All posts by Bobby Franklin

Mauriello Vs Louis

Tami Mauriello 

vs 

Joe Louis

Short But Exciting

By Bobby Franklin

Tami Mauriello

Tami Mauriello began his boxing career in 1939 fighting as a welterweight. He went undefeated in his first 24 fights before losing to the great Billy Soose by a split decision. He then went on an eight fight winning streak while moving up to the light heavyweight ranks where he earned a title shot in a bout with Gus Lesnevich. In only his second loss, Tami was robbed of the title coming out in the short end of a very unpopular decision.

Three months later the two would fight again and this time Lesnevich won a unanimous decision over Mauriello. After this loss Tami began his move into the heavyweight ranks. In his debut fight at the new weight he demolished Jay D Turner in the first round. Turner had nearly forty pounds on Tami but was no match for him.

Mauriello continued successfully campaigning at the heavier weight in hopes of landing a shot at champion Joe Louis. WWII put things on hold for Joe who was serving in the Army. Meanwhile, having scored wins over Gunnar Barland, Tony Musto, Red Burman, and a draw with Bob Pastor, In 1942 Tami was matched against Jimmy Bivins for the Interim Heavyweight Title. The fight with Bivins was a spirited affair with Jimmy gaining a 10 round split decision and the Interim Title.

Tami was back in the ring soon after scoring four wins including victories over Lou Nova and Lee Savold, he got another shot at Bivins. This time Jimmy won by a majority decision.

Tami On The Attack Against Lesnivich

Mauriello would have to wait a few years before getting another crack at a title, but he stayed busy. He fought 26 times before finally getting his shot at Joe Louis. Out of those 26 fights Tami won 24, losing only to Joe Baski and Lee Oma. He avenged the Oma defeat. He also beat Gunnar Barland, Lee Savold, and Lou Nova again, as well as knocking out British Champ Bruce Woodcock. He now was signed to fight Joe Louis.

Most observers felt that even an older Joe Louis who had recently returned from the Army and had won a long awaited but disappointing rematch over Billy Conn, would have no trouble with Tami. Yet, they also knew Mauriello possessed dynamite in his right hand, and there were distant memories of what Max Schmeling had done to Joe back in 1936, kayoing the Brown Bomber with overhand rights. Joe had learned from that loss, but could the fact that he had slowed down over the past ten years coupled with his inactivity because of the war make him vulnerable once again? That, coupled with the fact that Tami was a legitimate contender, was enough to make the match interesting to fans. 

On September 18, 1946 the two stepped into the ring at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 38,494 fans. The fight would last just a little over 2 minutes but there were fireworks. 

Tami came to win and he went right after Joe. Many believe what happened in the opening seconds of the first round was just a lucky punch by Mauriello, but if you watch the film closely you will see Tami had a plan, though one he was able to follow through to completion. 

Mauriello Lands The Right On Louis

At the bell the two came out of their corners with Joe stalking the challenger and Tami circling to his left. After just a few seconds Mauriello threw a wide left hook with caught Joe’s attention. While Louis was distracted by that punch, Tami let go with solid straight right hand catching the Champion flush on the jaw. Louis shaken by the punch and  appeared briefly to be hurt. The crowd went wild sensing a massive upset was in the works. However, Joe quickly regained his composure and tore into Mauriello who desperately tried to land a follow up right hand. 

Joe then settled down and started landing short hard shots on Tami who went down twice, but all the time he fought back ferociously. At the 2:02 mark of the round the fight was over. The crowd felt they got their money’s worth, and Tami would always be remembered for his booming right hand shot that connected.

Joe Lands A Left Hook That Lifts Tami Off His Feet

It has to be noted that this was not a lucky punch. Tami’s use of the decoy left hook was a strategy that nearly worked. He drew Joe’s attention with the move which set up the opening for the right hand he threw. Mauriello was a very, very good fighter, and he knew what he was doing. He just couldn’t follow up against the great Joe Louis.

Tami continued fighting until 1949 when he retired with a record of 82-13-1 including 60 wins by knockout. He was only stopped on 4 occasions. Movie fans will remember seeing him in the classic movie On The Waterfront alongside Marlon Brando and Lee J. Cobb.

Tami Mauriello passed away on December 3, 1999 suffering from dementia  caused by boxing, the fate that most fighters end up dealing with. He will always be remembered for his match with Louis, but should also get the respect he deserves for the stellar boxing career he had. Tami’s right hand would tear up today’s so-called heavyweight boxing division. 

Murder In Montreal

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata

Dies After Suffering Beating In Ring

18 Year Old Had Been Knocked Unconscious 

Just Three Months Earlier

By Bobby Franklin

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata took her last breath on September 2, three months, two weeks, and five days after having been brutally knocked out by Cynthia Lozano in a boxing match in Reynosa, Mexico. That fight held on May 14 was Zapata’s first bout since being stopped on November 9, 2018 at the Jose Sulaiman Arena in Monterrey, Mexico when she was only 15 years old and fighting as a professional.

When you read the news accounts of her death last week it will be reported that she died from blows received in a fight on Saturday night in Montreal, Canada. While it is true the right cross delivered by Marie Pier Houle was the final blow she would ever be hit with, her death was no accident. 

If you watch footage of her loss to Cynthia Lozano from back in May you will see eerie similarities in the way the two fights ended. In both, Zapata is trapped in a corner and seems not to have the skills to defend herself. In the fight in Mexico she sinks to the canvas in a way that would be seen this past week in Montreal. The difference between the Montreal bout and the fight in Monterrey is that after some time passed, the fallen Zapata was able to be revived. Revived to be allowed to fight again, or rather be used again by promoters looking to build up the record of an up and coming “prospect”. 

Zapata Before The Opening Bell

Some questions that should be answered: Was she given a thorough examination after being kayoed in Mexico? Was a brain scan performed? Was medical information about her condition known by the promoters in Montreal? Had the promoters seen footage of that loss? If so, did they have any concerns about her fitness to fight? And most importantly, why did they allow someone so young who had suffered such a terrible beating so soon before to fight? 

