Peek Into the Soul of a Boxing Writer—Part Two

By Peter Weston Wood on March 15, 2015
Peek Into the Soul of a Boxing Writer—Part Two
Up there is "Two Ton," all about my very favorite boxer, the irrepressible Tony Galento.

“Peek into the Soul of a Boxing Writer” attempts to tiptoe into the writer’s den, browse his bookshelf, and peruse his desk to see what’s there…

“Peek into the Soul of a Boxing Writer” attempts to tiptoe into the writer’s den, browse his bookshelf, and peruse his desk to see what’s there.

It’s not exactly snooping — it’s exploring.

This current series is an offshoot of my previous series, “Peeking into the Soul of a Prizefighter,” that attempted to recognize, and celebrate, the unknown sides of the boxer — his contemplative side — by asking: What is your favorite book?

In the end, Boxing.com is all about boxing and relies upon the rugged men and women willing to step into a ring to punch each other. And the site also relies upon writers to report those fights.

Fighters are fighters and writers are writers. 

But sometimes a fighter becomes a writer.

The following list recognizes the prizefighters who have dared to step into the academic arena and punch out a book of their own — with no help from a ghostwriter.

Congratulations to the following writer-fighters:

1)  Daniel Andrews — “A Man Named Daniel” — (fought from 1963-1969)
2)  Jeff Bumpus — “Becoming Taz” — (fought from 1984-1993)
3)  Tony Danza — “I’d Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had” — (1976-1979)
4)  David L. Jaco — “Spontaneous Palooka” — (fought from 1984-1991)
5)  “Tiger” Ted Lowry — “God’s in My Corner” — (fought from 1939-1955)
6)  Rusty Rosenberger — “Unclaimed Destiny – The Heart of a Champion” — (1978-1992)
7)  Fraser Scott — “Weigh-In – The Selling of a Middleweight” — (fought from 1968-1972)
8)  Jose “Chequi” Torres — “Sting Like a Bee” — (fought from 1958-1969)
(My apologies to the fighter/writers I’ve missed.)

Writers become fighters, too. That intriguing list will be presented in Part Three!

10. Mohummad Humza Elahi

o Background/Education/Training

Well, my background is from the farther reaches of East London, born and bred. It’s an interesting place in that it always seems to be at the forefront of particular cultural juxtapositions, a home for immigrant communities through the decades so I despise its current trend of commodification and gentrification. But that’s another story! I went to the local comprehensive and then to UCL, graduating with a Masters in Earth Science.

Currently working as a management consultant (and novice boxing writer, of course).

Was always a big sports fan, particularly good at athletics but didn’t make much ground in team sports, which is why boxing drew me in about seven or so years ago. Huge film and music fan also, I tend towards creativity quite a bit and did some personal music projects and now trying my hand at art; grappling with basic drawing first and then hopefully onto the Escher stream of expression, the geometrically surreal. 

o Published works

No published works, but I think a novel is in my potential at some stage and I’d like to develop the ideas that I couldn’t put into my music projects. Widening my experiences was one thing I didn’t do whilst I was younger (teens/early twenties) and so I’m making up for lost time as much as I can. Here’s hoping that continues.

o Name your favorite book

That really is a tough one; probably the book that I will come back to throughout my life (as a Muslim, I’ll put the Qur’an to one side here) is a Fusus al-Hikam or The Bezels of Wisdom by a Muslim mystic named Ibn Arabi, a huge figure in the Sufi tradition of Islam and about as impenetrable and esoteric as they come with respect to their writings. This has a close place to my heart as I read the book at his tomb during my time in Damascus in 2008 and it was a very personal experience, as was the whole of my time there. The great thing about it is that with enough concentration, I can always transport myself back there, so I’m thankful that I managed to experience it before it all went to Hell in a hand basket.

11. “Fight Film Collector”

I have a degree in cinema production and work professionally as a web designer, photographer and musician.

o Name your favorite book

I have no single favorite book, but among those books I remember best is Soldier of The Mist by Gene Wolfe. It’s the fictional journal of a mercenary in ancient Greece who suffers amnesia after a battle. A surgeon gives him a scroll and tells him to write entries each night so he can read and remember the next day. Like a Jason Borne set in ancient times, the character is a fierce warrior. His condition allows him to see gods and spirits who guide him as he travels and defends a mysterious group of refugees.

