The Briscoe and Danny Garcia

By Robert Ecksel on October 2, 2012
The Briscoe and Danny Garcia
Sporting a shaved head, baleful glare, and bone-crunching power, Briscoe was adored.

One would have to live on another planet, or in Camden, to not be aware of Philadelphia’s boxing heritage…

“Anybody I hit has got to go, and if they don’t, they’ll be fouled up for the rest of their career.”—Bennie Briscoe

One would have to live on another planet, or in Camden, to not be aware of Philadelphia’s boxing heritage.

Philly earned its rep the hard way. Its list of notable pugilists is star-studded, with several planetary objects orbiting our great sport. Just a few names will give the uninitiated an idea of the quantity and quality boxers the City of Brotherly Love has bequeathed to the sweet science.

Fighters like Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler, Sonny Liston, Joey Giardello, Jack Blackburn, Billy Fox, Tony Galento, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Billy Arnold, Gypsy Joe Harris, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Tommy Loughran, Benny Bass, George Benton, Battling Levinsky, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, George Godfrey, Kitten Hayward, Mike Rossman, Jeff Chandler, Gus Dorazio, Tex Cobb, James Shuler and Gil Turner strutted their stuff in the squared circle. And there was, last but not least, the inimitable Bennie Briscoe, for whom the Briscoe Award was named.

Briscoe compiled a record of 66 wins, 24 losses, 5 draws, with 1 no contest and 53 knockouts during the years he fought professionally, from 1962 to 1982. He fought for the middleweight crown three times, against Carlos Monzon in 1972 and against Rodrigo Valdez in 1974 and 1977. Although he never won the title, Briscoe is considered one of the great uncrowned champions in history.

Sporting a shaved head, baleful glare, and bone-crunching power, Briscoe was a fan favorite the world over, no less than at the legendary Blue Horizon, Spectrum, Convention Hall, and the Cambria.

Five years ago, PhillyBoxingHistory.com began awarding Briscoe Awards to outstanding local fighters. Past recipients for Philly Fighter of the Year include Steve Cunningham (2010), Rogers Mtagwa (2009), Bernard Hopkins (2008), and Steve Cunningham (2007).

Selecting the Philly Fighter of the Year was easier this year than in years past. WBC/WBA light welterweight champion Danny Garcia was a shoe-in for the 2011 Briscoe Award. He defeated Nate Campbell (33-7-1) and Kendall Holt (27-4) in 2011. In 2012 he decisioned Erik Morales (52-7) to win the vacant WBC title, and four months later stopped Amir Khan (26-2) to add the WBA title to his growing list of accomplishments.

“I’m happy to get my hometown’s support,” said Garcia about winning the Briscoe Award. “It means a lot to me, because there are a lot of great fighters from Philadelphia.”

This Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, Garcia will be named Philly Fighter of the Year at the 5th Annual Briscoe Awards at the Veteran Boxers Association Club at 2733 E. Clearfield Street in Philadelphia. The event begins at 3:00 PM and is open to the public.

For more information contact John DiSanto of PhillyBoxingHistory.com at 609-377-6413.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Mike Casey 07:54am, 10/03/2012

    Ted, I can watch Lee knocking out Sonny over and over. And Sonny was very fair about it in his post-fight comments with Cosell. Frank the Animal also brings back fond memories! Agree on Roy Williams - the Tiger should have gone further than he did.

  2. the thresher 07:50am, 10/03/2012

    Roy “Tiger” Williams created his own legend in the gyms but could never translate his gym skills into the real thing. Still, he was one very scary guy.  Mike Rossman’s unforgettable upset over “Vicious Victor” Galindez was one for the books. Jimmy Young’s win over George Foreman was equally stunning. And Jerry “The Bull” Martin’s defeat of James “Great” Scott was another. But what could top Leotis Martin’s shocking KO of Sonny Liston?

  3. the thresher 07:49am, 10/03/2012

    James [Shuler] lived a good life. He could sleep 12 hours a night, play basketball and no one ever had anything bad to say about him…
                                                —Percy “Buster” Custus

  4. the thresher 07:48am, 10/03/2012

    Heck, the fighting Fletchers, Frank “The Animal”, Anthony “Two Guns,” and Troy will offer up plenty of gist for the mill. Anthony “Two Guns” is now on death row after a ‘92 murder charge and his saga is taking on the aura of Ruben Hurricane Carter‘s.

  5. Mike Casey 07:43am, 10/03/2012

    Very good, Pete!

  6. Pete The Sneak 07:37am, 10/03/2012

    Good stuff indeed Gents! Love these type articles and moreover the commentary to boot. On another note, Larry’s great quote pertaining to Joe should be extended to ” If I had $4 left in my wallet, $2 of those would go to Joe, the other $2 Don King would lift from me.” Peace.

  7. Mike Casey 06:49am, 10/03/2012

    Robert/Ted - well done indeed for mentioning Gypsy Joe Harris and giving him his just due. Joe was a funky one-of-a-kind who befuddled the so-called experts as well as his opponents. You had to be pretty darn good to beat the likes of Kitten Hayward, Curtis Cokes, Ted Wright and Jose Stable. No end of great names here from a truly great fight town that has produced umpteen classic boxers and sluggers.

  8. the thresher 01:47pm, 10/02/2012

    If I had $4 left in my wallet, two of those would go to Joe
                                                              —Larry Holmes

  9. the thresher 01:45pm, 10/02/2012

    There are “legends” galore including fighters of the stature of Jimmy Soo, Gil Turner, Stanley Kitten” Hayward, Joe Frazier, Joey Giardello, Sonny Liston, Harold Johnson, Bernard Hopkins, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Jeff Chandler, Wesley Mouzon, and trainer George Benton. There is the grit of Tex Cobb, the ring style of Meldrick Taylor, and the one-punch power of Tim Witherspoon. “Smokin” Bert Cooper was a quintessential Philadelphia fighter in the mold of Joe Frazier. In this same mold, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart exemplified the use of the lethal “Philly left hook” as he began his career with 19 straight knockouts. There also were and are plenty of slicksters like Jimmy Young, Jeff Chandler, Harold Johnson, and now “Fast” Eddie Chambers who has become a leading heavyweight contender. Light welterweight Henry Lundy is streaking at 17-0-1. “Hammerin Hank” dazzled fans with his lightning quick hands as he scored a sixth round stoppage over Justo Sanchez to win the UNBC Jr. Welterweight Title at The Yesha Center in South Philadelphia on September 23, 2009.

    Gypsy Joe Harris, a one of a kind, is the only non-heavyweight contender to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (June 19, 1967). This ring magician also fought most of is career with only one eye. As just one indication of his greatness, he stopped tough and brutal punching fellow Philadelphian Stanley “Kitten” Hayward in seven rounds in 1966. The “Kitten” had previously taken the measure of “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Curtis Cokes, and cutie Dick Turner. Joe’s final record was 24-1, as they took away his license upon discovering his “handicap.” Later, he sadly spiraled into decline and died in 1990 at the young age of 44.

  10. the thresher 01:44pm, 10/02/2012

    If it’s drama you want, there is plenty to spread around. Tex Cobb’s ride from bar room brawls to Honors Graduate from Temple University is a case in point. The later stages of Matthew Saad Muhammad’s career, David Reid’s fast start and fast finish, and Jimmy Young’s denial about his illness are just a few of the stories that could be told. Of course, Meldrick Taylor paid dearly for his ring wars. Entitle that drama, “two seconds.”

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