Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Nine

By Peter Weston Wood on June 1, 2014
Peek Into the Soul of a Prizefighter—Part Nine
“From a boxing standpoint, I found Ken Norton's descriptions of boxing fascinating."

“You wouldn’t think it, but Paul—even though he was a tough guy—was a rather eloquent man who wrote a bit of poetry…”

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. Ernie Terrell—WBA Heavyweight Champion from March 5, 1965 to Feb. 6, 1967

o Born: April 4,1939
o Height: 6′ 6″
o Reach: 82 inches
o Defeated Doug Jones
o Defeated Amos Lincoln
o Defeated Cleveland Williams
o Defeated Zora Folley
o Defeated George Chuvalo
o Defeated Bob Foster
o Defeated Jose Luis Garcia
o Won 45 (KO 21) + lost 9 (KO 2) + drawn 0 = 54

Ernie Terrell’s Favorite Book: “The Joe Louis Story” by Richard Bak

“I enjoyed the Joe Louis book. Biographies like that interest me. I love books about boxers. Still do. I like to see how guys struggle to get to the top. Some reach the top and still struggle! Guess that’s life.”

2. “Sugar” Shane Mosley—IBF Lightweight Champion from August 2, 1997 to April 1999

o WBC Welterweight Champion, June 17, 2000 – Jan. 26, 2002
o WBA Light Middleweight Champion, Sept. 23, 2003 – March 13, 2004
o WBC Light Middleweight Champion, Sept 13, 2003 – March 13, 2004
o Amateur Record: 250-16
o 1989 United States Amateur champion at lightweight (132 lbs.)
o 1989 World Junior Championships Silver Medalist in San Juan (132 lbs.)
o 1990 United States Amateur champion at lightweight (132 lbs.)
o 1990 Goodwill Games Bronze Medalist in Seattle (USA) (132 lbs.)
o 1992 United States Amateur Champion at light welterweight (139 lbs.)

“Sugar” Shane Mosley’s Favorite Book: “Purpose-Driven Life” by Rick Warren

“The spiritual premise in ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’ is that there are no accidents—God planned everything and everyone. Therefore, every human has a divine purpose, according to God’s master plan. Like a twist on John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural address, this book could be summed up like this: ‘So my fellow Christians, ask not what God can do for your life plan, ask what your life can do for God’s plan.’”

3. Doug Dewitt—WBO World Middleweight Champion

o ESPN Middleweight Champion
o USBA Middleweight Champion
o Member of The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) & The Actor’s Equity Union (AEA)
o Record: 35 wins/ 4 losses
o Professional Record: 36 wins, 7 losses , 6 draws – 19 KOs

Doug Dewitt’s Favorite Book: “Golden Boy” by Clifford Odets

“I read a lot of plays. Biographies. Even books on dinosaurs, and reptiles. You’ll laugh, even murder and crime books, like ‘The Godfather.’ A good book moves me—even to tears, that’s okay. Like ‘Othello.’ That’s powerful writing.”

4. Carlos Palomino—WBA Welterweight Champion from June 22, 1976 to Jan. 14 1979

o Defeated Armando Muniz (twice) TKO 15 & UD 15
o Defeated John Stracey (TKO 12)
o Defeated Davey Green (KO 11)
o Defeated Rene Arredondo (KO1)
o Drew with Hedgeman Lewis (D10)
o Professional Actor
o Won 31 (KO 19) + lost 4 (KO 0) + drawn 3 = 38

Carlos Palomino’s Favorite Book: “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown

“What am I reading now? Well, now I’m reading a lot of spiritual books. But I do like reading Michael Connelly’s fiction, too—detective thrillers, murder mysteries. One special book was ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Yeah, post that book. It was right up there. So is the book I just finished—‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. I graduated college and got into the habit of reading. Reading is a good habit to get into—-it keeps your mind limber.”

