Jerry Quarry’s Greatest Hits

By Mike Casey on November 3, 2011
Jerry Quarry’s Greatest Hits
He inherited the “Great White Hope” mantle, with which he felt genuinely uncomfortable

We kept tuning into the next episode because we had to see whether he would finally put the pieces together and cross the finishing line…

When you got past the marriage problems, the managerial changes and the hard luck circumstances, you came upon the greatest problem of all with the talented Jerry Quarry: his head. What went on in Jerry’s mind was always the major factor, the greatest frustration, the toughest opponent.

In his straight talking way, boxing’s eternal Comeback Kid from the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower always acknowledged his biggest failing. After boxing with admirable prudence and restraint to score his greatest victory over the dangerous Ron Lyle in 1973, Quarry sat in his dressing room and jabbed a finger at the tough old melon atop his muscled shoulders and thick neck. “The big difference with me as a fighter now is right here,” he said.

Ah, but it wasn’t. Not really. And we probably wouldn’t have loved him half as much if it had been. Jerry’s volatility was the principal and oddly loveable reason for his magnetism. We kept tuning into the next episode because we had to see whether he would finally put the pieces together and cross the finishing line.

In the crucial fights of his career, Quarry belied his undoubted ring intelligence by employing the wrong tactics when his fierce pride gridlocked his fighting brain. He was the thoughtful counterpuncher who chose to slug it out with the prime slugger of the age in Joe Frazier. He was too careful and too patient with smart cookie Jimmy Ellis.

But it was never as simple as that with Jerry. Aside from the strategic errors, there was ill fortune and the occasionally unfathomable. He was the victim of genuine bad luck in his first fight with Muhammad Ali and ambushed by the downright bizarre in his stunning loss to George Chuvalo.

Even on his winning nights, Jerry would sometimes look listless and distracted, as if his opponent was the least of his tormentors. Like poor old Jacob Marley in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ one imagined Quarry dragging a great chain in his wake for his sins.


Jerry Quarry was a colorful, good-looking Southern Californian of Irish descent, whose erratic ring form constantly bewildered his critics and even his most ardent fans. He would counter exasperating defeats with spectacular victories and send his supporters yo-yoing from joy to despair and back again.

He seemed to relish being written off, for that was when he produced his greatest performances. Praise and acceptance seemed to have the reverse effect, bringing out the negative side of his personality and shattering his ambitions at the most untimely moments.

From the beginning of his career, Quarry was hailed as a potentially great heavyweight, and on his better days he justified such praise by beating some of the finest men in the business. Again and again, he maneuvered himself tantalizingly close to the world championship, only to stumble and fall in the crucial fights. He could win the pennant but he could never make it through the playoffs.

Such setbacks reminded us of the only real chink in Quarry’s armor: the jumbled mind that all too frequently jammed the controls of an otherwise formidable fighting machine. That mind would only become unclogged when penetrated by harsh criticism or the implication that its owner didn’t have what it takes. Then Jerry would shake himself down and show the world his great talent.

Quarry’s failure to reach the pinnacle of his profession is an everlasting tribute to his incredible allure. He possessed that special charisma that the gods normally reserve for only a handful of champions. When a certain boxing publication conducted a popularity poll of past and present day fighters in the early ‘70s, Quarry’s name ranked alongside those of Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

Jerry’s inconsistency could be infuriating, yet his chances against any man could never be discounted. His disciples kept the faith because Quarry always seemed on the verge of catching fire and realizing his magnificent potential.

He had all the necessary physical attributes at his disposal. He looked every inch a fighter, a rock of a man with a thick chest, powerful shoulders and solid legs. He had a powerful punch and a good chin. He was tough and rugged, very much the All-American boy in his early days with his close-cropped hair and crooked smile.

But the rain clouds always seemed to home in on Jerry. Inevitably, he inherited the “Great White Hope” mantle, with which he felt genuinely uncomfortable. There was the hate mail from obsessive fans who expected too much. There was the family and in-laws who trailed along with him to all his fights.

The story goes that father Jack Quarry laced gloves on Jerry when his son was just five years of age. When other kids bullied him, Jerry would stand his ground and fight back. As an amateur, he once said, “I feel a great challenge every time I get into the ring. I feel that I am fighting for my life and I must win.”

Let us not forget that Jerry Quarry did win a lot of important fights too, mostly as the underdog. He won them in style and he won them thrillingly. The Bellflower Belter at his very best was something to see.

