Heavyweight Boone Kirkman Speaks

By Peter Weston Wood on January 16, 2014
Heavyweight Boone Kirkman Speaks
Boone chose boxing, and like Rocky Graziano, his kindred spirit, it led to a pro career.

“Back in the dressing room, Zale shook my hand and said, ‘Hey, I like the way you fight, kid.’ All that made me feel good…”

Why does a kid want to become a fighter? That’s the $64,000 question. For Cassius Clay, it was because of his stolen bicycle. For Roberto Duran it was because of poverty. For Rocky Graziano it was because of his ‘tude. A cop told Rocky: “Kid, learn to fight in the ring or go to jail.”

For Boone Kirkman, the former heavyweight contender in the 1970s, it was about recognition. Let Boone tell you in his own words. I spoke with him on the phone from his home in Renton, Washington, where he recently retired from Boeing as a truck driver…

“I started boxing because of all those medals and the pigskin-leather-sleeved jackets I saw the fighters wearing when my dad brought me to the Golden Gloves. And I was mesmerized by reading the book ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ about Rocky Graziano. There was just something special about boxing—it put a fire in my heart.

“I guess I always wanted to stand out, be recognized, and wear one of those boxing jackets. Boxing was something I could do. At that time, I hung out with a group of friends called ‘The Buds.’ We never got in too much trouble.”

But the local police chief of Renton, an industrial suburb of Seattle, remembers it differently: “Kirkman was already a tough, young brawler in the taverns. I took him aside, ‘Look, son, if you like to fight so much, make up your mind.  What’s it going to be? Either join the Police Guild boxing team, or you wind up in jail.’”

Boone chose boxing, and like Rocky Graziano, his kindred spirit, it led to a pro career.

But Kirkman’s amateur career was sometimes discouraging. “I lost five fights in a row and they told me to quit. But I worked harder and in return-matches I beat all those guys—except one…Sam Minex.” I hear a smile in his voice. “I drove an hour-and-a-half in the snow to get to the arena for our rematch, but Sam never showed.”

In 1964, only after one year boxing, Kirkman won the Northwest Championships by knocking out Chuck Wagner in the second round to become the runner-up in the National Championships. The next year he won the National AAU Heavyweight Championship in Toledo, Ohio. ABC’s Wide World of Sports covered it. Archie Moore, the former Light Heavyweight Champ was the commentator and said he liked the way I punched to the body. I knocked out Tony Zale’s fighter that night in the third round. Back in the dressing room, Zale shook my hand and said, ‘Hey, I like the way you fight, kid.’ All that made me feel good.”

After compiling an overall amateur record of 33 bouts, with 19 knockouts in 27 wins and 6 losses, Kirkman turned pro.

Enter Jack “Deacon” Hurley. Hurley was the legendary west coast trainer of Billy Petrolle, Harry “Kid” Matthews and Elmer Rush. The great sportswriter, W.C. Heinz, based one of the major characters in his highly regarded boxing novel, “The Professional,” on the flamboyant Hurley.

But Hurley, by then a sickly 75-year-old, was on his last legs. He was residing at the downtown Olympic Hotel with a bum heart, “ulcers within his ulcers,” and two-thirds of his cancerous stomach removed.

But after watching a young Boone Kirkman punish a heavybag at a local gym, Hurley became invigorated. Who wouldn’t? He was watching his heavyweight champ! Just like ailing Cus D’Amato was later to guide a young Mike Tyson to a championship, Hurley began to chisel this raw, powerful boy into contender status.

Under the watchful tutelage of a wily manager and enriched by excellent sparring with Eddie Cotton, a cagy, 36-year-old pro light heavyweight, Kirkman began to climb the pro ranks. “I learned a lot from Jack and Eddie. At first I was Eddie’s sparring partner and he whooped me good. But I slowly learned. Yeah, Cotton landed a lot of lefts and rights on my nose bone,” laughs Kirkman, “but after awhile, I reversed it and he stopping coming around. He said I was getting too big for him.”

