In this Two Part article I ask questions of some of the great all time personalities of boxing history. The questions are my own as a boxing historian.
Interview with the Legends of Boxing Part 1
In the last interview of Part 1 the famous San Franciscan fight promoter Jim Coffroth named Abe Attell (Featherweight Champion 1901-1912) as one of his three greatest fighters of all time, so I decided to conduct my first interview of Part 2 with Attell.
Cox’s Corner: Abe how did you get started in boxing?
Abe Attell: I saw a cartoon of some boxers in the San Fransisco Chronicle and thought I would like to have my picture in the paper some day so I started boxing as an amateur; they were four rounds back then. I learned the fundamentals as an amateur, but I didn’t really learn my trade until I was a pro. In the beginning I tried to knock everybody out and won my first five pro fights by knockouts. But I decided I was getting hit way too much and decided to really learn to box. That’s one of the things about today’s fighters. All they think about is the money to be made. They forget they have to learn the trade. That’s not true in all cases, but I definitely think there is a decline in boxing skill.
Cox’s Corner: Fighters don’t fight nearly so often nowadays. They lack a lot of the experience of the fighters of your time. Do think that is the reason?
Abe Attell: That is one, but another reason is the boxing commissions. They will license any bricklayer who says he’s a manager. And a lot of the present day trainer’s can’t teach anything to a fighter. The only thing they are good at is taking a percentage of the fighter’s purse. If a kid can’t pick up knowledge himself nobody tries to show him. Go into almost any gym the boxers are thrown into the ring and told to box three or four rounds and don’t receive good instructions.
Cox’s Corner: So you place the blame on the quality of boxing on the commissions and a lack of quality instruction in the gyms?
Abe Attell: Certainly, boxer’s don’t train right. The way fighter’s train today is all wrong. They wear head gear in the gym. You never see one of them parry a left jab in training. They just duck their head and know it wont hurt them, but then they get into the ring with the same habit. That is why you see so many cut eyes these days. And you seldom see clever fighters anymore. I havn’t seen a fighter who knows how to feint a fighter out of position since Gene Tunney and Tommy Loughran retired. And nobody knows how to get away from punches these days. They don’t learn defense.
Cox’s Corner: One of our modern heavyweights, Joe Frazier, said in an interview (KO Magazine Mar 1999) that one reason fighters lack real good technique today is that they are not trained by fighters who were great fighters themselves. Do you believe that to be the case? And do you think that a good trainer is important to the success of a boxer?
Abe Attell: Yes. Look at what Jack Blackburn did with Joe Louis. Blackburn was a really great fighter himself. He fought Joe Gans three times at lightweight, drew with then welterweight Sam Langford twice, and broke even with middleweight Philadelphia Jack O’Brien in a no decision contest. There never was a shrewder ring general than Blackburn. No fighter was ever in a finer accord than Louis was with Blackburn. He always trusted Jack implicitly and there can be no doubt that much of Joe’s success was due to following out faithfully the campaign plans outlined by his sagacious mentor. Eminently serviceable and great in accomplishment was the Louis-Blackburn combination of slugger and strategist.
Cox’s Corner: Good points. One last line of questions Abe. Who do you consider to be the greatest fighter you ever saw?
Abe Attell: The greatest fighter of all time was Joe Gans. I never fought him. Do you know why? My mother had 19 children and none of them were foolish. Gans was bigger than I. He could hit harder and he was just as clever. What was I to gain boxing the Old Master?
Cox’s Corner: Abe tell us who else you consider among the greatest fighters you have seen?
Abe Attell: Jeffries was the greatest heavyweight. He could punch, was hard to hit, and he could take it. Throw out his fight with Jack Johnson. Jeff was through then and shouldn’t have been in the ring with anybody that day in Reno. There was only one middleweight and his name was Kethcel- Stanley Ketchel. He knocked Jack Johnson down. George Dixon was a marvelous fighter. I’ve never seen a bantamweight I though could lick him. And remember in the old days the champions went the Derby route- 20 rounds or it didn’t count. That’s why they were great fighters.
