There's a very potentially intriguing article in the current issue of "Ring Magazine", titled, "The Art of the Cheat", which I have yet to read, because I had two sick kids in bed w me last night, but I was thinking I would try and scan or something and post in this forum. It seems like an interesting article, and they mention Jack Dempsey's team loading his gloves against Jess Willard, among famous examples.
Here's a preview I found over on the Ring's website...http://images.ringtv.com/images/7/images/o...-05/preview.pdf
THE ART OF THE CHEAT
Boxing’s Long And Sordid Tradition
By Don Stradley
When Jess Willard was an elderly man, he used to invite reporters to touch his face. “Feel this,” he’d say, using one of his giant hands to guide the reporter’s fingers. Willard wanted them to feel the reminder of a bout that happened 40 years earlier in Toledo, Ohio. Reporters never knew how to respond. A section of Willard’s cheekbone still moved around under the skin like a loose coin.
“This is what Dempsey did,” Willard would say. “Do you think a little guy could do that without something in his gloves?”
Boxing’s reputation as the red light district of sports is grossly disproportionate to the actual number of fighters who get called out, but the recent controversy surrounding Antonio Margarito’s handwraps has brought the topic of cheating into the light again. Mind you, we’re not talking about “dirty” fighters, for the dirtiest of them do their work in full view of the customers. Cheaters gain their edge when no one is looking.
There’s no doubt Margarito’s situation will follow him into the future. Shane Mosley, who is under scrutiny himself as the ongoing BALCO investigation lurches into its fifth year, could tell Margarito how these things tend to linger over a fighter, for even though we live in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty, there’s another bromide that carries even more clout: perception is everything.
The perception is that something fishy is going on with handwraps.
Mere weeks before Margarito’s camp was busted for allegedly using a hardening substance on his hands prior to his bout with Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya’s handwraps were questioned before his December bout with Manny Pacquiao. In 2001, Felix Trinidad’s team was reproached for the way Trinidad’s hands were taped prior to his bout with Bernard Hopkins. Trinidad’s father exclaimed, “This is how we wrap hands in Puerto Rico.”
A cultural divide seems to exist when it comes to wrapping a fighter’s hands. The wrapped hands of many Mexican and Puerto Rican fighters look as dangerous as the battle cestus worn by the ancient Greeks. Is this a subtle form of cheating?
“I don’t think so,” said HBO analyst and Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who described the style of wrapping south of the United States as “ritualistic.”
“Up here, we wrap quickly,” Steward told THE RING. “Trainers in Latin American countries use much more material, and spend twice as long on a fighter. You’ve noticed American fightersare always breaking their hands, but you don’t see as many hand problems among Latin-American fighters. With Margarito, I think his trainer was just trying to protect his fighter’s hands.”
Objecting to what a fighter may have in or on his hands is as old as the Sweet Science itself. During an 1810 bout at Copthall Common near East Grinstead, England, the handlers of British hero Tom Cribb complained that the American Tom Molineaux had a lead ball bearing in his fist. This turned out to be a ruse to give Cribb a breather. While the referee searched Molineaux, Cribb regrouped; he went on to win the fight.
The cornermen of the bare-fist era were diabolical. During an 1872 bout between Arthur Chambers and William Edwards, Chambers’ own second bit him on the shoulder. The second then showed the bite marks to the referee, accusing Edwards of doing the biting. The referee promptly disqualified Edwards. The New York Times covered this bout with a headline declaring “The Downfall Of Pugilism,” but the cheating would continue through all of boxing’s eras, from the days when Johnny Regan, an American middleweight of the 1880s, sharpened the spikes on his fighting boots so he could cut into an opponent’s legs, to when an astringent mysteriously appeared on Sonny Liston’s gloves in his 1964 bout with Muhammad Ali.
The sporting world has never had much of a conscience. Hockey has its illegal sticks; auto racing has nimble-fingered mechanics making adjustments that go undetected by engine monitors; baseball has corked bats, pine tar, and spitballs; horse racing has battery-operated buzzers. Comedian Bill Maher recently referred to the Olympic Games as a contest to determine which country had the best drugs His audience nodded and laughed. Our society’s sense of competition has morphed from “may the best man win” to “win at all costs.” It’s a world of cheaters.
“Margaritogate” has created a stir, but boxing fans, fed constant stories about performance enhancers and other dishonest dealings, aren’t too surprised. They’re probably surprised they don’t hear about illegal handwraps more often.
“People assume that cheating goes on in boxing all the time, but I would say it’s very seldom,” said Steward. “I doubt Margarito has done this in the past; he’s fought in all of the biggest states with the best commissions, so I find it hard to believe he’d get away with it for this long.
“It’s very easy to make a hand into a solid cast. I’ve done it for fighters in sparring, just to make sure their knuckles and wrists are stabilized. But no one would dare do it in a real fight because they would risk losing their license, and discredit their entire career,” said Steward.
Tim Lueckenhoff, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions, concurred, telling THE RING that handwrapping controversies are “very rare.”
For as long as fighters have worn gloves, they’ve tampered with the contents. Lew Jenkins was a master at shifting the padding around in his gloves. Fritzie Zivic once recalled, “He’d push the pads back so when you got hit with his punch, all he had was a little bit of leather in between there.” Describing how it felt to get hit in the forehead by Jenkins, Zivic said, “I thought the building fell on me.” At least Zivic lived to laugh about it.
