06:07am, 07/26/2012

    Peter was wonderfully omnipresent and always gave his best - a great old pro!

  4. MIKE SCHMIDT 03:33am, 07/26/2012

    Hats off to both of you, Irish and Bob, and right on the money. You have to be one tough son of a whatever and some kind of skill set to notch that many miles and keep on rockin for more. Thanks lads. Jesse Ferguson by the by was a very very talented and dangerous fighter in his prime.. See ya at the fights!!!!!!

  5. Bob 08:52pm, 07/25/2012

    Having fought professionally and having lost to guys that often get beat, I can attest to their boxing IQ. The Stricklands, Buckley, Crumble, etc would destroy the average tough guy in the street. They serve a great purpose and deserve credit for the role they play in boxing. I remember some jerk saying former heavyweight contender Jesse Ferguson got his ass beat by everybody, but he was the most durable sparring partner during Mike Tyson’s heyday and could beat 80 percent of the pros in the world at the time. Despite his nominal record, he was a real pro’s pro.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:23pm, 07/25/2012

    Truth be told, I along with many others identify with these men more than with the testosterone jacked/juiced (whether natural or otherwise) freaks at the top of this game. Which reminds me, this is a sport where the aim is for the most part to separate your opponent from his senses and not just to pin his shoulders to the mat, so these cheaters that seek advantage by yoyoing their weight or not making the agreed weight limit in order to fight smaller men are in a word…. dirty!

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 05:56pm, 07/25/2012

    Mike Schmidt-If the Professor comes back I’ve got him as a favorite over Matin Mohammed….heck yea!