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A Press Democrat Blog

Old School

Robert Rubino connects current sports news with the past

Where have you gone, Pete Rademacher?

My friend and colleague Lowell Cohn and I are a couple of old boxing nerds. We love to talk about boxing from the 1950s and ’60s. Lowell called me the other day and told me he watched the Floyd Patterson-Henry Cooper fight from 1966 on YouTube, and how good Patterson looked — and this was years after he had been stopped by Sonny Liston (twice) and Muhammad Ali and was on yet another comeback trail. I had previously watched the… Read More »

Will “The Fighter” win a decision from Hollywood on Sunday night?

If you don’t count “Ben Hur” (chariot racing) and “Gladiator” (gladiatorial combat), Hollywood has nominated only eight sports-themed films for Best Picture in the 83 years of Academy Awards. Of those eight, four (“Rocky,” “Raging Bull,” “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Fighter”) have been about boxing. “Rocky” and “Million Dollar Baby” won. Of the remaining four sports-themed films that were nominated for Best Picture, one was about track and field (“Chariots of Fire,” which won), one was about horse racing… Read More »

Phantom Punch: Final thoughts

Today is the 45th anniversary of the phantom punch, when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their heavyweight championship rematch. Recent Old School blogs and Sunday’s column (in The Press Democrat and online at pressdemocrat.com) contain plenty of information and commentary about the controversial fight, so no need to rehash. But here’s a final thought. I think the phantom punch was a legit knockdown punch. Notice I wrote “knockdown” not “knockout.” I think it disorented Liston enough for him… Read More »

Phantom punch anniversary: Part III

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. In the previous two days, we discussed the myth that Liston was counted out, and the myth that his career ended that night in Lewiston. Here’s Myth No. 3: After losing in… Read More »

Wit and wisdom of Angelo Dundee

So, the other night I’m flipping through Thomas Hauser’s first-rate oral biography of Muhammad Ali, and I come across a classic quote from Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee. He visits Sonny Liston’s training camp before the rematch with Ali, and Liston is doing his medicine ball routine, taking his trainer’s throws right in the gut, over and over and over again, impressing all the onlookers — except for Dundee, who says: They should be throwing it at his face because that’s… Read More »

Phantom Punch anniversary: Part II

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. Yesterday we discussed the myth that Liston was counted out. Myth No. 2: With his second consecutive defeat to Ali, Liston’s career was over. Fact: Liston won 14 fights in a row… Read More »

Wit and wisdom of Sonny Liston

On YouTube the other day, I watched Howard Cosell interviewing Sonny Liston minutes after Liston suffered a ninth-round knockout by Leotis Martin. The fight was on national TV, in December 1969. Liston was the ex-champ and his three-year comeback had brought him on the verge of another title shot. But Martin, a good, underrated heavyweight, KO’d Liston. A brutal KO. It took about five minutes to revive Liston. So, Sonny finally gets to his feet and he looks as glum… Read More »

Phantom Punch anniversary: Myth vs. Fact

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. What follows are three myths that have emerged about the fight: Myth No. 1: Liston was counted out in the first round. Fact: Referee Joe Walcott never began a count. Liston never… Read More »

Bigger upset: Douglas over Tyson, or Clay over Liston?

<CP12.2>Today is the 20th anniversary of 42-1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas knocking out the previously unbeaten Mike Tyson to win boxing’s heavyweight championship. Later this month is the 46th anniversary of 7-1 underdog Cassius Clay defeating the seemingly invulnerable Sonny Liston. Here’s why one upset was bigger but the other more important historically. Clay-Liston, I believe, was the most important upset in sports history, the key word being “important.” It is conceivable that without Clay upsetting Liston, we would never… Read More »

Douglas KOs Tyson: 20-year anniversary

I want to destroy some myths about the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson fight, one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It happened 20 years ago, Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo. Myth: Tyson, considered invulnerable at the time, didn’t train for Douglas, who was a 42-1 underdog. Myth busted: A fighter doesn’t last 10 rounds, as Tyson did, under a relentless onslaught, and score a knockdown, without being in decent condition. Myth: Tyson proved that, as a fighter, he was basically a bully,… Read More »