Marie Pier Houle is an undefeated pro with a record of 4 wins, no losses, and one draw. At 31 years of age she is a fully matured adult woman who was facing a pudgy teenager. Houle, a native of Quebec, has been fighting since June of 2019. It is clear from watching the fight that Houle completely outclassed Zapata. The teenager from Mexico was clearly just an “opponent” for the local favorite Houle.

The Fatal Blow Landed By Marie Pier Houle On Zapata

There’s no getting around what happened here. A poor teenage girl from Mexico is talked into turning pro at the age of 15. She has five fights, all in Mexico, winning only two. She is stopped twice, the second stoppage being the brutal knock out in Monterrey. A couple of months later she is brought up to Montreal to fight a hometown favorite on the undercard of a World Boxing Council sanctioned title fight. It is worth noting the WBC was founded by Jose Sulaiman. The same Jose Sulaiman whose name adorns the stadium in Mexico where Jeanette Zacarias Zapata once fought. The WBC is now run by Sulaiman’s son Mauricio Sulaiman. It is widely known that the WBC is a corrupt organization that uses its power to extort money from boxers in the form of sanctioning fees. These fees are taken out of the purses of the fighters. The safety of boxers has never been a priority for the people who run the organization. They have become quite wealthy off of the blood of fighters over the years.

Zapata Unconscious
She Did Not Wake Up

Boxing has always been a seedy sport populated by thugs and lowlifes. This was accurately portrayed in the movie The Harder They Fall, starring Humphrey Bogart. As terrible as the characters in the movie are, they look like den mothers compared to what is going on today. The current crop of sleaze that control boxing have sunk to levels never before thought possible; they are now using poor adolescent girls as fodder for their for- profit entertainment business. What’s worse, the public is paying to watch this perversion. 

Last week Jeanette Zacarias Zapata should have been hanging out with friends and doing the things teenage girls do. Instead, she was being led into a boxing ring after suffering a traumatic brain injury. She was being led to her death. She, like so many others, was nothing but fodder to be used to build up a new prospect. 

We are told Zapata was cleared by a doctor to fight. What real doctor would clear a kid who was recently knocked out so badly that she lay on the floor for minutes without moving? That is the very definition of a brain injury. That is the very definition of neglect. 

The following statement was issued by the Mexico based WBC: 

“The president of the WBC, Mauricio Sulaiman and the entire boxing family affiliated with the WBC, as well as all boxing, mourns this irreparable loss. We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jeanette. May she rest in peace.” 

How caring, “The entire boxing family”. More like the Manson Family. I can just feel the love. 

I don’t know a lot about the personal background of the young Zapata. I very much doubt she came from an upper middle-class family. Odds are she was poor. She most likely wanted to improve her lot in life and was sold a bill of goods about how boxing could be her way to a better life. Her parents, if they were still in the picture, probably bought into the narrative as well. 

Like drug dealers giving kids their first taste of drugs to get them hooked, boxing people looking for opponents sell them on the narcotic called boxing while sweet talking them into how they will one day achieve fame and fortune in the ring. To a fifteen year old this would sound great. The reality is quite different.

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata

For those who say “Hey, these people know the risks they are taking. It’s their choice”, I would ask if they would let their adolescent son or daughter be used like this? Do you really think a young teenager is capable of weighing all the dangers involved in getting involved in such a profession? Would you really want your child being watched out for by the likes of the Sulaimans and others like them? Would you allow your child to step back into a boxing ring just less than three months after suffering a traumatic brain injury? Would you ever allow them to fight again?

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata will soon be forgotten. Boxing and the animals who run it will still prosper. Fans will still get their kicks out of watching kids suffering brain injuries for entertainment. Fighters will continue to die, but this rotten profession will live on. It’s sickening.

Live Theatre Returns To The Greater Boston Stage Company

THE 39 STEPS MARKS THE RETURN TO MAINSTAGE PROGRAMMING AT GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY 

Live theatre returns to Greater Boston Stage Company! The raucous The 39 Steps kicks off the 2021- 2022 mainstage season on September 23rd as GBSC presents this fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. This two-time Tony (R) and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with laughs, a slew of characters, a plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers, and some good old- fashioned romance. Adapted by Patrick Barlow based on the thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and the novel by John Buchan, The 39 Steps is directed by Associate Artistic Director Ilyse Robbins. Performances run September 23 – October 10, 2021.

“I am honored and thrilled (get it?) to direct this first mainstage show on our road to recovery,” says Robbins. “What better way to come back to the theater than to enjoy a good old-fashioned comedy/whodunit/romance where 4 actors play over 100 roles. I have the great good fortune to work with four of the funniest actors in town. They give new meaning to the words, ‘We wear many hats.’ I hope you will find yourself laughing as much as I do.” 

Russell Garrett

The cast of The 39 Steps includes Grace Experience, Russell Garrett, Paul Melendy, and KP Powell. The design team is comprised of Scenic Designer Shelley Barish, Lighting Designer Daisy Long, Costume Designer Rachel Padula-Shufelt, Sound Designer Andrew Duncan Will, and Props Master Emme Shaw. Shauwna Grillo is the Production Stage Manager.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at Greater Boston Stage Company at (781) 279-2200, or visit www.greaterbostonstage.org 

Greater Boston Stage Company is pleased to announce that we have joined with a coalition of Boston- area theatres to implement masking, vaccination and testing policies designed to keep our audiences, artists, staff and volunteers safe in accordance with CDC and local guidance. The following policies will be in place from September 1 through October 31. For more information, please visit:

http://www.greaterbostonstage.org/health-and-safety.html 

Live Theatre Returns To SpeakEasy Stage In Boston

THE SOUND INSIDE

Opens At SpeakEasy Stage

September 24

From September 24 to October 16, 2021, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present the Boston-area premiere of the gripping drama THE SOUND INSIDE by Adam Rapp.