Cox’s Corner: What about the other great featherweights, your old weight class?
Abe Attell: Id’ give it to Terry McGovern, although he never would fight me. You gotta put Willie Pep up near the top. He learned his trade good, and he’s got it up here too (Attell points to his head).
Cox’s Corner: Excellent interview. Thanks Abe Attell.
For my next interview we have Joe Louis (Heavyweight Champion 1937-1949). The International Boxing Research Organization 2002 Member Poll tabbed Louis as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Cox’s Corner: Joe your story is pretty well known but tell us what was it like coming up to become the second black heavyweight champion?
Joe Louis: I had to work very hard to get to the top. When I was coming up I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or do anything that would interfere with me from being in top shape. I trained all the time. The called me “a born killer” in the press. I really didn’t like that, but it made people come to see me fight.
Cox’s Corner: Did you encounter a lot of prejudice?
Joe Louis: My managers John Roxborough and Julian Black told me I needed a good clean image, and told me to never brag like Jack Johnson had, or to have my picture taken with white woman. When I met Mike Jacobs he was real fair and told me I never had to throw a fight. He told me there had been a private agreement amongst white promoters that there would never be another Negro heavyweight champion, but that he thought he could guide me to a shot at the title.
Cox’s Corner: You were a real well liked and accepted black heavyweight champion by the white press so you never had to encounter a “white hope’ syndrome then. Is that correct?
Joe Louis: Not really. When I was coming up and knocking out everybody that scared some white people and they started looking everywhere for someone to beat me.
Cox’s Corner: Any instances of prejudice stick in your mind Joe?
Joe Louis: Sure lots of ‘em. Before my first big fight against Carnera the colored press couldn’t get any tickets. I spoke to Hype Igoe about it and he really went to bat for them and we got a special section. Another time when I was in the Army me and Ray Robinson put on an exhibition down in the south and they wouldn’t let the colored soldiers in to see us. We refused to fight unless they did and they finally agreed to let in a Negro section.
Cox’s Corner: Yes, I see, it was still a period of segregation. How did Jack Johnson take you being so well liked by the majority of whites? It has been said he was very jealous of you. What are your thoughts on that?
Joe Louis: Johnson had come up to my camp before the Carnera fight and said a lot of nasty things about me in the press. He said I was just a flash in the pan and that my stance was all wrong, and pointed out other faults I had. I couldn’t believe it. It really disappointed me. But later on I was talking to Chappie ( His trainer Jack Blackburn—M.) and he said it had to do with exactly that, me being a well liked Negro heavyweight which he wasn’t. Chappie sparred Jack in 1908 and bloodied his nose even though Chappie was only a lightweight, and it made Johnson mad. He tried to put Chappie out but couldn’t do it. They never liked each other too much after that. Chappie said Johnson would have had no easy time with me.
Cox’s Corner: You had a special relationship with Jack Blackburn how much did he contribute to your success?
Joe Louis: Holman Williams taught me how to jab and box, but Chappie taught me how to put my whole body behind my punches, how to pace myself and how to set the other fella up and how to fight against different styles. He taught me a lot about defense. We had a good relationship; he was like a father to me.
Cox’s Corner: Joe what happened in the first Schmeling fight?
Joe Louis: I get mad at myself when I think about it. I thought I was big shit in 1936. I was 21 years old. Women were running me crazy. There were a lot of girls coming around camp. I remember one time Chappie chased them off with a stick! I thought I am going to win no matter what I do. So I took my golf clubs to training camp with me. I had the idea that I was doing a lot of hard work for nothing, so I started cutting my training short, I’d box two rounds and drive to the golf course. I’d even sneak off to Atlantic City to see some girl whose name I don’t even remember. Instead of gradually working up to a physical peak I was just melting off weight and it weakened me. I lost 18 pounds in 5 weeks, which was too quick. Chappie warned me about Schmeling’s right hand and that he would try to counter my left but I didn’t listen. Between not training, the golf and the women I was lucky I wasn’t killed in the ring. That was the first time I didn’t listen to Chappie and it was the last time. I never made that mistake again.
