All posts by Bobby Franklin

Eugene Criqui
French WWI War Hero
Won World Title After Having Jaw Shattered By Sniper’s Bullet

 

By Bobby Franklin

Eugene Criqui

Eugene Criqui was born in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris, France on August 15, 1893. Belleville was a working class village that was later used as the backdrop for a number of motion pictures, including the Oscar winning short The Red Balloon in 1957.

Criqui worked as a pipefitter before becoming a professional boxer in 1910 at the age of 17. From 1910 until 1914, he compiled a record of 68 fights with 45 wins, 9 losses, and 14 draws. Of his wins, 14 came via knockout.

In 1914 Eugene joined the French military
and fought in WW I. While serving guard duty during the Battle of Verdun, he was shot by a German sniper. The bullet struck him in the face shattering his jaw. Criqui would spend two years in the hospital recovering from his wounds. During that time surgeons rebuilt his face using wires, plastic, and pieces of sheep’s bone to repair the damage. Given this was in the early part of the 20th Century, it was amazing what the doctors were able to accomplish. After a long and painful recovery, Criqui returned home.

His family and doctors were stunned when he told them he had decided to resume his boxing career. It seemed he must have gone a bit mad to be even considering returning to such a brutal profession after suffering serious injuries. But return he did and what a second career he had.

In his first four years of boxing he had 68 fights but scored just 14 knockouts. In his comeback after the war he had another 68 fights, but this time he scored 42 knockouts in 60 wins. Clearly, he had changed his style. I have read that prewar Eugene had been a slick boxer who was content to go the distance.

War Hero

After the war, his style turned much more aggressive, and he developed a powerful right hand. Why the change? Well, for one thing, he had grown from a flyweight to a featherweight. But I theorize he was greatly influenced by another great French champion who was also a war hero. If you watch films of Eugene Criqui in his fights after the war you can see his style is clearly patterned on that of Georges Carpentier. The way he holds his left and sets up his opponents for his lethal right hand is right out of the Carpentier playbook.

Georges Carpentier was immensely popular in the United States after the war. He was handsome and a war hero. That fact was not lost on promoters when they matched him against Jack Dempsey who had been accused of evading the draft and sitting out the war. When the two met in 1921 they drew a gate of over a million dollars.

Eugene Criqui Knocking Out Johnny Kilbane

In 1923 promoter Tom O’Rourke brought Criqui to New York to fight Johnny Kilbane for the World Featherweight Title. It could have been that O’Rourke saw some of the Carpentier magic in Criqui. The fight took place at the Polo Grounds. It would be the first time Eugene would fight in the United States, but as with Carpentier, he had a reputation as a war hero and was also known for his exciting knockout power. Because of this, the fight generated excitement, though Kilbane was installed as the betting favorite.

Criqui And Johnny Dundee Square Off

Criqui exceeded expectations when he kayoed the champion in the 6th round with a solid right hand. Now the champion, Eugene was under contractual obligation to defend the title within 60 days against Johnny Dundee. Dundee and Criqui met on July 26, 1923, just 54 days after the Kilbane fight. Dundee dropped Eugene four times on his way to winning a fifteen round decision and the title. This was one of the shortest reigns of any world champion.

It would be Eugene’s last fight in the United States. He would fight just six more bouts. Losing four, including one to Panama Al Brown in Paris. He retired in 1928, having compiled a career record of 136 bouts with 105 wins, 16 losses, and 15 draws. 59 of his wins came via knockout.

It’s a mystery why he never fought in the States again or why he had so few fights after losing the title. It has been said he quit boxing because of injuries to his hands. His jaw certainly held up well as he was only stopped on five occasions.

Eugene went on to have a career as a boxing referee in France. He was the second French boxer to win a world championship, Carpentier being the first. It is unclear why he didn’t fight more often in the United States or why he never got another title shot.

Eugene Criqui

It very well may have been because he had proven himself by coming back from his wounds and attaining the title. Criqui was a courageous soldier and a fearless boxer who overcame a lot to become a world champion. On July 7, 1977, he passed away in a nursing home in Noisy-le-Grand, France. He was 83 years old.

Not a lot has been written about this very interesting champion. In 2017 a biography of Criqui was published in France but has not been translated into English. The title of the book is Gueule De Fer, which translated means Iron Mouth. It would be interesting to know more about his life. Just the little we do know is quite inspirational.

Book Review: “The Night The Referee Hit Back”

Mike Silver Scores a Knockout 

With

The Night The Referee Hit Back:

Memorable Moments From The World Of Boxing

Review: The Night The Referee Hit Back

By Mike Silver

Forward By Teddy Atlas

Rowman & Littlefield

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Mike Silver has been deeply involved with boxing for well over half a century. He started as a kid training in the legendary Stillman’s Gym, served on the New York State Boxing Commission, and even took a crack at promoting fights. Where he has left an indelible mark is with his writing about the sport. His book The Arc Of Boxing: The Rise And Decline Of The Sweet Science is the finest book ever written on how the fine art of boxing has regressed to something that is all but unrecognizable today.