Thad Spencer

Thad Spencer, out of Portland, Oregon, was the coming man. He had soared to number two in The Ring ratings and many believed he had the beating of Joe Frazier in the heavyweight scramble for supremacy that followed Muhammad Ali’s exile into limbo in 1967. While Muhammad would scrap with the Army draft board and the courts for the thick end of three years, the young tigers in his wake would chase the prized crown.

Spencer was a good stylist with a solid punch who had compiled a 32-5 record and accounted for the respected likes of Roger Rischer, Billy Daniels, Brian London, Doug Jones and Amos “Big Train” Lincoln. There was nothing sensational about Thad, but he was knocking off the right men and getting the job done.

When the WBA organised its eight-man elimination tournament to find a successor to Ali, Spencer got off to a flyer with a unanimous win over the long-time leading contender, Ernie Terrell. Jerry Quarry, by contrast, only squeaked past former champ Floyd Patterson on a controversial decision.

Jerry was a 7 to 5 underdog when he squared off with Spencer on Feb. 3, 1968. Thad was the heavier man by seven and a half lbs. at 200½, but Quarry was a revelation as he systematically tore the Oregon man apart. The cheers and roars from the crowd of 12,110 thundered around the Oakland Arena as Jerry took control and set up an epic finish.

He floored Spencer in the fourth round with a looping left hook to the chin and again in the 10th with a short, chopping right to the jaw. In each case, there were only seconds remaining in the round as the crowd went wild. Referee Jack Downey, distracted by the cacophony of sound, continued counting to the mandatory eight on both occasions.

Quarry cut the coup de grace just as fine. There were just three seconds left in the 12th and final round when he jumped on Thad like a tiger. Jerry lashed Spencer with a tremendous barrage of punches, but the significant blow was a big right to the head that set Thad wobbling and scattered him into no man’s land. Spencer tried to clutch and survive but he couldn’t shunt himself out of the line of fire as Quarry rifled lefts and rights to the head to force referee Downey’s stoppage.

Thad Spencer was never the same fighter again. He had eight more fights and lost them all.

Quarry was jubilant and spoke with the confidence of a man who was just weeks away from fulfilling his dream. “I just fought a smart fight and it paid off,” Jerry said. “He hit me one good shot in the whole fight, a left hook in the fifth round that hurt. I told everybody I’d prove I was faster than he was. I knocked him down with the right, which they said I didn’t have.”

Little more than two months later, Jerry was back at the Oakland Arena for the big one against crafty Jimmy Ellis. It was a fight that Quarry could have won and really should have won. You look at the tape even now and wonder why Jerry kept holding back in a close fight that was his for the taking. He still got a draw from judge Rudy Ortega, who saw it 6-6-3. But Elmer Costa scored it big for Ellis at 10-5, while former champ Fred Apostoli also had Jimmy winning by 7-5-3.

Quarry suffered a back injury and was in a body cast for weeks afterwards. It was the beginning of a long cycle of frustration.

Buster Mathis

By the time he got to big Buster Mathis on March 24, 1969, Jerry had done little to convince the fight fraternity that he had any new tricks. Ring editor Nat Fleischer admitted to giving up on him. Jerry had eased his way back since his back injury, posting four wins against modest opposition in Bob Mumford, Willis Earls, Charlie Reno and Aaron Eastling.

Mathis, a goliath of the age at 234½ lbs., was pitting his deceptively skilful bulk against Quarry’s 196. Buster was in the form of his life, having suffered just one defeat in his 30 fights, a brave and honorable loss to Joe Frazier at that. Buster was unfairly derided in some quarters for being something of a cartoon character, but he was a fine boxer and an immensely difficult man to knock over. Frazier had hacked at him for the best part of 11 rounds before finally felling him like a big oak tree.

Mathis had reeled off six victories since that derailment, including a bloody and emphatic points win over George Chuvalo just a month before meeting Quarry.

Buster was a 12 to 5 favorite over Jerry when they clashed at Madison Square Garden. The scuttlebutt on the fight beat was that Quarry was incapable of changing his style and would be picked off and possibly stopped by Mathis.

Jerry loved that kind of talk. It had the effect of a liberal shot of Scotch firing through his blood. From the opening bell, the cautious counterpuncher turned downright vicious. Yet there was nothing reckless or needlessly cavalier about the boxing lesson that Quarry gave Mathis.

Establishing his authority from the outset with a charging two-fisted attack, Jerry settled down to fashion an aggressive but intelligent performance. Piece by piece, he took Buster apart, switching the attack from head to body and wearing down the big man’s body.