Cox’s Corner: Tell us about the second fight. What were your thoughts going in?
Joe Louis: Chappie told me that Schmeling was a counter-puncher and that I kept dropping my left after a jab, and Max kept shooting his right hand over it. He said we’d fix that right up. I worked on defending right hands all through camp and keeping my left up after a jab. If you watch that fight I didn’t drop my left one time.
Chappie worked me hard for that one. We worked on rolling under punches, weaving, stepping back and countering. And he had me practicing catching flies out of the air. Not like baseball, but actual flies, the insect. He told me not to catch them the same way every time. He was still worried about me dropping my left after jabbing. So, Catching flies was like working on picking punches out of the air with both hands. My reflexes were like lightning. I knew I was going to win that fight. It was the biggest fight of my career. A lot was riding on it. I knew my whole career depended on that fight. I was in prime condition and I knew I was going to win. Freddie Wilson asked me, “How do you feel Joe?” I told him, “I’m Scared.” He said, “Scared?” I said, “Yea. I’m scared I might kill Schmeling.”
Cox’s Corner: You certainly gave him a frightful beating, but tell us Joe what was the hardest punch you ever threw?
Joe Louis: They say the punch I hit Paulino Uzcudun with was the hardest. I drove his teeth right through his mouthpiece. His cornerman said it was a perfect punch.
Cox’s Corner: Joe you threw A LOT of perfect punches in your career, but what was your best fight?
Joe Louis: Some people think it was the rematch against Schmeling in ‘38 but I’ll tell you right now my best fight was against Max Baer. I never had better hand speed. I felt so good I could have fought for 2 or 3 days straight.
Cox’s Corner: How about your toughest fight?
Joe Louis: Billy Conn gave me the most problems. I made a mistake going into that fight. I knew Conn was kinda small and I didn’t want them to say in the papers that I beat up on some little guy so the day before the fight I did a little roadwork to break a sweat and drank as little water as possible so I could weigh in under 200 pounds.
Cox's Corner: Dehydrating yourself like that was very bad, a modern nutritionist would have went bananas, its quite dangerous.
Joe Louis: (Laughs)- Chappie was as mad as hell. But Conn was a clever fighter, he was like a mosquito, he’d sting and move. In the 5th round I hurt him with a left hook, and cut his eye and his nose. But he kept running. Well about the 8th round I was tired as hell from draining myself. By the 12th round I was completely exhausted. He hit me with a lot of punches that round. In the 13th he said to me “Joseph your in for a tough fight tonight.” Then he started that long left hook I had been waiting for. I thought “Yea your right” and they counted him out.
Cox’s Corner: Some boxing experts think that because of the Conn fight that Muhammad Ali would have beaten you. How do you think you would have done against him?
Joe Louis: If Ali fought in my time though he’d have to stay in there a long time. Guys with Ali’s style who move and have speed -I beat them. That jabbing and running would have made it a hard fight but eventually I’d get him. Ali made too many mistakes and he took too many punches to the body. That’s no good. I’d see to it that he didn’t stay in ring center. No. He’d be hit into those ropes as near a corner as I could get him. If he stayed on the ropes he would get hurt. Sooner or later he’d try to bounce off, when he did he would get hurt more. I’d press him, cut down his speed, and bang him around the ribs. I’d punish the body. “Kill the body and the head will die”, Chappie use to tell me. It figures. Sooner or later he’d forget about that face of his and he would start dropping that left hand like he did against Mildenberger and Chuvalo. Those fellows got their openings by accident, and fouled it up. I would work for it and wouldn’t reckon to miss when it arrived. That’s about what Joe Frazier did -work him against the ropes. Muhammad Ali is a smart fighter. But I am sure Joe Louis would have licked him.