He followed that up with Stars In The Ring: Jewish Champions In The Golden Age Of Boxing: A Photographic History, a detailed look back on the history of Jewish fighters that includes the period when boxing was very much a Jewish sport.

Mike has also penned hundreds of interesting and at times controversial articles for many boxing publications and web sites (Note: Mike Silver is a frequent contributor to Boxing Over Broadway). 

In his latest book, The Night The Referee Hit Back, Mr. Silver brings us a selection of those essays along with a number of interviews with some of the last of the old school boxers. Thumbing through the pages of this volume is like getting an advance degree in boxing theory. Mike brings you back to the days of the real boxing gyms in his opening piece, Boxing In Olde New York: Unforgettable Stillman’s Gym. He not only knows the history of this iconic establishment, he was actually there when it was in full swing. You can smell the cigar smoke and hear the tattooing on the speed bags. With his pen (or keyboard) Mike paints a word picture that if it were in a frame would be a George Bellows lithograph.

Charley Goldman In Front Of Stillman’s Gym

Mike Silver is not one to shy away from controversy and he holds strong opinions. You may not always agree with him, in fact he may get your blood pressure to rise, but you cannot fault him for not putting forth very strong arguments in defense of his positions.

Among the articles that have raised a few eyebrows is The Myth Of The Thrilla In Manilla. Mike is not afraid to go against the conventional wisdom that this was an all-time great fight, and rather makes the point that if this was a fight between two guys named Smith and Jones instead of Ali and Frazier it would have been seen as what it really was; a good brawl between two shot and over the hill fighters. He makes plenty of other arguments in defense of his opinion but I will leave those for the readers to explore on their own. Agree or disagree, you will be fascinated by what he has to say.

Three essays hold significant historical importance; Don’t Blame Ruby: A Boxing Tragedy Revisited, where the author looks at the third Emile Griffith vs Benny Kid Paret fight and what the true cause of Paret’s death was. A lot more went on here than is generally believed, and Ruby Goldstein was falsely scapegoated by those who were looking for easy answers.

Reading this piece is like looking at a deposition for a trial, and I can tell you, Mike would have been a very convincing expert witness for the prosecution.

In Foul Play In Philly, Mike makes a connection between what happened the night Rocky Marciano won the title from Jersey Joe Walcott and the evening in Miami when Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston. Similar shenanigans went on in the corners of both champions  on each occasion. Was there a connection?  Reading this piece is like looking at a deposition for a trial, and I can tell you, Mike would have been a very convincing expert witness for the prosecution. 

The third historically significant article is Ali vs Shavers: The Morning After. In many ways this is a sad one to read as in it Mike lays out facts of just how many terrible head shots Ali took from Shavers that night. If Muhammad wasn’t already damaged enough to ensure he would suffer from CTE a few years later, this all but certainly sealed his fate. 

There are many more gems in this collection that include stories about people as varied as Teddy Roosevelt, Woody Allen, a kangaroo, and Marlon Brando. All make for an enjoyable journey through the sport of boxing.

Tiger Ted Lowry

As great as the essays are, Mike really shifts into high gear with his interviews of boxers of the past. Not only does this selection include great fighters, but also boxers who are deep thinkers about the profession. The five he spoke with were active in the period from the 1930s to the 1970s, a huge part of the Golden Age of Boxing. What makes these conversations even more enlightening is the fact that Mike Silver knows what questions to ask. These aren’t just simple question and answer sessions but rather more along the lines of a Brian Lamb interview in that Mike knows how to prod the fighters into opening up about their thoughts on what it took to be a skilled fighter and how they viewed some of their toughest opponents.

The fighters Mike spoke to were Archie Moore, Carlos Ortiz, Tiger Ted Lowry, Curtis Cokes, and Emile Griffith. The insights contained in these conversations are priceless. Ted Lowry talks about his controversial loss in his first fight with Rocky Marciano, his exhibition match with Joe Louis, and what it was like being a black soldier in the segregated military during World War Two.

Archie Moore describes what it was like to fight Charley Burley, “He was like a threshing machine going back and forth.” and the importance of practicing moves in front of a mirror. Moore also gives a list of the ingredients that go into being a successful fighter. When Mike asks the secret to Archie’s boxing longevity, the Old Mongoose responds, ” Well, I knew how to fight.” He has much more to say about the subject, and every word is fascinating.

Reading his discussions with Carlos Ortiz and Curtis Cokes is like sitting in on a master class on the Art Of Boxing. These men are geniuses when it comes to describing the sport they excelled in. The subtleties they talk about show just how much thought went into becoming a good boxer. A couple of examples: 

Carlos Ortiz

Carlos Ortiz on advice to a young fighter, “Boxing is to hit and not get hit. And if you go into the ring with that thought in mind you’ll be OK. But don’t go out there to impress the public by showing them how much you can take or how hard a punch you can take. That’s not the case in boxing. Boxing is I hit you, you don’t hit me, over and over again. It’s a skill that you apply.”

Curtis Cokes on footwork, “I think today’s fighters forget about footwork. I worked everyday on my footwork, turning left and right, backing up, going forward. I turned to my left to be outside of my opponent’s right hand, and then I’d swing to my right to be outside of his left jab. Learning how to box is a slow process but you try to learn something everyday.” 