Within six years, Hurley’s protégé began to grace the front covers of all the major boxing magazines: Ring Magazine, Boxing Illustrated and World Boxing. Boxing fans took notice of this handsome, curly-haired Irish-American and his quick climb up the fistic ladder. By 1969, Boone had become a major force within the heavyweight division.

Oozing with power and full of fight, Boone entered the top 10. He and Hurley began making good money. The Seattle Center Coliseum and virtually every other arena in Seattle and Portland sold out whenever Kirkman laced on a pair of gloves. There was a $50,000 purse for Eddie Machen and then $80,000 for Doug Jones—both astounding sums back in 1967.

“Fans were clamoring to see the new, young Dempsey,” wrote Dan Raley from The Seattle Post. “Kirkman was popular and people used to crowd into Renton’s Melrose Tavern, which he co-owned, just to watch him skip rope and hit the bag late at night.”

“Yeah, I was moving up the ladder pretty good,” says Kirkman. “I kept in condition and worked hard to learn everything Mr. Hurley could teach me, which was plenty. The more I learned the more I realized how little I knew.”

Unfortunately, in 1968, injuries—an infected finger chopping wood and clearing brush, and then a broken collarbone while sparring a 200-pound heavyweight named Wes Craven—halted Kirkman’s rapid progress.

But Boone remained a hot ticket. Kirkman and Hurley gave Seattle a big-league draw before the NBA brought the Sonics to the city.The buzz of excitement in the air regarding this young emerging heavyweight remained palpable. Purses remained large and expectations high. Kirkman’s killer instinct, punching power and affable personality made him a crowd-pleaser.

The electric hum of hope reverberated south into California and ripped eastward, across the country, to New York City. Was Boone Kirkman the next heavyweight champion?

Kirkman by now had compiled an impressive record of 22-1 with a string of 17 knockouts, including a TKO over title contender Eddie Machen. “Machen tagged me so hard in the second round, my head was vibrating like a tuning-fork. But I was 22, young and hungry, and could weather it. If I was hit like that at 30, I don’t know.”

In the third round,” remembers Kirkman, “I hit Eddie a good shot and when he was falling, he cracked his ankle going down.”

That year, Kirkman also knocked out Amos Lincoln, Doug Jones and Archie Ray—all exceedingly dangerous opponents.

Only tough Bill McMurray and Wayne Heath lasted the distance with Kirkman.

But Doug Jones managed to stop him. “On a cut,” remembers Kirkman, “below my eye. Nasty cut. My eye went shut and was sticking out about an inch. Well, I just kept fighting and bleeding and Jones kept rubbing his head into my eye. I didn’t like that too much. I was ahead on points, punching him on the ropes and had him going, when the ref suddenly stopped it. Everyone thought I had won, but the ref raised Jones’ arm and stopped it in the seventh. Too bad, I was ahead on all the scorecards.”

Two months later, Kirkman reversed the loss with a sixth round TKO. Fifteen thousand fans attended. Jones announced his retirement after the beating.

By 1970, Kirkman was rated seventh among the world’s heavyweights by Ring Magazine.

Next stop…Madison Square Garden. Big, undefeated George Foreman was waiting.

“Stop” is the correct word. In the first round, Foreman rushed from his corner and pushed Kirkman to the canvas. Quickly thereafter, Foreman scored a two-count knockdown with a thunderous left-right combination, and Kirkman took the mandatory eight-count. At the end of the round, Foreman again pushed Kirkman onto the canvas.

“Hurley was clever, but he missed the boat that night,” says Tommy Gallagher, the colorful and wily trainer from NBC’s The Contender at a Ring 10 meeting in Long Island City, NY. “After Kirkman was pushed a second time—which is a flagrant violation—Hurley shoulda screamed ‘sprained ankle’ and kept Kirkman on his stool! Hey, you can’t push a fighter and get away with it! That’s dirty! Besides,” Gallagher grins, “there was a fortune to be made in the rematch.”

Kirkman could have used Gallagher’s devious guile in his corner that night.

Early in the next round, Foreman dropped Kirkman for another mandatory eight-count. Referee Arthur Mercante eventually stopped the bout at 0:41 to protect Kirkman from further punishment.

