Egg on Their Face

By Ted Sares on February 17, 2012
Egg on Their Face
"When Pat Putnam was released, at the conclusion of the hostilities, he weighed 85 lbs."

In 2006, the Boxing Writers Association of America created the Pat Putnam Award for Perseverance to honor the passing of the legendary boxing writer. The BWAA believed Putnam had survived 17 months as a Korean War POW and became one of boxing journalism’s most influential voices. Putnam crafted remarkable prose for the Miami Herald and Sports Illustrated, winning the Fleischer Award in 1982. The award, launched in 2005, honored perseverance in the face of adversity.

Here is what the late and respected writer and researcher George Kimball once said:

“When China entered the Korean Conflict in the fall of 1950, the Red Army came pouring across the 38th Parallel and quickly overwhelmed remnants of the United States Marine Corps at Chosin.The massive counter-attack had been directed toward the South Korean army, which had promptly fled en masse, leaving its American allies to be slaughtered or taken prisoner. When Pat Putnam reflected on that experience late one night at the old Flame bar in Las Vegas, he described it as having been reduced to ‘two million Chinese and one little Irishman.’

“Already wounded, Putnam, along with several hundred of his comrades, was captured and shipped off to a POW camp in Manchuria, where he spent the next 17 months surviving on a diet of maggots and rice. When he was released, at the conclusion of the hostilities, he weighed 85 lbs.

“For the rest of his life he refused to darken the door of a Chinese restaurant, but he harbored even more ill-will toward the Koreans, who had abandoned him to his fate, than to his captors themselves.”

The Truth

Incredibly, however, it turned out that Putnam’s own self-proclaimed background as a “Rawhide” tough Marine veteran and former Korean War prisoner of the Chinese—with four Purple Hearts and a Navy Cross—was bogus. The “one little Irishman” Putnam was never in the service. Curiously, or perhaps purposely, the truth came just hours before the BWAA was set to award the Pat Putnam Award to brothers Anthony and Lamont Peterson at the association’s annual award dinner at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Said Bernard Fernandez, BWAA President at the time, “Colleagues, family and friends were deceived. I am embarrassed for the organization but more so than that I am sorry that people are going to be hurt by this.” To his credit, Fernandez faced the issue head on.

Today, if you look at the BWAA’s home page, you will note that Pat Putnam’s name is still listed for the Putnam Perseverance Awards in 2006 and 2007. This should be corrected forthwith. The BWAA should know better. Our veterans deserve better.

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  1. Anonymous 02:29pm, 06/16/2015

  2. Colleen Putnam 07:59am, 11/11/2013

    My father was nothing like you people describe. He NEVER bragged or boasted about any military service to any family or employers. The reason why it is not in his obituary is BECAUSE WE NEVER HEARD SUCH STORIES!!!!
    The egg should be on every so-called writer and “reporter’s” face for not checking your facts and telling the WHOLE story. But, that wouldn’t sell papers or get more clicks, nor would it.
    Shame on you, Bernie Fernandez. You are NOT a friend to my father, to turn your back on him so quickly.
    I am proud of my father. He was an HONORABLE man. Ask the people who knew him. Ask the many, many grown men who called me in tears the day he died.  I will spend the rest of my days on this earth defending him. I am tired of being quiet.

  3. Rick 02:45pm, 02/21/2012

    For every Veteran that earned or recieved a medal, this is disgraceful.  Vets don’t gloat, don’t complain, don’t discuss the medals they wear, because the odds are that somebody they knew died to make it happen.  BWAA gave the award to Muhammad Ali??  How can they give the greatest fighter in the world an award based on a guy who faked the whole thing.  BWAA, do the right thing for all us vets and for the honor of your sport, and fix this!!

  4. The Pinoy Pikey 06:01pm, 02/20/2012

    “Our Veterans deserve better”...Yes Sir!  I’m a veteran of the USN, and nothing distinguished by any means, but proud nonetheless!  Just having worn the uniform has meant something to me, as it it has to many of my family members!  Those who have served with distinction, need to be recognized distinctly and separately!  Thanks Ted!