Cox’s Corner: One last question Joe. Who was the greatest fighter you ever saw?
Joe Louis: My old Army pal, Sugar Ray Robinson. He could do it all, punch, move, nothing he couldn’t do.
Cox’s Corner: Thanks Joe! For the record, I consider Ray Robinson, Joe Gans and Benny Leonard as the three greatest fighters ever pound for pound, and Roberto Duran, whom I consider the greatest fighter of my life time, would rank in the top 5.
My last interview is with the man known as “Mr. Boxing”, the founder of Ring Magazine, Nat Fleischer. He is a Hall of Fame Inductee and was one of the founders of the Boxing Writers Association and twice received the James J. Walker Award for meritorious service to boxing.
Cox’s Corner: Nat tell us a little about yourself and the sport you love.
Nat Fleischer: Boxing is a contact sport in its simplest form. It is an individual battle which tests the courage, skill and stamina of two men. And like all men, I suppose, I had the capacity for hero worship that is inherit in us all. The annals of the ring, to me, are unparalleled in their appeal. It has been my privilege to have been on intimate terms with every heavyweight champion since James J. Corbett. I saw almost every heavyweight championship bout from Johnson-Jeffries to Ali-Frazier, and most of those in the lower weight classes as well.
I saw my first professional fight in 1899. It was “Terrible” Terry McGovern against the British champion Pedlar Palmer. I was 12 years old. I’ve re-lived that fight over and over again. That was the thrill of thrills and I’ve followed boxing ever since.
Cox’s Corner: You sure have some impressive credentials; very few men could make the claim to have seen so much of boxing history. Did you ever box?
Nat Fleischer: I boxed as an amateur in the Oregon Athletic Club. I scaled only 122 pounds but was fairly clever and could hit well. Leach Cross, later one of the toughest lightweights in the professional field -and an idol of Benny Leonard- was my age and boxed in the same club. Leach gave me a real shellacking! In later years when I became a reporter I enjoyed watching Cross do to others what he had done to me.
Cox’s Corner: Tell us the events that led you to starting “The Ring” magazine, which has been called “The Bible of Boxing.”
Nat Fleischer: I was a sports writer for the New York Press and made a reputation working as news editor on the late shift of April 14, 1912. It was the night the reports came in that the Titanic had sunk. Our paper beat the New York Times and The New York Herald with the first paper to report on the disaster. My salary tripled after that coup.
The Walker law went into effect form 1917 to 1920 and nearly brought about the demise of boxing in America. Some powerful politicians allied themselves together in an effort to try and outlaw boxing altogether. As a sports writer I had came to know many of the personalities that surrounded the sport. I was a personal friend of Tex Rickard. Rickard asked me what could be done to stop the legislation. I suggested we flood the New York state Assembly and Senate with pamphlets outlining the reasons for opposing the bill. I received the support of every sports writer in New York. We described all the positives of the sport of boxing in the pamphlet and won the battle to save boxing. After that I decided a publication devoted wholly to the sport would be worthwhile and that is why I started “The Ring” in 1922.
Cox’s Corner: You have seen so much of boxing history I would like to ask you some questions about some famous controversies that surrounded the sport. I guess the first question would be did Jack Johnson take a dive against Jess Willard? You bought Johnson’s confession and you were there in Havana Nat, so give us the scoop.
Nat Fleischer: Jack needed money so I bought the “confession” but I didn’t publish it until the October 1956 issue. Jack came into my office and said the New York World would give him $100.00 for the story. I told him, “If your really serious about giving out this phony story Jack, I’ll give you $250.00 but only if you sign away all future rights to the story.” And that’s how I came in possession of his confession.
As for the fight I believe it was legitimate. I was at ringside. From the second round on Johnson cut loose on Willard and tried to knock him out. Several times it looked like Johnson would score a knockout as he gave Jess quite a licking. In the seventh round he had Willard in serious trouble. If it was a 15 round fight it would have been a shutout for Johnson, but around the 16th Jack started to tire. In the twenty-sixth round Willard landed a right under the heart. The rest was icing on the cake.