Boone recalls the Foreman fight: “I wasn’t really prepared going in. I flew into New York two weeks early, trained every day, but I had practically no sparring. I’m a guy who needs to box to stay sharp, not just hit a bag.” Although he makes no excuses, there is a hint of frustration within his voice. “I think Mr. Hurley skimped on me. It was a major fight and I was supposed to have three sparring partners, but I ended up with one—Lee Estes.”

Estes fought on the undercard. He fared a bit better than Kirkman, getting TKO’d in three rounds by Willie Burton.

Ted Lowry, the legendary heavyweight who fought Rocky Marciano twice, (and according to The Providence Journal boxing writer, Michael J. Thomas, beat Marciano in their first fight) knew Hurley and sheds possible insight upon the situation. “I knew Mr. Hurley well,” he said from his home in Norwalk, Connecticut. “He made a lot of promises, but he didn’t always carry them out.”

After that night, Kirkman and Hurley licked their wounds and flew back to the west coast where they continued their winning ways with 10 consecutive victories, including big wins over gigantic Jack O’Halloran and dangerous George “Scrap Iron” Johnson. He also won a split decision over future WBA Heavyweight Champion, Jimmy Ellis, after being knocked down in the first. “But it wasn’t the same,” says Kirkman.

The fire in Boone’s heart started to “fizzle out.”

“Then came 1974. It just wasn’t my year.I got knocked on my ass. I went down to Dallas, for a tune-up fight with “Memphis” Al Jones, and I wound up getting tuned out.

“In the first round, things were going good. I knocked him down twice. In the second, I dropped him two more times. I was hoping to finish him off, but 15 seconds into the thirrd round, I got walloped with a right hand. I remember falling—my head whiplashed and hit the canvas hard. That’s what knocked me out.” Kirkman remained unconscious for five minutes. “That fight was a nightmare. But things like that happen.

“Back in the dressing room, I asked “Memphis” Al for a rematch, but he didn’t want one.”

To make matters worse, in June, Ken Norton TKO’d Kirkman. “I was dead tired and couldn’t come out for the seventh round. It wasn’t Norton’s punching power. My sparring partners—Elmer Rush and Larry Frazier—punched harder. I over-trained. I know that sounds like an excuse, but I was beating him. They said I broke Norton’s rib and he had to cancel Mandingo, the movie he was filming.”

Three months later, Ron Lyle TKO’d Kirkman in eight. “Hey,” he laments, “1974 was a nightmare.”

Next, Kirkman agreed to take part in a carnival-like exhibition, as one of five boxers fighting three rounds each against Foreman in Toronto. It gave Kirkman a shot at revenge. Boone was one of only two challengers who went the distance. (The other was big Charlie Polite.) Foreman confided later that Kirkman had broken his rib in their fight in Madison Square Garden. “The money in Toronto was decent: $10,000 plus expenses,” says Kirkman, with a shrug in his voice.

After a one-year layoff, Kirkman fought Randy Neumann, the slick New Jersey heavyweight contender, in Las Vegas. “The money was right, but I wasn’t.” Neumann copped a 10-round unanimous decision. “I just couldn’t land my shots. We all got bad nights,” he says, philosophically. “In a rematch, Neumann wouldn’t be as lucky.”

Kirkman ended his boxing career in 1978 with four very impressive wins: a 10-round unanimous decision over the Mexican contender Jose Roman, a KO 7 over rugged Ron Stander, and a scary 10-round decision over Pedro Agosto.

“Agosto was short and didn’t look too tough,” says Kirkman, “but you can’t judge a book by its cover. He dropped me in the third. Back in my corner, my trainer said, ‘C’mon, Boone! This is the last round.’ Huh? I thought it was the third but it was the 10th! I got amnesia for seven rounds! I heard this happening to other fighters. Not me!”

Kirkman’s swan song was a brutal fourth round TKO over muscleman Charles Atlas.

