Monday, October 17, 2016

A Johnnie Flores Story

By kiki

Johnnie Flores, late Los Angeles boxing manager and trainer, and a WWII hero used to tell me all kinds of stories back in the day. One story he told me in 1977 as we were flying to Miami was about a Mexican fighter who was sent to him in the early '60's to handle while the fighter was in Los Angeles to fight a local hero - When promoter Aileen Eaton called a press conference to promote the fight Johnnie discovered that the fighter didn't have any decent clothing to appear in front of the press, Johnnie told me that he needed to dress up the fighter, but how? He said he was not about to put up a couple of hundred bucks at a Robert Hall Clothier store for a suit, then he remembered his uncle Zeferino Ramirez. Mr. Ramirez was the owner of a Southern California chain of mortuaries. Johnnie said he called on his uncle and asked for a favor. After Johnnie explained the situation to Mr. Ramirez the mortician said that he would be more than happy to help 'em out. Mr. Ramirez whom dying male clients were mostly on the poor side had closets at his mortuaries that were full of cheap, cheap, ill-fitted suits to sell to the families of the newly depart grandfather's, father's, uncle's, etc etc - Johnnie drove the fighter to the Zeferino Ramirez Mortuary which was located on Brooklyn Ave in East Los Angeles and dressed the fighter up in a white shirt and blue tie and ill-fitted black suit. Johnnie said that as they were leaving Mr. Ramirez told them to be sure to bring the threads back as soon as the press conference was over as he had a client who was the same size as the fighter waiting to get dressed....I asked Johnnie how did the Mexican fighter do in the fight, "he got KO'd in the first round" he answered

Friday, July 15, 2016

"Damn Yanks"

By kiki

Funny how people post stuff on the internet without knowing or checking out their facts.

In a Facebook boxing page, somebody asked the question about what boxers are or were native American Indian. Some guy, and from of all places, South Africa, named most of the Mexican-American fighters of the recent past, including my son Tony, as been part Indian. He got pissed when I told him we were not Indian, he told me that Tony's mother Connie was from a tribe in Utah, this was before he knew I was Tony's old man. When I told him that I was Tony's dad, he told me I was been rude and in his words: "you are a typical yank, everything is centered around you" Damn Yanks!!!...By the way, neither Connie nor I have ever been in Utah. I'm sure that I and maybe Connie to have some kind of Mexican Indian blood in us, but neither of us is classified as "Indian or Native-American"

"Damn Yanks"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

R.I.P: Abel Fernandez

By kiki

It's with great sadness that I announce the passing of a great human being, our friend, Abel Fernandez. Abel was a Los Angeles Light Heavyweight Golden Gloves Champion in the late 1940's and turned pro in 1950. During his short pro boxing career, Abel fought at the Hollywood Legion Stadium and the Olympic Auditorium numerous times. Whether, he was on the card or not, Abel was a fixture at both arenas in that Golden Age of boxing....Abel was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013. The Los Angeles boxing community and the City of Angels mourn the loss of a great friend.

Abel would become a co-star on the TV-series "The Untouchables." And would go on to appear in countless movies and TV shows….Rest in Peace, Friend

                              Abel vs. Freddie Beshore...1952

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jeff Bumpus California Boxing Hall of Fame Speech