These comments are much like Shakespeare’s advice to actors in Hamlet, when speaking through the Dane, in just a couple of paragraphs he gives the basics of acting. That is what is contained in Curtis and Carlos’s advice to boxers. It is pure gold, and there is much more of it in these interviews.

Griffith vs Archer

Emile Griffith’s remarks on his fights with Joey Archer will make you smile. He tells Mike it was fun, “The reason I say it was fun fighting Joey Archer is because we were like two boxers trying to outsmart each other. He’s doing something to me this round and I come back the next round and I do the same things back to him. It was like a chess game. But Joey was a very good young man.” In those few lines you see the intricacies of the art of boxing along with the respect fighters had for each other. 

Griffith’s comments on his fights with Monzon are also interesting. Most people don’t remember it, but in their second fight most people felt that Griffith deserved the decision. Emile also talks about how he couldn’t deal with the “extra step” he had to contend with when fighting Jose Napoles. There is so much more, the fights with Paret, Rodriguez, Tiger, Benvenuti and many others. 

When you read these interviews it is more than just words on a page, you feel you are sitting in on the conversations as the voices come to life. Mike’s knowledge and insight is unparalleled. He brings you back to the days of great writers such as Bob Edgren and Jimmy Cannon.

Archie Moore, Mike Silver, Sandy Saddler, Charley Burley

It is no secret that I am partial to the work of Mike Silver, but that is because he is very, very good at what he does. I am a tough critic when it comes to “boxing experts” of which there are many self-proclaimed but very few who rise above mediocrity today. Mike knows boxing, it flows through his veins. He has a keen eye and a lifetime of experience. If you want an education in the Art of Boxing, Mike Silver is the man to read. You may get riled at some of what he writes, and whether or not he changes your mind on certain aspects of the sport, he will make you think more deeply about your views. 

You will also find yourself deeply entertained by many of the essays, especially the title piece. And yes, the referee did hit back.

The Night the Referee Hit Back can be ordered from Amazon.com 
Or from the publisher: http://Rowman.com

 

At The New Garden Gym When It Was Hot We Used The O.W. (Open Window)

By Bobby Franklin

Amateur Star Don Drake And Trainer Bill Ebel By The Entrance To The Gym

Today, I was in downtown Boston for an appointment, and when I was finished with my meeting I thought I would take a walk over to Friend Street where the old New Garden Gym was located. The site of the first New Garden is now a parking lot, but the building that housed the second one is still standing at 254 Friend Street and has been converted into condos.

It was quite hot today as it has been for much of this summer. The sun was shining and the sky was beautiful, but the heat was scorching. I remember many times heading into Friend Street for a workout on such a day back in the 1970s. I didn’t have air conditioning in my car so the ride in was not the most comfortable. I used what we called 4/60 air conditioning. That’s when you roll down all the windows and go 60 miles an hour to try and stay cool. It didn’t always work that well in Boston traffic. 

The Two Windows On The Right Were Our AC.

By the time I would arrive at the gym I was not in need of a warmup as I already had a good sweat going. I would climb the three rickety flights of stairs up to the 4th floor where the tiny gym was located. I don’t think many if any boxing gyms back then had air conditioning. They couldn’t afford it. I also think the old time trainers figured it would only make the fighters soft. 

When the New Garden Gym moved to its second location across the street from where it originally stood, it had to be downsized a lot in order to fit into a much smaller area. The full ring would not fit in the new space, so it was cut in half. It made for some close quarters when sparring. In fact, after having boxed in that ring for quite a few months, I was not prepared for what would happen when I had my first amateur fight. 

Jack O’Halloran Hits The Bag At The New Garden

The night I climbed into the ring in Somerset, MA and the bell rang it was the first time I was in a regulation size ring. I felt like I had walked into a ballpark. It seemed enormous, and that’s because it was at least twice the size of the New Garden ring. I also recall the surface feeling very soft under my feet, almost like walking on sand. This could have been because there was too much padding under the canvas, or more likely because the floor of the ring on Friend Street had nothing under its canvas. 

Most days when you went to the gym Al Clemente and Johnny Dunn would be there. At that time they were the two best known trainers in the Boston area. The door to the place was at about the midpoint of the rectangular shaped space. If you looked to the right when walking in you would spot Al and Johnny at the far end near two windows and a pay phone. There were actually four windows there but two were blocked by lockers.

Vinnie Curto At The New Garden

You would think such a small space that high up in a building on a sweltering summer day would be a sweat box, and while it wasn’t cool it was actually quite bearable. The reason for this was those two windows which were kept wide open. It turns out that when the old gym across the street was torn down and left as a parking lot, it left an open space over which you could see the Expressway and not far beyond that was Boston Harbor on the other side of the North End. 

In the afternoon the sun would have moved to the west which was to the back of the building, and a nice ocean breeze would usually kick up. Now, of course, that breeze would pick up a few extra ingredients on its way from the harbor to the confines of the pugilistic academy we were all training in. There would be the salt air along with the aromatic delights of authentic Italian cooking taking place in the North End, but there was also the fragrant exhaust produced from the perpetual traffic jam on the Expressway. By the time it all wafted in through the window next to Al Clemente it was quite the mixture. It then combined with the smell of cigar smoke and lineament that was ever present in the gym. 

