More Archie Moore tributes flow in upon the passing of The Mongoose at 84


(New York Post, Thursday, December 10, 1998)

By Wallace Matthews

You can talk all you want about Records That Will Never Be Broken, bat around
all the old names and all the familiar numbers.

DiMaggio and 56. Cy Young and 511. Mark McGwire and 70. Johnny Vander Meer,
and two, back-to-back.

But there is one record that truly will never be broken, nor should it be, nor
should anyone want to see somebody try.

The name is Archie Moore and the number is 145, as in the number of men he
knocked out in a boxing career that spanned four decades.

Moore, the Ol' Mongoose, who died yesterday at the age of 84, has taken that
one to his grave.

Never again will a fighter even enter a ring 145 times, let alone walk out
with his hands raised while they are breaking ammonia capsules under his
opponent's nose.

Archie Moore fought 231 times in 30 years, stretching from his first KO, a
two-round job in Hot Springs, Ark., over somebody named Piano Man Jones when
the Mongoose was barely old enough to buy a drink, to a three-round blowout of
Nap Mitchell in Michigan City when Moore was pushing 52.

And to the very end, he remained among the most intelligent, articulate and
entertaining of athletes, who spoke in enigmatic and amusing riddles.

Always ahead of his time, he wore knee-length trunks when the rest of the
boxing world was in skin-tights, and an Imperial when most boxers were clean-

He was a man who never compromised his defensive, somewhat conservative style
in order to please a crowd, and yet, for more than 20 years, no one could beat

Still, he couldn't get a real break until he was nearly 40 years old.
Had he been a baseball player, they would have started crusades on behalf of

Satchel Paige did not have nearly as long and tough a road to the big time as
Moore, who toiled at his craft for 19 years and 187 bouts before he was
finally deemed good enough for the call-up to Madison Square Garden.

Like Paige, Moore was a late bloomer -- he did not win the light-heavyweight
title until his 174th bout, when he outpointed Joey Maxim in his hometown of
St. Louis -- but unlike Paige, Moore was a thinking-man's athlete in a sport
embraced mainly by anti-intellectuals.

And since he was "only" a boxer, the rest of the sports world, in its smug,
condescending way, merely shrugged its shoulders at the injustice done to
another of our greatest black performers.

Not that race was the only reason why Archie Moore, whom no less an authority
than Joe Liebling referred to as "The Artiste," was shut out while Sugar Ray
Robinson and Joe Louis were celebrated before white America.

Although he was a great puncher, Archie Moore was no more considered a KO
artist than Ernie Banks was thought of as just a home-run hitter.

Moore, a defensive specialist, was too subtle for some tastes, which in just
about every sport run more to hamburger than Chateaubriand.

But that is precisely the reason why Archie Moore was able to hold the world
light-heavyweight title until he was 49 years old, and why, at an age when
most fighters are in the 10th year of their retirements, he was still being
given opportunities to pursue his Ahab-like dream, to win the heavyweight

It was in one of those magnificent failures that Archie Moore enjoyed his
finest moment, a furious challenge in 1955 to Rocky Marciano at Yankee Stadium
in which Moore spotted the champion 10 years and still knocked him on his butt
with a right in the second round.

But the younger man's strength eventually wore down Moore, who lost on a
ninth-round TKO.

It turned out to be the fight that chased Marciano out of boxing -- he retired
undefeated, soon afterwards -- but incredibly, Moore fought 40 more times.

Even more incredibly, he lost only three more times, including stoppages by a
couple of 20-year-olds, Floyd Patterson and Cassius Clay, when Archie Moore
was 43 and 49, respectively.

But the fight that truly defined the essence of who Archie Moore really was as
a fighter had to be his light-heavyweight title defense against Yvon Durelle
in 1958, two years after his loss to Patterson.

Moore had been dropped four times by Durelle and seemed well on the way to
losing the belt he had held for seven years when he staged a furious 11th-
round rally to knock the Frenchman out. Nothing artistic about it.