As for boxing, the book that ignited my passion for fight films was Rex Lardner’s The Legendary Champions. The book (and the film documentary) told the history of the Heavyweight Championship from Sullivan to Tunney through photos and early motion pictures.

o Accomplishments/Experiences

Was an athlete from grade school through college competing mostly in track, gymnastics and boxing. 

Made super 8 films as a kid and as a teenager received an award from Kodak. 

Was inspired by the first Frazier-Ali fight to start collecting boxing films. 

o Published works

First print-published story will appear in a forthcoming boxing anthology.

o Proudest moments

Hearing my music on the radio for the first time.

Sitting in the Madison Square Garden press row for the Cotto-Mosley fight with my best friend from high school, who is now a SI sports writer and editor.

12. Clarence George

I. Proudest Moment: Well I remember when Lou DiBella patted my tummy, but I’m most proud of having nominated Izzy Jannazzo for induction into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame.

II. Favorite Books: My most loved book as a boy was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. While still a favorite, it was long ago superseded by Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which I think is the great American novel.

Regarding boxing fiction, Hemingway wrote some terrific short stories, including “The Battler,” a tale that deserves to be better known. More currently, Thom Jones has written some magnificent boxing stories, the best of which are in his first collection, The Pugilist at Rest. And, of course, there’s Leonard Gardner’s novella, Fat City.

I don’t know that I have a favorite non-fiction book, though I have a weakness for those that deal with unsolved mysteries. As far as boxing is concerned…huge fan of A.J. Liebling’s The Sweet Science; much less so of A Neutral Corner. Love Nat Fleischer’s A Pictorial History of Boxing. I also like Joyce Carol Oates’ On Boxing. Up there is Joseph Monninger’s Two Ton, all about my favorite boxer, the inimitable and irrepressible “Two Ton” Tony Galento.

13. Christian Giudice

First writing job: Gloucester County Times, Woodbury, NJ (2000)
First fight coverage: Blue Horizon (1999)
Books: Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran
Beloved Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Arguello
Proudest Moment: Received first copy of Hands of Stone

Favorite Book: The Things They Carried
Favorite Boxing Book: The Good Son (Ray Mancini)

14. Sembello C. (Chuck) Hasson

Grew up in Philadelphia/Chester area.

Served in the Mekong Delta on river boats (1969), Mobile Riverine Force (“The floating Panzer Division of Viet Nam”).

Worked on Dredges on the Hudson River and Tankers in Merchant marines. Retired from the Teamsters Union.

Became a boxing fanatic watching Joey Giardello KO top rated Bobby Boyd on the tube in 1956. Biggest thrill was watching Giardello win the title from Tiger in person at Atlantic City with my Dad.

Involved in boxing my whole life.

Assistant editor of phillyboxinghistory.com.

Elected to Pennsylvania Boxing HOF in 2013.

My favorite book The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. Autobiography about a young gung-ho German soldier sent to the Eastern Front in 1942. He soon is influenced by “the veteran,” who has fought through the whole Russian campaign and convinces Sajer that survival is all that matters, certainly not the glory of the fatherland. It covers the full brutal retreat from the Red Army back to Berlin.

My favorite boxing book: Somebody Up There Likes Me, the autobiography of Rocky Graziano.

15. Norman Marcus

Favorite book: The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

The story of a dog’s struggle to survive in the primordial Yukon at the turn of the 20th century. The main character, a dog named Buck, is portrayed with human characteristics, which expose man’s strengths and weaknesses. Similar to the brutal truth a fighter faces when the bell rings. No spin there, just the survival of the fittest.

“And the winner is…”

16. Joe Masterleo

Joe Masterleo is a licensed psychotherapist in Syracuse, NY. Joe has worked in the mental health care field for over 40 years, 35 of them in private practice working with individuals, couples and families. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a BA degree in psychology, and a Master’s Degree in clinical social work. Joe’s sub-specialty is in understanding human behavior and dysfunction from a holistic point of view, particularly with regard to the integration of psychology and spirituality, core components of the interior life. Over the years, he has developed an interest in writing about counseling related subjects, as well as topics from the world of sports. In years past, Joe has been a columnist for the Central New York Sports Magazine, as well as the Goodnews Paper. Currently, his columns and commentaries appear regularly on the editorial pages of the Syracuse Post-Standard and on local sport blogs. Many of his columns can be found on his website: joemasterleolcsw.com

