Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chuck Davey Still Fights on TV

Numbed by the ceaseless onslaught of mediocre boxing and mixed martial arts on television (at least the U.S. National Wrestling Championships are on ESPNU beginning Wednesday and Thursday of this week), I sought boob tube refuge late Tuesday night by switching on ESPN Classic at midnight. Most nights at that hour, they air old fights, ranging from recent bouts of varying interest to old, black-and-white fights, also of varying interest.

That night they played the original Pabst Blue Ribbon Wednesday Night Fights broadcast of the Chuck Davey-Rocky Graziano bout of Sept. 17, 1952. The announcer even brought on Jim Norris, head of the notorious International Boxing Club, and called him his "buddy."

Davey was a favorite of the IBC and the television networks because he had a master's degree, was fair-haired and fair-skinned, and was a college boxing champion and an Olympian. That he slapped and flung his feathery punches didn’t matter to them, since he threw lots of them while dancing around the ring, and for the beginning of his career, the IBC boys made sure that most of his opponents cooperated with the plan.

While this was Graziano's last pro fight, it looked suspicious to me that he let this light-hitting college boy punch him round after round while hardly firing back, except for a few haymakers, most of which didn't come close to landing. ESPN Classic did not add any wrap-arounds or graphics to the broadcast to put any of this in context. So I went to that boxing expert, Mr. Google, to find out more about this fight.

I found an article by Dan Parker from The Ring in 1953 which called this "an obvious handcuff job for the Rock." More importantly, however, was Parker's wholesale attack on the IBC and the networks.

The article is called "I SAY THE BOXING BUSINESS SMELLS." It has been reproduced on the BAWLI papers, which are archived on Part one is at and part two is at

I heartily recommend everyone read this expose. There is just nothing like it nowadays. While the likes of Frankie Carbo and Blinky Palermo have been largely replaced by "legitimate" businessmen in suits and with more degrees than Chuck Davey, many of the same problems boxing had in the 1950’s persist, albeit in different forms.

What is clearly far worse is the level of journalism and writing. Not only is The Ring now part of the Golden Boy Promotions publicity machine, but nowhere else can a writer earn a living while even coming close to writing the kind of expose Parker did.

Davey, by the way, with a record of 37-0-2, got a welterweight title shot a few months later against Kid Gavilan, on Feb. 11, 1953. He was basically destroyed, being dropped in the first and three times in the ninth, with the bout being halted before the tenth round started. His padded undefeated record had gotten him to a title shot, but here the games finally had to end.

So perhaps it is fitting that Chuck Davey still fights on TV. The networks continue to love these undefeated fighters who have not challenged the best out there. They may not be as ruthless and reckless as the IBC was, but they still feed them guppies until it is their turn to be devoured by the sharks.

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