Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Fourteen

By Peter Weston Wood on November 11, 2014
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Fourteen
"I was a kid of the streets so I didn't read much, but I always loved reading Superman."

“This book is a genuine classic about amateur boxing. The author, a former boxer, gets into the head of a fighter. He tells a great, great story…”

I asked professional fighters to finish this sentence: “MY FAVORITE BOOK IS…” Their responses were fascinating and illuminating; sometimes surprising and sometimes just plain funny. 

If the adage, “We are what we eat” is true, then “We are what we read” might also be true.

Read the responses of these tough guys, (and tough girls), and peek into the soul of a prizefighter.

Their book could be fiction, nonfiction, memoir, autobiography, history, sport-related, or not. We simply wanted to peek into their soul and see what book—as a kid, or now—knocked them out!

Below, are their responses. Enjoy!

1. Carlos Ortiz—Lightweight Champ & Jr. Welterweight Champ

o Defeated Sugar Ramos (2x) (TKO 4) & (TKO 5)
o Defeated Ismael Laguna (2x) (D 15) & (D 15)
o Defeated Flash Elorde (TKO 14)
o Defeated Joe Brown (D 15)
o Defeated Duilio Loi (SD 15)
o Defeated Battling Torres (KO 5)
o Defeated Dave Charnley (SD 15)
o Defeated won 61 (KO 30) + lost 7 (KO 1) + drawn 1 = 70

Carlos Ortiz’s Favorite Book: “Superman”

“I was a kid of the streets so I didn’t read much, but I always loved reading Superman. He was in the papers and every day I looked forward to reading that comic strip.”

2. Bob Foster—WBC & WBA Light Heavyweight Champion 

o (Foster is ranked the # 7 All-Time Best Light Heavyweight by’s Matt McGrain)
o Defeated Chris Finnegan (KO 14)
o Defeated Hal Carroll (KO 4)
o Defeated Mike Quarry (KO 4)
o Defeated Mark Tessman (TKO 10)
o Defeated Roger Rouse (TKO 4)
o Defeated Andy Kendall (TKO 4)
o Defeated Dick Tiger (KO 4)
o Defeated Eddie Cotton (KO 3)
o Defeated Henry Hank (2X0 (TKO 9) & (D 10)
o Defeated Willi Besmanoff (KO 3)
o Declared the #10 “Greatest Puncher of All-Time” by the September 1997 The Ring
o Won 56 (KO 46) + lost 8 (KO 6) + drawn 1 = 65

Bob Foster’s Favorite Book: Ring Magazine

“I remember always being drawn to boxing books in my youth, but I have to say my favorite read was always Ring Magazine, so that I could see where I was ranked.”

3. Glenn McCrory—IBF Cruiseweight Champ, Commonwealth (British Empire) Cruiserweight Champ & BBBofC British Cruiserweight Champ 

o Defeated Patrick Lumumba (UD 12)
o Defeated Defeated Andy Straughn (TKO 10)
o Defeated Chisanda Mutti (D 12)
o Defeated Siza Makathini (TKO 11)
o Defeated Lorenzo Boyd (KO 2)
o Won 30 (KO 12) + lost 8 (KO 5) + drawn 1 = 39

Glenn McCrory’s Favorite Book: “Give Him to the Angels” by James Fair

“The first book I ever read as a kid was ‘Give Him to the Angels.’ It’s the life story of the toughest fighter to ever climb into a ring—Harry Greb. This book certainly inspired me. After that, ‘Bird Song’ by Sebastian Faults is a must read.”