“In 1975, I had an offer to fight Larry Holmes in Manila, on the Ali-Frazier undercard. But it was embarrassing how little money they offered—$5,000. Then they offered me Gerrie Coetzee in South Africa for $10,000. Chicken-feed. By then, I had my son and a good job back here driving a truck in Seattle.”

After 75 pro and amateur bouts, Daniel “Boom Boom” Kirkman finally hung up the gloves and hit opponents no more. Instead, he began hitting hiking trails. Accompanied by his brother, he’s climbed 10,000-foot Mount Rainer eight times and Mount St. Helen’s three times before it erupted.

Before retiring from Boeing, he would climb out of bed every morning at 4:30 and hit the road transporting sensitive instruments that balance jet wings. It was a different sort of roadwork.

Today, at 69, Daniel “Boone” Kirkman is at peace with himself. He weighs 214 pounds, only a few pounds over his fighting weight, and eats no red meat. “I must’ve eaten two herds of cattle when I was fighting, but no more. Now it’s a lot of vegetables and green salads.” Boone has two grown kids, and is happily remarried to “the love of his life,” Terese, a nurse who’s recently retired after 33 years.

As a retirement gift Boone took her out to dinner and bought her red roses and sparkling champagne.

“Boone, supper!” It’s Terese’s voice I hear in the background.

“Right on!” Boone calls back. “I guess I gotta go,” he says, “but ya know what concerns me about boxing? The guys who get injured. Holyfield and Hopkins are two great fighters, but you gotta know when to get out.” He mentions three well-known fighters now suffering from brain damage. “Ya know, I was at a picnic a while back with this former champion, and he says, ‘Boone, I’m talking to you now, but I know tomorrow, if I see you, I’ll forget I ever saw you today.’ That’s sad.”

“Yeah, that is sad,” I concur. “But you sound okay.”

“Do I?” he asks, tentatively.

“Yes, you sound great.” I’ll be lucky to remember half the things he’s said in our pleasant half-hour conversation, yet Boone Kirkman has remembered minutia from four decades ago—like pigskin-leather-sleeved jackets, “The Buds” and Sam Minex.

“Life is good,” he says. “I’ve survived two divorces and 12 years in the ring.” Then I hear the smile in his voice again. “Somebody up there must like me.”

Happy New Year, Champ. And many more to come!

Peter Wood is a former middleweight finalist in the 1971 New York City Golden Gloves. Wood was selected to represent America in Montreal, Canada.  In 1976, he was asked to represent America in the Maccabian Games held in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is the author of Confessions of a Fighter , and A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion. Wood’s writing credits include a guest column in The New York Times, and articles in Commonweal, America, Ring and Boxing Illustrated.

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George Foreman vs Boone Kirkman (Nov. 18, 1970)

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  1. John Wilkinson 01:50pm, 03/05/2016

    Looking in on this board again. Some TIME has passed. I have founded the UWBCAFO-I/March/2007. Work is to “Echelon” the WHOLE of the Sport. WBC WBA IBF WBO ‘1e’. I could talk this work and….I FEEL it is the most vital opperation a happening in the SPORT/Administratively on the now. By the way, boxing top-5 mega stars right now (in no particular order): Pac man, Krusher, A.Ward, Saul Alvarez & Gennady Golovikin though…must—fault—GGG for hold “Ibo” STINK!

  2. John 06:00pm, 02/28/2014

    I am Friendship with •KENT APPEL• like Mr. Wood, a boxing writer.

  3. John Wilkinson 05:52pm, 02/28/2014

    ~GTC~ Oh. I had already (Recent) seen that! Thanks. Stallone DOES NOT LOOK GOOD. DOES HE? Why such the double talk? His -1st statement, Wepner. “Looks totally CRAPTIZED” but you stay with the film and you see Stallone exhibiting SEVERE TWO FACE! I “couldn’t believe it!” (I think it only fair, his first wife get a fifth of what ever he got. Taxes equitable).
      AND: Wepner (at first) looks to paint himself into a CORNER concerning that r. 9 knockdown. Is it possible Wepner DID NOT step on Ali’s foot? SEEMS I REMEMBER, SI Photo layout. What’s the inside dope on their?
      Oh: Wepner does a MARVELOUS take on the bout vs Sonny Liston.