When Mathis split his black velvet trunks down the back in the second round, it was the least of his problems. A left hook to the side of the head from Quarry shuddered through Buster’s body and finally cut the right wire. Mathis hovered momentarily in his dazed state and then dropped to one knee near the ropes. Jerry saw his chance to end the fight early but was too eager in his subsequent attack and failed to find the payoff punch before the bell. He didn’t have the KO but he had Buster’s number.

It was a virtuoso performance on Quarry’s part. He capped it by bloodying Buster’s nose in the 10th and by dropping his hands and inviting the big man to hit him in the 11th.

The fight wasn’t a shutout for Jerry, but it was the next best thing. Judges Jack Gordon and Tony Castellano tabbed it 10-1-1 for Quarry, while referee Johnny Colan saw it 9-2-1.

“A man that size has to be weak in the body and I just took advantage of it,” Quarry said.

Nat Fleischer certainly changed his opinion of Jerry, commenting, “I saw Quarry, a 12 to 5 second choice, take Buster Mathis apart the way a top flight automobile mechanic will unscramble the components of a delicately made Ferrari. Not that Buster is delicately made.”

Mac Foster

By the dawn of the’70s, Jerry Quarry had one foot in the last chance saloon as a major league player. What should have been a golden year in 1969 had gone steadily downhill after his masterful performance against Mathis, ending in disaster and near farce.

Jerry got it into his head that he could beat Joe Frazier in a head-to-head slugging match in an audacious bid for Joe’s version of the heavyweight championship. It was certainly a treat for the fans, and the opening frame of that memorable war went into the record books as the round of the year. But Quarry’s tactics against a great brawler in the prime of his life only served to bring Jerry the limited glory and lifespan of a kamikaze pilot. He was savagely beaten in seven rounds on a fiercely hot New York night and then thrown out into the cold six months later when he staggered into the surreal mire of George Chuvalo’s winter wonderland. Seemingly heading for a points win, Quarry was knocked down by a Chuvalo haymaker in the seventh round, arose at the count of three, dropped back to his knee to clear his head and then missed referee Zach Clayton’s cry of ‘10’. Man, did Jerry holler in his dressing room after that one. The entire world was against him.

When Quarry came into his fight against the highly touted Mac Foster at Madison Square Garden on June 17, 1970, the badly tarnished “Great White Hope” had notched just two meaningless wins since the Chuvalo disaster. A second round bombing of the little known Rufus Brassell had been followed by a labored points win over that tough old journeyman, George “Scrap Iron” Johnson.

Mac Foster was the new kid in town, all the way from Fresno, California, having won all of his 24 fights by knockout. Like his fellow prospect, the young George Foreman, Mac had feasted mainly on weak opposition, but he had vaulted to the number one spot in The Ring ratings. Some kind of tasty trailer invariably heralds the arrival of such a hot young heavyweight prospect, and the story about Foster was that he had reportedly knocked the aging Sonny Liston unconscious during a sparring session.

Whatever the true quality of Mac’s credentials, he started a 7 to 5 favorite over Quarry, outreached Jerry by nine inches and outweighed him by 14 lbs.

But Foster was suddenly in New York, at the Mecca of Boxing itself. Despite his lofty ranking, he was also taking his first dip into genuine world class. It was an entirely different scenario from the gentler fight towns of Fresno and Houston and the simpler business of knocking over the likes of the jaded Cleveland Williams.

Mac was cautious from the opening bell against Quarry. Keeping Jerry at bay with a raking, tentative jab, the bomber from Fresno kept his power in the locker. Only occasionally did he venture a left hook to the head, and Quarry quickly picked up the scent of fear and uncertainty. By the fourth round, Jerry had got his bearings and formulated the appropriate game plan. From the fourth round, he began to move in and attack Mac’s body with sudden flurries, looking to rough up the big man.

Foster seemed confused by Quarry’s raids, which included some meaty hooks to the body. Jerry worked busily on the inside in the fifth, softening his opponent and teeing him up for the big onslaught that would follow.

Quarry sensed the time was right in the sixth round and went to work in earnest. Foster’s ineffective jab was giving him no protection and his ignorance of how to survive in the major league became alarmingly apparent.