Johnny Dunn With Ron Stander After The Frazier Fight.

Most of you who have only lived in today’s sterile environment are probably gagging at the thought of this, but in my memory it is a sweet perfume and I would give anything to be there breathing it in again. To those of us spending a hot afternoon working out on Friend Street it was as refreshing as being on the beach. 

It is said that smell is the sense that holds the strongest memories. If I could, I would bottle the scent that used to permeate the New Garden Gym back in the 1970s so whenever I wanted to remember those wonderful times in that broken down old gym I would just have to take a whiff and be back there again. I have never been in a gym since that comes close to the charm of that old place. I sure do miss it.

Ogunquit Playhouse Re-Opens with an Exclusive Open Air Playhouse Patio Cabaret Series, Welcoming Back Ten of Broadway’s Finest Voices! 

The Summer lives on for Ogunquit Playhouse, as we re-open our immaculate grounds for a limited seating, COVID-safe, open air Playhouse Patio Cabaret featuring some of Broadway’s finest alumni vocal talents from our most popular shows including Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Kinky Boots, and more! This 10-week series offers 50 patrons the opportunity to enjoy music they’ve come to know and love, in an idyllic setting, escaping the stress of today’s world, if only for an hour. Beginning August 7 and running through October 11, each week will feature four performances (Friday 7:30PM, Saturday 4:00 and 7:30PM, Sunday 1:00PM) from Broadway and veteran Playhouse performers, sharing music and memories in an intimate cabaret environment. 

Opening the Playhouse Patio Cabaret August 7 through 9 is Nat Zegree (Jerry Lee Lewis in 2015 and 2016’s Million Dollar Quartet) whose energetic stylings from over, under, and behind the piano have become legendary. August 14 through 16 welcomes back Eddie Clendening (Elvis in 2017’s Heartbreak Hotel, and the original Elvis in Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet) and his passion for classic Rockabilly music with a powerful tribute to The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. August 21 through 23 brings home fan favorite Jonathan Mousset Alonso (Frankie Valli in 2018 and 2019’s Jersey Boys) for a musical celebration of The Four Seasons and America’s greatest composers. We round out the month from August 28 through 30 with the velvet vocal stylings of Kyle Taylor Parker (Lola in 2019’s Kinky Boots, the Off-Broadway transfer of Smokey Joe’s Cafe), whose evening of pop, soul, and Broadway standards is par excellence. 

The weekend of September 4 through 6 features Maine native Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash in 2015 and 2016’s Million Dollar Quartet) with an evening of music honoring the legendary Man in Black. September 11 through 13 celebrates the return of Carter Calvert (Patsy Cline in 2012’s Always… Patsy Cline and original Broadway cast of It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues), whose stories and songs are woven into a captivating and endearing evening of Patsy Cline’s music. September 18 through 20 welcomes home Kurt Jenkins (Buddy Holly in 2012 and 2013’s Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) whose light-hearted musical revue features the best songs from the early days of Country, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Rhythm & Blues. And the month wraps up with Andy Christopher (Bob Gaudio in 2018 and 2019’s Jersey Boys) sharing his take on the music of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, and more, from September 25 through 27. 

Matt Magnusson (Tommy DeVito in 2018 and 2019’s Jersey Boys) ushers in the month from October 2 through 4, with a mix of music theatre-goers love, as only he can deliver it. And we close out the series October 9 through 11 with the energy and passion of Jelani Remy (2018’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe and the Off-Broadway transfer, and on Broadway as Eddie Kendricks in Ain’t Too Proud), whose shining star delivers a feast of pop and musical theatre standards as a love letter to Broadway. 

With 16 tables spaced eight feet apart, all more than 14 feet from our new Playhouse Patio Cabaret stage, patrons will be able to enjoy a socially distanced evening with access to cashless concessions, frequently cleaned and handicapped accessible restrooms, and a hand washing station. Masks will be required to enter and exit the grounds, as well as while traveling between seating and other areas of the property. Masks will be made available for those who do not bring one. The Playhouse staff is going above and beyond to ensure the enjoyment and safety of all our guests and performers. 

Playhouse Patio Cabaret seating goes on sale Monday, August 3 at 10:00AM both online at ogunquitplayhouse.org and through our Box Office at 207.646.5511. Seating is by table, priced as $118 for a table of two, and $236 for a table of four, limited to 50 patrons per performance. Ticket price includes one drink per person. In the case of a cancellation for inclement weather, every attempt will be made to reschedule the performance for Sunday at 4:00PM or 7:30PM that same weekend. Given the unique circumstances of this exclusive event, there will be no refunds or exchanges. For more details please visit our website or reach out to the Box Office staff via email at boxoffice [at] ogunquitplayhouse [dot] org 

As always, your support of Ogunquit Playhouse during this challenging time is most greatly appreciated. If you cannot attend the Playhouse Patio Cabaret series and would like to make a donation to our Save the Playhouse campaign, please visit https://tickets.ogunquitplayhouse.org/donate/contribute.