4. Chuck Wepner—“The Bayonne Bleeder”—Rugged Heavyweight Contender in the 1960s & 1970s 

o The New Jersey State Heavyweight Champ (1969-71)
o Wepner won the 1964 New York Golden Gloves Heavyweight Sub-Novice Championship
o Defeated Roberto Davila (MD 10)
o Defeated Pedro Agosto (W 10)
o Defeated Randy Neuman (2x) (W 12) & (TKO 7)
o Defeated Ernie Terrell (W 12)
o Defeated Manuel Ramos (W 10)
o Served as an inspiration for the Academy Award winning movie “Rocky”
o Won 35 (KO 17) + lost 14 (KO 9) + drawn 2 = 51

Chuck Wepner’s Favorite Book: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

“I liked this book. But I got to admit, I never really finished reading it.”

5. Mike “Hercules” Weaver—1979 WBA heavyweight titleholder, & 1979 USBA heavyweight titleholder & 1994 NBA Heavyweight Champion

o (Weaver is ranked the # 73 All-Time Best Heavyweight by’s Matt McGrain)
o 3-3-1 (2 KOs) in World Title fights
o Defeated Scott LeDoux (UD 12)
o Defeated Gerrie Coetzee (KO 13)
o Michael Dokes (Draw 15)
o Defeated John Tate (KO 15) 
o Defeated Stan Ward (TKO 9)
o Defeated James Tillis (UD 15)
o Defeated Tony Doyle (TKO 9)
o Defeated Bill Sharkey (MD 10)
o Defeated Pedro Lovell (UD 10)
o Defeated Bernardo Mercado (TKO 5)
o Defeated Carl “The Truth” Williams (TKO 2)
o Defeated Philipp Brown (SD 12)
o Defeated James Pritchard (TKO 6)
o Defeated Bert Cooper (UD 10)
o Won the All-Marine title and the All-Services title before going on to the national Golden Gloves and AAU tournaments and the Pan Am Trials
o Ken Norton gave Weaver the nickname “Hercules” when Weaver was working as a sparring partner for Norton.
o Weaver’s last fight was on November 17, 2000. At the age of 49, Weaver fought a rematch with 51-year-old Larry Holmes and was knocked out in the sixth round.
o Weaver is the older brother of “the fighting Weaver triplets,” fellow boxers Troy Weaver, Lloyd Weaver, and Floyd Weaver.
o Won 41 (KO 28) + lost 18 (KO 12) + drawn 1 = 60 rounds boxed 392 KO% 46.67

Mike Weaver’s Favorite Book: The Bible

“Well, my most favorite book is The Bible because it is the best book in the world and it’s what I believe to be the word of God.”

6. Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea—2014 IFBA International Female Boxers Association World super bantamweight title; 2014 vacant NABA female featherweight title; 2010 NABF female featherweight titleholder; 2011 interim WBC World female featherweight titleholder; 

o Defeated Diana Ayala (MD 10)
o Defeated Liliana Martinez (TKO 3)
o Defeated Nohime Dennisson (UD 10)
o Defeated Angel Gladney (TKO 4)
o Served as a sparring partner for actress Hillary Swank in preparation for her role as a boxer in the Academy Award winning film “Million Dollar Baby”
o Has a televised segment called “Shea’s Corner” which is aired on Bronxnet television
o Won 24 (KO 12) + lost 2 (KO 2) + drawn 0 = 27 rounds boxed 126 KO% 44.44

Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea’s Favorite Book: “The Iliad” by Homer

“The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are about adventure. We are all on our own adventures—it’s called ‘life.’ You know, I often read in the dressing room before a fight. It relieves tension.”

7. Wayne “The Pocket Rocket” McCullough—Belfast-born Wayne McCullough is a former WBC Bantamweight Champion & NABF Bantamweight Champion

o Defeated Victor Rabanales (W 12)
o Defeated Yasuei Yakashiji (SD 12)
o Defeated Johnny Brendahl (TKO 8)
o Defeated Jerome Coffee (RTD 5)
o Amateur Highlights:
o In 1988 represented Ireland as a Light Flyweight at Seoul Olympic Games
o In 1990 was Gold Medalist at Flyweight at Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand
o In 1992 won the Silver medal representing Ireland as a Bantamweight at the Barcelona Olympic Games
o Won 27 (KO 18) + lost 7 (KO 2) + drawn 0 = 34

Wayne “The Pocket Rocket” McCullough’s Favorite Book: The Bible

“I find great wisdom and soul within The Bible. The Bible is The Heavyweight Champion of books. It speaks to everyone.”