Joe sees, evaluates and comments on sports as life in microcosm, mirroring the best and worst of what a society values and tolerates in its citizenry and character. He has followed boxing since his youth in the 1950s and ‘60s, an era when there were only three national TV networks. Televised bouts on Friday night (sponsored by Gillette, Don Dunphy announcing) and Saturday (ABC’s Wide World of Sports) were the primary national vehicles for viewing boxing at that time, though closed-circuit TV was coming into its own for title bouts. Joe recalls watching his first “live” professional boxing at the old Madison Square Garden in 1963 at age 16, pitting heavyweight Zora Foley vs. Ernie Terrell.

As a youngster, Joe vividly recalls the heyday of the late champion Carmen Basilio, who hailed from nearby Canastota, NY, also the current home of Boxing’s Hall of Fame. Joe had the privilege of interviewing Basilio’s manager, Johnny DeJohn, prior to the latter’s passing a few years back. DeJohn, a boxing genius, converted Basilio’s style that led to his ascendency as champion in two weight classes. DeJohn was in the champ’s corner when Basilio won the title from Tony DeMarco in 1955. Joe’s interview with DeJohn led to his composing and professionally recording “Cornerman,” a song honoring DeJohn and those who fulfill many behind-the-scenes roles, working a boxer’s corner, serving as mentor, trainer, etc.

Favorite Books: Joe is an avid reader and always has several books going, all of them non-fiction, most by spiritually inspired authors. Of the latter, David Hawkins’ “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness” is his favorite. He also is partial to biographies, his favorite being “When Pride Mattered,” on the life of Vince Lombardi.

Joe lives in Jamesville, NY, a suburb of Syracuse. He is married and the father of two boys.

17. Richard Mendel, PH.D

I attended the Temple University as an undergraduate and my focus was in mathematics and science as a pre-med student — but I was still competing as an amateur and in 1983 had my first professional fight.

I obtained my medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and did my residency training at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Neurological Surgery. I recently attended Auburn University where I obtained an MBA in the College of Business.

As a kid growing up in Philadelphia I was fortunate to have met and watched some of the greatest fighters there ever were. My idol as a kid was “Cyclone” Hart from North Philadelphia. In the early 1970s Philadelphia may have had the greatest concentration of talented middleweights that ever was. In North Philadelphia five of The Ring Magazine’s Top Ten Middleweights lived within blocks of each other: “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Bugaloo” Watts, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, and Eugene “Cyclone” Hart.

Boxing was a big part of my youth, and to this day I think my interest in neurosurgery and head trauma grew out of the September 21, 1971 fight between former Light-Middleweight Champion of the World Denny Moyer and “Cyclone” Hart. Hart was 21 years old and was going into the fight with a 22-0 record. On that night the fighters took a spill through the ropes and both sustained closed-head injuries (this was in the pre-CT scan and pre-MRI scan era). The fight was ruled a no-contest, but I’m certain that the injury Hart suffered was much more profound than anyone in 1971 every realized.

As far as the proudest moment:

As I mentioned “Cyclone” Hart was one of my heroes as a really young kid, and after he lost a fight to Vito Antuofermo in The Arena in West Philly in 1977. Antuofermo told the reporters that Hart punches so hard that he really shouldn’t be allowed to fight. Several years later I boxed “Cyclone” Hart in a professional-amateur show (I had just begun college and it was the Fall of 1980), and it was a pretty good exhibition. In 1971, Hart had been my idol and was the first person to show me how to keep my hands up. Now it was ten years later and I had actually acquitted myself pretty well. I thought that I had come a long way.

o Favorite Books

As far as books are concerned there were many that were memorable including Norman Mailer’s The Fight that chronicled Mailer and George Plimpton’s time in Zaire leading up to the fight. I still recall Jack London’s A Piece of Steak, and an excellent episode of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” about a fictional fighter named “Bolie” Jackson. I was amazed at how well Joyce Carol Oates described inside fighting in her monograph from entitled On Boxing, but to me one of the best pieces of writing about fighting, and the attitude of fighters was Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris April 23, 1910.

18. Robert Mladinich 

Background: BS Journalism, Currently working toward a Master of Social Work with the goal of being a therapist.