Godoy Was Good

Held A Prime Joe Louis To A Fifteen Round Split Decision

By Bobby Franklin

Arturo Godoy

In 1937 Joe Louis won the World Heavyweight Championship from James J. Braddock. Over the next 12 years he defended the title 26 times, a record. Of those 26 defenses only three went the full 15 round distance, and out of the three opponents who took him to the closing bell, two were kayoed in rematches. The third, Tommy Farr, only fought Joe once. 

Farr is remembered for the courageous and tough battle he put up against Joe. There have been some who have said he deserved the decision, but that is not true. In Tommy’s own account of the fight he said Louis clearly beat him. Unfortunately, Farr never got a rematch and the big payday it would have brought him. Louis was willing, and actually wanted to fight him again, but as I have written in an earlier column, the sleazy people who populate boxing sabotaged Tommy’s shot. Most notably, Joe Gould who took over his management in the United States.

In Joe’s last two title defenses he fought Jersey Joe Walcott. In their first fight Walcott took Louis the entire fifteen rounds decking the champion on the way to losing a split decision. In the rematch Louis kayoed Walcott in the 11th round and then retired after the fight. 

There was one other man who managed to take Louis the fifteen round route. This man also was the only man other than Walcott to hold Joe to a split decision. While the Louis that Walcott faced was nearing the end of his career and was past his prime, the man who gave the champ such a difficult time of it did so in 1940 when Joe was at the peak of his career. 

Oddly, out of the three men who took Louis the distance this man is the least remembered. His name was Arturo Godoy and he was quite the fighter. 

Godoy was a seasoned veteran when he fought Louis. Hailing from Chile, Arturo had a long run and was fighting his 71st fight when he stepped in to challenge for the title. with two wins over Tony Galento as well as victories over Luis Firpo, Jack Roper, and Tommy Loughran, Godoy had a reputation for being a tough customer. He also was extremely strong and had a very unorthodox style. This combined with unending stamina made him a force to be reckoned with. 

When the fight was announced it was not considered to be a difficult one for the champion. It was held at Madison Square Garden on February 9, 1940 before a crowd of 15,567 people. What that crowd got to see was a fight that wasn’t pretty to look at but turned out to be Louis’s toughest challenge up to that point.

Godoy fought from a very, very low crouch while crowding Joe and not giving him punching room. At times Arturo crouched so low that he was practically sitting on the canvas. It is no secret Louis had trouble with opponents who fought out of a crouch. Max Schmeling had kayoed hims a few years earlier fighting in that way, and Tony Galento had decked him when he threw a left hook from a crouch. 

At the end of 15 rounds the scorecards were announced and the decision was split with Joe coming out on top. The referee and one judge had it in Joe’s favor 10-5 and 10-4 respectively white the other judge had Arturo on top by 5-10. United Press saw it as a draw. The crowd booed the decision, but that may have been more about the poor performance from Louis as it was from the feeling that Godoy actually won.

Godoy and Louis On The Radio

No matter the fairness of the decision, the fact is Godoy gave Joe a very tough night. So, why is this bout not remembered in the way the Farr fight is? Well, for one thing, Joe never fought Tommy again while he stepped right back into the ring with Arturo just four months later. Louis called the first Godoy fight “The worst fight I ever had”, and he wanted to show he was better than how he performed that February evening.

One thing about Louis, he always performed better in rematches, and the Godoy fight was no exception. Joe and trainer Jack Blackburn went to work in the gym and came up with a strategy for dealing with Godoy’s awkward style, and when the bell rang at Yankee Stadium on June 20, 1940 before a crowd of 27, 286 fans it was a different Joe Louis who came out against the challenger. 

Louis vs Godoy 2

Employing a lethal right uppercut and keeping his punches very short and inside, Joe went to work busting up the game Chilean challenger. By the 8th round Godoy’s face looked like what the Associated Press called “barbecued beef”. Godoy had been dropped once near the end of the 7th round and again twice in the 8th before the referee called a halt to the carnage. Godoy tried to push past the referee and continue fighting and had to be restrained, but then went over and congratulated Louis. After the fight Joe said “That’s the worse beating I ever gave a man”.

Arturo Gody And HIs Wife

So, to answer the question of why Arturo is not remembered in the way Tommy Farr is for his galant 15 round go against Joe Louis is because Farr never fought Joe again so, as most likely would have happened, he did not get kayoed by him. While Joe got revenge on Arturo just 4 months later and proved beyond a doubt who the superior fighter was. 

Never the less, Godoy deserves to be remembered for the incredible battle he gave Joe Louis on a February night in 1940. He was the only man to take the prime Louis fifteen rounds to a split decision, and that was a monumental feat.

Arturo Godoy fought for over ten more years after the Louis fight. He ended his career in 1951 with an outstanding record of 127 fights, 91 wins (51 by KO), just 22 losses, 12 draws, and 2 no contests. He passed away in his home country of Chile in 1986 at the age of 73. 

Godoy was a popular and exciting personality who lit up a room. He was well liked in the states and loved in Chile. I’m sure Joe Louis never forgot him.