Johnson claimed in his "confession" that the photo where he appears to have his hands over his eyes to shield it from the sun proves he was taking a dive, but I had 6 photo’s in my office taken from different angles that showed his eyes fully exposed to the sun. When a fight is “arranged” the man who is taking the dive doesn’t wait twenty-six rounds and break his rivals ribs and jaw in the bargain as Johnson had done to Willard. No, I saw the knockout and there was nothing fake about it.
Cox’s Corner: I agree. On the film of the fight it just looks like he gets hit on the chin. What about the Dempsey-Willard controversy? Were Dempsey’s gloves loaded? You were at ringside for that one as well.
Nat Fleischer: That question has been discussed time and again by persons incapable of giving a proper answer except through hearsay. I watched the crumbling of the Pottowatomie Giant, and after the terrible beating that Willard took, I heard too the many remarks that no human being could deal out so much punishment with padded mitts unless there was something hidden in the gloves.
I was at the fight. I saw Jimmy Deforest, Dempsey’s trainer, tape Jack’s hands. I watched every move of the men in Jack’s quarters. I think I can clear the atmosphere once and for all with an accurate version of what happened.
Jack Dempsey had no loaded gloves, nor did he have plaster of Paris over his bandages. I watched the proceedings and the only person who had anything to do with the taping of Jacks’ hands was Deforest. Kearns had nothing to do with it, so his plaster of Paris story is simply not true. Deforest himself said that he regarded the stories of Dempsey’s gloves being loaded as libel, calling them “trash” and said he did not apply any foreign substance to them, which I can verify since I watched the taping. It was the 4th of July, it was very hot and he did pour some water on his hands when Jack complained of the heat and that hardened them, but that was all that was done. Kearns began trashing Dempsey after they had a falling out, and that’s all there is to it.
Cox’s Corner: You saw the taping of the hands Nat so I trust your judgment. I would also point out that he entered the ring without gloves and put them on in the ring, which was customary. It seems unlikely that his gloves were loaded. It has also been discovered by researchers that reports of Willard’s injuries have been greatly exaggerated. I would put that one to rest as well.
One more controversy to ask about though Nat, the second Ali-Liston fight. Did Liston take a dive?
Nat Fleischer: I was sitting next to the timekeeper Frank McDonough. It is true, that after the knockdown, Walcott, who was acting as referee, allowed them to resume fighting. But the count had reached 10, Liston was actually lying on the canvas 20 seconds. I had caught Walcott's attention and McDonough informed him that the count had reached 10 and so Walcott stopped the fight. Liston never got the count. It was unpopular and cries of “fake” came from the crowd. But I believe the punch to be real. I saw it from the best seat in the house. After seeing the punch as Clay tossed it with a twist, then watching it several times on TV, there can be no doubt that is was the Kid McCoy corkscrew that dropped Liston. It was the same kind of punch and that is why, despite not looking impressive at a glance, it was quite damaging.
Cox’s Corner: I basically agree. If you watch the fight on slow-motion replay you can see Liston’s head snap from the blow. He never saw it and those are the ones that usually do the trick. It was enough to knock him down but I don't think it was enough to knock him out. I thought the real controversy was the way the fight was stopped. Liston never received a count and Ali never went to a neutral corner. Liston later said he couldnt get up because Ali was standing over him. The count was illegal because of the neutral corner rule. Walcott should never have stopped that fight in my opinion, although there is no doubt in my mind Ali would have won anyway.
Ok Nat. you saw them from Johnson to Frazier, who do you pick as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time?
Nat Fleischer: After years of devoted study to heavyweight fighters, of which I saw all the great ones at ringside, I have no hesitation in naming Jack Johnson as the greatest of them all. He possessed every asset.