Nominated for six 2020 Tony Awards including Best Play, THE SOUND INSIDE is an intensely quiet play that introduces us to Bella Baird, a novelist who, in the seventeen years since she was last published, has almost completely isolated herself from the world.  But everything changes when she meets Christopher, a brilliant but enigmatic student in her creative writing class at Yale. As their friendship deepens, their lives and the stories they tell about themselves become intertwined in unpredictable ways, leading to a shocking request. Intensely intimate and deeply moving, THE SOUND INSIDE is “an astonishing new play… about fiction, both the kind we read and the kind we live.” (The New York Times)

Playwright Adam Rapp made his Broadway debut with THE SOUND INSIDE, which was commissioned by Lincoln Center and received its world premiere in 2018 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  A 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play Red Light Winter, Rapp is also the author of Nocturne (American Repertory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop), Finer Noble Gases (26th Humana Festival), Stone Cold Dead Serious (A.R.T.), Blackbird (The Bush, London), and Essential Self-Defense (Playwrights Horizons/Edge Theatre), among others.  

Director Bryn Boice will helm this Boston premiere production of THE SOUND INSIDE Winner of the 2019 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director, Large Theater for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Universe Rushing Apart: Blue Kettle & Here We Go, Ms. Boice returns to SpeakEasy after having directed the company’s 2020 production of The Children. Ms. Boice also serves as the Associate Artistic Director at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and is a professor at Salem State University.

Jennifer Rohn (Broadway’s The Kentucky Cycle) and Nathan Malin (SpeakEasy’s Admissions) will star in this production.

NATHAN MALIN (Christopher) is thrilled to return to SpeakEasy after appearing in its production of Admissions. Other area credits include Gone Nowhere (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); The Crucible (u/s, Bedlam); Vanity FairThe Happy Prince/Matchless (u/s, Underground Railway Theater); 1984The Lathe of Heaven (Boston University); Maura Dunne (The Poets’ Theatre), Titus Andronicus (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); and Much Ado About Nothing (Boston Theatre Company). Nathan was also a production intern on Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet (Bedlam). Training: Boston University, Shakespeare & Company.

JENNIFER ROHN (Bella Baird) is making her SpeakEasy debut with this production.  A 2019 Elliot Norton Award winner for her performance in Dark Room (Bridge Repertory Theater), Jennifer began her professional career appearing in numerous productions created by renowned experimental theatre director Robert Wilson.  She has also appeared on Broadway in The Kentucky Cycle and The Crucible, and in several Off-Broadway productions including Love’s Fire and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (The Public Theater); Romeo and Juliet (The New Victory Theater); The CIVIL warS (Brooklyn Academy of Music); and Another Person is a Foreign Country (Anne Bogart, director/ En Garde Arts). Her regional theater credits are extensive and include work for The American Repertory Theater, The Huntington Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Cleveland Play House, The Kennedy Center, The Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, and The Dallas Theater Center.  She toured Europe with Hamletmachine, and appeared at La Scala in Salome (Robert Wilson, director) and at The Barbican Centre in Love’s Fire (Mark Lamos, director). Her television credits include several television commercials, Law and Order, American Playhouse, and the film Crossing the Atlantic. Jennifer teaches at Bennington College.

 

THE SOUND INSIDE will run for four weeks, from September 24 through October 16, 2021, in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End.

For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call BostonTheatreScene Ticketing Services at 617.933.8600 or visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com.                

Boston Theatres Announce COVID Protocols For Reopening

14 GREATER BOSTON THEATRES UNITE TO ANNOUNCE

COLLECTIVE COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC SAFETY

AS LIVE, INDOOR PERFORMANCES RESUME

 

Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test and masks 

will be required for all audience members

New survey results show majority of arts goers

support these measures

The following is from a press release sent out by the Huntington Theatre:

Fourteen theatre companies in the Greater Boston area have banded together to announce a collective commitment to public safety as live, indoor performances resume in the region amid concerns around the rise in COVID-19 cases in the US.

These theatre companies will implement policies designed to protect the health and safety of everyone by requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all artists, staff members, and audiences who attend live, indoor performances at their institutions. Masks will be required inside the theatres as well.

These policies will be in place starting immediately and valid through October 31, 2021 (in alignment with Broadway’s current policies), and will be reevaluated as the situation evolves. They are based on CDC guidance and were developed in consultation with public health officials. Individual theatres will list their specific protocols and guidelines on their websites.

The organizations joining in this effort are: Actors’ Shakespeare Project, American Repertory Theater, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Central Square Theater, The Front Porch Arts Collective, The Gamm Theatre, Gloucester Stage Company, Greater Boston Stage Company, The Huntington, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Moonbox Productions, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Wellesley Repertory Theatre. Other companies are expected to sign on in the coming weeks.

“We at The Huntington, along with our colleagues, are eager to welcome back audiences to live performances this fall, and we are prioritizing everyone’s health and well-being in order to safely reopen,” says Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso. “These measures will provide multiple layers of protection in our theatres – it’s what our patrons want, and it’s an essential part of our broader responsibility as public-facing institutions.”

“We’re committed to creating a culture of care,” says Central Square Theater Executive Director Catherine Carr Kelly, who is also co-vice president of New England Area Theaters (NEAT), an association of midsize theatres. “All of our companies are fully vaccinated. Requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, along with wearing masks, increases the safety for fellow patrons and also for the artists and staff of each company.”

AUDIENCE OUTLOOK SURVEY DATA AND THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

The recent announcements that theatres in New York City, Washington, DC, and Chicago have established similar policies around requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID test and mask wearing, combined with the latest results of ArtsBoston’s Audience Outlook Monitor survey, gives Greater Boston theatres increased confidence in implementing these measures.