5. Bruce Silverglade—President and owner of Gleason’s Gym since 1983

o He has served as the president of the Metropolitan Amateur Boxing Federation
o Chairman of the National Junior Olympic Committee, and member of the National Selection Committee
o Author of “The Gleason’s Gym Total Body Boxing Workout for Women A 4-Week Head-to-Toe Makeover” (With Hector Roca)

Bruce Silverglade’s Favorite Book: “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink” by David Margolick

“This book described the era—the political and social makeup of America and Germany—leading up to the legendary heavyweight fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. In those days, everyone knew the heavyweight champion in the same way that he or she knew the president, and a knockout punch could resonate deep into society at large. I loved reading this book because I love history and boxing.”

6. Herbert G. Goldman—Eminent Boxing Historian

o Chairman of the Nominations Committee for the Boxing Hall of Fame
o Managing Editor of “Ring Magazine” during the 1970s & ‘80s
o Editor-in-Chief of “Boxing Illustrated” from 1955-1999
o Author of “Al Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life,” “Fannie Bryce: the Original Funny Girl,” and the award-winning “Banjo Eyes: Eddie Cantor and the Birth of Modern Stardom.” All three books published by the prestigious Oxford University Press.

Herbert G. Goldman’s Favorite Book: “Boxing’s Unforgettable Fights” by Lester Bromberg with forward by Jack Dempsey

“‘Boxing’s Unforgettable Fights’ by Lester Bromberg was one of the first books about the sport I ever read—a good ‘appetizer’ for a burgeoning boxing fan. I got to know Lester a little before he passed on. It’s a nostalgic choice on my part, but a little nostalgia never hurt anyone.”

7. Christy “The Coalminer’s Daughter” Martin—Popular Female Boxing Pioneer

o Lost to Laila Ali in her bid for IBA Super Middleweight Title (KO 4)
o Was featured on the cover of the April 15, 1996 cover of “Sports Illustrated”
o Received a basketball scholarship to Concord University WV, where she earned a BS in Education
o While at Concord she entered and won a “Tough Woman” contest
o Won 47 (KO 31) + lost 5 (KO 1) + drawn 2 = 54

Christy Martin’s Favorite Book: “Going The Distance, the Ken Norton Story” by Marshall Terrill and Ken Norton

“I love to read books about former boxing champions—my favorite would be ‘Going The Distance, the Ken Norton Story.’ From a boxing standpoint, I found Norton’s descriptions of boxing fascinating.”

8. Renaldo “Mister” Snipes—Hard-Punching Heavyweight Contender

o Fought 7 World Champions:
o Orlin Norris, NABF Heavyweight Title (L-12)
o Greg Page, WBA Heavyweight Title (L-10)
o Trevor Berbick, WBC Champion (W-10)
o Tim Witherspoon, WBC & WBA Champion (L-10)
o Larry Holmes, WBC & IBF Heavyweight Champ, (TKO-L 10)
o Gerrie Coetzee, WBA Champion, (W-SD 10)
o Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, WBA Light Heavyweight Champ, (W-SD 10)
o Two-time Chicago Golden Glove Champion (1977 & 1978)
o won 39 (KO 22) + lost 8 (KO 2) + drawn 1 = 48

Renaldo “Mister” Snipes’s Favorite Book: “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu

“Two thousand years ago, a mysterious Chinese warrior-philosopher wrote this book. I don’t know how he did it, ‘cause paper wasn’t invented yet. But it’s classic war strategy. It’s about everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably and victoriously. Sun-Tzu, I think that’s his name, says everyone already has inside them what they need to win. We just gotta tap into it.”

9. Henry Milligan—Rugged Light Heavyweight Contender

o Lost to David Izeqwire in his 1993 bid for the IBO Cruiserweight Title (TKO 8)
o A 1981 graduate of Princeton University
o Attended on an academic scholarship; Milligan earned ten varsity letters an all-time University record
o He was an All American in two sports and was Princeton’s 1981 Senior Scholar-Athlete of the year
o In 1983 he won the National AAU Heavyweight Championship
o He defeated Henry Tillman, the 1984 Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medalist
o A member of the Screen Actors Guild. He has appeared in ten national television commercials and a feature film with Robert De Nero and Jessica Lange
o He is president of the Elsmere, Delaware Boxing Club
o He is a financial consultant
o Won 17 (KO 15) + lost 3 (KO 3) + drawn 1 = 21

Henry Milligan’s Favorite Book: “The Shack” by William P. Young

“This book is very spiritual. My wife said, ‘You’ve got to read this!’ Well, I just finished it, and she was right—what an amazing book! It’s got an intriguing premise: One wintry day, this man receives a note in his mailbox inviting him back to the woods, to the shack in which his daughter’s dress and bloodstains were found. The note, it would seem, is from God. From this simple premise, this man is lead back to where his daughter was murdered.”