Cox’s Corner: Some modern fans and historians alike might be skeptical of that pick. Explain why you think so highly of Johnson.
Nat Fleischer: Johnson was one of the brainiest fighters I have ever known, he was a master of ring strategy. I’ve seen them all and Johnson’s ring mastery, his ability to block, feint and counter are still unexcelled. Jack Johnson boxed on his toes, could block from most any angle, was lightning fast on his feet, could feint an opponent into knots. He possessed everything a champion could hope for punch, speed, brains, cleverness, boxing ability and sharp-shooting.
When Jack was fighting his way to the top he had to contend against a field that contained some of the greatest fighters in the history of the heavyweight division. The period between 1905 and 1910 produced four great colored fighters: Jack Johnson, Sam Langford, Joe Jeannette and Sam McVey. There wasn’t a white man who could be classified with this dusky quartet and that is the real reason Jim Jeffries retired.
Cox's Corner: Briefly give your opinion of the following heavyweights;
Nat Fleischer: He was like a wild animal and his scowl was terrifying. He had powerful shoulder muscles and iron fists. He was a bundle of nervous energy and that came through in his bob and weave style and he was a terrific hitter. He could box, he could punch and he could take a punch.
Cox's Corner: Joe Louis
Nat Fleischer: Louis was a devastating puncher with either hand and one of the greatest finishers the ring has ever seen. He was one of the best at setting up his opponents for the "kill". He had a great jab and the deadliest right hand ever seen. At his peak he was a terror, but he wasn't very quick on his feet and he couldn't take it on the chin as well as a Dempsey. He was the only heavyweight champion to never bar an opponent who met with public approval and his record as champion is unmatched.
Cox's Corner: Not to argue Nat, but the chin argument can be made against most anyone. You said Dempsey, but he was down a number of times early in his career and hit the canvas twice against Firpo and once against Gene Tunney, who was not a hard hitter. Louis was older than Dempsey of the Tunney fight and had lost 4 years as well to WW 2 when 5 of his knockdowns occurred, he was rusty, and hadnt had a serious fight in 4 years, and consider when he came back he had only 2 fights in 6 years going into the first Walcott fight. Louis had lost his timing and reflexes to a great degree in those post WW2 bouts which would include both Walcott fights, and 2 of his knockdowns occurred in his last fight to Marciano when he was clearly only a shell of his former self.
Let me go a little further if you will. Let's take a later champion, after your time, one Larry Holmes. Holmes was considered to have a pretty good chin. Prior to being knocked out by Mike Tyson, he was decked by the hard punching Earnie Shavers- certainly no disgrace there, but also by the light hitting Kevin Isaacs early in his career and was dropped hard as champion by Renaldo Snipes who was not known as a strong puncher. One might say Holmes had not reached his peak in the Issacs fight but he was 24 pretty close to his physical prime and he 3 years older than the poorly trained Louis, who was 21, when he suffered his first knockdowns and loss to Schmeling. Take Rocky Marciano he was downed by Jersey Joe Walcott, and a blown up light-heavyweight in Archie Moore. To consider Joe Louis chin to be much worse than these fighters seems entirely unfair to me. I concede Jeffries, Ali and Holmes to have a better chin than Louis but Joe is under-rated in this department when fairly compared to other champions, Louis chin was solid and he showed strong recuperative powers. Remember he was 60-1, 51 knockouts when he retired as champion in 1949.
Ok lets move on. What is your opinion of Rocky Marciano as a fighter?
Nat Fleischer: We cannot compare Rocky with Louis or Dempsey except as a puncher. Rocky was one of the most powerful punchers of all time. He was unceasing in his offense. His best assets were power, endurance and will. But unlike the former two he was crude, wild swinging, awkward, and heavy missing. He lacked the boxing skills to be considered a truly great fighter.