Jerry began a sustained assault, forcing Mac to take flight. But Foster couldn’t find a place to hide, and a countering right hand smash pushed him nearer to the cliff’s edge. He slipped and nearly toppled over in a neutral corner and then found himself trapped on the ropes as Quarry let rip and unleashed the big bombs. Somehow Foster extricated himself, but Jerry pursued him to the opposite corner and drove home the payoff blows. Mac collapsed onto the ring apron, shattered and bleeding from a cut to his face. Referee Johnny LoBianco reached the count of three before signalling the end of the fight.

Ron Lyle

Was there ever a better Jerry Quarry than the cool and disciplined boxing master who gave the thunder-punching Ron Lyle such a brilliant lesson in the noble art? Everything had altered for the better in Jerry’s muddled life by the night of Feb. 9, 1973.

Radical changes had been a necessity. Nearly three years after the Mac Foster triumph, Quarry had been twice beaten by Muhammad Ali and had failed to balance the scales with uninspired points wins over Dick Gosha, Tony Doyle, Lou Bailey and Larry Middleton. Only a first round blitz of British champion Jack Bodell in London had seen Jerry at his fiery best.

His muddled private life and marriage problems had spiralled out of control and driven him to the point of despair.

Switching his base of operations from Los Angeles to New York and placing himself under the shrewd tutelage of Gil Clancy, the calmer and more mature Quarry gained a new lease of life and entered the golden phase of his turbulent career.

Gone was the fresh-faced, crew-cut kid, supplanted by a tougher and worldlier man. So long had Jerry been hanging around, you had to remind yourself that he was still only 27.

He must have experienced a distinct feeling of déjà vu when he checked out the dossier on Ron Lyle. For here was another big man, another big puncher with an unblemished record, another hotshot on a roll. But big Ron would thrillingly prove in the years ahead that he was no false alarm. He was a better, tougher, harder fighter than Thad Spencer, Buster Mathis and Mac Foster ever were.

Ron started late in the professional ranks after a seven and a half-year prison term for second degree murder, but he hit the ground running. He had steamed to 19 successive victories and only Leroy Caldwell and Manuel Ramos had taken him the distance. Lyle, under the guidance of trainer Bobby Lewis, had been matched sensibly against a group of name opponents who were either on the slide or ripe to be picked off. Among Ron’s knockout victims were Jack O’Halloran, Bill Drover, Chuck Leslie, Scrap Iron Johnson, Vicente Rondon, Buster Mathis and Luis Faustino Pires.

However, Lyle’s most recent triumph was a victory of genuine quality, a third round demolition of Larry Middleton, who had given Quarry a tough distance fight in London just seven months before.

So Jerry was back at his old stomping ground at Madison Square Garden, now an adopted New York son, but otherwise smack in the middle of a familiar old scenario. He was the lighter man by 19 lbs. at 200 lbs. even. He was the whipping boy with the golden name that would look great on Ron Lyle’s hit list. Others had tripped and stumbled over the apparent carcass that was Quarry, but the dead man walking would surely have the decency to follow the script this time. He was coming off a somewhat laboured TKO of Randy Neumann, and dear old Randy was no Ron Lyle.

This, then, was the backdrop. You could almost hear Jerry chomping at the bit.

What followed was an astonishingly authoritative and overwhelming performance. Trainer Gil Clancy, who had patiently drummed the importance of self-discipline into Quarry, must have gone to seventh heaven on that memorable February night. How often does any fighter follow a structured game plan to perfection? Jerry was sensational.

A certain, tight atmosphere lingers over a crowd when it expects an underdog to be crushed, like the eerie silence in the midst of a storm that precedes the next clap of thunder. Quarry went to work in such an atmosphere that night and made hay. He marked his territory in the opening round when he missed with a left hook and then shot a right to Ron’s head that made the big man’s knees dip.

Jerry never looked back as he fought shrewdly on the outside and planned his sudden raids with immaculate timing. Another short right in the fifth round buckled Lyle’s knees again, but Quarry was beaten by the bell as he followed up with a salvo of shots to the head.

Jerry continued to shake Ron with rights and flashing left hooks to the head as the shockingly one-sided fight wore on. Lyle’s feet seemed cemented to the canvas as he was skilfully picked off and rattled by a much more worldly and intelligent foe. Any chink of light for Ron quickly disappeared. He was getting the better of things in the eighth round when Jerry suddenly sent him reeling with a big left hook and pounded him with a succession of shots before the bell.

When it was all over, Quarry had breezed home in the performance of his life. Referee Wally Schmidt saw a closer fight than most, returning a 7-4-1 card. Judges Bill Recht and Tony Castellano tabbed it 9-1-2 and10-2 for Quarry respectively.