Accomplishments: Member of NYPD for 20 years. Retired as a detective in 2003.

Published works: Author or co-author of three true crime books:                                                                               
From the Mouth of the Monster: The Joel Rifkin Story (2002) chronicles my college friendship with the man who would become New York State’s most notorious serial killer; Lethal Embrace (2007); and Hooked Up for Murder (2007).

Favorite Books: I have a weakness for organized crime books, but spend a lot of time on airplanes and love breezy, lighthearted biographies on Hollywood people. Recent or semi-recent favorites include bios on Lee Marvin, Tim Conway, Don Rickles, Johnny Carson and behind the scenes at the Jay Leno show. For me they provide a nice respite from all the craziness in the world.  I also just read the George Chuvalo book, which was terrific. My favorite boxing book is Writers, Fighters and Other Sweet Scientists, a compilation of newspaper articles by John Schulian, who I consider the best beat writer during the time I was involved in boxing.

19. Juan Perez Ortiz

o Background/Education/Training

Spanish journalist. Editor of www.nataccion.com, Spanish swimming site. Boxing fan.

o Published works

I have worked in different newspapers, television and advertising.

o Proudest moments

The birth of my children…and my first Marathon!

Favorite Books:

El Boxeo Soy Yo — Kid Chocolate’s biography written by Elio Menéndez & Víctor Joaquín Ortega (available in Spanish only). It was written in 1980.

I love to read, but I don`t like fiction.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This is the first book that springs to mind.

(This is the 2nd of a 3-part series)

Peek Into the Soul of a Boxing Writer—Part One
Peek Into the Soul of a Boxing Writer—Part Two

(This is the 15th of a 15-part series)

Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part One
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Two
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Three
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Four
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Five
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Six
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Seven
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eight
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Nine
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Ten
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Eleven
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Twelve
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Thirteen
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Fourteen
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Fifteen

Peter Wood is a 1971 NYC Golden Gloves Middleweight Finalist in Madison Square Garden;. A Middleweight Alternate for The Maccabean Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, and author of two books: Confessions of a Fighter, and A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion, published by Ringside Books.

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  1. Clarence George 07:20pm, 03/16/2015

    Another great British film of the same year, 1950, is “The Blue Lamp.”  Really excellent.

  2. Kid BLast 07:17pm, 03/16/2015

    Yes

  3. Clarence George 07:01pm, 03/16/2015

    Wasn’t Stanislaus Zbyszko in “Night and the City”?

  4. Eric 06:58pm, 03/16/2015

    I prefer Michael McDonald over Tom Johnston, but both were good, like tunes by Johnston as the lead singer as well. Hard to top McDonald, great voice, and great hair.

  5. kid nalst 06:53pm, 03/16/2015

    Doobie brothers without Michael MacDonald is like a Martini with no olive or lemon peel

  6. Eric 06:42pm, 03/16/2015

    The Doobie Brothers, “It Keeps You Running,” is exactly 4:20 long? Coincidence?

  7. Eric 06:40pm, 03/16/2015

    I’ve just confused myself. teehee. I saw the Rosey Grier/Ray Milland flic, but I must have seen parts of the Bruce Dern version of the two headed thingy.

  8. Kid Blast 06:31pm, 03/16/2015

    Gosh, I just love to talk about movies and books. Also music. But 15 years ago, who would have guessed that we could do it in thin manner. Now we take it for granted. Simply amazing.

    That said, I highly recommend the movie, “Nightcrawlers.”  It was our red box Sunday night aka movie night pick and turned out to be a winner.

  9. Kid Blast 06:28pm, 03/16/2015

    Bruce Dern starred with Robert Shaw in that superb before-its-time movie. “Black Sunday” He is from wealthy and highly privileged stock.

  10. Eric 06:27pm, 03/16/2015

    Clarence…Right you are. I saw that flic at the theater when I was a kid. Every time, I see Bruce Dern, I think of it.  I sure do remember Larry Zbyszko. I have also heard of Stanislaus Zbyszko, the American wrestler who took on the Great Gama.

  11. Clarence George 06:00pm, 03/16/2015

    Eric:  Wasn’t that with Ray Milland and Rosey Grier?  I think Pat Priest was in the Bruce Dern one.