  4. George Thomas Clark 02:39pm, 02/28/2014

    Boone and Chuck were two tough bangers.  There’s a great ESPN documentary about Wepner, who is a great interview and storyteller.  You can access the film on NetFlix and no doubt other outlets….

  5. John Wilkinson 08:07pm, 02/27/2014

    Myra, you typed your message in on CHUCK WEPNERS 74th B’day!

  6. Myra DeLappe 09:56pm, 02/26/2014

    Hi Peter,  I just want to let you know I think you did a great job writing this story about my Brother Boone. Thanks Myra.

  7. John Wilkinkinkin kin 11:00pm, 01/27/2014

    Ibar made a good name for himself! Boone, “greater”! (I -LIKE MEASURING THIS—STUFF—- smile). Imagine what the -GIANT- George Foreman is,HA! “Love” the way he——TALKED BOONE -UP——- after the nice -win-

  8. George Thomas Clark 12:30pm, 01/26/2014

    Forty years ago I heard the same story about Ibar Arrignton that I’d heard about Kirkman.  The big guy was running a bar and patrons were impressed with his musculature.  Seeing a good heavyweight boxer in person makes you appreciate their physical abilities, which they exude…

  9. John Wilkinson In CT 08:26am, 01/26/2014

    Ted, Ibar gained NICE NOTICE himself but, world wide, NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BOONE KIRKMAN. I am always -INTERESTED- in these strong names! Kirkman no doubt* would have took a WIN. [* no doubt meaning, “expected” :  ) no disrespect to Ibar!]

  10. Ted 05:57pm, 01/23/2014

    There was always a lot of talk about a Boone Kirkman-Ibar Arrington match for Seattle which would have been another big sellout. I don’t understand what kept it from happening. Both boxers wanted it.

  11. John 09:01am, 01/22/2014


  12. Tex Hassler 04:27pm, 01/21/2014

    I certainly remember Boone Kirkman and am glad he is doing well at age 69.  Great story Mr. Wood!

  13. NYIrish 05:42am, 01/20/2014

    If you don’t eat your carbs and protein together you will lose weight. Have a steak and vegetables and a salad. Want a baked potato? Have it with vegetable and a salad. No steak and baked potato together. I don’t speak vegan. Hats off to those who are happy with that.

  14. John Wilkinson 02:57pm, 01/19/2014

    IN YOUR “Tags” here… HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH IS -CAPS- which are—all small letters—You don’t pick that by the “Social significance”, do you? Because.. Jack O’Halloran just to name -—one—- here, is certainly “significant” as far as the boxing culture is concerned. & -Randy Newman- (though,I don’t know if he is as well known while -ACTIVE- as Jack O’Halloran) -CERTAINLY- had a tad better WORLD RATING [‘10’] than Jack did and is a -FAME- Referee these days. Notice quite a few listed are -deceased- how does that work-?- SENDING TO -Entity-?

  15. John Wilkinson 02:44pm, 01/19/2014

    Peter Wood: Are you in Washington State, yourself? I was a Boone Kirkman fan while he was active (you picked up my comment about mistake you make here w/ JIMMY ELLIS & WBA?). I used to box in the US Army & was the V Corp Title holder in 1977 [championships -the ‘Open’ @KirchGoens, Germany (writer/photo journalist Kregg P.J. Jorgenson was present w/camera!)]—&—JERRY WILES FROM -TACOMA- was TEAM MATE AND A -FRIEND- he is a well known ex-boxer [ALL-ARMY Featherweight champ]. I wish I could—Open more—on this as a broad-band. So…...until seeing message here,again. -John Wilkinson, in Connecticut-

  16. George Thomas Clark 11:09am, 01/19/2014

    Thanks for the additional information, Peter.  Those eight-mile hikes, supplemented by pushups and a good diet, will keep a guy thin.