In his dressing room, a jubilant Jerry couldn’t resist crowing and rubbing a few faces in the dirt. “I’m not finished and I don’t have to go into another trade like some people said I should. I proved that. Everybody puts me down because I lose the big fights. They say I just beat the bums. They’re crazy as hell. I think Ronnie sitting right here is one helluva fighter.”

Earnie Shavers

A certain fellow from Warren, Ohio, was also one helluva fighter on his night and one helluva puncher into the bargain. Earnie Shavers was out to wreck Quarry’s perfect year of 1973 when the two men faced off at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 14.

The stats boys loved to number crunch Earnie, because the exercise didn’t require too much exertion. He had lost only two fights and knocked out all but two of his 47 victims. Shavers was a banger and how he could bang. He had wrecked the clever Jimmy Young in three rounds and was coming off a one round blitz of former WBA champ, Jimmy Ellis.

Then Earnie met Jerry and it was all over in two minutes and 21 seconds. Riding high and full of confidence, Quarry crashed a left hook to the temple of Shavers and sent him staggering into the ropes. Always a clinical finisher, Jerry kept firing as Earnie descended into the abyss. A right to the face sent Shavers down, scattering his mind and taking the life from his legs. He got up unsteadily, reeled into a corner and was rescued by referee Arthur Mercante.

Everyone was hugely impressed by Quarry’s performance, including world champion George Foreman, who agreed that Jerry was a deserving challenger. How the fans clamored for a Foreman-Quarry showdown!

Well, Big George never did fight Juggernaut Jerry, and perhaps it is just as well. Would Jerry have won? No. George would have butchered him and badly so.

Alas, for the same old oddly endearing reason.

Mike Casey (C)

Mike Casey is a freelance journalist, artist and boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO).

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 1

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 2

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 3

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 4

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 5

Jerry Quarry -vs- Thad Spencer 2/3/68 part 6

Jerry Quarry -VS- Mac Foster 1970 part 1

Jerry Quarry -VS- Mac Foster 1970 part 2

Jerry Quarry -VS- Mac Foster 1970 part 3

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 1

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 2

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 3

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 4

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 5

Jerry Quarry -vs- Ron Lyle 2/9/73 part 6

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  1. MIKE SCHMIDT 03:42pm, 08/16/2012

    One of my all time faves was Jerry and love the article Mike. Tex, and maybe Ted can help out here, but I think on the Ellis fight Jerry was still suffering from a bad back aggravated by a parking lot scrap where he got blindsided. Mike I was lucky enough to obtain at the Hall of Fame this year an original Quarry vs Jack Bodell poster- that was a great Quarry quickee and another great one was Jerry getting off the canvas (a rarity that he was knocked down) in the first and starching the hard hitting Joe Alexander the next round. Also love Jerry as a commentator- did a GREAT JOB on fights such as Bizzaro vs Duran- adios and thanks for the trip down memory lane- the beginning of the Quarry vs Acorn fight had great heavyweight ring intro’s- keep em coming lads- best boxing site around.

  2. max hord 09:53am, 12/01/2011

    Hell of an article…BEST !!!!!!

  3. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:29pm, 11/07/2011

    Mike—No worries.

  4. mikecasey 02:08pm, 11/07/2011

    I wasn’t taking a shot at you, Yank - but thanks anyway! I agree.

  5. "Old Yank" Schneider 01:31pm, 11/07/2011

    Mike—I guess I forgot my manners a bit here.  I’d love to only remember the good things.  The closer you get to boxing as a fan, the more difficult it can become to stay focused on only the good memories.  In my mind Jerry Quarry ranks among the best heavyweights of the Golden Era to never win a major championship belt—in fact, I rate him higher than many who claimed a belt.  But the tragic nature of his story is impossible to ignore for me.  Oddly there is almost a Princess Diana quality that surrounds him—can’t help but celebrate their lives and can’t help but drift off to how tragically they died.  So let me belatedly say how much I enjoyed the good memories in your piece.

  6. mikecasey 01:18pm, 11/07/2011

    Thank you, Tex. You capture the whole intention of the article. I simply meant it as a celebration of all the good things about Jerry. I only want to remember the good things about our dear pal Joe when the gods take him.

  7. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:37am, 11/07/2011

    Flogging a dead horse: Watch all of your sons smoke a pack of cigarettes a day from the age of three and then blame a genetic predisposition for cancer when they all die young.  Makes perfect sense to me!

