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Boxing Stories


Compiled By Michael BromkaTed Whaley is known locally to folks as the bicycle repairman on S. Mesa just north of Lea. Before that, potash veterans knew him working in the mines. In the U.S. Navy, fellow sailors knew him on duty aboard the destroyer Charles S. Sperry. Before that in his native Brooklyn, entrepreneurial teenage Ted owned and daily rented out fifty bicycles from a shop along New York City’s East River. Even as a young minor, Ted already worked years delivering telegrams by bicycle in foul weather and fair. He was a tough kid. And what does a tough kid do for fun?—I boxed. I was a little guy at age nine when I started training with Brooklyn’s P.A.L., the Police Athletic League. About a dozen boys Ted’s size and weight trained and competed. —We used to put on them bulky 16-ounce gloves. Each one the size of my head! It looked funny. We had a lotta fun. Competition in earnest began at age fifteen for Ted, by then 5’11” and 165 lbs. of well trained toughness, skill, and wiles. In twice-yearly season tournaments, welterweight Ted racked up 34 knockouts plus a couple of draws. He later had rematches against those draw opponents, though. —On my second go-‘round with one guy, I won the match on points. I come prepared. Knew his strategy and weaknesses. So I boxed to run up my score. Refs called it for me.—Other guy’s rematch began, guy tells me —You’re goin down! I said —Go for it. Well, I broke him up. They had to stop the fight, my TKO of him. He sure called that one wrong! Ted never boxed professionally. But while still eighteen, he boxed three times in Golden Gloves competition.—All three matches I won. First match by a first round knockout. Second match I beat the heck outta the guy in the second round. Won on points. But in my third Golden Gloves match it all changed.—I’m taped up in the dressing room shortly before the fight. In comes some wise guy a bit taller than me. Pokes me in the chest and says —Lose the fight. I said —What? He pokes me again says —Lose the fight. / I ain’t losing the fight for nobody —I said —‘less he can win it fair and square! Guy pokes me in the chest. I said —You poke me again, I’ll hit ya.—One last poke and I hit him. And he hits the door, then the floor. Makes a loud bang. Police Sergeant Flanagan comes in, asks —What’s the noise? Sees the guy out cold. —Guy told me to lose the fight and kept pokin me in the chest. / What? —says the Sergeant. You lose the fight, Captain will be miffed! Your Old Man’ll be mad as heck! (The police captain was my uncle.)—They hauled the wise guy off to jail, but first to the hospital with a broken jaw. And when the police ran his name, he come up wanted for robbery and other charges. No more worry that night about him. Probably he had his money bet against me.—Officer Flanagan asked —You still got a lotta good energy? / Yeah, why? / ‘Cause I don’t want you used it all up before the fight. / My blood was up, he could see in my face. But I felt alright. / It was just one punch —I said. / Well, get your gloves on. Fight’s in five minutes. —We get in the ring and Ref says his stuff, this and that —When I say Break, get in a neutral corner. I want everything clean. So.—When the bell rang this guy comes runnin out and grabbed me./ You’re goin down! he said. / If you can, go ahead, go for it —I said. And I pushed him away from me.—But he leaves his hands down. He’s supposed to keep his hands up. So as I pushed him away —I hit him. Down he went! He was miffed. You could see on his face, as if I sucker punched him. It wasn’t no sucker punch! We’re boxing! I just hit him a good one.—Here he come again. He come runnin. I just stood there. When he come runnin I let him have it. —I thought —You know what? I’m gonna beat the heck outta ya. You’re gonna remember this fight for a long time! And I wailed away on him. Till somebody threw in a towel —for him, not for me. Stopped the fight.—Doctor come in, checked on the guy. Tells the referee —He’s got a broken jaw, he’s got a fractured nose, he’s got maybe three cracked ribs. He can’t fight no more. He’s gotta go to the hospital. They gave me the fight.—My uncle, he’d bet on his nephew, won a lotta money. I was the local boy, so probably most of the crowd had bet and won. Only that wise guy in the dressing room lost —on his way to the hospital. And to jail. —But I told ‘em it’s my last fight. I won’t fight no more. I quit. —Two nights later I took a school friend, neighbor girl, to a show then to dinner. It was Jack Dempsey’s restaurant, and he recognized me! He’d been at the fight. Had me pose for a photo to put up on his restaurant wall. —The world heavyweight boxing champion from before I was born comped us both our meals that night!

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