“Sneaky P”

By Ted Sares on February 26, 2014
“Sneaky P”
“They wanted to see this white guy get knocked out, but then realized I could fight.”

Mickey’s final record was an outstanding 40-2-1 with 28 KOs, but a major part of his legacy is that he was the first Kronk star…

“He just kept turning up and knocking guys out. [He] was the big attraction at first at Olympia and around Detroit, not Tommy.”—Emanuel Steward

“I liked [him] he was genuine…we’d call him ’Sneaky P.’ He’d sneak that left hook into you… He’d have climbed the middleweight ladder. His biggest opponent was his weight. He had to move up to light heavy and he was giving fighters three or four inches.”—Hilmer Kenty

“He was a working-class hero who made a name for himself, but not much money.”—Claude Abrams

He struggled with his weight in the early 1980s, but was still labeled the “best natural puncher” Emanuel Steward had ever worked with. Short and compact and the owner of a paralyzing left hook, he was one of my personal favorites. For those of us who followed him for the short period between 1977-1984 and 1993-1994, he will forever remain in our memory banks as one of the most devastating hookers to ever enter a ring. Indeed, he had what amounted to a cult-like following of aficionados and I was one of them.

However, after a draw and a loss in 1985, he went eight long years (some of it forced and he did enjoy the fast life) before his next fight, and then remarkably won seven straight bouts, the last on Nov. 29, 1994, contradicting the curse of the ill-advised comeback. Only an eye injury stopped his streak.

Along with Thomas Hearns, he became a part of the Kronk’s “KO Twins,” but with his blond Beatle haircut, blue eyes, and good looks, he was the one who seemed to steal the show. When he made his pro debut as a 19-year-old in November 1977, Hearns also made his debut on the undercard. The blond kid knocked out hapless Willie Williams in the first at the Olympia and then won his next 17 in succession until super spoiler Ted “Sandman” Sanders outpointed him over 10 in Las Vegas in May 1979.

He was the only white member of the Kronk team when he started. “They wanted to see this white guy get knocked out, but then realized I could fight,” he used to say.  After a long win streak put him in a position to take on the formidable Marvelous Marvin Hagler against whom he would have had at least a puncher’s chance, he unfortunately busted his lethal left hand while training and had to pull out. He would never get that kind of chance again. His close friend Caveman Lee got the shot instead and was quickly destroyed by the very destructive Hagler.

After a dispute with Kronk, he moved to New York in order to train against different styles. He lamented that at Kronk “there was just one type of fighter, the Hearns type – tall, lean, long jabbers with big right hands.” However, after leaving Kronk, he won four, drew against Arthel Lawhorne for the Michigan State light heavyweight title which he had won by beating Ken Ringo in 1983. Then, in a big upset, he lost by TKO in 10 to Darryl Spain in April 1985.

Upon retiring in 1994, he trained amateur boxers in River Rouge, Michigan, on the outskirts of Detroit and found great success. “That had become his passion the last four, five years,” Steward said. “He was totally wrapped up in amateur boxing.”

Death

“[He] had many of the characteristics that throwback boxing enthusiasms loved. He was a tough kid — we used to say a ‘typical Melvindale kid.’ You had to hit him with a sledgehammer to knock him out, and his fists were lethal.”—Karl Ziomek

The beloved Mickey “Sneaky P” Goodwin died of a stroke at his home near Detroit on March 3, 2009. He was 51.

“I’m just shocked,” said Steward. “He was getting his life together. When he was boxing, he had all the Downriver people following him. Mickey was a star.”

“He was underrated,” referee Frank Garza said. “He had weight problems throughout his career. But he was a damn good fighter, an outstanding footballer and athlete. I’m extremely shook up right now.”

Mickey’s final record was an outstanding 40-2-1 with 28 of his wins coming by knockout, but a major part of his legacy is that he was the first Kronk star.

“At the conclusion of his Mass and in keeping with a long boxing tradition I counted Mickey out and rang the final ten-count. It was the toughest call I have ever made as a referee.”—Frank Garza (http://www.nabfnews.com/news-mainmenu-2/obits/461-mickey-goodwin.html)

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  1. Joe Bruno 07:58am, 03/02/2014

    Nicolas, I don’t know if I agree with you.


    I covered boxing from 1977-1990 as a full time boxing writer. And in all that time, the promoters were looking for “The Great White Hope,” especially in the heavyweight division.


    Gerry Cooney was fed stiff after stiff, and set-up after set-up so he could get his record puffed up enough to be in line to fight Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title. 


    I was at both the Cooney-Lyle fight and the Cooney-Norton fight, and both were set-ups ending in first round KO’s.  The Norton fight looked like a legitimate beating because Norton had the misfortune of getting one left stuck in an upright positing in the corner, while Cooney used his head for a pinata.

    As for the Lyle fight, Lyle fell through the ropes and forgot to get up after a left hook to the body.


    In all the years I covered boxing, I never got the sense the white fighter was at a disadvantage. The Tiberi/ Tony decision was a joke, but that was because of crooked judges, most likely influenced by unscrupulous promoters/managers etc… take your pick.


    In my opinion, bad decision are politically motivated; not racially motivated.