  5. CharlieN 12:37pm, 02/19/2012

    Thanks Ted-Because it said Pat was 85 ibs I assumed that one of the guys in the photo was Pat Putnam.
    God Bless the servicemen and servicewomen of our Allied Nations.

    May these men RIP if they are gone.

  6. the thresher 10:21am, 02/19/2012

    Old Yank has the beat

  7. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:11am, 02/19/2012

    Agree 100% with the conclusion this article reached!

  8. the thresher 09:55am, 02/19/2012

    This says it better than I ever could!!!!!!!

  9. the thresher 07:50am, 02/19/2012

    Charlie, the photo shows what real POWs looked like.

  10. the thresher 07:49am, 02/19/2012

    Here is an email from a friend of mine who was in the Viet Nam war and was wounded.


    Great piece of writing!

    Unbelievable that someone could be so twisted to fabricate a story like this.

    Interesting that his obit in 2005 makes no reference to his service or to his fraud.???


  11. CharlieN 05:33am, 02/19/2012

    I can understand how despicable an act his claim is, but I dont understand the photo attached to the story. I do not know what Mr Putnam looks like-but if he was not in the service of his country, or if he was, and not a POW at all, what is with the picture associated with the article above ?

  12. the thresher 04:03pm, 02/18/2012

    But this is about Pat and his lies.

  13. the thresher 03:56pm, 02/18/2012

    Not the members as much as the tight leadership at the top. They make swine look mild. 5 or 6 guys run the whole show.

    Everyone grovels when Hauser says “grovel.”

  14. pugknows 01:20pm, 02/18/2012

    I take it you don’t much care for the BWAA.

  15. the thresher 12:11pm, 02/18/2012

    EZ E, me amigo, Como esta?

  16. mikecasey 11:23am, 02/18/2012

    Agreed. This hardly compares to pretending you know Clint Eastwood.

  17. the thresher 10:45am, 02/18/2012

    If Pat had just stuck to his blarney and boxing bullshit over a Dewars and water, this never would have happened. Apparently, he felt he needed some macho respect. I know lots of, twerps, squirts, and runts who act like that. Sad.


  18. TEX HASSLER 08:21am, 02/18/2012

    The old saying is true, “Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!” It appears Pat’s ego got the best of his common sense and honesty. Thanks Mr. Sares for bring this into the light.

  19. the thresher 07:49am, 02/18/2012

    jofre, the BWAA has no clue as to history. None whatsoever. I shall cover this point later.


  20. jofre 07:46am, 02/18/2012

    Yes, he was a great writer, but I can’t get past his dishonesty. He did a disservice to those brave men and women who perished, were severely injured and served with their country with honor. Despicable! Another problem I have in that vein is renaming the Edward J. Neil Trophy the “Sugar Ray Robinson Award” given by the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Year. The award was originally named for Edward J. Neil, an Associated Press sportswriter and war correspondent who was killed in 1938 while reporting on the Spanish Civil War. As a kid growing up The Edward J. Neil Trophy given to the “Fighter of the Year” was the most prestigious honor a fighter could receive. The BWAA said they renamed it in honor of Sugar Ray Robinson because no one knew who Edward J. Neil was. In twenty years are they going to rename it the “Roy Jones Award” because the current generation is spellbound with Roy Jones.

  21. the thresher 07:00am, 02/18/2012

    He was one of my favorite writers, but in the end, who could ever trust him?

    If he had done that today, he would have broken a law that is on the books. He would have been brought to task for his lies—which, of course, enhanced his career. He was no hero; he was a smarmy little lying rat. The real heroes are at Arlington.

  22. Robert Ecksel 08:35pm, 02/17/2012

    The blarney and booze may have gotten the better of Pat (or he might have been a pathological liar). He was still a great writer, one of the best. When I think of Pat Putnam, I can’t help but think of Billy Conn’s quote after he was KO’d by Joe Louis in their first fight: “What’s the sense of being Irish if you can’t be dumb every now and then?”

  23. pugknows 08:19pm, 02/17/2012

    The only word I can come up with to describe this guy is “swine.”

  24. EZ E 07:47pm, 02/17/2012

    Tio Teodoro, Great read. Thanks!

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