Billy Collins Jr. was an undefeated prospect when he faced Luis Resto in Madison Square Garden back in 1983. After 10 rounds, Resto had slugged Collins into blind uselessness. After the fight, Collins’ father grabbed Resto’s gloved hand and felt nothing but knuckles. Someone had removed the horsehair lining from Resto’s gloves.
Collins’ eyes were permanently damaged. He would never fight again. Nine months later, drunk and depressed, he drove into a creek and died on impact. Veteran trainer Lee Black testified in court that he had witnessed Resto’s trainer, Carlos “Panama” Lewis, take the gloves into a bathroom and slit them with a scissors. Resto and Lewis served 2½ years in prison for, among other things, tampering with a sporting contest.
“I know any time that a horsehair glove is used, I certainly take note,” said Lueckenhoff, who explained the proper procedure for THE RING: “The gloves are supposed to be placed on the fighters in the presence of the inspector. Then the tape over the gloves are to be marked by the inspector to easily determine if they have been altered. In cases when an inspector has not viewed the wraps and the gloves have been applied, it is imperative that the gloves be removed and the handwraps inspected.
“Normally, handwraps are not inspected or retained after a fight.” The holy grail of discarded handwraps would be ones worn by Dempsey on July 4, 1919. That was the day he nearly slaughtered Willard for the heavyweight championship, caving in the side of Willard’s face and breaking his jaw in multiple places. In a posthumous memoir published in a January 1964 issue of Sports Illustrated, Dempsey’s manager, Jack “Doc” Kearns, claimed to have covered Dempsey’s wrapped hands with plaster of paris. Kearns was trying to ensure Dempsey would win by first-round knockout because of a $100,000 wager he’d placed. According to Kearns, Dempsey thought his hands were being sprinkled with talcum powder.
Dempsey, who had suffered these rumors in the past, was livid when the piece came out. He claimed Kearns was just a bitter old man telling lies. Dempsey often claimed the loaded glove theory was started by Willard, although he admitted to author Peter Heller that “in those days you could put all the tape on your hands that you wanted to.”
Tales of fighter’s plastering their hands or carrying flat-head bolts in their gloves were not unusual prior to the 1930s. Jim Jeffries, who defeated Bob Fitzsimmons twice, sincerely believed that “Ruby Robert” had something extra in his gloves. An unnamed member of Fitzsimmons’ camp went to the press years later and kept the ugly rumor going.
In 1925, Walk Miller, the manager of Tiger Flowers, accused Jack Delaney of loading his gloves when he knocked Flowers out in their New York bout. After an investigation, the commission found in favor of Delaney and suspended Miller for wasting their time.
When Delaney kayoed Flowers in a rematch, Delaney’s manager, Pete Reilly, made a point of cutting open Delaney’s gloves in front of the audience to prove his fighter’s hands weren’t gimmicked. Weeks after the publication of Kearns’ somewhat illogical story, Milwaukee Journal boxing writer Evans Kirby performed an experiment following Kearns’ exact description. All that resulted was a thin layer that cracked at the slightest touch. Still, Kearns’ memoir contained some persuasive points.
“In all his subsequent career, Dempsey never inflicted such dreadful damage on an opponent. And he did it to this one in the very first round,” Kearns wrote. “In those times you got away with everything possible. Turn your head, or let the other guy turn his, and knuckles were wrapped in heavy black bicycle tape or the thick lead foil in which bulk tea was packaged. The net result was much like hitting a man with a leather-padded mallet. The rules were lax then, officials were not at all fussy, and there were few boxing commissions.”
The tape used during those days, referred to as “insulation tape” or “tire tape,” was eventually prohibited and replaced by medical tape and gauze. But if Dempsey beat Willard with loaded gloves, he wasn’t alone. Ed “Gunboat” Smith did it too. Smith beat Willard by 20-round decision in 1913. “Tore his ear right off,” Smith said in a 1970 interview. “The blood was running down, and oh, God. I, of course, had my gloves loaded. I had insulation tape laid across my hands.” Smith claimed such tape was common, and that Willard probably wore some too. “In those days you could do it.”
Long forgotten in the Dempsey saga is the link between Dempsey and one of the game’s cruelest fighters, Kid McCoy. In 1920, Dempsey’s trainer, Jimmy DeForest, told Joe Vila of The New York Evening Sun, “When I handled Kid McCoy, I used to bandage his hands with a certain kind of adhesive tape. When McCoy slipped on the gloves, the tape hardened, and as a result he was able to inflict unusual punishment. I wound Dempsey’s hands with the same kind of bandages, which Willard inspected.” DeForest rebuffed the accusations that Dempsey used some kind of “aluminum” padding. “His bandages became hardened, no doubt, and that was why he cut Willard’s face to ribbons.” As for Kearns’ story, no one believed he would have kept the lore of the loaded gloves quiet for 40 years. Teddy Hayes, one of Dempsey’s seconds, said of Kearns, “He was dying and he was broke. He would have said anything for money.”
Also, Kearns had once been a fighter himself. He used to spin yarns of his days in boxing’s frontier towns, when he covered his own hands in plaster. Those close to Kearns wondered if the mental misfires of old age had caused Kearns to confuse Dempsey’s life with his own.“I was a product of the days—have they ever ended?—when it was every man for himself,” Kearns wrote. Things haven’t changed too much, Doc. Winning is still all that matters. And portions of the public still say nothing is a crime until you get caught...CONTINUED in the MAGAZINE