Bronson, Haye, and Tyson Fury

By Michael Schmidt on June 23, 2011
Bronson, Haye, and Tyson Fury
According to Freddie Roach, Haye will have a small window of opportunity

We shall see if Haye is a little big man. Does he have The Great Spirit? Will he attack or slowly be worn down?

Out of the misty forest he came, I am told, one morning, cold, skinny and shivering. He had been abandoned and had stumbled onto a Native Canadian Indian Reserve. The orphan was cared back to strength by a little girl on the reserve. I am told the little girl named him by way of her own mix of English/Indian name, something by the way of Gitchi Manitou Baja Tabby. In her own version, something to the like of Great Spirit Coyote Cat. I asked why some time later, and they told me that when they first saw him playing behind a fence he moved like a Coyote, stealthy like a brindled cat. I could envision this later when we met but, no, he was no coyote, no cat in his movements. He was much more.

The Great Spirit was trouble early on in a place where trouble had various names. Like many troubled youths he was lost. Perhaps it was a mix of fear, frustration, exhaustion or plain and simply not caring on the part of those who had tried to work with him but they wanted rid of him and none too soon. Trouble of this kind was sent packing to some other place to trouble again. If you couldn’t cure or tame it, or subdue it, well then, move it on. Hide it as somebody else’s unfortunate trouble. Pass it on again, and again, and again. The system was set for trouble transfer.

The Great Spirit Orphan was adopted and taken in by a mother and her autistic daughter. For various reasons things just where not working out. Most certainly, given their work schedules, they were unable to provide the time and care needed. It was time to move the trouble elsewhere. My wife and son received news of The Great Spirit and his predicament. Due to our own personal history they begged me to take him in, to work with him, to see if I could provide him with whatever caring development had gone missing. He came to us, in fact just a few months ago, still at a very young formative age. I remember that first night he arrived with my wife and son; eyes as hard as steel, a small but hard athletic body, oh so hard of muscle and sinew born of outdoor physicality, and at such a young age. I was in the basement, in my home gym, doing some stretching when he came around the corner. Those dark eyes took it all in, the heavy bags, speed bags, the weights, the pulley machines, the old black and white fight posters and photos. He was colorblind. It was hard to make out what he was thinking. What does one think when they see an old photo of Emile Griffith pounding those shots at defenseless Benny Paret near that corner ring post or Carmen Basilio, eye swollen bigger than a golf ball, swinging away at Sugar Ray? He had trouble stamped all over him including the way he sauntered a little closer.

I am not sure why, and it is just the way I am when things are “dangerous” or awkward, but a silly and personally amusing memory flash came to me. I was ringside at the first Hopkins vs. Pascal fight up in gorgeous Quebec City. Tyson Fury, who certainly was no fury that night, entered the ring to Elvis Presley singing “If you’re looking for trouble, you came to the right place, if you’re looking for trouble, you came to the right place doo doo doo doo, because I am evil doo doo doo doo.” There had already been small rumblings of Mr. Fury fighting “Del Boy” and I was thinking, as lousy as Fury looked that night, “Del Boy” better answer the bell boy, wide awake and sharp. Fury was huge, and looking at Del Boy video, I thought of what Max Schmeling would say: “I tink I zee zomting.” Fury, if he kept that long right hand down the pipes was going to ring Del Boy’s bell boy, can’t miss, all night long as long as it would take. That’s just the way the memory flash was coming to me, that and the fact that Fury somehow reminded me with that big jaw of back in the day Heavyweight fighter Jack O’Halloran. When or if that happened, Fury ringing Del Boy’s bell boy, you were going to have furious Fury talk. He was white, he was big with a big mouth, he was good looking (according to my lovely wife anyways), he had power and, hell, if Manny Steward said he was going to be a champion what more was one to say? If Fury lost perhaps he had a future if they ever did a remake of the Philip Marlowe detective movie Farewell, My Lovely, and Fury could fill O’Halloran’s part as Moose Malloy and lead right on through to the role O’Halloran had, in Superman, beside Brando, as the Kryptonian Non. Although O’Halloran was a ‘Non’ against Foreman and Norton he was one hell of a fighter beating the likes of Cleveland Williams and Manuel Ramos. If Fury was a ‘Non’ against Del Boy… I was looking at trouble, I was indeed.

We decided to rename The Great Spirit in celebration of a new beginning, and hopefully, as a means of washing away the past. He was “Bronson” in celebration of Charles Bronson’s character Chaney in the movie Hard Times. A quiet but steely eyed bare fisted fighter, with that ever lurking feeling of dangerous personality trait, ready to explode. The first few months were rough and there is no way to sugarcoat those months. Twice, in rage he simply tried to bite people in Tysonesque fashion. My wife persisted that I give him chances. Like Tyson, he had been “placed” and moved about. He needed order and he needed structure. No more incidents occurred of that nature. So for the past four months we trained and we trained hard. He would wake with me at my usual hour of 4:30 am and go for an eight to ten kilometer run. If I was late he would make sure to stir me. I taught him discipline, control, and loyalty. Loyalty was the easy part. I think he looked at me as some type of stable, caring influence. I was somebody who actually cared, and in fact I did, wholeheartedly. Like Tyson he had speed mixed with rare power. He was explosive although smaller than most of his age. If you were walking down the street anything coming your way would cross to the other side. That’s just the way it was.