The Audience Outlook Monitor is a longitudinal survey sponsored locally by ArtsBoston and run nationally by independent consultant WolfBrown, that has been regularly providing Greater Boston arts organizations with data about audience perceptions, concerns, and intentions during the pandemic. It has been a vital tool for arts groups in developing their plans, policies, and communications strategies.

In the most recent round of survey data collected August 9 – 13, 2021, 80% of respondents indicated that proof of vaccination would make them more likely to attend indoor events, and 50% said that proof of vaccination or negative COVID test is a prerequisite for their attendance. According to the survey, 98% of respondents reported being fully vaccinated or planning to do so.

The survey showed that news of the delta variant has reduced audience demand to return to indoor performances right away. In the June 2021 survey, 18% of respondents said they wouldn’t attend an indoor event that week. That figure more than doubled to 39% in the recent August round of surveys. The increase reflects the rising level of concern of audience members

“After deep consideration on this topic and following the guiding principles of our Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theater, we came to this decision, recognizing that the vaccines are now widely available and free,” says Mark Lunsford, ART Artistic Producer. “Along with enhanced ventilation and universal masking, vaccination and testing are critical cornerstones of our multi-layered mitigation efforts that prioritize the safety of our community of staff, audiences, and artists.”

“Requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test is the best way for us as a community to reopen responsibly,” says Paul Daigneault, SpeakEasy Stage Company Producing Artistic Director.  “It will allow us to move forward and continue to prioritize everyone’s safety – audiences, artists, and theatre staff alike.”

“The health and safety of the audience, artistic team, and staff must always be the first priority,” says Joseph Allen, associate professor and Director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “That means when we have new tools available, we need to use them. On top of enhanced ventilation and masking, the vaccines offer an additional, and excellent, layer of protection that should give everyone even more confidence as we reopen theaters.”

 

PROTOCOLS FOR ATTENDING A PERFORMANCE

All patrons attending live, indoor performances at participating theatres must present proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test before entering the venue, and must wear a mask inside the theatre.

Proof of vaccination may include showing either a vaccination card or a photo of the card, or a digital vaccine record (through an app such as Bindle at www.joinbindle.com/people). Anyone who is unable to be vaccinated or to verify their vaccination status for any reason will be required to show proof of a recent negative COVID test before entering.

Individual theatres may have their own guidelines and instructions for patrons; please see a theatre company’s website or contact them directly for further details about specific policies.

 

 

Mamma Mia Returns To Theatre By The Sea In Rhode Island

THE ULTIMATE FEEL-GOOD MUSICAL MAMMA MIA!

RETURNS TO THEATRE BY THE SEA  AUGUST 18

In celebration of the return to live theatre, owner and producer Bill Hanney is proud to present an encore of Theatre By The Sea’s massive hit production of the international sensation, Mamma Mia! which will be presented from August 18 – September 5, 2021.

“We have been overwhelmed with the support from audiences who had been anxiously awaiting the reopening of the theatre after nearly two years!” said Bill Hanney. “The July Concert Series was very well received, and we expect Mamma Mia! to be just as popular, if not more, than it was when we originally produced the Rhode Island Regional Premiere back in 2018.”

Prepare to have the time of your life…again! Sophie, a 20-year-old bride-to-be, is on the search for her father. After reading her mother’s diary, she discovers there are three potential candidates. Unbeknownst to her mother, Donna, Sophie invites each of them to her wedding, in hopes of having one of them walk her down the aisle. As the big day draws near, surprises abound with old flames and old friends. Mamma Mia! is packed with 22 ABBA hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me,” and “The Winner Takes It All.” This worldwide mega hit will have audiences shouting “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” more!

Directed and choreographed by Theatre By The Sea’s Producing Artistic Director, Kevin P. Hill, who directed previous TBTS productions of Mamma Mia! (2018), Smokey Joe’s Café, Sister Act, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Grease, and Hello, Dolly! (2010); with musical direction by Bob Bray, who returns to TBTS after music directing Mamma Mia! (2018) and Hello, Dolly! (2010); the cast includes Lexie Dorsett Sharp, whose touring credits include School of Rock, Young Frankenstein, The Addams Family and Elf, as Donna Sheridan; Tiffani Barbour, who appeared in Mamma Mia! (2018) at North Shore Music Theatre, as well as on the National Tour, as Rosie; and Merrill Peiffer, who has played every Dynamo in Mamma Mia! and appeared in the 2018 TBTS production, as Tanya. In the roles of Sam Carmichael and Bill Austin are David Elder and Al Bundonis, who will be reprising their roles from the 2018 production. Mr. Elder’s Broadway credits include Curtains, 42nd Street Revival, Kiss Me Kate, Titanic, the Musical, Once Upon a Mattress, Damn Yankees, Beauty and the Beast, and Guys and Dolls, and Mr. Bundonis is well-known to TBTS audience as King Arthur in Spamalot (2014), Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly! (2010), and Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2009). In the role of Harry Bright is Jesse Sharp, whose tour credits include The Addams Family, Elf, and Grease. Sara Bartoszek and Markcus Blair will both be making their Theatre By The Sea debuts in the roles of Sophie and Sky. The ensemble includes Jamie Askey, Morgan Blanchard, Tyler Dema, Yoni Haller, Masumi Iwai, Breia Kelley, Derek Luscutoff, Sami Murphy, Brett Pederson, Kennedy Perez, Gracie Phillips, and Jake Urban. 

PLEASE NOTE: In light of the most recent CDC recommendations and for the safety of audiences, actors, and staff, masks will be required for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, while in the theatre. Everyone is encouraged to wear their most creative mask, as prizes will be given at each performance! Theatre By The Sea thanks theatregoers for doing their part to keep everyone safe while celebrating the return of in-person performances.