Ogunquit Playhouse to Launch On-Line Education Programs and Youth Programming Camps for 2020

Ogunquit Playhouse is expanding its educational offerings to include a new On-Line Academy with programs beginning Monday, July 27. The On-Line Academy will be part of the recently developed Ogunquit Playhouse Arts Colony – an homage to Playhouse founder Walter Hartwig, who created the education-based Manhattan Theatre Colony, that was dedicated to teaching all aspects of theatre. The Arts Colony operates with the belief that theatre is a profound tool for students to exercise their imagination, and to discover their innate skill set. The Ogunquit Playhouse education programs strive to create new opportunities for students’ success, to increase self-confidence, teach goal orientation and professional etiquette, strengthen collaborative skills, improve listening skills, and prepare students to perform at personal best standards. As students assimilate to learning and performing via an on-line platform, they in turn build confidence and develop new skills. Parents are invited to view student’s streamed performances.

For 2020, the On-Line Academy has been created to connect with students when in-person programs are on pause. The new education programs kick off Monday, July 27 and include offerings for students ages 5 through adult. Professional teaching artists from the Ogunquit Playhouse stage, Broadway, National Tours, and leading Regional Theatres lead each program, which are designed for small groups. In addition, each student will have the opportunity to sign up for sessions that include only one to three people. 

Ogunquit Playhouse On-Line Academy programs enrollment begins on Thursday, July 16, and continues Monday – Friday, 10AM to 4PM. To register call 207-646-5511. There is a limited class size, and all classes are subject to cancellation if registrations do not meet a minimum of six students ages 5 to 7, and twelve students ages 16 and up. Each program incurs a $10 non-refundable registration fee. For more information email registration [at] ogunquitplayhouse [dot] org or visit: www.ogunquitplayhouse.org.

Ages 5 to 7 – Two-day on-line camps are geared to engage our younger students in various activities using theatre techniques and household items. Students will meet from 9 to 10AM on Monday and Wednesday via ZOOM. Parents or guardians are encouraged to participate with their child in these fun and innovative sessions. Drama Games: Jul 27 and 29; Build-A-Prop: Aug 3 and 5; Arts & Crafts for the Stage: Aug 10 and 12; Musical Scavenger Hunt: Aug 17 and 20. Each session is $75 per child.

Ages 8 to 12 – One-week, on-line camps include musicals written especially for on-line programming and specifically chosen and designed to be performed via ZOOM. The Broadway Experience includes programming and songs specifically chosen from some of Broadway’s most popular shows The small classes allow students individual attention and a chance to work one on one with instructors. Streaming of the final performances will be available for a small donation to parents, families and friends who wish to experience the culmination of the students’ work. Super Happy Awesome News: Jul 27 to 31; The Show Must Go On Line: Aug 3 to 7; The Broadway Experience – #1: Aug 10 to 14; The Broadway Experience – #2: Aug 17 to 21. Sessions run Monday through Friday from 9AM to Noon. Each session is $225 per student.

Ages 13 to 18 – The Broadway Experience one-week on-line camps include programming and songs specifically chosen from some of Broadway’s most popular shows and designed to be performed via ZOOM. The small classes allow students individual attention and a chance to work one on one with instructors. Streaming of the final performance will be available for a small donation to parents, families and friends who wish to experience the culmination of the students’ work. The Broadway Experience – #1:  Jul 27 to 31; The Broadway Experience – #2:  Aug 3 to 7; The Broadway Experience – #3: Aug 10 to 14; The Broadway Experience – #4: Aug 17 to 21. Sessions run Monday through Friday from 9AM to Noon. Each session is $225 per student.

Ages 16 and UpPerformance Workshop Tuesdays and Wednesdays meet via ZOOM twice a week for 90 minutes over 3 weeks. Each Workshop is taught by professional teaching artists and designed to be a unique and exciting learning experience intended to stretch each participant’s knowledge and talent. All levels are welcome and encouraged to take both Tuesday and Wednesday sessions if preferred. No experience is necessary to participate in these classes. Tuesday Session #1: Jul 28, Aug 4, 11. Tuesday Session #2: Aug 18, 25, Sep 1. Wednesday Session #1: Jul 29, Aug 5, 12. Wednesday Session #2: Aug 19, 26, Sep 2. Sessions run from 4 to 5:30PM. Each session is $150 per person. 

Ages 16 and Up – Broadway Guest Star Workshops meet twice a week via ZOOM for 90 minutes. Each Workshop will be taught by a professional Broadway artist. This unique and exciting program is designed to stretch each participant’s knowledge and talent. No experience is necessary and all are welcome. Thursday Sessions: Jul 30, Aug 6, 13, 20. Sessions run from 11AM to 12:30PM. Each session is $75 per person. 

