I knew Manny since 1982 from the Shamrock boxing gym on Hastings at Main. He ended up with a 113-11 amateur career.
Four time national champion and six gold medals in international competition. He represented Canada in Seoul in 1988 as a welterweight but he didn’t medal. As a pro Manny went 24 and two, KO 13 and lost twice by KO. One was a TKO.
Manny is a smart guy. As a young man he looked around the gym and saw what happens to guys when boxing is over. He got a scholarship because he was an Olympic athlete and earned a BA before turning pro. He subsequently earned a masters degree. He is a teacher at Britannia, a school for delinquent children.
Manny opened a gym and started to promote boxing cards at the River Rock Casino in Richmond.
Manny started to promote cards at the River Rock Casino in Richmond. He was starting out using local talent, which was sparse. I mean this was not world class boxing but it was professional boxing at an affordable price and he was trying to bring the sport back. And maybe make a few bucks.
I kidded him. “Maybe you can quit your day job.” Manny was a teacher. I knew he was sick of teaching. But he says no,”…I need the pension.”
He’s got mostly four or six round novices and some veteran guys, shot fighters that guys coming up can build a record on. If Manny was doing the matchmaking he was doing a good job most of the time. Manny is a smart guy, in fact, I believe he earned a masters degree, which is very unusual for a fighter.
This was the, I think it was the third promotion out there. I remember bits and pieces of various cards; I just don’t remember what belongs where. Or what time frame particularly.
This was maybe 2007. Manny got me in for free. I could take care of the gloves. Fight gloves are only used once. Then you get them off the fighters after they step out of the ring. They make good bag gloves; eight/ten ounce gloves.
Anyway, I didn’t even have to do that, because other guys from the gym were doing it. Who was on top of this card I don’t remember, maybe it was Reynolds. Kevin Reynolds is a south paw cruiser-weight, a good fighter, who is short for the weight. He was a good amateur. He ain’t going too far in the pros.
Here’s the fight that sticks in my mind. It was a young Canadian-Italian kid, a heavyweight vs. a black guy in his forties. The Italian kid was in his early twenties. He’s pretty raw; a strong kid. He has a bit of a punch; heavy hands but no snap. The black guy is too tough for his own good.
This is a six round fight. Within two rounds it’s a mismatch. Between rounds the black guy stands in his corner heaving and he won’t sit down. He’s hanging on the turnbuckles; doubled over. If he sits down they will need a stretcher.
By the fourth round the black guy is glued to the ropes. His back is towards the audience because the ring is on the stage. The white kid is having a hay-day. One heavy, meaty, head shot after another. The crowd is silent. They are hypnotized. The black guy is getting a low tech lobotomy. The refs back is to me on an angle. I can see the side of his face. I’m wondering if the black guy owes him money or something. The ref watched too many Rocky movies.
I feel queasy. Finally: “STOP THIS FIGHT!!!” I got a very powerful voice. The crowd wakes up and takes up the hue and cry and the fucking referee finally steps in.
This black guy steps out of the ring and walks by me in a robe, sweating. He looks disgruntled. I tell him, “You’re a brave man.” He just snorts. This guy; there are guys that would rather die than lose. They would rather die; for real. It’s who they are.
Later on I’m downstairs under the stage, back in the dressing rooms. An official I knew from before is down there talking to someone else. “That was the most disgusting thing I ever saw!”
I’ve been around boxing a long time. I love the sport and feel privileged to have participated in it even in my little way. My little fights. But it’s going to happen. Sooner or later, something; you will see something that will fill you with revulsion for the sport. And I adhere to it. I see the elusive beauty. I do see it.