Pat Barrett’s Italian punch

By Ben Thomsett on October 19, 2018
Pat Barrett’s Italian punch
I shook that right hand of his. I half expected it to give off some kind of electric charge.

That punch was something that should have been carved in stone and mounted in Salerno’s main square…

My old barber was a guy named Dean Bramhald. He was the one holding up the mirror behind me when I realized I was going to have to part company with my hair or end up looking like Hulk Hogan. He argued with me about it, but we both knew the truth of simply too much skin peeking through too little hair. Mirrors don’t lie. Some men are gutted by moments like that, but not me. That’s another story, though.

Dean, for those who don’t know his name, was a professional boxer. He retired a good few years ago with a record of 42 wins, 106 losses, and 15 draws. There is no shame in those stats. He was a journeyman of almost unrivaled guts. One time he famously took a fight at fifteen minutes notice. How’s that for game? I heard he’d written a book. Maybe he has. Under his circumstances, and with all those years in the ring, I would too.

In 1989, Dean fought Pat Barrett (and lost by TKO in the 7th) at a small show in Glasgow. Barely nine months later, Barrett fought for the European Super Lightweight title against an Italian fighter called Efrem Calamati. The bout was in Salerno, just south of Naples. It’s the kind of area where people who win boxing events are spoken to quietly, and if they have any sense they nod back and sign things. Watching the bout back, you can see those people who do the speaking at ringside. They don’t queue for ringside seats, or restaurant tables. Wide open collars on loose suits. Escobar hairdos. The knowledge of where things lie buried—animal, vegetable, or mineral—and where exactly to store more of the same, if need be.

You get the picture. It’s a fight you don’t go to the cards on then walk away with a belt, unless the script has been written out beforehand. Apparently Pat thought exactly the same thing too. He knocked Calamati out in the first round with one of the most pure examples of a KO that I’ve ever seen in boxing. In my opinion it’s not shown enough in boxing clips. Calamati was asleep a nanosecond after being clipped by Barrett with a beautifully timed right hand that traveled up from Pat’s heel like flash of lightning. That punch—the timing, the power, the feint with the left prior to throwing that right, the situation of the fight full stop—was something that should have been carved in stone and mounted in Salerno’s main square. Part warning, part monument to what hard work, skill, and the balls to fight someone like Calamati somewhere where fish food sometimes comes as a solid 150lb lump wearing shoes, can achieve. One of the best punches in boxing history.

I met Pat a couple of years ago. He was a nice guy. Even meaner looking than back in the days of the Calamati fight. I asked him about that punch. “Ha,” he laughed. “It just felt right. Plus, I had to knock him out really. You should have seen the place where the fight was. Weird situation, and weird crowd.” I shook that right hand of his. I half expected it to give off some kind of electric charge. I told Pat as much. He laughed again, then moved off through the crowd at the boxing show. I sat back down and watched him stop to talk to faces at ringside, good and bad. It was that kind of evening.

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Pat Barrett vs Efrem Calamati

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  1. nicolas 11:03am, 10/21/2018

    It is perhaps shows like this, on some beach side why boxing in Italy is not what it once was.

  2. Kid Blast 05:05pm, 10/19/2018

    Yet Calamati then goes on to win 8 in a row!!

  3. NYIrish 04:34pm, 10/19/2018

    Good one !

  4. Ted Spoon 01:52pm, 10/19/2018

    Nice piece.

  5. Ho Lee Chit 09:09am, 10/19/2018

    hahaha. I can very well relate to the hair, my friend. I always told myself, I would deal with the thinning up front but as soon as I developed a bald spot in the back, I was going to come on home “wit it.” Been sporting the chrome dome look for a few years now and never looked back.

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