STORIES OF CHEATING IN BOXING: THE DANGEROUS AND THE HILARIOUS
Thu, 23 Sep 2010
Every field of sport where the human factor is involved will always be vulnerable to manipulation and cheating. From cricket, to basketball, to horse racing and many more.
And these efforts to cheat are motivated by the desire to win and to gain.
Of all of the sports discipline, however, it is in golf where cheating is treated with utmost disdain. The mere signing of a wrong scorecard could lead to disqualification and players are expected to declare penalties upon themselves when they commit an infraction.
In all of the sports activities involving human beings, there is no other sports activity where cheating poses great threats of injuries and even death than boxing.
The most controversial and shocking act of cheating in boxing was unraveled following a fight between light punching Luis Resto, who was trained and handled by Panama Lewis, and undefeated Billy Collins Jr. which was the undercard of the big event between Robert Duran and Davey Moore.
The fight, held on June 16, 1983 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, initially had Resto winning by Unanimous Decision, a verdict that was later overturned and declared a No Contest by the New York boxing body.
The New York State Athletic Commission, acting on the complaint of Collins' father, Billy Sr., discovered that the gloves the Resto wore in the fight were tampered with and lighter by one ounce.
The discovery of the tampered gloves was providential. After the fight, Resto went to Collins' corner where the badly battered and bruised Billy Jr. was seated and shook hands with Billy Sr.
Feeling that Resto's gloves were thinner, Billy Sr., called the attention of the commission which quickly impounded the gloves.
The tampered gloves gave Resto's punches more hurting power which resulted in a damaged eye and blurred vision for Collins who never fought again. Collins died in a car accident a year later.
Panama Lewis, then considered one of the best trainers in the business, was jailed for six years while Resto got a 3-year jail term.
During the trial, Resto admitted that Lewis did the same trick on two occassions and also dipped the hand bandage in the plaster of paris to harden boxer's fists during the fight. (See related stories: www.thesweetscience.com/boxing-article/5787/fight-justice-billy-collins and http://fightbeat.com/article_detail.php?AT=131.)
The plaster of paris controversy surfaced again in the Shane Mosley-Antonio Margarito fight where Mosley's handlers discovered an attempt to use the plaster of paris in Margarito's handwrap. This resulted in the suspension of the Mexican fighter's license in California.
"Thumbing" used to be a big issue in boxing. This is where one of the boxers sticks the thumb of his gloves to hit his opponent's eyes. This form of cheating led to eye injuries leaving many boxers with detached retina.This was addressed though when boxing bodies ruled that the thumb part of the gloves must be attached to the main glove.
But while there are stories of dangerous forms of cheating in boxing, the sport is also replete with hilarious episodes.
An old Filipino trainer, Puring Angel, once told me how he laced his smaller boxer's gloves with red sili (chili) and instructed the boy to just "throw the jab" at his opponent's face and eyes.
The fight ended with Puring's boxer winning and the other boy crying all the way to the dugout.
A promoter based in Surigao Province in Mindanao, the Philippines brought his fighter to Southern Leyte many years ago to fight a popular local boxer, Yuki Boy, in a card he promoted to raise some money. They crossed the Liloan Channel on board an outrigger for the fight.
On fight night, the crowd was sparse and realizing he would surely lose money, he instructed one of his men to talk to Yuki Boy to take a "dive," fake a knockout in the sixth round. The purpose was to bet against Yuki Boy, who being a local boy, was expected to be a betting favorite.
The plan backfired. Yuki Boy was not able to hold his tongue. He told his friends he was taking a dive. Soon, everybody in the gym was betting for his opponent.
The promoter, wily as he was, came up with an antidote: ask his own boxer to take a dive in the third round.
In the third round, Yuki Boy, confident of the outcome of the fight where he would take a "fall" in the 6th round hit the other boxer with a soft jab and down went the boxer from Surigao.
Perplexed and bewildered, Yuki Boy complained to the referee: "Ref, I did not hit him that hard. Why did he go down?" Then all hell broke loose. The promoter and his men grabbed everything that they could and scampered all the way to the pier and sailed to Surigao in the middle of the night.
The desire to excel and prevail is part of our being human. When it is done fairly, this should be admired and appreciated. That's how we produce our sports heroes.
But when the desire to win and gain employs evil and dirty tactics, people must rise and stop these, not only to protect the sport, but to safeguard the well-being of our boxers.
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