8. Lou Savarese— IBA Continental Heavyweight Champion; International Boxing Association Heavyweight Champion & WBO Inter-Continental Heavyweight Champion

o Won two New York Golden Gloves Championships: the 1985 Super-Heavyweight Novice Championship & the 1986 Super-Heavyweight Open Championship
o Defeated Tim Witherspoon (TKO 5)
o Defeated David Bostice (D 12)
o Defeated Lance Whitaker (SD 10)
o Defeated James “Buster” Douglas (KO 1)
o Defeated Buster Mathis Jr. (TKO 7)
o Won 46 (KO 38) + lost 7 (KO 3) + drawn 0 = 53

Lou Savarese’s Favorite Book: “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman

“This is a challenging book. It has many life lessons. It made me think and re-evaluate my life. Reading ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ has made me a stronger person. This, no doubt, is my favorite book.”

9. Tracy Harris Patterson—WBC Super-Bantamweight Champion & IBF Super-Featherweight Champion

o Won two New York Golden Gloves Championships: the 1984 119-lb. Open Championship & the 1985 125-lb. Open Championship
o Adopted son of former two-time heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson
o Defeated Kenny Mitchell (TKO 8)
o Defeated Thierry Jacob (TKO 2)
o Defeated Daniel Zaragoza (TKO 7)
o Defeated Jesse Benavides (W 12)
o Defeated Eddie Hopson (TKO 2)
o Won 63 (KO 43) + lost 8 (KO 1) + drawn 2 = 73

Tracy Harris Patterson’s Favorite Book: “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss

“Hey, Who doesn’t like ‘The Cat in the Hat?’”

10. Junior “Poison” Jones—WBA Bantamweight Champion, IBC Super-Bantamweight Champion & WBO Super Bantamweight Champion

o Won two New York Golden Gloves Championships: the 1988 119-lb. Novice Championship & the 1989 119-lb. Open Championship
o Defeated Dadoy Andujar (TKO 9)
o Defeated Edwin Rangel (TKO 7)
o Defeated Francisco Alvarez (TKO 12)
o Defeated Marco Antonio Barrera (2x) (DQ 5) & (D 12)
o Defeated Tracy Harris Patterson (MD 10)
o Won 50 (KO 28) + lost 6 (KO 5) + drawn 0 = 56

Junior “Poison” Jones’s Favorite Book: “Curious George” by Hans Augusto Rey

“‘Curious George’ was the bomb! I loved that little monkey!”

11. Ken Norton—NABF Heavyweight Champion

o (Norton is ranked the # 22 Best Heavyweight by’s Matt McGrain)
o Defeated Muhammad Ali (SD 12)
o Defeated James J. Woody (W10)
o Defeated Boone Kirkman (RTD 7)
o Defeated Pedro Lovell (KO 5)
o Defeated Jerry Quarry (TKO 5)
o Defeated Henry Clark (KO 9)
o Defeated Larry Middleton (TKO 10)
o Defeated Duane Bobick (TKO 1)
o Defeated Jimmy Young (SD 15)
o Defeated Randy “Tex” Cobb (SD 10)
o Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992
o “Ring” magazine ranked Norton # 22 in “The 50 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time.”
o Received the Napoleon Hill Award for positive thinking
o Received the Boxing Writers Association of America J. Niel Trophy for “Fighter of the Year” in 1977
o Acted in motion pictures following his retirement from boxing
o Was twice voted “Father of the Year” by the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times
o Ken Norton Jr., became a star linebacker in the NFL, winning Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers
o The character of “Apollo Creed” in the Rocky movie was initially going to be played by Norton. However, Carl Weathers was selected. 2004 Inductee into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.
o Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989
o Won 42 (KO 33) + lost 7 (KO 4) + drawn 1 = 50

Ken Norton’s Favorite Book: “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

“This book was very informative and influential. It made me think and it made me rich—at least within. Thank you, Napoleon Hill.”