    By the way, remember Larry Zbyszko?  I’d completely forgotten about him until tonight, when I heard he was being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

  12. Eric 05:22pm, 03/16/2015

    Bruce Dern, the guy who played in, “The Incredible Two Headed Transplant” not to be confused with, “The Thing With Two Heads.” And Bruce actually played in a few decent movies, “Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, what a classic. John Wayne beat the hell out of Bruce in, “The Cowboys,” and Brucie wasn’t bad in, “Monster.” Guy has been around forever it seems.

  13. Clarence George 05:01pm, 03/16/2015

    Sorry, but I have to plug James Mitchell’s “A Red File for Callan,” a truly exceptional spy novel.  There was a British TV series some 45 years ago, with Edward Woodward as Callan.

  14. Clarence George 04:48pm, 03/16/2015

    If I remember right, the movie had little to do with the book…haven’t seen the one or read the other in ages.

  15. Kid Blast 04:42pm, 03/16/2015

    The Laughing Policeman.” Did that one star Bruce Dern as a racist cop and Walter Mathieu? Didn’t Bruce refer to the mass killer as a “fruiter.?” That was a funny movie but quite dark.

  16. Clarence George 04:38pm, 03/16/2015

    I’m the one going gaga, KB.  You’re right about the bookstore, though I’m not the bibliophile you generously think.  But I truly thought you were referring to Christian.  I guess I was thrown off by the specific reference to Tribeca.  I was on the Upper East Side, you see.  And, yes, it was legendary.  I still run into former patrons who have yet to resign themselves to its closing, especially as it was replaced by an unwanted and unneeded dress shop.

    “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is a terrific movie.  And the Swedish versions of the Martin Beck novels are very good, which is more than I can say for the American take on “The Laughing Policeman.”

  17. Kid Blast 02:59pm, 03/16/2015

    Holy moley. I may have early onset CG. I could have sworn you did. At any rate, I think I might have included Higgins in my info to Peter. His works about Boston crime set the bar very high. They also made for great movies.

  18. Clarence George 12:22pm, 03/16/2015

    If we’re talking about gritty and realistic crime fiction, I’d like to give a shout-out to George V. Higgins and the team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.  If I remember right, KB, you’d agree with me on both of these recommendations.  By the way, I assume you’re referring to Christian Giudice, because I never worked for a bookstore in Tribeca…unless in some fugue-like state.

  19. Kid Blast 12:00pm, 03/16/2015

    What CG didn’t mention is that he was associated in a meaningful way with a legendary bookstore in Tri Beca and probably knows more about books than anyone I have ever come across.

    That is all

  20. Kid Blast 11:58am, 03/16/2015

    Christian Giudice, I lived in Woodbury in 1966 and worked in Bridgeport which is now one of those Polluted wastelands fenced in by the government. We made scary stuff in that Chemical Plant. I glowed in the dark for years.

  21. Kid Blast 11:54am, 03/16/2015

    Agreed

    The man can write

  22. Robert Ecksel 08:22am, 03/16/2015

    “The Whites” by Richard Price (writing at Harry Brandt) was excellent. But I have to include “Freedomland” among his masterful crime fiction.

  23. Kid Blast 08:18am, 03/16/2015

    Bob gets a steady stream of great books. The latest is The Whites by David Price, Superb book as was his Clockers and Lush Life.

    Nothing like urban NYC crime unless its urban LA serial Killing or Chicago mass murders,

  24. ch. 07:08am, 03/16/2015

    I also want to mention Dr. “Rich” Mendel who I saw perform in the 1978 + 1979 Phila. Golden Gloves tournaments. He was a fine boxer with a lot of potential. I still have a couple pics of him in boxing pose and an excellent bio (1/17/79) from the old Philadelphia Journal.

  25. ch. 06:49am, 03/16/2015

    Peter, Thanks for including me with such fine array of boxing analysists and writers…....Robert, thank you for accepting me, and my ramblings, into this prestigious group. You are the finest Commander in Chief I ever worked for…... Clarence, despite my sometimes tendency to be “grossly impudent” I am “humbled” and appreciate your nice comments of me on this and the previous thread ....Peter, I am looking forward to “volume 2, part 3” of this great series…C.H.

  26. Clarence George 06:28am, 03/16/2015

    Ha!  Thank you, Peter.

    Eric:  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in Robinson’s interpretation.

  27. Clarence George 06:25am, 03/16/2015

    Too kind, Peter!