What more could be said about Bronson other than, I suppose, to say that famous author Jack London, in writing of the fighter Tom King, in his superb story “A Piece of Steak,” certainly describes parts but not all of Bronson’s facial features.“It was the face of a typical prize-fighter…It was distinctly a lowering countenance, and, that no feature of it might escape notice, it was clean-shaven. The lips were shapeless, and constituted a mouth harsh to excess, that was like a gash in his face. The jaw was aggressive, brutal, heavy. The eyes, slow of movement and heavy-lidded, were almost expressionless under the shaggy, indrawn brows. Sheer animal that he was, the eyes were the most animal-like feature about him. They were sleepy, lion-like-the eyes of a fighting animal. The forehead slanted quickly back to the hair, which, clipped close, showed every bump of a villainous-looking head….All together, it was the face of a man to be afraid of in a dark alley or lonely place.” 

Bronson had his first fight the other day. No protection for this one. It was all there, those steely cold eyes, that sneer of contempt, those sinewy muscles tensing, ready to explode. In hindsight it was easy to see he had fought an opponent much bigger, much stronger. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. There was a considerable size discrepancy. Bronson’s opponent seemed to spring out of no man land, out of the mist that Bronson had him himself come, such was the original ferocity of his attack. I would like to tell you Bronson was ready but it caught him by surprise, that instant ferocity leaving him in that momentary mist, as did it me. Bronson was moving in a hurry but was getting hit hard blows around the ears and stomach. I did not react well other than to “unleash” Bronson with instructions and give him the green light “to go.” Perhaps I had not trained him well enough to understand control and discipline but Bronson had a choice; fight back or fold and get hurt. It was all over before perhaps a minute passed although it seemed like time had frozen in eternity. Bronson pivoted and hit his much bigger opponent rapid fire and without pause, to the ear, to the mouth and a hard blow around the neck and “short rib” as my British friends like to say. His opponent stumbled back, turning and retreating. It was all over! The opponent was not seriously hurt and would have a good day yet ahead. Bronson had not folded from the attack of a bigger more aggressive foe. In fact it was clear he liked the fight. He liked turning aggressor. When he came back he was most certainly in a good mood. It was if there had been no fight at all. I suspect, being the smaller foe he had some inane instinct that his speed and sheer return fury, blended of speed and clearly malevolent intent, would take the bigger opponent by surprise and save Bronson from being worn down in a long protracted battle. It was certainly nothing I ever would have or could have taught him.

It reminded me of a comment legendary trainer Ray Arcel had said about the great Duran in his younger years: “Leave him alone! He already knows how to fight!” Some little guys, moving up against bigger opponents, Duran, Pacquiao, Michael Spinks, Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr. Henry Armstrong, had it. Haye might. Bronson did.

BRONSON, IN THE BRINDEL COLOUR—(PART GERMAN SHEPHERD, PART COYOTE, 1-0. UNKOWN OPPONENT, IN THE BLACK AND BROWN, (ROTWEILLER, 0-1, KO’d in the first).

Wicasa Tankala is how Bronson is now referred to, up North, cottage way. Bronson Wicasa Tankala, native “Little Big Man.” Yes, The Great Spirit of Wicasa Tankala, little big man. We shall see if Haye is a little big man. Does he have great spirit? Will he attack or slowly be worn down? According to Freddie Roach the key to the fight is for Haye to take Wladimir’s confidence away and do it early. There will be a small window of opportunity. We shall see. Haye’s whiskers are, as are Wladimir’s, questionable. Bronson’s whiskers are unquestionable. He knew he could attack. I do not of course condone dog fighting in anyway. It is a sick and twisted business perhaps with punishment better doled out by having the owners entering the ring to do excessive battle! Now wouldn’t that be a promoters dream: “In the red corner, wearing prison fatigues, convicted dog abuser felon number one, and in the blue corner….” Bronson, leashed, was out with me for our usual morning run, when attacked by an unleashed dog. These things happen but hopefully not again. The next day Bronson was given a T-Bone to chew on, being leftovers from Fathers Day. “A Piece of Steak” indeed, now in tribute to Jack London, but not the way Mr. Jack London envisions, not for our Bronson. I lightly tapped Bronson’s side to suggest he stay in the Kitchen to eat rather than go in the family room, as he is apt to do, and chew the bone on the antique rug. He turned, snout wrinkled up, lips curled and teeth showing, with a low menacing growl. One hell of a scary looking thing if you have been close to something like that. My wife of course tore a strip off of me later, no pun intended and better she than Bronson, when I told her of Bronson’s behavior! “Didn’t anybody ever teach you not to tease a dog when he has a bone!” Well, he is not all dog and, well, I was not teasing him There is work to do, with Bronson that is. There is much much work to do. His loyalty is fierce but heaven forbid the wrong person getting in the house. He has become a wonderful and for the most part carefree companion, his fighting days hopefully behind him as he retires undefeated in good health! We will continue our training. His indiscretions will not be covered over. His trouble will not be passed on. There are more than a few life kernels of wisdom to be had from Teddy Atlas’s book and the chapter on his Cus D’Amato years: Covering up trouble is not a long-term fix, but a potion for more to come, if you’re looking for trouble. Bronson will be called to task when necessary and in turn we will have our good times. He will not end up in the pen! We will sit down on the old couch in the basement, turn on the big TV, and see if Mr. Haye is all bark or all bite! As for Mr. Fury, well ring my bell, do tell Del, if I am wrong it is here for all to see. I don’t think so! I tink I zee zomting!

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  1. Brett 07:58pm, 07/02/2011

    Great story Mike!

    I read that same Teddy Atlas book and recall those words as well. Bronson is sure an interesting story and will be followed with great interest as he goes forward with his career.

    I think it is great that you and your family have taken him in and given him the stability he needs.  Great work too on describing Bronson…very vivid details.
    Keep up the good work Mike!

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