Jeff Bumpus: This was my original CBHOF speech as it was written before time constrictions made me shorten it. Hope you enjoy.......................It is safe to say that no person will ever be given this who appreciates it more than myself. And this is why: In 1993 my boxing career was over as the result of permanent damage to my left eye. I don't recall the effect on my daily personality as being one of self-pity. Instead of why me, my thought process was more like why not me? I led with my face so why not me? Long before this abrupt end I knew all too well the location and depth of my scars. But, as Thomas Harris' fictional serial killer Hannibal Lector put it "Be grateful for them! For, our scars carry the power to remind us that the past was real"
My only problem seemed to be a nagging sense of something being incomplete. I lacked that title winning moment to validate my career. Maybe when careers or relationships or sadly, even lives come to undesirable ends people naturally try to attach some sort of deeper meaning to those events. Such considerations put me in danger of becoming a philosopher without the toga( a nasty little mental image )
While in this analysis stage on a Saturday afternoon. My then four-year-old son and I were able to enjoy my new found free time watching one of his favorite movies on VHS at Home where popcorn isn't six dollars a box
During this animated feature, one of the characters, Wylie Burp, a law dog(literally a dog who was a sheriff) told his young charge," just remember that one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn. I don't know what's out there beyond those hills, but if you ride yonder, head up, eyes steady you just might find that you're the hero you've always been searching for"
I sat up in my chair and thought well there it is. The answer to my nagging philosophical query. Straight from a cartoon character, which would have been the first place I would have looked if I were thinking straight
You see The Hero’s I had always searched for are all around this room. You packed venues known as the Olympic, the Forum, the Sports Arena and in long past days, Hollywood Legion Stadium. You gave fans the bouts they clamored to see. Fans didn't wait 12 months much less 12 years for those fights. The pictures of those ring battles lined the pages of my treasured boxing magazines which detailed results, dates, and locations of these thrilling bouts. To a teenager in tiny Union Mi., you sounded like a faraway kingdom of modern day warriors.
I graduated from high school in 1980, found a boxing club and spent the coming years immersed in the gym. During this time I had 20 amateur fights in a very unspectacular amateur career before turning pro and running off 20 wins with 1 loss) Than in December of ‘85 I received the call every fighter dreams of. Matchmaker Johnny Bos was contacted by persons looking for an opponent for Julio Cesar Chavez in one of his first bouts at lightweight. Johnny decided to give the Devil a call.
All the stars were aligned. All my dreams were about to come true. I was going to be Rocky. Less than five years after being shown how to throw a jab, I am fighting the greatest fighter of my generation in the field of my dreams, the Olympic Auditorium. But we are talking about Julio Cesar Chavez. Not Percy or Yitzak. And if I couldn't get the decision, then I take great satisfaction in knowing that he probably remembers the crazy white boy who grinned at him and blew blood on his chest from that shattered nose I got at the end of round one.
Today I've returned to California for the first time since that day just two months shy of 30 years ago and I'm humbled beyond words, beyond gestures, beyond expressions. My thanks to everyone associated with the California BHOF. Most notably Frank Baltazar Sr and Don Fraser for even remembering my name much less making me a part of those personal heroes that I'd always searched for and their Hall of Fame. The friendships I make will bring me back to this place as often as I am able to, but, as law dog and cartoon philosopher, Wiley Burp said, I don't know what's out there beyond those hills. And who knows? I might walk out in front of a garbage truck and my return would be highly questionable.
I'm not a person who talks much about religion but just work with me if you would. Even if you're a non-believer, let just say for the sake of argument that there is a heaven. Now, Valhalla is the massive hall of Norse mythology reserved for those who've died in battle but in recent years it has become a more general term as a martial hall, a fighters hall for those who have passed on. So, say you end up in Heaven, no matter how unlikely your spouse says that is at this juncture, and you now want to find a Valhalla-like hall hosting your boxing friends who have passed before you. If you hate to stop and ask for directions as much as I do, allow me to save you the aggravation. You will easily find Valhalla for boxers if you begin your search on the West Coast of Heaven. Find the southwest edge. Seek out the spotlights in the valley that guide you to the corner of 18Th and Grand. It’s pretty simple, you see? The great ones always met there. I'd like to thank Phil Rice for his help not only with my book but on this trip. Fighters as a species have trouble making good friends during their career. But then after the lights fade either we get wiser or better people find us. The latter seems to be the case with Phil. Thank you, Phil. My mother, Rozanne, Who showed me, not told me, how to pursue a dream when, as the divorced mother of three with two still at home refinanced the only home she had ever known to fund her dream of being an RN. And if you have had a heart attack in Northern Indiana in the last 35 years you might be glad she did. My son Michael who is no longer four, although I dearly wish that he was. Mike eased his dad into retirement. Our children are our second chance at the wonders of life as we see it through their innocent eyes and are reminded of the time when we saw the same. And in 1993, if there was one thing mikes dad needed it was a new set of eyes. And to all my new friends in the California Boxing Hall of Fame: if we've met let’s talk again if we haven't met, I can’t wait to meet you. Thank you all so very much!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dreams of Ghosts that Roam the Olympic Auditorium