Mamma Mia! will be presented from August 18–September 5, with performances scheduled for Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm, Thursdays at 2:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 and Sundays at 5:00 pm, with special performance times on Sunday, August 22 at 2:00 & 7:00 pm and a special added matinee performance on Wednesday, August 25 at 2:00 pm. The theatre is located at 364 Cards Pond Road, Wakefield. Tickets are $58 – $81 (additional fees may apply). Discount rates are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (401) 782-3800 x112. Tickets are on sale at the box office Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am–5:00 pm, and performance days until curtain, online 24-hours-a-day at theatrebythesea.com and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling (401) 782-TKTS (8587). 

Cagney On Boxing Safety

Armed And Dangerous

Are Boxing Gloves Lethal Weapons?

Ask James Cagney

By Bobby Franklin

James Cagney

With the recent publication of Tris Dixon’s book Damage: The Untold Story Of Brain Trauma In Boxing (Hamilcar Publications), a discussion has been reopened about how dangerous boxing is and what should be done about making it safer, or less dangerous. When this excellent book first appeared I thought it would create a much bigger stir as it is an exhaustive study of the years of research into the affects of blows to the head that cause what was once called punch drunkenness, now called CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The book lays bare the brutality of the sport and the severe and permanent damage caused to the brains of those who participate in it. 

I was at first taken aback by the lack of conversation over what happens to those who spend years in the ring, but I now realize that the truth is hard to face, especially when it is about something people love. Boxing is a highly emotional sport and those who are intoxicated by its primal attraction find it hard to justify their love for it with the reality of what is actually going on in the ring. It is easier to just shut one’s eyes than confront the truth.

For those who are willing to talk about it, there are those who say it is okay because fighters know the risks when they go into the profession. There are others who acknowledge the dangers and seek ways to better protect boxers. Very few call for an outright ban as that would not put an end to the sport but rather drive it underground.

Though there is much more research concerning brain trauma available now, the arguments over whether or not people should be allowed to beat each other up for the pleasure of spectators has been going on for decades. 

In the bareknuckle days most contests were illegal and had to be held while staying one step ahead of the law. That did not deter these fights from occurring and drawing large audiences. Eventually, boxing found respectability when practiced in private clubs when they were billed as exhibitions. But the public desire to watch these matches meant there was much money to be made, and as the 20th Century moved towards the Roaring 20s, boxing began to be legalized in more and more places and promoters built major fights into huge attractions drawing upwards of a million dollars and more. 

Boxing gloves are actually a weapon, not a safety device.

It was during this transformation that the boxing glove was introduced and billed as a way of making the sport safer and more civilized. This was the complete opposite of what the gloves did. In truth, they made the sport much more dangerous and lethal. Boxing gloves are actually a weapon, not a safety device. Add to wearing the gloves the taping of hands, and the fists are turned into weapons that deliver much more force than a bare fist could ever come close to. The reason for this is the bare fist will break when making forceful contact with the skull; the taped and gloved hand will not. The glove does not protect the brain, it protects the hand. In fact, if you want to make boxing less dangerous the best way would be to ban the boxing glove and any type of protection for the hand. I have been saying this for years.

Rocky Marciano’s Gloved Fist Lands On Jersey Joe Walcott

Recently, I came across an article by Red Smith published in the New York Times on September 11, 1974. In it Smith writes about a conversation he had with the actor James Cagney about boxing. He cites a letter from Cagney referring to a time the two met at Champion Ingemar Johansson’s training camp. In it Cagney wrote, “When we met at the Johansson training camp some years back, I struck you a glancing blow, with the suggestion that we take the gloves off fighters to try to eliminate the concussions caused by the padded mitts. The expression on your face was wonderful to behold, and I kind of had an idea that you were looking at a guy with three heads instead of two.”

Cagney, who had brothers who were physicians had learned a bit about brain injuries from them and was onto something about the “padded mitts”.

He also went on to say, “I worked with a lot of former fighters in the picture business, and I saw the results of getting belted about the head. You know, scar tissue once formed after a concussion continues to grow. That’s why it’s progressive encephalopathy.” 

Cagney continued, “If you ever hit anybody on top of the head with a bare fist, you wouldn’t try again in a hurry.

Cagey saw what many of us who have spent a lot of time around boxers have seen, but most do not want to face, boxing causes irreparable brain damage. Cagney continued, “If you ever hit anybody on top of the head with a bare fist, you wouldn’t try again in a hurry. You would learn boxing and body‐punching, and, that’s what I’m after. Gloves sacrifice the brain to preserve the metacarpals. Did you read about the last days of Lew Tendler, that great old lightweight, in a wheelchair with the classic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?”

Notice how he mentioned Tendler showed the classic “symptoms” of Parkinson’s, not that he had the disease. It is now known that fighters do not develop Parkinson’s Disease from boxing, but rather something described as Boxing Related Parkinson’s Syndrome. This is caused by blows to the head.

It is interesting that a movie actor speaking in the early 1970s would have this knowledge, but it makes sense for a few reasons. First, Cagney had been around boxers all of his life and witnessed first hand the effects of the sport on them. Second, having doctors for brothers he was in tune with the medical aspect of what happens to the brain when it is repeatedly hit, and third, Cagney, being an actor, was an observer of human behavior as well as a highly intelligent man who could look beyond the surface when thinking about such matters. It’s hard to argue with his comments.

The boxing glove has allowed the sport to become extremely punishing to the human brain.

It is often said boxing is the most basic of sports as it pits two opponents against one another with nothing other than their fists. That is hogwash, it pits two well trained athletes against one another with lethal weapons in both hands. The boxing glove has allowed the sport to become extremely punishing to the human brain. For those who are looking for a way to make boxing less dangerous, listen to James Cagney. Let’s focus on protecting the brain, not the hands.