  2. nicolas 11:19pm, 03/01/2014

    As commented somewhere else, he seemed to build his record on not really great fighters. Lost to two men who had losing records. His comment however ‘that they wanted to see this white guy get knocked out’ for me seems to point out the problems that perhaps white fighters have had for the last 50 years of this sport in the United States at least, and that is being excepted. I would suggest that it started in the 60’s with the radical movement at the time, and I believe Jerry Quarry might have somewhat suffered the stigma of being a ‘white fighter’, in a sport that white fighters are now the minority. Also I would suggest from talking to a black lady friend of mine some twenty years, ago, her belief that a white fighter would be more likely to get an unfair verdict in his favor over a black fighter or other minority fighter, though with what I know now or could say, ask Dave Tiberi if that is true, and some other white fighters who have lost world title fights in the USA, that supposedly they appeared to have won. Before others may comment negatively about my remarks, I would point out my criticism of Jack Dempsey in regards to his having not fought Harry Wills.

  3. Joe Bruno 02:21pm, 02/28/2014

    Yeah, Ted, Brown was shot when he fought Haugen. Too much partying.

  4. Ted 01:53pm, 02/28/2014

    Joe, I’m actually doing one on White Lightening as well as the other Charlie Brown.  Haugen ate WT’s lunch as I recall.

  5. Ted 01:51pm, 02/28/2014

    Thanks LIndy for that neat and informative quote.

  6. Lindy Lindell 01:19pm, 02/28/2014

    In my quest to interview boxing figures in the Detroit-area boxing scene, I interviewed the older guys like trainers Bill Miller and Walter Smith, with the idea that they might not be around too much longer, but I missed Mickey Goodwin because, as a still vibrant man of 51, who thought that he would die with such suddenness?
    I was a student in the now-defunct film studies program of Wayne State University and we were given the assignment of making a short documentary.  The instructor told us that we should take advantage of the advantages that film affords—that is to say, movement.  What better way to show movement than to film a boxer training, preparing for a fight and the fight itself?  It seemed to me that to film a boxer was the way to go, but at the time (1979) the equipment was so cheap and unsophisticated that the project took a year a year before I was able to come up with the 11-minute documentary, MICKEY GOODWIN:  BOXER.  The sound had to be recorded on a separate track, now lost, but I was able to retrieve the video portion and have been able to save that to VHS tape and, finally, to disk.
    So I started making a film about Mickey and ended, as a journalist and matchmaker, making some of Mickey’s fights, most notably with Darryl Spain, a fight that effectively ended his career.
    Thanks, Ted, for your wrap-up from afar.

  7. Joe Bruno 01:11pm, 02/28/2014

    I remember Charlie “White Lightening” Brown very well. Excellent talent. But he was a big drinker who burned out fast. There was a drug rumor too, but was never substantiated.

  8. Eric 02:12pm, 02/27/2014

    Remember reading about Goodwin back in the day. Read an article that focused on the contrast between two of Kronk’s best punchers, the lean, tall, pencil-legged Hearns and the short, fleshy, Goodwin. Hard to believe he died of a stroke at only 51. Don’t think Mickey would’ve fared well against Marvin Hagler though. Hagler chewed up short, strong, brawling types of fighters like Antuofermo, Hamsho, Roldan, and Sibson,  and Hagler’s chin stood up to Hearns’s best shots without batting an eye.

  9. kid vegas 12:34pm, 02/27/2014

    Ted you are an encyclopedic machine. The boxing knowledge and history inside your brain must be incredible. Keep churning these out so the younger set has a record of these blue collar types who were as tough as nails. Guys like Rocking Robin Blake, Harry Arroyo, and Skipper Kelp.

  10. Ted 11:36am, 02/27/2014

    That is correct

  11. David Ball 09:49am, 02/27/2014

    Mickey could crack, but, his record was built against guys with suspect or losing records, his biggest wins came against Leo Saenz and Teddy Mann. He was very well protected to say the least.

  12. Ted 08:41am, 02/27/2014

    I did not know him but I followed him avidly and when he connected, you could hear the punch all the way from Detroit.


    Funny thing was that one of hiss wins was over Donald Cobbs, one of the best amateur fighters I ever saw, but Donald never actualized his talents in the pros.

  13. Tex Hassler 06:44am, 02/27/2014

    The Kronk Gym turned out a lot of first class fighters.  Mikey left his mark on boxing and the world. May he rest in peace. Thanks Mr. Sares for reminding us of this fine boxer.

  14. Pete The Sneak 05:53am, 02/27/2014

    Toro, reading this story brings to mind back in the late 70’s, when I went to the Felt Forum at MSG and saw this skinny framed, non-muscular white kid up against a huge, well built, muscular brother whose name escapes me…Still, I’m telling my friend, this black guy is going to kill this skinny little kid…When the fight started, that skinny little white kid was smoking this brother from Post to pillar with some vicious, super speed combos and ended up knocking him cold in the 5th Round…We were stunned…The skinny white kid’s name was Charlie ‘White Lightning’ Brown…From then on, I never judged a fighter by appearances only ever again…Peace.

  15. Pete The Sneak 05:45am, 02/27/2014

    Man, Ted.. A record of 40-2-1…Makes me almost ashamed I had never really heard of Mickey…Would have loved to have seen him fight. Sounded like my kind of fighter…Peace

  16. Pete The Sneak 05:42am, 02/27/2014

    Well, if anything, I certainly loved his nickname…Peace.

  17. dollarbond 02:37am, 02/27/2014

    Must have been a very decent guy to get those accolades.  Did you know him?

  18. Clarence George 08:12pm, 02/26/2014

    I always enjoy reading about boxers who are pretty much strangers to me.  The only Goodwin I know is Archie, and he’s fictional.

    Notable how many fighters die in their 50s.  Max Schmeling making it to 99 (no, not Barbara Feldon) is hardly the norm.

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