Ogunquit Playhouse 1954

Ogunquit Playhouse 2020 season has been cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. It will focus on reimagining the season to carry on its mission and fundraising efforts to ensure the financial viability of the historic non-profit theatre. Public support is crucial during this global health and economic crisis. For more information on how to contribute and to stay connected during this year, visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org

About Ogunquit Playhouse:
Ogunquit Playhouse, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization listed on the National Historic Register. Its mission is to produce world-class performances, and new works, and preserve the historic playhouse for future generations. Follow Ogunquit Playhouse on Twitter (@OgunquitPH) and on Facebook (facebook.com/OgunquitPlayhouse) for behind-the-scenes info, photos and fun throughout the season. For more information visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org

Ogunquit Playhouse Congratulates Wells and Ogunquit High School Graduates

Ogunquit Playhouse staff members welcomed and cheered the 2020 Wells and Ogunquit high school graduates as they made their way past the historic theatre in a 131 car parade on Sunday, June 7, 2020. Each June, Ogunquit Playhouse hosts the Wells High School Convocation at the theatre, where students spend a day preparing for the ceremony under the guidance of faculty and the Playhouse technical crew. Later in the day, families come to watch the students perform, sing songs and deliver messages of inspiration and hope. Traditionally, as part of the ceremony, Ogunquit Playhouse gives each student a voucher to return to the Playhouse to enjoy a show.

This year, due to the pandemic, all such activities were cancelled. But, this did not dampen the spirits of the students or the enthusiasm of the Playhouse staff! Each student received a voucher to use in the future, when the Playhouse is once again open. While the stage was not an option for celebration this year, a lively parade around the front of the theatre made up of smiling, happy and proud students brightened the day!

“Each year it is an honor to welcome all of the Wells and Ogunquit graduating students to Ogunquit Playhouse, to celebrate their great achievements and to wish them well in their future endeavors. One of our top priorities is to provide opportunities for young people to connect to the arts, and theatre in particular, to broaden their perspectives and instill an awareness that will carry with them all their lives,” stated Executive Artistic Director, Bradford Kenney. “While this year broke with tradition, we hope the wonderful memories that were made instead, will be as cherished. We look forward to the day when we can welcome these young graduates into our beloved Playhouse to enjoy a show, but for today, our heartfelt congratulations and all best wishes to the 2020 Wells and Ogunquit graduating class!”

Ogunquit Playhouse will focus on reimagining the 2020 season to carry on its mission and fundraising efforts to ensure the financial viability of the historic non-profit theatre. Public support is crucial in this time of global health and economic crisis. For more information on how to contribute and to stay connected during the coming year, visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org

Rest In Peace Pete Rademacher

Pete Rademacher

Olympic Champ Was Only Man

To Challenge For The Heavyweight Title 

In His First Pro Bout

By Bobby Franklin

Rademacher On The Attack Against Patterson

(Pete Rademacher passed away on June 4th. I wrote this column for the Boston Post Gazette last year.)

Pete Rademacher had an outstanding amateur career culminating with a Gold Medal in the heavyweight division at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. Rademacher won all three of his bouts by knockout and won the final in first round for a very impressive finale to his performance.

Pete Rademacher, Jose Torres, and James Boyd

Leading up to his Olympic victory Pete showed he was one of the best amateur boxers in the word.. He won numerous titles including the Seattle Golden Gloves, the Chicago Golden Gloves, the All-Army Championship, and the National AAU Title in Boston in 1953. He had a final amateur record of 72 wins against 7 losses.

After winning the Olympic Gold, Rademacher got it into his head that he was ready to fight for the world heavyweight championship. Rocky Marciano had just retired and Floyd Patterson and Archie Moore were signed to fight for the vacant title. This bout would take place in November of 1956, just months after Pete competed in the Olympics. He was convinced he could beat either man. 

The Weigh In

When Patterson won the title Rademacher approached Cus D’Amato, Floyd’s manager, with the idea. Cus, always looking for a soft touch for Floyd, agreed, but told Pete he had to raise $250,000.00 for Patterson’s end of the purse plus put an additional $100,000.00 into escrow in order to ensure a rematch if the unthinkable happened and Floyd lost.

Pete found two backers and they set up a company called Unlimited Enterprises a small manufacturing firm. The idea was for the fight to publicize the new company and Pete’s purse would be his salary as vice president. 

The fight was set in Rademacher’s home state of Washington both because it was the only place it would draw a crowd and the commission there was the only one that would sanction such a bout. Pete has said he was a 10 to 1 favorite not to show up. Truth is, the fight was thought to be so one sided that the odds of 10 to 1 in Patterson’s favor were meaningless as no one was taking bets.

The fight took place on August 22, 1957 in Sick’s Stadium in Seattle. Former light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran was the referee. A crowd of 16,961 showed up producing a gate of $243,030 far short of the anticipated sell out that would have brought in $400,000.00. There was no live home TV or closed circuit broadcast of the fight. 

The United Press called the match “weird” and Rademacher a “sacrificial lamb”. It is not an exaggeration to say this fight was an embarrassment to boxing. The two leading contenders for the title at that time were Eddie Machen and Zora Folley, and they were both being passed over in favor of an amateur getting a shot at the title. The heavyweight championship had now sunk to perhaps its lowest point ever with this circus. What’s really crazy is that Rademacher managed to come up with the $250,000.00 to pay Patterson. 

Pete Drops Floyd

As for the fight; well, it went longer than anyone expected and Pete showed plenty of courage. He even managed to floor Patterson for a count of four in the second round. The plodding challenger landed a right hand that did the job, but it would be his one moment of glory in the bout. Later, Pete would say it was his biggest mistake as it only made the champion mad.