To read a review of Tris Dixon’s book go to: 

Book Review: “Damage: The Untold Story Of Brain Trauma In Boxing” By Tris Dixon,

Review: “Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville” At The Ogunquit Playhouse

You’ll Find Your Lost Shaker Of Salt

And A Lot More At The Ogunquit Playhouse 

Production of 

 Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Photo: Nile Scott Studios/Nile Hawver

There hasn’t been a lot of sunshine so far this summer, but at the Ogunquit Playhouse everyday is a beach day with Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville, the 2018 Broadway hit that has now been adapted for the stage in Ogunquit. Director Richard J. Hinds was allowed freedom with the script that gives the musical the Ogunquit Playhouse magic touch, the touch that always makes things better.

The 2018 Broadway jukebox musical built around the music of Jimmy Buffet normally would not be considered very deep. However, as we are emerging from well over a year of social distancing and, for many, isolation, a work such as this allows us to laugh, sing together, and get back to what it means to share fun and music with one another. 

Jake David Smith, Cailen Fu.
Photo: Nile Scott Studios/Nile Hawver

Spending two hours with Tully ((Jake David Smith), Rachel (Cailen Fu), Brick (Matt Wolpe), Tammy (Megan Kane), JD (John Antony), Marley (Crystal Sha’nae), Jamal (Tyler McKenzie), and the rest of this energetic and enthusiastic cast allows us to have some of the much needed Changes In Latitudes, Change In Attitudes that we have been seeking.

It might seem odd to describe this musical as touching and moving, but 2018 seems like it was decades ago and songs and lines that might have seemed a bit corny back then mean much more now. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere sure hits the spot now.

The story that begins with Tammy and Rachel visiting a Caribbean Island in the week before Tammy’s wedding brings together all these wonderful characters who end up finding much to learn from each other and what’s important in life. Rachel at first finds it hard to relax but finally lets her hair down with Tully (Son Of A Son Of  A Sailor), while Brick and Tammy connect during We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us.

The hotel/bar where Brick and Tully work and Rachel and Tammy are staying is run by Marley who has help from Jamal. Marley is quite the gossip as we learn in Coconut Telegraph. Ms Sha’nae uses a lovely patois as she sings while spreading the latest rumors. 

Matt Wolpe and Megan Kane.
Photo: Nile Scott Studios/Nile Hawver

From the opening number straight through to the close the energy of the cast was in full force . Mr. Smith when performing Margaritaville begins with a simple acoustic guitar and is then joined by John Antony, Matt Wolpe, Crystal Sha’nae, and Tyler McKenzie who were all marvelous as they build it into a terrific finale for the first act. It almost seemed a shame to have to pause for intermission. 

There are two zombie dance sequences that are quite something to see. The zombies are brought on by Brick’s anxieties, and sure make for some interesting staging. You wouldn’t mind having this gang show up at one of your barbecues. 

JD is a 76 year old beach bum who spends his days at the bar telling stories most of the people don’t believe. This changes during the touching He Went To Paris, where his life story is told and the non believers have their eyes opened. 

Being in the outdoor pavilion has not forced the team at the Playhouse to compromise on lighting and effects. While I am sure it has been a real challenge for them, they have pulled it off marvelously. The volcano eruption sequence is evidence of that. 

Photo: Nile Scott Studios/Nile Hawver

The staging is impressive and the sets are vividly colorful. I was quite impressed with the acoustics considering this is taking place in an outdoor pavilion. It rivaled what would be heard at the indoor venue. 

The show is full of high spots. A few that were even a bit higher for me were Why Don’t We Get Drunk with JD urging the audience to fill in the blank about what to do after imbibing. Come Monday with Brick and Tammy, and of course, Cheeseburger In Paradise where Tammy and Brick bring down the house. 

John Antony and Crystal Sha’Nae. Photo: Nile Scott Studios/Nile Hawver

While the audience was clearly thrilled with the production, the cast members showed by their enthusiasm how happy they were to be back on the stage. 

The orchestra, complete with steel drums, gives a solid Caribbean Island flavor to the score that makes you thirsty for a tasty margarita that is available at the bar. Situated high up on both sides of the stage it sounded great. 

I must confess, that while I grew up during the heyday of Jimmy Buffet and was familiar with some of his songs, I was far from a Parrot Head. After seeing this production I will be listening much more. At this point I’m now probably more JD than Tully, but it is still fun.

The superb cast, the delightful music, the summertime energy make this a must see show.

The superb cast, the delightful music, the summertime energy make this a must see show. With Ogunquit Beach just down the street and with ocean breezes wafting through the Leary Pavillon, you couldn’t ask for a better setting for a musical featuring the music of Jimmy Buffet. Even with all of the challenges it has faced, the Ogunquit Playhouse continues to exceed expectations. 

It’s time to enjoy life again, to smile and share and connect. Come and take a bite out of this Cheeseburger In Paradise in Ogunquit. You won’t be disappointed.

Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville

Through August 28

The Ogunquit Playhouse

Ogunquit, Maine

ogunquitplayhouse.org 

207.646.5511

. 

  

Controversy Brews Over Ogunquit Ocean Rescue

Ogunquit Ocean Rescue

Protecting Lives

Often Not Appreciated

By Bobby Franklin 

Ogunquit, Maine is known for, among other things, the great performances staged each year at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Unfortunately, the theatrics in this beautiful seacoast town are not confined to the stage of the Playhouse. The town with a year round population of just over a thousand residents has constant drama in its government. The players seem to be continually at war with one another, and quite often these battles become highly personal. The latest one playing out has to do with the leadership of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue.

At the end of June this year the interim Town Manager Matthew Buttrick decided to replace the Captain of the lifeguards, JP Argenti, with the incoming Fire Chief Russell Osgood. Even though Mr. Osgood has no experience as a lifeguard and is not certified for the position it was felt he could handle the job. This was done without public input, and it is unclear what, if any, input the Select Board had with the decision. The Town manager has said this was done to reduce the amount of department heads responding directly to him. Others have said it was because Mr. Argenti was pushing for pay increases for the lifeguards. The possibility that this was done for personal reasons has also been floated. The Town Select Board has remained silent on the issue other than to approve the appointment of Mr. Osgood as Lifeguard Captain.