Cox’s Corner: Muhammad Ali
Nat Fleischer: Ali was a shifty, artful master of boxing who gave all he had to the end of a fight, but he was not a powerful hitter. However, in his peak performance against Cleveland Williams he was a fighting machine. When he unloaded his heavy artillery, he faced a confused, bewildered, floundering opponent, who was baffled by what was taking place. His hand speed was blinding.
Cox’s Corner: Those evaluations seem pretty fair overall and I think we should respect them since they are coming from a man who saw them all at ringside.
Cox’s Corner: Who do you consider the most under-rated heavyweight champion of history?
Nat Fleischer: Max Schmeling. He was a very intelligent, clever fighter. He was a good all around performer. He could feint and set his man up. He also packed a strong right hand punch.
Cox’s Corner: Who was the biggest under-achiever?
Nat Fleischer: Max Baer, he could have been a great fighter. He had the size, strength, ruggedness and as deadly a punch as the heavyweight class has ever known, but Baer was too much of a psychological problem.
Cox’s Corner: Your observation of Baer could be said of a fighter of my time. Mike Tyson. He had the power, speed, skill and killer instinct to have been one of the best ever but he spoiled his talent with lack of dedication and was set back by apparent psychological weaknesses.
Nat, some “modern” boxing enthusiasts seem to be of the opinion that athletes in general are better today than they were years ago, therefore boxers must be better as well. What are your thoughts on this?
Nat Fleischer: There have been changes in boxing over the years, certainly in styles. In the early days you would never have seen a southpaw fighter, but today they are commonplace. The brutality that dominated in pre-commission days has been eliminated.
However, in most major sports and especially in track and field the athletes are superior today when compared to those of the past. This is definitely not so in boxing. There is at present a general lack of knowledge of the finer points of the game. Prior to WW 2 the difficulty in ranking fighters lay in selecting ten from an outstanding field of 15 or more worthy title contenders. Today it is difficult to find a sufficient number of worthies in any division after the first three or four have been listed. There is a lack of great trainers as well, for every top notch trainer there are a dozen or more poor ones who have no business in the ring looking after a fighter.
Cox’s Corner: One last question what do you see for the future of boxing?
Nat Fleischer: America’s monopoly on boxing is broken and we will see more and more champions from Europe, Asia, Mexico, and Central and South America.
Cox's Corner: This is undoubtedly so. Your depth and knowledge of boxing being most impressive. Thanks Nat!
I couldnt ask Nat the one question I would loved to have asked him. His all time rankings came out in 1958 and he died in 1972. Had he lived to see Ali regain the title against George Foreman I always wondered whether he would have revised his rankings and included Ali somewhere in his top 10.
In this two part series we had "interviews" with fighters Kid Lavigne, Jack Johnson, Joe Gans, Abe Attell and Joe Louis as well as fight promoter and eye witness Jim Coffroth, and boxing historian, eye-witness and writer Nat Fleischer. I hope you enjoyed it--Monte
Durant, John. 1971. The Heavyweight Champions. New Revised Edition. Hastings House. NY
Fleischer, Nat. 1939. Black Dynamite, Vol. 4. The Fighting Furies. Ring Athletic Library Book No. 18. C.J. O’Brien Inc. NYC. Jack Johnson, The Galveston Wonder
Fleischer, Nat. 1958. 50 Years at Ringside. Fleet Publishing Corp. NY
Louis, J. with Rust Jr., A. and Rust, E. 1978. Joe Louis: My Life. Hopewell, NJ. Ecco Press.
Ring Magazine. 1949 Jan.Abe Attell: The Little Champ Analyzes Boxing Ills by Al Buck.
Ring Magazine.1955 Dec. Skill, An Asset of Greatness by Nat Fleischer
Ring Magazine. 1965 Sept. Clay Pulled the Corkscrew by Nat Fleischer.
Ring Magazine. 1967 Feb. Clay Showed Sock as Well as Science by Nat Fleischer.
Ring Magazine. 1967 Feb. How I Would Have Clobbered Clay by Joe Louis as told to George Whiting.
Thanks to Bruce Gordon who provided some research materials for this article.