  8. TEX HASSLER 01:02pm, 11/06/2011

    Thanks Mike Casey for pointing out that Jerry Quarry had great wins over some top contenders. To this day I still wonder why Jerry failed to tear into Jimmy Ellis and fight an aggressive fight. In another era perhaps Jerry would have been a champion. Quarry certainly had a champion’s heart. His standing toe to toe with Joe Frazier for as long as he could proved that. Jerry may be gone but he certainly is not forgotten.

  9. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:54am, 11/06/2011

    We all know someone who smoked all their life and never got lung cancer.  And we all know a smoker or two who died way too young from lung cancer.  The science is not in doubt—genetic links to predisposition for all sorts of diseases are well documented.  Food plants (mostly grain bearing) are the topic of much debate due to genetic modification for resistance to drought and disease.  Genetic disposition or not, the probability of the Quarry brothers all dying at their young ages had they NOT been exposed to repeated brain trauma is remote.  Without question there is a possibility that genetics was a CONTRIBUTING factor (as is the case for nearly ALL young deaths due to disease), but the CAUSE was brain scrambling from the age of three.  This is how “pugilistic” ends up in the disease known as pugilistic dementia—without “pugilistic” it is simply dementia and the Quarry boys did not die from garden-variety dementia—they all died DUE to the “pugilistic” tie.  Truman Capote died YOUNG of liver disease BECAUSE he drank himself to death—not because he was genetically predisposed.  Can we get some common sense here please?

  10. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:39am, 11/06/2011

    Big Boss Man—Nice link.  Did you that Truman Capote died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 59?  Beginning in his early 20’s he was known to drink as much as a quart of vodka a day.  I guess he was genetically wired for liver disease and the quart of vodka a day had nothing to do with it.  The famous writer O. Henry died of liver failure at 47.  He too was known to be a serious heavy drinker.  I guess he too was genetically wired for liver disease and drinking was not the primary cause.  The Quarry boys got their brains scrambled from the age of 3 and all died young of pugilistic dementia—I guess that they were all genetically wired for dementia and scrambled brains from the age of 3 was not the primary cause.  Look, I am unaware of any genetic testing done on the Quarry boys.  I am aware of scrambled brains from the age of 3 for each and every one of them.  Genetically predisposed to dementia or not, it does not take a Rhodes Scholar to add 2 and 2 in this case.  Pugilistic dementia is a major issue in boxing.  Without question some boxers are more genetically predisposed to it than others—the science here is not in doubt.  But suggesting that the Quarry boys all ended up with pugilistic dementia BECAUSE they were predisposed is missing the Forest because of the trees!  They ended up with dementia BECAUSE they all had their brains scrambled beginning at the age of three.  I believe their father Jack lived to the ripe age of 84—quite reasonable for a hardscrabble, depression-era laborer/fighter.  I believe that Jack (the Quarry boys father) did not take to boxing until late in his teens and then he was more of a pick-up fighter for food money than a pro—no extensive brain battering like his sons endured.

  11. mikecasey 03:39am, 11/06/2011

    Thanks, Ted!

  12. the thresher 03:01pm, 11/05/2011

    The Moyer brothers were Oregon’s version of Southern California’s Quarry brothers. Denny succumbed July 1, at age 70. He had had 139 professional fights, 20 in his last two years. Phil, a few years older, is alone now in the convalescent home.

  13. the thresher 02:54pm, 11/05/2011

    Mike, here is an interesting take on the subject Pug broached down below.:

    “On the subject of pugilistic dementia, Bobby Czyz strongly believes that the central issue of pugilistic dementia is genetic susceptibility to punishment. Bobby addressed the AMA and reporters several years ago on this subject, and cited several examples. For instance, the Quarry brothers are two of the most unfortunate and well known examples of ex-fighters spiraling into decline (and death) due to pugilistic dementia. Bobby pointed out that the issue wasn’t necessarily that they were boxers, but that they were brothers.

    “In other words, the Quarry brothers had the same genetic code, and may not have been able to sustain punishment like Jake LaMotta. Accordingly, Bobby noted that LaMotta has been lucid decades after his career ended, and not many fighters took brutal punishment like LaMotta did during his long career. More importantly, LaMotta had one of the best chins in boxing history. Thus, people are simply programmed differently, and will be affected by blows to the head differently as well. In turn, banning boxing because of pugilistic dementia or other injuries is nonsensical, especially considering the disabling injuries and deaths that occur in other sports.”