Patterson would score six knockdowns before sending Rademacher to the canvas for the seventh time for the full count in round six. After the fight referee Loughran said about Pete “He is the most courageous fighter I have ever seen.”

Rademacher vs Paterson

Patterson would continue ducking the top contenders after this fight facing the likes of Brian London and Roy Harris before losing the title to Ingemar Johansson. He would go on to win the title back from Ingo and then fight him a third time. After that he would take on the unranked Tom McNeely before losing the title for the final time to Sonny Liston.

Rademacher would continue fighting and in his next bout was stopped by Zora Folley. He and Folley had been opponents in the amateurs where they traded wins over each other. Pete had a final professional record of 15 wins (8 by KO), 7 losses (6 by KO), and 1 draw. His biggest wins were over George Chuvalo and Bobo Olson. He lost to such men as Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Archie Moore, and Doug Jones. He would later become a boxing judge and referee. 

Pete Rademacher

Pete eventually went to work for the McNeil Corporation of Akron, Ohio. The company manufactured swimming pool products and Rademacher earned nine patents for products he invented, things such as kick-board training devices for competitive swimmers and wave-quelling lane dividers for pools. After retirement, he served as golf director for the American Cancer Society helping to raise over $1 million for cancer treatment. 

The last I have been able to find out about him is he is living in a nursing home in Sandusky, Ohio. 

While the fight with Patterson was something that never should have been allowed to happen, Pete Rademacher did show real courage in the bout. He was also pretty creative in how he made it all come about. He went on to do a lot of good things for worthy causes, using his fifteen minutes of fame to good advantage, so some good did come from it all. 
 

 

SPEAKEASY ANNOUNCES TWO NEW  FREE VIRTUAL AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES

When You Can’t Go To The Theatre, The Theatre Comes To You

A play discussion group focused on contemporary female voices and a weekly Q&A with the artists of SpeakEasy’s 30th Anniversary Season are the two new audience engagement initiatives set to debut at SpeakEasy Stage next week.  

All events comprising both these initiatives are free and open to the public.  

To sign-up for any of these discussions, or for more information, the public is invited to contact SpeakEasy Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati at alexlonati [at] speakeasystage [dot] com

First up, beginning Wednesday, May 20 at 5PM, is a five-week half-hour series offering an insider’s guide to the five shows making up SpeakEasy’s 2020-2021 Season, which is also the company’s 30th Anniversary year.

SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault and Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati will be the hosts for lively discussions with the key artists associated with each upcoming show.

The schedule of shows and artists is as follows:

Once On This Island – Wednesday, May 20, 5:00-5:30pm

Artists present: Director Pascale Florestal, Music Director David Freeman Coleman

People, Places & Things – Wednesday, May 27, 5:00-5:30pm

Artists present: Director David R. Gammons, Actress Marianna Bassham, Actor John Kuntz


Slave Play – Wednesday, June 3, 5:00-5:30pm

Artist present: Director Tiffany Nichole Greene

Bright Star – Wednesday, June 10, 5:00-5:30pm

Artists present: Director Paul Daigneault, Actress Laura Marie Duncan, 

Choreographer Misha Shields, Music Director Eli Schildekraut

The Inheritance – Wednesday, June 17, 5:00-5:30pm

Artist present: Director Paul Daigneault

Those interested can join by tuning into SpeakEasy’s Facebook page for each live 30-minute Q&A session. In addition to learning more about each show, participants will also find out about the season selection process, production plans, and the artists’ inspiration, and also be able to ask questions.

Next, on Thursday, May 21, SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault and Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati will kick off SpeakEasy’s Play Discussion group, which will focus on the works of four contemporary female playwrights, and which will, for at least three of the four sessions, have the writers join in the conversation.

The first installment will feature a chat with Mr. Daigneault and Ms. Lonati, who will offer tips to participants on how to read a play.

After that introduction, the group will focus on the following four plays:

  • Cost of Living by Martyna Majok – Thursday, May 28 from 5:30 – 6:30pm
  • Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee – Thursday, June 4 from 5:30 – 6:30pm
  • DIASPORA! by Phaedra Michelle Scott, developed through SpeakEasy’s The Boston Project Thursday, June 11 from 5:30 – 6:30 

Wild Goose Dreams by Hansol Jung – Thursday, June 18 from 5:30 – 6:30pm

Martyna Majok, who won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Cost of Living; Phaedra Michelle Scott, author of DIASPORA! ; and Hansol Jung, who wrote Wild Goose Dreams, are currently scheduled to attend the discussion of their plays. 

 All discussions will take place on Zoom, so that everyone can see those participating and share comments.

Scripts will need to be purchased in advance, which will help support the playwrights during this time when all productions are on hold.  The script for DIASPORA! will be distributed in advance for free to all participants since the play is still in development.  

 Each discussion will also be hosted by a veteran Boston actress, who will help facilitate the conversation as well as offer their perspective on the play from an acting standpoint.  At press time, that list was still being confirmed.

Individuals may sign up for as many of these discussions as they like.

Questions on either initiative may be directed to Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati at AlexLonati [at] SpeakEasyStage [dot] com.