  17. peter 06:57pm, 01/18/2014

    Just spoke with Boone. He maintains a weight of about 210. That’s pretty good—it’s only a few pounds over his fighting weight. How does he do it? He hikes frequently. This week he did an eight-miler up Mt. ? At the bottom, the temperature was in the 40s and on top it was in the 60s.He still drops down and does pushups. His diet includes no red meat—only chicken, Alaskan salmon and tuna fish.

  18. Eric 08:24am, 01/18/2014

    Moderation is the key. Nothing wrong with a little cake, a bag of chips, or pizza, as long as you don’t stuff the garbage down your throat daily.  Eat clean 6 days a week and then pick 1 day a week where you eat whatever you’ve been craving all week long. After eating clean all week, the junk food feast will taste great, and satisfy your cravings for another 6 days.

  19. John Wilkinson 06:54am, 01/18/2014

    Jimmy Ellis -very good win for Boone Kirkman- I remember as a—Split decision—and was WELL AFTER THE WBA TITLE REIGN.

  20. peter 03:47am, 01/18/2014

    @ George Thomas Clark—I’ll give Boone a call and ask him. And I’ll confirm his response with his wife.

  21. George Thomas Clark 09:48pm, 01/17/2014

    Jason - 35 isn’t too old for anything, just a tad beyond the peak.  Your shadowboxing dozens of rounds is also great.  My best sport was basketball but I’ve long shadowboxed, just for exercise, but now I only make the movements slowly for a little aerobic work.  Irish is right that diet is critical - unless you exercise about two hours a day, you’ve got to watch your intake after age 40 or so.  When I played basketball I ate mountains of junk and fast food and was still skinny. 

    I wonder what Boone Kirkman weighs and what his exercise program is.  I’d also like to know what his meals consist of.  Can the author Pete Wood find out?

  22. Jason 08:10pm, 01/17/2014

    Diet. I hate that word. I’m 6’2” and weigh 192 with some fat. A little over 6 months ago I was at 182, and dipped down to my fighting weight at 178 when I needed to. I’m 35 and too old now and don’t care. I said the heck with it. My frame can hold 200 pounds easy. I still workout, hit the bag every week, shadow box dozens of rounds, swing the rope, but I eat what I want and I don’t run. But once I get smoked sparring at some point in the future, I’ll start running and slowly start watching what I eat again. It’s a vicious cycle.

  23. Eric 07:44pm, 01/17/2014

    You can only eat eggs and bacon/sausage, and/or steak and eggs for breakfast for so long. The Atkins and/or high protein diets definitely will melt the pounds off but the diet is very bland, boring and even tasteless after awhile. Works, but when you drop the diet the first thing you do is start piling pancakes, pasta, and potatoes down the ole piehole and the pounds return as quickly as they disappeared. Better to eat all your carbs at the beginning of your day and mostly protein towards the end. Just maybe you can burn a lot of those carbs during the day.

  24. George Thomas Clark 07:26pm, 01/17/2014

    That’s certainly true about carbs - they’re bloaters, and I’m a carboholic.  Most things that taste good have sugar and/or fat.

  25. Eric 02:27pm, 01/17/2014

    I love red meat way too much to ever try being a vegan. I’ve had moderate success with the Atkins diet, but like everyone else, I pack the pounds right back on when I resume eating carbs again. Diet is much more important than exercise if you’re just interested in losing weight only. Never really followed Kirkman’s career back in the day, and the only times I saw him fight were against Foreman in the video provided and in the Foreman vs. 5-fighters exhibition/circus. Judging only the Foreman bouts would be quite unfair to Kirkman, and it seems his record is pretty good with some big name opponents, and big wins. Never knew Kirkman fought and lost to Ken Norton either. Norton seems to have feasted on a few “white hopes” of the ‘70’s,  like Kirkman, Quarry, Stander, O’Halloran, Bobick, before drawing with Ledoux, barely beating Tex Cobb, and being nearly decapitated by Gerry Cooney at the end of his career.