  14. the thresher 02:40pm, 11/05/2011

    Mike, In 1983, while researching a magazine article about the health problems of retired boxers, a Sports Illustrated reporter visited and interviewed Quarry, then 37 and training for a comeback attempt. Though the boxer appeared to be in good health, his performances on several simple cognitive tests were shockingly poor. The title of the April 11, 1983 article is “Too Many Punches, Too Little Concern,” by Robert H. Boyle and Wilmer Ames.

    Now if you track back bewteen 12-14 years, you probably are in the area where Jerry might have first engaged PD and this also was when he was fighting some tough bouts.

    Just a theory, but my guess is that it emerged bewteen 1977 and 1983.

    Even though his cognitive scores were low, he still came across as a soft spoken intelligent person. But then, it changed and he was done.

    I know you know this, but I wanted to post it for other readers.

  15. Big Boss Man 08:28am, 11/05/2011

    Here are two of several interesting links:

  16. Bob Mladinich 08:02am, 11/05/2011

    Boxing is full of sad stories, but the Quarry family saga is sadder than most. I interviewed Jerry, Mike, James, Robert and Jack and found them all to be thoughtful, honest and engaging. Even though Jerry and Mike had dementia when I spoke to them, it was evident that they were very intelligent. Robert was also very smart, as was Jack who I spoke to in a nursing. There is a lot of blame to go around for all of the tragedy the Quarry family has endured, but at their core they were decent folks who could have been successful in any endeavor they chose. All these years later, since the deaths of Jerry, Mike, James and Jack, I find myself thinking of the family dynamic and how things could have been better for everyone under different circumstances.

  17. pugknows 07:08pm, 11/04/2011

    If what you want to do is drive me off this site, keep doing what you are doing.  Your crack about—“You must be on someone’s email list.” is exactly what I mean by your insulting manner. I have followed Ted’s stuff for years and have known him for almost 65 years (we grew up together in Chicago) and I respect him greatly. I am on no one’s email list but my own. Again, please ignore me. If not, I will go to the moderator and see if he or she can do something. What I want to do is discuss boxing. I don’t want anything to do with you. What part of that don’t you understand? Stop stalking me.

  18. "Old Yank" Schneider 05:10pm, 11/04/2011

    The Thresher—I am a fan.  I do not pretend to be a boxing historian.  I cannot hold a candle to the depth of knowledge about boxing history that is at your fingertips.  So I will say this from the perspective of a fan:  It is INCREDULOUS that any boxing historian would attempt to foist on the public that a collection of brothers battered in the head from the age of three by their father and forced into matches without headgear and onto countless amateur bouts and finally into the pros with concussive event followed by concussive event from the age of three and foist on the public that the likely primary cause of their pugilistic dementia was genetics - -INCREDULOUS!  Indeed it is FOOLISH from this fan’s perspective.  LAUGHABLE!  If you persist in foisting on fans that the logical cause of these brothers pugilistic dementia was genetics rather than having their brains scrambled from the age of three, then I will allow you to skate on your thin ice until you fall through while I as a fan stand firmly on solid ground.  Not every battle is about making the Old Yank pay for saying something.  You are free to risk your credibility in defending genetics as the cause of pugilistic dementia in the Quarry boys if you like.  I simply find it UNBELIEVABLE that ANY boxing historian would discount head battering from the age of three as the likely primary cause—pal!

  19. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:06pm, 11/04/2011

    pugknows—You must be on someone’s email list.  No insult intended.  But c’mon…a collection of brothers exposed to repeated concussive events from the age of three and genetics is the cause of their dementia?  If a doctor concluded that the primary cause of dementia in the Quarry men was genetics, he should have his license revoked!  Jerry Quarry has been the subject of countless writers—many quite capable and well researched.  The books that have received the most attention on the family have nearly all had some focus on the abuse Jack lavished on his sons.  Jerry stated in an interview that he regretted hitting his smaller brother in the head as often as he did.  If every other writer was able to discover it, then the one or two who missed it probably just missed it.  Again, no insult intended, but again, c’mon…really?  A collection of boys in the same family are exposed to repeated concussive events from the age of three and genetics is the cause of their dementia?  Really now?

  20. pugknows 01:40pm, 11/04/2011

    Old Yank, I really don’t need you to tell me about the Quarrys. Ted was very close friend of Jerry’s and he has chronicled Jerry’s story better to suit my taste. And I might add, your arrogance is over-the-top. I’d appreciate it if you would simply ignore me in the future. I’m here to discuss boxing—not to be insulted by one of the writers.  I want that, I’ll go to BoxingScene.