In later years, Moore re-emerged, ironically, as a trainer to the young George
Foreman, who is in the midst of duplicating Moore's longevity on the calendar,
if not in the record books.

Foreman's curious, arms-crossed defensive style is lifted directly from Moore,
and Moore's ability to fight well into middle age was a key factor in
Foreman's deciding to return to boxing at the age of 37 after a 10-year

Moore worked with Foreman in several of his comeback fights, amusing young
boxing writers with his unusual theories of "breathology," a breathing
technique he claimed rendered a fighter unbeatable, and his espousal of the
"hypnotic stare" that he said would intimidate an opponent into defeat before
the opening bell rang.

But since 1990, Moore had disappeared from Foreman's corner and returned to
his adopted home of San Diego.

By then, he must have felt safe in the knowledge that while other records were
bound to fall, he had his hands on one that would certainly live forever.

Think you can top 145 KOs? Knock yourself out.

                          BOXING GREAT ARCHIE MOORE DIES 

(Philadelphia Daily News, Thurs., Dec. 10, 1998)

By Bernard Fernandez

Long before George Foreman ended a 10-year retirement in 1987 and
repopularized the notion of middle-aged boxers, Archie Moore stood as proof
that it was possible to fight and win at a high level well into the 40s.

"The Old Mongoose," one of the best and most colorful fighters ever to grace
the prize ring, died yesterday in San Diego at, depending on whose version of
the story you choose to believe, 84 or 81.

Moore had heart surgery a few years ago and his health had deteriorated in the
past two weeks, his son, Billy, said. Moore was taken to a San Diego hospice
last week and several of his eight children had kept vigil at his bedside.

"My dad lived a good life and we're not sad," Billy Moore said. "We know he's
gone home to be with the Lord, and we rejoice in that."

It is a life that began for Archibald Lee Wright, as he was then known, on
Dec. 13, 1916, in Collinsville, Ill. (as Moore insisted), or on Dec. 13, 1913,
in Benoit, Miss. (as Moore's mother always claimed). Asked once about the
discrepancy in his birthdate, Moore said, "I have given this a lot of thought,
and have decided that I must have been 3 when I was born."

In any case, Moore spent 27 of his years on earth beating opponents and Father
Time with equal dexterity. He turned professional in 1935, scoring a second-
round knockout of Billy Simms in Poplar Bluffs, Ark., and fought on until
March 15, 1963, when he stopped Mike Di Biase in three rounds. The victory
over Di Biase gave Moore a final record of 194-26-8, with an unprecedented 141
KOs, a mark that almost certainly never will be broken.

But it is not so much his longevity that is as amazing as his skill. Denied an
opportunity to fight for the light-heavyweight title until Dec. 17, 1953,
because of boxing politics, Moore decisively beat champion Joey Archer. The
glory, as it turned out, was greater than the financial reward; Moore's purse,
after all the promoters, managers and assorted hangers-on had taken their
cuts, amounted to $800.

Along with his new championship came a new manager, Doc Kearns, who had guided
Joey Maxim -- and, before him, Jack Dempsey -- to world titles. With the
curmudgeonly Kearns aboard, Moore entered into his belated prime, fighting 43
times over the next six years, taking on all comers, regardless of weight
class. He won all but two of those 43 bouts, 25 by knockout, with the only
defeats coming in bids for the heavyweight title.

All told, Moore reigned over the light-heavyweight division for nine years, 52
days, the longest dominance ever by a 175-pounder. Only heavyweight Joe Louis
(11 years, 252 days), featherweight Johnny Kilbane (11 years, 103 days) and
middleweight Tommy Ryan (nine years, 285 days) had longer title runs than

Many boxing historians consider Moore the best light-heavyweight ever, better
than Billy Conn, better than Bob Foster, better than Gus Lesnevich, better
than Michael Spinks.

"In my view, he was the greatest light-heavyweight in the history of boxing
and one of the greatest boxers in any division," said former light-heavyweight
champion Jose Torres, who never fought Moore.

"What he accomplished after he was 30 years of age was unbelievable. He became
greater and greater the older he got."

