February 2006


Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
By GorDoom

Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario

The 2005 CBZ Year-End Awards
By J.D. Vena

Women to Watch For in 2006
By Adam Pollack


INTERVIEWS:

Lou DiBella: No Joe Palooka
By Dave Iamaele

Lamon Brewster, Unplugged
By Juan C. Ayllon

Touching Gloves with...
Clyde Gray

By Dan Hanley


PROFILES:

Iron Mike Tyson: Myth or Monster?
By Jim Trunzo

Jess Sandoval: The Coach Says,
"Bundle Up"

By Katherine Dunn

The Legend of the Cuban Baron,
Ramon Castillo

By Enrique Encinsoa

Paul Thorn
By Pete Ehrman

Battling Nelson: Always Battered,
Seldom Beaten

By Tracy Callis

Kid Chocolate, the Cuban Bon Bon
By Monte Cox


BOOK REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS:

Shadow Boxers
Photographs by Jim Lommasson

The Iceman Diaries
by John Scully

The Boxing Bookshelf
by Dave Iamele


Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece

By GorDoom


The CBZ is embarking on its 11th year online. In Internet time, that's like a century. & I have to say that in the intervening decade, the CBZ has changed the Ol' Spit Bucket's life in so many positive ways. I have forged relationships & bonds with people on the CBZ that have truly enriched "Mi Vida Loca," to paraphrase one of my favorite fighters & boxing characters. & while the CBZ has been a true avocation in my life, & because of the incredible writers & historians we have; I've learned more about boxing in the last 11 years than in my previous 45.

Which is why it saddens me so much to realize boxing is on its last legs as a sport in the United States. Boxing, like horse racing, has now become only an "event" sport rather than a sport that draws daily interest from the general sporting public.

The only time you hear or read real coverage of horse racing is during the Triple Crown stretch of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, & the Belmont. The rest of the year the sport is basically ignored by the media.

The same thing has happened to boxing. The only time -- & it's been since the De La Hoya vs. Hopkins fight -- that boxing has gotten big-time attention from the media is for a superfight PPV. & since there basically isn't a heavyweight division anymore & there are no rising stars that have crossed over like De La Hoya did, that's not happening in the foreseeable future.

Which brings me to the point of this lash-up: Where are the new stars that are going to keep boxing viable? Here we are six years into a new decade and century, & as far as I can see there are only four "stars" of varying degrees of popularity that have been developed in this decade: Jeff Lacy, Ricky Hatton, Jermaine Taylor, & Rafael Marquez. & out of these four fighters, only Hatton is truly a star that can sell out the house on his own.

Fucking pathetic ...

Boxing is dying because its promoters either don't have a clue or don't care about marketing the sport. I lean toward the latter, because in boxing, cooperation is sticking your hand in the other guy's pocket.

This was made glaringly obvious to me this morning after talking to Lucius Shepard about the Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell UFC card at the Mandalay Bay last night.

It was a PPV card, & the Mandalay was completely sold out. Tom Smario, another CBZ writer who is also the best boxing cutman in the Northwest, has worked with Couture & other fighters from Team Quest. In fact, after 20-plus years of working as a boxing cutman, it's safe to say that Tom is a LOT more into UFC than boxing at this point.

I don't follow the UFC. Between boxing & the NFL, I simply don't have enough time to get intensely into another sport. But the reports I get from both Lucius & Tom are absolutely amazing when you compare boxing vis a vis the UFC.

Let's start with the live audience for UFC. Last night there were 18,000-plus at the Mandalay, & at least 90% of the fans were in their 20s & 30s. Go to a big-time boxing card & it's readily apparent that boxing has an aging fan base -- & with the exception of the Hispanic audience, a rapidly dwindling one.

Young, hot Hollywood stars such as Paris Hilton & Vin Diesel were in the audience. In boxing, we have Jurassic Hollywood/music-biz-types such as Clint Eastwood, James Cann, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, & sometimes even Bob Dylan in attendance. None of those stars mean squa-doosh to the boisterous, rollicking crowd that attends UFC cards. There is a palpable excitement in the air that you can feel at every UFC event. That kind of electricity happens very rarely with boxing audiences these days.

Recently in Portland, Oregon, there have been UFC matches with basically unknown fighters. They put them on in large auditoriums, they sell thousands of tickets, & they are always SRO with young fans loudly cheering on the fighters.

Turn on late-night cable & there are UFC & Pride cards on every night. This is a sport that's mushrooming. It's a sport seemingly growing by leaps & bounds EVERY year.

Can't say that about boxing, can we?

So why is this happening? There's a number of reasons: TV exposure, good refs & righteous decisions, & the fact that there are no smack-talking, porcine, James Toneys or man-tits to be found on any of these fighters. These guys are supremely ripped, conditioned, & most importantly, disciplined. You NEVER see two combatants in UFC that aren't prepared & in awesome shape.

Yeah, well ... Again, you sure can't say that about boxing. The UFC fighters are also marketed extremely well. For instance, a UFC star like Randy Coutre sells thousands of videos, T-shirts, & caps. In fact, these UFC stars make more in merchandising that for actually fighting. When you compare the marketing & promoting of their industry to boxing, sadly, there is no comparison. In UFC the promoters & the fighters work together for the benefit of their sport. In boxing it's all slash & burn with absolutely no view of the big picture & how to ensure the survival of the sport.

& what is worse is that I don't see it changing anytime in the near future. & that is a suicidal approach by boxing's powers that be.

*********

Well, that's all the ranting for now, but before I conclude this screed, I want to begin with one shameless plug:

The CBZ, honcho'd by my partner Mike DeLisa, has just released a two-DVD set of the famous Ali vs. Marciano "fight" filmed in 1969. The package includes not only the match & its different endings, but the famous original radio broadcasts from the original heavyweight series conducted by Murry Woroner. There is also a documentary on the Rock & Ali & the making of their fight, narrated by yours truly. You can find this at just about every video store, or order online at Amazon.com.

In this issue we feature a terrific & fascinating photo book of boxing gyms called Shadow Boxers. I studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute & have way more than a passing interest & knowledge of the art. & "art" is the correct way to describe this book, which also features essays by CBZ writers Katherine Dunn, Lucius Shepard, & Tom Smario, among others.

The photographer, Jim Lommasson, is an incredibly gifted artist that I would compare favorably with photograhic legends like Henri Cartier Bresson & Robert Frank. He captures all the gritty realism of what a boxing gym & the people that populate them are all about.

Truly a great book!

Lastly I want to turn everybody on to one of the truly great boxing websites, the Philly Boxing History site (www.phillyboxinghistory.com). If you are seriously into boxing, then you know what an important part of its lore & history comes from Philadelphia. John DiSanto, with help from the CBZ's outstanding boxing historian & writer Chuck Hasson, have put together what I consider to be a must-see boxing Web site.

Well that's it, enjoy the new issue!

GorDoom

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