10. Paul Pender—Middleweight Champion of the World from 1960-1962

o Hometown: Brookline, Massachusetts
o Born: June 20, 1930
o Died: Jan. 12, 2003
o Beat Sugar Ray Robinson (2x) (SD 15) & (SD 15)—The first time for the title
o Defeated: Terry Downes (twice) (W 15 & TKO 7)
o Defeated Carmen Basilio (W 10)
o Defeated Ralf Jones (W 12)
o Defeated Ernie Durando (W 10)
o Elected to The World Boxing Hall of Fame
o Won 40 (KO 20) + lost 6 (KO 3) + drawn 2 = 48

Paul Pender’s Favorite Book: “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

“When we were first married, Paul and I enjoyed going to the theater. We didn’t go to movies much, but we did frequent play-houses. Paul liked Shakespeare. In fact, he always enjoyed spouting off dramatic quotes from ‘Twelve Night’ or ‘Hamlet.’ You wouldn’t think it, but Paul—even though he was a tough guy—was a rather eloquent man who wrote a bit of poetry. Later in life, he was more of an ‘on-the-go’ type of person who devoured newspapers, ‘Time Magazine’ and ‘Newsweek.’ He always kept up with current events.”—Mrs. Rose Pender

11. Gil Clancy—Fight trainer & Boxing Analyst

o Fighters trained: Alex Miteff, Oscar Bonavena, Muhammad Ali (at different times during career), Joe Frazier (at different times during career),Jerry Quarry, Gerry Cooney (during fight with George Foreman),Jorge Victor Ahumada, Tony Anthony, Tom Bethea, Ralph Jones, Juan Carlos Rivero, Emile Griffith, Rodrigo Valdez, Harold Weston Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Ken Buchanan, Juan La Porte, George Foreman (after the Ali fight, until first retirement)
o Awards & Recognitions:
o 1983 Sam Taub Award: The Boxing Writers Association of America Excellence in Broadcasting Journalism Award
o Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame
o Took over matchmaking duties from Teddy Brenner at Madison Square Garden in late 1978.
o Boxing commentator for CBS Sports, as well as for HBO during the mid-1990s
o Former school teacher

Gil Clancy’s Favorite Book: “The Onion Picker” by Gary B. Youmans

“My favorite book? Ha! I was just sitting down reading it this afternoon! I just finished it! It’s called ‘The Onion Picker’ about Carmen Basilio. The best part was the re-telling of the dramatic night Basilio was victorious over the heavily-favorite Sugar Ray Robinson. No one thought Basilio was gonna pull it off—including myself.”

12. Yuri Foreman—WBA World Light Middleweight Champion; NABF Light Middleweight Champion

o Nationality: Belarusian
o Residence: Brooklyn, New York
o Birth place Gomel, Belarus
o Defeated Anthony Thompson (SD 12)
o Defeated Dan Santos (W 12)
o Defeated James Moore (W 10)
o Defeated Andrey Tsurkan (SD 10)
o Defeated Troy Lowry (W 10)
o Won 32 (KO 0) + lost 2 (KO2) + drawn 0 = 35

Yuri Foreman’s Favorite Book: “The Talmud”

“‘The Talmud’ is the sacred text by which the Jewish people have lived and survived throughout the ages. But I also like reading anything by Kurt Vonnegut or Aryeh Kaplan. ‘Crime and Punishment,’ I liked that, too. I’m a reader.”