Captain Jay Argenti and Guard Jacob Leonard Keeping Watch

The upshot of all of this is that Mr. Argenti, a twenty year veteran of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue and Captain for the past eight years has been dismissed and is no longer a member of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue. An additional fifteen lifeguards have either resigned or have signaled they will not be joining the service when scheduled to do so. Among these are the most experienced members of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue. This has all been happening just as the summer season is kicking into full swing. It is also a year that is seeing a 30 year high in lifeguard shortages across the nation, and an increase in drownings throughout New England. 

Over the past ten years I have spent a lot of time on the beach at Ogunquit. It is listed as the 7th most beautiful beach in the country, and it certainly deserves that designation. It is a breathtaking seashore with magnificent sunrises and sunsets, wonderful clean water, and a river with a strong current that flows into it. It can also be a bit treacherous as the sands are constantly shifting making for unpredictable riptides. On a typical beach day upwards of 20,000 people will pour onto the 1.5 mile long beach. When staffing is at full capacity there will be 17 lifeguards looking out for the public that is visiting. This out of a full compliment of 35. Most years the guards are about equally divided between male and female. 

On a typical beach day upwards of 20,000 people will pour onto the 1.5 mile long beach.

I once remember hearing someone on the beach remark while watching the life guards that “These kids get paid to hang around the beach all day. What a racket”. I get the feeling that sentiment is felt by the leaders of the Town of Ogunquit. I hope I am wrong, as the job of Ocean Rescue is much more complicated than “hanging around the beach all day”.

Then Jet Ski

Lifeguards must be Red Cross certified. At Ogunquit under JP Argenti, they went through extensive training that continued during the season. This training includes ocean rescue techniques, using a board and rescue can, CPR, first aid, AED (defibrillator), radio traffic, numerous workouts involving running, swimming, paddling, medical rescue scenarios, rules and guidelines. 

Guards also have to deal with such things as unruly people, enforcing regulations regarding alcohol and smoking, finding lost children, administrating aid to people suffering from heat related problems and even hypothermia caused by being in the cold water too long. They help disabled people on and off the beach. While doing all of this, team members also have to keep watch for people who may be getting into trouble in the water. Riptides are a major issue that can prevent swimmers from reaching shore. The lifeguards have to keep constant watch for signs that the water may be becoming more dangerous and remain alert for the dangers caused by these changes. 

If all that isn’t enough, the members of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue also assist people out of danger and back to shore  and prevent them from entering dangerous areas. They provide patrons information, perform water testing for Maine Healthy Beaches, monitor the plovers and the dunes, while on slow days (if there can be such a thing) they clean up the beach and do workouts and more training.

When jumping in to save a swimmer in distress the lifeguard puts him/her self in extreme danger. This is where the training and proper use of equipment pays off.

On top of all that, the most dangerous part of the job is springing into action to save swimmers who are in imminent danger of drowning. This is most common near the mouth of the river where the current becomes very strong during the changing tide as the water drops off and becomes colder as it enters the ocean. When jumping in to save a swimmer in distress the lifeguard puts him/her self in extreme danger. This is where the training and proper use of equipment pays off. Knowing how to maneuver the jet ski and board is a difficult skill to acquire but pays off when the time comes. When a life is in danger these “kids” take on a whole different aura of importance. They are highly skilled professionals, well trained, with the courage to risk their lives to save others. 

In the conversations I have had with JP Argenti over the years I have not only been impressed with his professionalism and knowledge of the beach, but also how steeped in the history of Ogunquit Beach he is. His dedication to his job and love for the area runs deep. He and members of the team could often be seen there after hours when he felt their services might still be needed. 

Ogunquit Lifeguards, 1926

Ogunquit Beach has a long and colorful history. There is some evidence the first lifeguards served on the beach in 1909 as tourism began to grow. At the time they were a volunteer group. In 1925 the Village of Ogunquit took control of the beach through eminent domain and it was designated a public park. The following year the Ogunquit Village Improvement Association set up the first publicly funded life guard service. A young Bette Davis was a member of that original group of life savers and wrote about her time with them in her autobiography. 

For many years only five lifeguards patrolled the beach. They would use a lifeboat when attempting to save people, but the techniques were not what they are today. In 1946 a lifeguard drowned and with the boat in disrepair, funding was increased. 

Lifeguard Bette Davis Working At Ogunquit Beach

Another incident in 1981 led to a further increase in funding when a child was pulled out to sea and never recovered. Over the years funding has been increased, but at times it has also been reduced. When JP took over as Captain he fought to increase funding and improve training and equipment. He did this to ensure the public would be safe by having the best lifeguards possible. 

The current starting pay rate for lifeguards posted on the Town of Ogunquit website is $18.00 per hour with a maximum of $21.50. There are no benefits included. I also looked to see if any bonus was given to those who worked last year in the midst of the pandemic while the beach was still crowded and the risk of infection was high. There was none even though parking revenue to the town was at a healthy level. 

What draws a person to seek employment as a member of Ogunquit Ocean Rescue? JP told me it is a combination of working at the beach along with the camaraderie, adventure, risk of the job, an interest in the medical fields as well as the friendships that are built. The biggest satisfaction is found in knowing the role they all play in keeping people safe. 

As with any professional, they expect a good measure of respect, something that is lacking in the town.

Pay is an important factor especially among the older and more experienced lifeguards who may have families to support, but it is not pay alone that draws them. They take extreme pride in their profession. As with any professional, they expect a good measure of respect, something that is lacking in the town.

The veteran guards play a very important role in helping the younger and less experienced members of Ocean Rescue learn the profession.

The veteran guards play a very important role in helping the younger and less experienced members of Ocean Rescue learn the profession. It is vital these veterans are there to pass on their wisdom. This is very serious work and there is no substitute for the skills that have been gained by having been on the job for a period of time. It looks like most of these top lifesavers are now gone.