By kiki

A list of fighters that have left us (most of these fighters I saw fight either live or on TV, some of them I didn’t get to see box because they were before my time) - and who fought at Los Angeles’s Grand Dame of boxing, ‘The Olympic Auditorium’…The list also includes trainers, managers, referees, judges, announcers and promoters. This list is made up from memory and if I have left some out I apologize. Some fighters on this list were top rank fighters who fought for world titles and became champions, and some who fought for titles but never became champs, and some, because of the politics in boxing who never got a title shot. And some on the list never got out of the prelims but, who nevertheless fought their hearts out as their dreams of fighting at the famed arena became a reality….In my dreams, I see the ghosts of these fighters sitting around the section that was unofficially reserved for the boxing community as they josh with each other. I also see some ghosts and their ghost ladies shadow boxing down the aisles as they make their way to their ringside seats.

The list:

Louie Jauregui, Johnnie Flores, Jake Horn, Lou Bernal, Fabela Chavez, Bernard and Maxie Docusen, Lauro Salas, Rudy Jordan, Rudy Garcia, Gil Cadilli, Cisco Andrade, Dave Contreras, Carlos and Al Chavez, Keeny Teran, Baby Casanova, Enrique Bolanos, Art “Golden Boy” Aragon, Raton Macias, Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno, Battling Torres, Mando Ramos, Indian (Ernie) Red Lopez, Genero Hernandez, Fidel LaBarba, Jackie Fields, Joe Salas, Jimmy McLarnin, Gig Rooney, George Hansford, Henry Armstrong, Turkey Thompson, John Thomas, Fitzie Fitzpatrick, Chalky Wright, Cal and Aileen Eaton, George Parnassus, Manuel Ortiz, Babe McCoy, Clarence Henry, Irish Bob Murphy, Jimmy Lennon, Howie Steindler, Don Jordan, Ramon Fuentes, Jose Luis Cotero, Billy Peacock, Duke Holloway, Canto and Joe Robleto, Irvin Berman, Raul Rojas, Frankie Crawford, Jackie McCoy, Norm Lockwood, Harry Kabakoff, Ralph Gambina, Eddie Futch, Frankie and Juan Luis Campos, Dan Tobey, Willie Bean, Chuck Bodak, John Cabrera, Lorraine Chargin, Rudy Cruz, Lou Filippo, Ruth Fraser, Jimmy Harryman, Dynamite Jackson, Georgie Latka, Jimmy McDaniels, Archie Moore, L.C. Morgan, Sammy Sanders, Petey Servin, Al Silvani, Bill Slayton, Allen Syers, John Thomas, Dick Young, Charlie Powell, Davey Gallardo, Javier “Baby Face” Gutierrez, Kid Rayo, Tony and Bob Fuentes, Jim Jeffries, Bobby Pacho, Johnny Forbes, Eddie Chavez, Oscar Reyes, Pappy Zazker, Manuel Dros, Dr. Al Stolper, Jackie Leonard, George Parnassus, Sparky Rudolph, Paddy Quaid, Johnny and Nick Villaflor, Joe Kelly, Baby Moe Mario, Rudy Rosenberg, Harry Gordon. Irish Jimmy Quinn, Bob Bremwood, Cecil Schoonmaker, Earl Bebee, Jonny Ortega, Tote Martinez, Mario Trigo, Sid Flaherty, Chu Chu Jimenez, Phil “Wildcat” Kim, Young Jack Johnson, Tony Moreno, Baby Ike, Jimmy Carter, Willie Ketchum, Jimmy Roche, Johnny Gonsalves, Ernie Serfas, Henry Blouin, Hoyt Porter, Jimmy Bivins, Jerry Moore and Ike Chetsnut….There are many more people that I remember, but I am not sure that they are yet ghosts or are still with us.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