12. John “The Ice Man” Scully—Sensational Amateur and Light Heavyweight contender during the 1990s 

o Lost his title bids to Michael Nunn, Henry Maske, Drake Thadzi & Tim Littles.
o Amateur Highlights:
o 1984 Connecticut A.A.U. 156-lb. Champion
o 1985 & 1986 Connecticut A.A.U. 165-lb. Champion
o 1985-1987 Western Mass. Golden Gloves 165-lb. Champion
o 1987 W.M.G.G. “Most Outstanding Boxer” Award
o 1988 Western Mass. Golden Gloves 165-lb. Champion
o 1986-1988 New England Golden Gloves 165-lb. Champion
o 1986 National Golden Gloves 165-lb. Quarterfinalist
o 1987-1988 National Golden Gloves 165-lb. Runner-up
o 1986 National P.A.L. 165-lb. Runner-up
o 1987 National P.A.L. 165-lb. Champion
o 1987 Ohio State Fair 165-lb. Champion
o 1988 International Dual Meet Winner (over Otis Grant)
o 1988 New England Diamond Belt 165-lb. Champion
o 1988 Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials 165-lb.Champion
o 1988 Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials “Most Outstanding Boxer” Award
o 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials 165-lb. Bronze Medalist
o Currently a boxing trainer in his native Hartford, CT.
o Professional Record: Won 38 (KO 21) + lost 11 (KO 1) + drawn 0 = 49

John “The Ice Man” Scully’s Favorite Book: “The Greatest—My Own Story by Muhammad Ali” (With Richard Durham)

“The book that influenced me the most was ‘The Greatest’ by Muhammad Ali. I read that book many times over, from the time I was eleven years old. From reading this book, I decided that if a man as great as Ali didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs, then I wouldn’t either and here I am at age 40 and I still have never even tasted one drop of alcohol, never smoked a cigarette, and I have certainly never done an illegal drug, either.”

13. Randy Neumann—Promising heavyweight prospect during the early 1970s

o Best remembered for his three wars with local rival Chuck Wepner
o Was leading on points before being stopped by Jerry Quarry
o Defeated Boone Kirkman (D 10)
o Defeated Billy Aird (TKO 10)
o Defeated Jimmy Young (D 10)
o Neumann has become one of boxing’s best-known referees.
o Posed for Playgirl Magazine
o Won 31 (KO 11) + lost 7 (KO 5) + drawn 0 = 38

Randy Neumann’s Favorite Book: “The Italians” by Luigi Barzini

“This is a fascinating and funny book about a people and a culture.”

14. Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik—2007-2010 WBC Middleweight Champion & WBO Middleweight Champion; 2005 NABF Middleweight Champion

o Defeated Jermain Taylor (2x) (W 12) & (TKO 7)
o Defeated Gary Lockett (TKO 3)
o Defeated Edison Miranda (TKO 7)
o Defeated Bronko McKart (TKO 6)
o Defeated Will Rosinsky (UD 10)
o Defeated Fulgencio Zuniga (TKO 9)
o Amateur Highlights:
o 1999 U.S. National Under-19 amateur champion, 147 lbs.
o 1998 National Jr. Golden Gloves amateur champion, 147 lbs.
o 1998 National Jr. PAL amateur champion, 147 lbs.
o Won 40 (KO 34) + lost 2 (KO 0) + drawn 0 = 42 rounds boxed 194 KO% 80.95

Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik’s Favorite Book: “The Outsiders” by H.E. Hinton

“In school I read this book. Around here, in Youngstown, Ohio, it’s like mandatory reading in the schools. I didn’t mind—I actually liked it.”