Well Trained And Ready To Save Lives

The revenue brought in from fees charged for parking in the lots near the beach is a major source of income for the town. The fees have been raised and the hours when they are required have increased. People who pay these charges expect to have a level of protection while on the beach. That safety net is now in question.

Those active in town politics squabble over just about anything. The old saying that it takes a village doesn’t appear to apply in this hamlet of just 4 square miles. Most of the time these arguments and the petty backbiting that goes along with them don’t mean a lot. However, in the case of Ocean Rescue, people’s lives are on the line. It is a time for leadership and full transparency in the Town of Ogunquit. I have to wonder how much time the members of the Select Board have spent on the beach observing Ocean Rescue in action? I can only hope it doesn’t take a tragedy to bring people to their senses.

Ogunquit Ocean Rescue has been an elite force for years now. You would be hard pressed to find another life guard service that comes close to how the team under JP Argenti has performed. The Town of Ogunquit was lucky to have them; it’s too bad they don’t realize this.

Joe Louis Vs Johnny Shkor

Joe Louis Got To

Know The Score 

In Boston:

Johnny Shkor That Is

By Bobby Franklin

The Greater Boston area has been home to two World Heavyweight Champions; John L. Sullivan and Rocky Marciano, neither of whom ever defended the title there. In fact, even though boxing has always been popular in Boston, there has only been one Heavyweight Title fight held in Beantown. That was the 1940 match between the great Joe Louis and Al McCoy. Interestingly, McCoy was a native of Maine and resided in Waterville though he fought often in Boston.

When it was decided Louis would travel to Boston to defend the championship there were two New England fighters who stood out has the prime challengers to take on the Brown Bomber. One was McCoy and the other was Tony Shucco, a Boston native. I’m not sure why McCoy was picked but many old timers told me they believe, because of his style, Shucco would have been able to give Joe a better fight. 

The fight took place on December 16, 1940 at the Boston Garden. A crowd of 13,334 showed up to watch as Louis handed out a one sided drubbing to the very game McCoy. The fight ended when the New England fighter was unable to come out for the fifth round. 

Al McCoy And Joe Louis Weighing In
(Photo By Leslie Jones)

The Louis of 1940 was pretty much at his peak and is still thought by many experts to have been the greatest heavyweight champion ever. While McCoy was never a threat, Boston fans did get to see the Champ in action. Nobody complained as the outcome was a forgone conclusion.

So that was the only time Joe Louis would be seen in a Boston boxing ring, or was it? Well, no. Joe never again defended the title title in Boston, But he did return for a couple of exciting appearances a few years later. His second and third visits turned out to be more exciting than his fight against Al McCoy. For even though these bouts were labeled as exhibitions, they were in fact hard fought battles. The second bout in particular.

In June of 1948 Joe Louis had his last fight as champion when he kayoed Jersey Joe Walcott in the 11th round. 7 months earlier Walcott had give Louis all he could handle for 15 rounds while losing a decision many believed he deserved to win. Joe wanted to prove he was the better fighter and did. Most thought he would retire after the fight, and Joe wanted to but he was facing financial difficulties stemming from tax problems he was having with the IRS. Instead of calling it quits he went on a barnstorming tour of “exhibitions” where he figured he could pick up some easy money. Still being champion made him more marketable.

Johnny Shkor With Manager Johnny Buckley In 1947

On two occasions during his tour Louis stopped in Boston. His opponent in both matches was tough contender Johnny Shkor (pronounced “score”). Shkor was a hard punching 6’4” battler who weighed in at around 220 pounds for many of his fights. He was originally from Baltimore but fought out of Boston where he was managed by Johnny Buckley. He had a career final record of 52 bouts with 31 wins, 19 losses, and 2 draws. 22 of his wins came via knock out. His biggest victory was a 1947 stoppage on cuts of Tami Mauriello which took place at the Boston Arena. Shkor would also go on to face two future champs, Jersey Joe Walcott and Rocky Marciano.

The first encounter between Louis and Shkor took place at the Boston Arena on November 8, 1948 before 5,518 fans. According to Boston Globe sports writer Clif Keane it was a very spirited affair. And even though they fought with 14 ounce gloves Keane wrote “…there was more action in the four rounds than in Louis’ two titular fights with Jersey Joe Walcott…” Late in the fourth round Louis received a gash over his right eye from a clash of heads as Shkor waded into him. Former champ Jack Sharkey worked Shkor’s corner and former Welterweight Champion Jack Britton was the third man in the ring. 

A year and a week later the two would go at it again, this time at the Boston Garden. At this point Joe had announced his retirement and, though he denied it, was testing the waters for a title match against the new champion Ezzard Charles. 

Johnny Shkor Has The Deck In The Second Bout With Joe Louis

Their “rematch” was scheduled for ten rounds, and again they wore 14 ounce gloves. Before 8,471 fans they picked up where they had let off. Louis came out strong and dropped Shkor three times in the first three rounds, once in the second and twice in the third. It appeared the fight wouldn’t go further than the four rounds the two went the year before, but Shkor proved tough and durable while Louis was not in top condition. The former champ coasted a bit but still had to keep Johnny in his place as the former sailor was not giving up. Again, the fans got more than their money’s worth. Louis had nothing but praise for Shkor after the fight telling reporters Johnny had improved since their first encounter and should be taken seriously as a contender.

Joe Louis

While Joe kept denying he was heading for a comeback, 10 months later he was in the ring with Champion Ezzard Charles in what was a brutal fifteen round battle won by the Cincinnati Cobra. Louis continued to fight after that but never fought for the title again. Nine fights later he would be kayoed by Rocky Marciano in a fight that is still painful to watch. The great champion stayed on too long.

Boston fans were lucky in 1948 and 1949 to see the great Joe Louis in action, especially since he was in with a guy like Johnny Shkor who gave it his all. 

(I want to thank my friend Dan Cuoco for providing me with news clippings from the bouts.)