    Our comments coincided.  As you can see, I posted a link to the “gem,” so that all may enjoy.

  28. peter 06:22am, 03/16/2015

    @ Clarence—Oops! I forgot “Humor”.

  29. Eric 06:20am, 03/16/2015

    Clarence… Haven’t seen it as of yet but I will take a look. Charles Bronson played, “Wolf Larsen,” in a later remake. Haven’t seen that one either, but while Charlie is tough enough to play the role, I always pictured, “Wolf Larsen,” to be a bit burlier. When I think of what “Wolf Larsen” should look like physically, I think of a slightly taller, Tom Sharkey type character. Wolf Larsen should have been an amalgamation of the burly, granite like, Sailor, Tom with his battleship tattoo combined with the psychotic wickedness of Robert Mitchum in, “Night Of The Hunter/Cape Fear.”

  30. Clarence George 06:20am, 03/16/2015

    If I may share it here:

    https://vimeo.com/46018110

    Sung by the grossly underrated (indeed, forgotten) Bill Roberts.  What’s most remarkable about this cartoon is that…gold star next to the name of anyone who has the answer.

  31. peter 06:20am, 03/16/2015

    @ Clarence—“One Froggy Evening”—What a gem! This is the first time I’ve seen it. I’ve forwarded it to friends. Your width & breadth & on this site, as I’ve already mentioned, is amazing. Your comments alone are worth celebrating. Thanks!

  32. Clarence George 05:49am, 03/16/2015

    Eric:  Ever see the movie version of “The Sea Wolf,” with Edward G. Robinson?  Great film.

    Peter:  I recently saw, for the umpteenth time, “One Froggy Evening,” a paean to Tin Pan Alley.  Given your background and interests, it must surely be one of your favorite cartoons.  I know it’s one of mine.

  33. Ted Spoon 05:32am, 03/16/2015

    ‘A piece of steak’ is a great read.

  34. Eric 04:57am, 03/16/2015

    Nice to see Jack London make a couple of lists. Always favored, “Call Of The Wild,” and “Sea Wolf,” by Jack London. Have to check out the, “The Forgotten Soldier,” love most books on Russia/Germany and WWII. “Russia At War” 1941-1945 by Alexander Werth is a good read, pretty lengthy at 1045 pages though.

  35. Mohummad Humza Elahi 03:30am, 03/16/2015

    The top talent over this trilogy could be a veritable ‘Murderer’s Row’ of boxing writers.

  36. Clarence George 03:24am, 03/16/2015

    Some impressive bios here.

    Chuck:  A combat veteran…that explains your modesty and humility.  You’ve probably read Philip Caputo’s “A Rumor of War.”  If not, I heartily recommend it.  I also liked his “Horn of Africa” and “Ghosts of Tsavo.”  Twice I tried to read John M. Del Vecchio’s “The 13th Valley,” but just could never get into it.  The most recent military-history book I read was “The Last Stand of Fox Company,” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.  A great book, but that was the Korean War.  Perhaps the best book I read on the Vietnam War was Bernard B. Fall’s “Hell in a Very Small Place.”  I think the two best war books I ever read were on World War I—in fiction, Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”; in non-fiction, Robert Graves’ “Good-Bye to All That.”

    Dr. Mendel:  The “Twilight Zone” episode to which you refer is “The Big Tall Wish.”  I seem to recall that Archie Moore was originally slated to play the lead, but was replaced by Ivan Dixon, best remembered for “Hogan’s Heroes.”  A wonderful bit of interconnectedness—Kim Hamilton, who appeared in the episode, was married to Werner Klemperer, also of “Hogan’s Heroes.”  An unusual episode—I never really understood why he turned down the wish, and have sometimes wondered about that decision’s long-term effect on the boy (Stephen Perry).  Though the cast is primarily black (very unusual for that time), the great Walter Burke also appears.  And, no, he doesn’t play a leprechaun.  I’m very proud, by the way, of my own doctor, who used to go to boxing camp.

    Bob:  Friends with Joel Rifkin, is it?  Remember the “Seinfeld” episode when Elaine dates a man of the same name?  The closest I ever came to someone like that was shaking hands with the loathsome Andrew Crispo a few days before he was arrested for murder.  Anyway, you might like Kirk Crivello’s “Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties.”

    Peter:  Much look forward to Part III.

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