15. Pete Spanakos—Legendary NYC-Based Amateur Fighter

o Four-time NYC Golden Gloves Champion
o Won 10 Golden Gloves titles throughout America
o 1959 Pan-American Games Medalist
o Engaged in over 200 bouts
o A college graduate, B.A. and gained a law degree, J.D.
o Elected to The Athletic HOF in Hollywood, Florida

Pete Spanakos’s Favorite Book: “A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion” by Peter Wood

“I liked this book a lot. It is a genuine classic about amateur boxing. The author, a former boxer, gets into the head of a fighter. He tells a great, great story.”

16. Nick Spanakos—Legendary NYC-Based Amateur Fighter

o Four-time NYC Golden Gloves Champion
o Seven-time Golden Gloves Champ
o Member of the 1960 Rome Olympic Team
o All-Army Champ & Finalist in National AAU, Portland Golden Gloves
o A college graduate and gained a Doctorate in Business Administration
o Inducted into Athletic HOF in Hollywood, Florida

Nick Spanakos’s Favorite Book: “Mani” by Patrick Leigh Fermor

“This beautiful book is about the part of Greece my proud, immigrant mother and father came from.”

(This is the 14th 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

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.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

This Day in Boxing History - October 22, 1966 - Ortiz stops Ramos - Controversy

Bob Foster KO2 Vicente Rondon

Glenn McCrory v Patrick Lamumba

1970 09 08 Joe Bugner vs Chuck Wepner

Mike Weaver vs John Tate KNOCK brutal KNOCK OUT

2013-10-23 Maureen Shea vs Lesly Morales

Wayne McCullough (pro debut) v Alfonso Zamora

Tracy Harris Patterson - Alberto Rendon

Kennedy McKinney - Junior Jones

Larry Holmes vs Ken Norton (High Quality)

Michael Nunn vs John Scully

Randy Neumann fights in Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas

Kelly Pavlik vs Edison Miranda HD

Golden Gloves, Amateur boxing finals, 1964. New York, New York, USA.

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  1. peter 10:16am, 11/13/2014

    Yes, Chuck’s father was a pro heavyweight.

  2. Eric 09:40am, 11/13/2014

    Charlie Wepner was the “real Rocky.” Charlie Wepner, a New Jersey heavyweight, who fought in the ‘20’s & 30’s had a record even less flattering than Rocky Balboa. Charlie Wepner finished up at 14-23-3. Rocky Balboa’s record of 44-20, with 38 knockouts looks great alongside Charlie Wepner’s ledger. Chuck was a legit contender unlike Balboa or Charlie Wepner. Wonder if Charlie is related to Chuck?

  3. Eric 07:35am, 11/13/2014

    Why hasn’t Sly let Chuck make an appearance in one of those “Expendable” movies? Stallone will probably now say that, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” is his favorite book of all-time if he gets a whiff of this article.

  4. Matt McGrain 06:34am, 11/13/2014

    I’ll be gutted when this is over.
    Got to love Wepner.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:48pm, 11/12/2014

    Carlos Ortiz is an ATG fighter….always but always reminded me of Sugar Ray Robinson….butter smooth….more so than Mantequilla Napoles.

  6. Bob 05:24am, 11/12/2014

    By the time this series is completed, the trivia question will be who did Peter Wood MISS in his Peek into the Soul of a Prizefighter list. How he compiled such an impressive array of boxers and boxing people is dizzying. Another excellent installment. Always nice to read his latest compilation.  I wonder what his favorite book is?

  7. Eric 07:24am, 11/11/2014

    Had to read “The Outsiders” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” in school, as well. I think a lot of kids still HAVE to read, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” no surprise there at all. We had to read the “Odyssey” too. Had to pull a Chuck Wepner with the Odyssey, couldn’t finish it, too boring. Young Joe Bugner looked sharp in the vid. Poor Chuck, every time I turn around, I’m watching someone do a number on the big man. The big guy took a lot of shots and still has all his marbles. Amazing.

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