As great as he was, though, Moore had one unfulfilled goal. He never became
heavyweight champion of the world, although he did get two chances and came
ever so close on the first one.

Moore had positioned himself as a prime challenger to Rocky Marciano's throne
by outpointing highly regarded Cuban heavyweight Nino Valdes on May 2, 1955,
coming back on June 22 to defend the light-heavyweight crown on a third-round
stoppage of Bobo Olson. To support his case for a shot at Marciano, Moore even
wrote personal letters to nearly every sports editor in the country.
Reporters, of course, already were hot to tell the story of a man whose past
read like an improbable movie script: Moore had fought for years on what was
known as the "Chittlin Circuit," going through eight managers because he
refused to take a dive or allow himself to be exploited. Along the way, he
overcame any number of ailments -- acute appendicitis, organic heart disorder,
a severed tendon in the wrist, a perforated ulcer that necessitated surgery --
that might have forced a lesser fighter into retirement. In the process, he
developed a style, both in and out of the ring, that was as distinctive as the
man himself.

Moore loved to show up for weigh-ins dressed to the nines, in a tuxedo, black
homburg and silver-tipped walking stick, and he had a way with a phrase that
defied description. Instead of slipping punches, Archie said he practiced
"escapeology." He also claimed he had a secret weight-reducing formula
obtained from Australian aborogines when he was boxing there in 1940, which
involved distilled bark of the eucalyptus tree.

In his Sept. 21, 1955, showdown with Marciano, in front of 61,574 spectators
in Yankee Stadium, Moore dropped The Rock with a short right hand in the
second round. But referee Harry Kessler apparently forgot that the standing
eight-count had been waived, and his enforcement of a rule that was not in
effect gave Marciano six precious seconds to recover against one of boxing's
most accomplished finishers.

Moore, who was stopped in the ninth round, bitterly complained that it was
only Kessler's intervention that had prevented him from taking out the dazed,
wobbly Marciano.

Upon Marciano's retirement, Moore got a shot at the vacant heavyweight title,
but he was knocked out in five rounds by 21-year-old Floyd Patterson on Nov.
30, 1956. In his next-to-last fight, on Nov. 15, 1962, he was stopped in four
rounds by heavyweight-champion-to-be Cassius Clay.

But his checkered excursions into the heavyweight division can't dim Moore's
dominance of the light-heavys. His proudest moment might have come on Dec. 10,
1958, when he survived four knockdowns -- three in the first round -- before
knocking out French-Canadian challenger Yvon Durelle in Montreal, a fight that
is universally acclaimed as one of the most exciting in boxing history.

After his retirement as an active fighter, Moore served as a combination
trainer-guru for fighters who wanted to learn the ways of escapeology. He
worked the corner for Foreman in his title-relinquishing "Rumble in the
Jungle" against Muhammad Ali, and he was Big George's principal adviser during
his comeback until health concerns lessened his involvement.

Moore's survivors include his wife, Joan, and his eight children.


(Philadelphia Daily News, Thurs., Dec. 10, 1998)

By Bernard Fernandez

Former light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore had long-running series with
great fighters, winning three of four against Jimmy Bivins and none of three
against Ezzard Charles, but some of his most memorable battles were against
Philadelphia's Harold Johnson, who also held a portion of the light-
heavyweight title. They fought five times from 1949 to 1954, with Moore
winning all but one.

They met only once with the title at stake. Moore won that bout in New York on
Aug. 11, 1954, retaining his crown on a 14th-round knockout.

It was his first and second meetings with Johnson, though, that are most
remembered by longtime Philadelphia fight fans because they represented two of
the three times Moore fought here.

Moore's Philly debut, on March 23, 1949, resulted in a sixth-round stoppage of
Dusty Wilkerson. On April 26, he came back and outpointed Johnson over 10
rounds. They would swap punches again on Sept. 24, 1951, with Moore again
taking a 10-round decision.

                             MOORE WON ONLY LAS VEGAS OUT 

(Las Vegas Review-Journal, Thurs., