Chapter Twelve the Fifties: Part II By the middle of the decade in the middle of the Twentieth Century, many people were familiar with a lot of the boxing champions. The reason? Boxing had become one of the most popular pastimes on television and by now, almost everyone owned a TV set. Most, if not all of the boxers I have written about in the last chapter were on television and America watched them. It was both a blessing and a curse. Television ate away at the live crowds and gone were the days when 91,000 fans packed Boyles Thirty Acres to watch Jack Dempsey knock out Georges Carpentier. Now Americans by the millions could watch Ralph Tiger Jones, Gaspar Ortega, Sugar Ray Robinson, Kid Gavilan, Gene Fullmer, Joe Brown, Carmen Basilio and others absolutely free while sipping a cold beer in their favorite chair. If the picture was a little fuzzy, no problem. Just get up and adjust the “rabbit ears.”
The “mob” was influential in boxing during the Decade of the Nineteen-Fifties. It culminated in the Kefauver Hearings in 1961. World lightweight champion, Ike Williams, was called to testify. Williams was an outstanding lightweight and the stain on his career is unfortunate. Other top lightweight champions were Jimmy Carter, (not the President) who won and lost the title three times, Lauro Salas, Paddy DeMarco and Joe “Old Bones” Brown.
By far the outstanding featherweight champion was Sandy Saddler won the crown from the peerless Willie Pep in 1951 and held onto it until 1956 when an auto accident ended his stellar career. Saddler was a featherweight who knocked out 103 guys! From Saddler the crown passed to Hogan “Kid” Bassey and Davey Moore.
There were several outstanding bantamweights in the Fifties. I would mention South African Vic Toweel, Australian Jimmy Carruthers, Frenchman Robert Cohen, Italian Mario D’Agata, Frenchman Alphonse Halimi and Mexican Jose Becerra. Boxing had become truly international.
The international trend continued flyweight champions Dado Marino of the US, Yoshio Shirai of Japan and the great Argentinian Pascual Perez who held the title from 1954 to 1960.
There were so many great boxers in this Decade! Rocky Marciano, Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sandy Saddler, Ike Williams and Pascual Perez. All names worth remembering.
More excerpts from this book coming soon! Stay tuned.