  21. the thresher 01:07pm, 11/04/2011

    Oh, now I’m foolish, eh? Sorry, Pug. I thought was had a dialogue going on.

  22. "Old Yank" Schneider 11:08am, 11/04/2011

    Three brothers begin taking beatings at the age of three at the hands of an abusive father; all are in a ring without headgear by the age of 5; and all suffered from repeated blows to the head for decades and the connection to early-onset dementia is GENETICS!!!???  Does anyone else see how foolish it is to blame genetics?  There is a “WELL DUH!” reality here that is obvious in my opinion.

  23. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:52am, 11/04/2011

    pugknows—From the book: “[Jack Quarry] (the boys father) [would have the boys fight each other] ... many times ...without headgear. Many believe that is one of the reasons they ...wound up dying from dementia pugilistica.”  There is not a gene involved in having your sons beat each other’s heads into dementia—and if they were unwilling to fight each other, Jack would beat them! 

  24. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:43am, 11/04/2011

    pugknows—Steve Springer and Blake Chavez captured a picture of all the Quarry boys being subjected to constant and repeated child abuse at the hands of their abusive father in their book “Hard Luck: The Triumph and Tragedy of ‘Irish’ Jerry Quarry”.  How much knocking around of a child’s head can a father do without causing damage?  I would suggest that Jerry’s father’s knocking around the heads of all of his boys cannot and should not be ignored as a contributing factor to all of them suffering from dementia – perhaps a more logical contributing factor than genetics.

  25. the thresher 09:12am, 11/04/2011

    His icing of Shavers was a study in savage closure. Once he had the Acorn stunned, h didn’t let him off the hook until he had the Acorn cracked.

  26. the thresher 09:11am, 11/04/2011

    PUG, I already covered that any number of times, but you make a sage point. I totally agree. The chances of 3 brothers getting PD without some gene connection is not very high. This is born out by the Moyer brothers as well.

    It’s best to focus on the great things Jerry accomplished.

  27. pugknows 08:45am, 11/04/2011

    My sense is that there was a genealogical issue with the Quarrys that may have contributed to their illnesses. At any rate, a prime Jerry was a thing of beauty.

  28. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:18am, 11/04/2011

    Mike – Yours was a great read – a really great read!  If ever a fighter represented to me a symbol of the highest highs for the love of a sport and the lowest lows for the hate for a sport, Jerry Quarry is just such an icon.  Does beautiful sorrow exist in all of sport that packs a harder punch to the heart than the life and career of Quarry?  One day I was watching Quarry in the ring with the likes of Ali, Lyle, Shavers, Frazer and Norton and the next day I was watching his brother holding his hand so he could cross a street.  Nothing and I mean NOTHING sums up my love/hate relationship with boxing more than the story of Quarry—his life literally raised me up and out of my seat and tossed me to my knees.

  29. the thresher 07:05am, 11/04/2011

    Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo has the beat

  30. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:55am, 11/04/2011

    From the time he won the National Golden Gloves title in Kansas City in ‘65 with five straight KO’s until the bitter end, Jerry spent his entire boxing life in the pocket…really in the trenches. He created more mayhem, drama , and excitement in one round than some current millionaire fighters have in their entire careers. Fighters from different eras are not always apples and oranges…there’s no way Haye could have resisted the power of Jerry’s punches, he would have been just another “upset” victim on Jerry’s resume.

  31. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:06am, 11/04/2011

    It grieves me to think that Jerry’s biggest flaw was his ability to take a punch—it delivered glory at the cost of life.

  32. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 08:59pm, 11/03/2011

    I was working the night shift all those years ago when I rented a nearby motel room so I could sneak out for an extended lunch break and catch the Chuvalo fight. When the fight ended the way it did I sat there alone on that motel bed dumbfounded and really in a state of shock. I guess “Ill fortune and the occasionally unfathomable” could indeed explain that one. When I read you and Ted Sares and the other fine writers here it calls to mind Durslag, Malamud,and Furillo at the Herald Examiner and Jim Murray at the L.a. Times. They’re gone now and so is Jerry, God he was beautiful.

  33. mikecasey 06:45pm, 11/03/2011

    It certainly was, JC!

  34. JC45 06:40pm, 11/03/2011

    Great read thanks Mike. Jerry would have made some sort of cruiserweight in the modern era. His left hand was a thing of beauty.

  35. mikecasey 06:00pm, 11/03/2011

    Thanks babe

  36. the thresher 05:49pm, 11/03/2011

    No one ever had more charisma than Jerry.

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