13. Sean “Irish Jackie” Curtin—Boxing Referee & Boxing Historian

o Author of “Chicago Boxing” & “Chicago Amateur Boxing” w/ J.J. Johnston
o Former Professional Fighter
o Won 2 (KO 2) + lost 3 (KO 0) + drawn 3 = 8
o Sean “Irish Jackie” Curtin’s Favorite Book: “Bull-Fighter From Brooklyn: The Amazing Autobiography of Sidney Franklin” by Sidney Franklin

“My favorite book? Easy. ‘Bullfighter From Brooklyn.’ I lived in Spain with a beautiful woman of French/Spanish heritage—a Catalan—when I read this book. It’s about Sidney Franklin, a Jewish man, who becomes a bullfighter. It was interesting to me that Hemingway in his book, ‘Death in the Afternoon’ mentions Franklin, and Franklin mentions Hemingway in his autobiography. I was intrigued by the connection—and I loved bullfighting.”

(This is the ninth of a 14-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

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

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Doug DeWitt vs. Tony Thornton

Deirdre Gogarty v Christy Martin highlights .mov

Tyrell Biggs vs Renaldo Snipes

Mike Tyson - Henry Milligan (Amateur fight)

Yuri Foreman vs Daniel Santos WBA Super welterweight world Champion יורי פורמן

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  1. bikermike 02:59pm, 06/09/2014

    Eric’s last post re the importance of a very deep and active amateur program is worth reading.

    ...when amateur program fails..for whatever reason…money…poor executive ...infighting…All of Boxing fails until they get their collective shit together

  2. Eric 08:27am, 06/03/2014

    @Bob…Those were the days, but mainly because of an excellent Olympic boxing team, one so good it would rival the famed team of 1976. The pro ranks were thriving thanks to guys named Hagler and Hearns. Duran was just about to be flattened into his first retirement, Leonard had looked miserable in his comeback fight against Kevin Howard, and also retired for the second time. The heavyweight division in ‘84 was pretty boring. Larry Holmes was fighting guys like David Bey, and the other half of the title was being passed around by some fat guys named Page, Tubbs, and Witherspoon. Help was just around the corner though. Leonard and Duran would come back, the ‘84 Olympic team would give us Holyfield, Taylor, Whitaker, Biggs, and Breland. And some guy named Mike Tyson entered the ranks in ‘85.

  3. Bob 06:53pm, 06/02/2014

    What a great selection of subjects by the author.  Henry Milligan looked very good against Tyson while it lasted. I remember the fight with much nostalgia because I believe the 1984 Olympic trials were the last TV bouts called by Howard Cosell. Say what you want about Cosell as a person, but I thought he was a terrific announcer and recall him talking glowingly about Tyson going into the Milligan fight, only to see Milligan more than hold his own. That was such a fun era to be a boxing fan. I wish I could renew the enthusiasm.

  4. Eric 08:34am, 06/02/2014

    There should be always be an * beside Snipes alleged win over Coetzee. That was possibly one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. Right up there with Patterson-Ellis, and Chavez’s supposed draw against Whitaker.

  5. Thresher 06:08pm, 06/01/2014

    CG. My wife and I used to watch the bullfights on TV back in the mid-sixty’s and Sidney Franklin was the announcer. He had us on the floor laughing.

  6. Clarence George 12:47pm, 06/01/2014

    The name I haven’t heard in ages is that of Sidney Franklin.  Oddly enough, I used to know two Jewish guys (who didn’t know each other) who both ran away from home to become bullfighters.  There was a short story in there somewhere, but I never did find it.  I also used to know Barnaby Conrad III, who gave me an inscribed copy of his “The Blonde.”  His father, Barnaby Conrad Jr., is the one who wrote “Matador.”  Amusing story:  Eva Gabor told Noel Coward that Conrad was terribly gored in Spain.  “He was what?” said Coward. “Gored,” Eva said.  “Oh, thank heavens,” said Coward.  “I thought you said he was bored.”

  7. Eric 10:42am, 06/01/2014

    Henry Milligan? Haven’t heard that name for quite awhile. Remember reading about him in some Sports Illustrated article waaaay back in the day. Actually purchased, “The Shack,” a couple of years ago and never got around to reading it.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:21am, 06/01/2014

    Gotta love it when Mensa member Bobby Czyz references the “subtle nuances” of boxing when doing commentary on the Martin/Gogarty fight.

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