2015 California Boxing Hall of Fame

By kiki

A few words about the 2015 California Boxing Hall of Fame: The event run allot smoother this year than it has had in past years. The inductees, for the most part, stuck to the few minutes that they were allotted to make their speeches, one or two went on too long. I notice CBHOF President Don Fraser tugging on the suit coat of one of the inductee, but to no avail as the inductee kept going on and on…Us that log on social media sites have made many new friends via those sites, and I dare say some enemies too. Some of those friends we will never get to meet in person (don’t care to meet the enemies), but having said that I had the pleasure of meeting some Facebook friends face to face for the first time at this year’s CBHOF event. Four that I met at the event for the first time among others were two beautiful ladies, Becky Cotero Moreno and Yolanda Valdez-Esparaza, inductee Jeff Bumpus, and the infamous Saul Saucedo. The day before the event I had the great pleasure of meeting, along with his son Paul, Phil Rice. Phil and Paul made the trek west for Jeff Bumpus induction. Phil and I had had an internet friendship for a number of years, but we had never met face to face. We had talked at times of he coming out to the Left Coast for some real home cooked Mexican food, this weekend it all came to fruition but, unfortunately, his time on the coast was too short for him to taste Connie’s home cooked chili verde. How I would had loved to have seen Phil eat chili verde Mexican style, with just tortillas and no fork, that would had a quite a sight…It was also nice seeing some old friends, too many to mention…Last but not least: One thing that I was disappointed was to see the name of Advertising Director Ray Maynez name omitted from the staff credits on the official program, it was probably an oversight on the printer side, but that’s no excuse, and for that I think the CBHOF owns Ray an apology and been part of the CBHOF I offer Ray our sincere apology. My understanding is that Ray will not be with us next year, so I want to wish him the best of luck in whatever future endeavors he partakes in….I hope to see you all at next year event.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Frankie and the Las Vegas Golden Gloves

By kiki

Paul Caruso, seen here with Art “Golden Boy” Aragon once did some fixin’ for us.

Frankie, having gone to Golden Gloves National's in 1975 with the L.A. team was not able to fight in the 1976 L.A tourney because of a broken ankle. We figure that by the time Las Vegas held their tournament (Vegas held their tourney a few weeks after L.A.’s) that Frankie’s ankle would be heal and that he could fight there. So I called Bill Miller L.V. tournament director and told him I was taking Frankie to fight on the L.V tourney, he told me not to bother, that Frankie would not be allowed to fight because he had fought on the Olympic Auditorium’s pro/am card against AAU rules. A few days later I was in Aileen Eaton’s office and I told her what Miller had said, she told me “go see Paul Caruso and he’ll fix it for you with one phone call, tell him I send you” Frankie and I went to see Caruso in his Beverly Hills office, when we were ushered into his office I said to him “Aileen Eaton said to talk you and that you could fix our problem with one phone call” He smiled and said “Aileen gives me too much credit” I then explain our situation to him “Las Vegas, huh?” he mutter, more to himself than us. He picked up the phone and dialed a number and after a conversation that lasted less than five minutes he hung up and told Frankie, "it fix, you’re fighting in the Vegas Golden Gloves. I think the dude was connected!!

Frankie lost his first fight in the Vegas tourney. But no matter, we got there!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Charles Laughton

By kiki

Connie and I were watching the 1957 movie ‘Witness For The Prosecution’ starring Tyrone Power and Charles Laughton, on the TCM channel. And we both said at the same time “remember the night Laughton was sitting behind us at the fights” Man! Talk about an old married couple thinking alike!!...Circa 1957 Connie and I were at the Hollywood Legion Stadium for the Pajarito Moreno/Tommy Bain fight. We were sitting ringside, about 4-5 rows back from the ring for the new Mexican sensation: KO artist Pajarito Moreno's Los Angeles debut. Sitting behind me was “Quasimodo”, Charles Laughton had gain fame playing Quasimodo in the 1939 movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ As the first fight was about to start Quasimodo tap me on my shoulder and ask me “Who do you got” I answer him “The guy in the black corner” “a dollar, I’ll take the guy in the white corner” I am not a gambler, but I wasn’t about to lose a chance to bet with Quasimodo. So we waged the small bet. The rest of the fights we waged a dollar a fight, He bet the white corner and I bet the black corner. I don’t remember who came out a dollar or two ahead…I might have gotten old, but I would never trade my boxing era for any other.