  26. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:06pm, 01/17/2014

    George Thomas Clark-My doctor says it’s all about intake and the problem isn’t meat…it’s carbs…his example was that it takes 1 hour on the treadmill to burn off one fun size Snickers bar. I found a better one….250,000 crunches, that’s right a quarter of a million, to burn off 1 pound of fat.

  27. George Thomas Clark 01:19pm, 01/17/2014

    Mike, becoming a vegan’s easy.  Remaining one’s very difficult.  I’m now back to accepting candy and cake every time it’s offered.  I tell myself it must be okay since it wasn’t my idea.  Saying no thanks forever ain’t easy…

  28. The Fight Film Collector 09:01am, 01/17/2014

    Peter scores again.  I’m with everyone here, excellent writing about another great athlete and boxer.  Growing up in the mid-west, if the fights weren’t on Wide World or a network special, we just didn’t get to see guys like Boone.  And films like the Foreman fight give the wrong impression entirely.  Thanks for this great profile.

  29. Bob 05:37am, 01/17/2014

    My mistake. It was not Ron Stander who said Memphis Al Jones was a heavy puncher. It was Leroy Caldwell, who fought everybody back then.

  30. Bob 05:33am, 01/17/2014

    Great story, Pete. Boone sounds like a happy ending.  I felt like I was a visitor in the house when his wife called him for supper. Terrific portrait of a good fighter and a good man. The second tier heavyweghts of Boone’s era had a lot to offer. Also interested to see Memphis Al Jones’ name. Although he had a nominal record, Jerry Quarry and I believe Ron Stander both said he was the hardest puncher they ever faced. That guy’s name comes up a lot when writing articles about this era’s heavyweights. Fantastic piece.

  31. Mike Silver 10:33pm, 01/16/2014

    Hey George, I also tried going vegan for a few weeks. Dropped 6 pounds and felt good. I rewarded myself with an ice cream sundae, cookies and sweets. Big mistake. Still thinking about resuming the vegan routine but no more rewards this time!

  32. Mike Silver 10:28pm, 01/16/2014

    Pete, I remember the buzz when Boone made his Garden debut. So many people were hoping he was the real goods. He certainly looked the part—a well built handsome heavyweight right out of central casting. What a disappointment. But so very glad he is doing well. Nice to hear that for a change. Wonderfully enjoyable article.

  33. George Thomas Clark 09:53pm, 01/16/2014

    Until several months ago I had a Boone-Kirkman-style diet - low fat, vegan - and was lighter than I’d been in years.  Now I’m back eating some dairy products, candy, and desserts and packing on the weight.  Kirkman has evidently established and maintained his dietary discipline, and that’s difficult.

  34. Ted 07:59pm, 01/16/2014

    Good one. This man is still in great shape.

  35. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 03:09pm, 01/16/2014

    I guess I focused on his high profile losses too damn much….way better fighter than I realized. Big names on his resume and big wins…Jimmy Ellis, Doug Jones, Eddie Machen. 1965 AAU Heavyweight Champ….same year Jerry Quarry won the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight title in Kansas City with 5 straight KO wins.

  36. George Thomas Clark 01:53pm, 01/16/2014

    I think Kirkman owned a bar in the early 70s.  About 40 years ago a guy said he saw Boone bartending and was impressed by his huge arms. 

    I watched the Foreman fight live on TV.  George was overpowering.

  37. Mike Schmidt 12:37pm, 01/16/2014

    On a sad note—just got a text that Thad passed in his sleep last month—age 70 I believe. Knock on wood and good health and family to you Boone—all the best and once again, thanks for the story Peter and Boone.

  38. Mike Schmidt 12:33pm, 01/16/2014

    Really nice write up. Was thinking of Boone about one month ago—had just read a superb book on Thad Spencer, “The Name of the Game: Thad Spencer, Willie Ketchum and the Quest for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.” A great era late 60’s and early 70’s. Good to hear a good guy doing well—Congrats Boone—a record to be very proud of and down in the Schmidty dungeon is a full page layout cover page of you, The Ring Magazine. Thanks Peter, memory lane…

  39. NYIrish 12:27pm, 01/16/2014

    Nice work, Peter. Glad to hear he’s doing well.

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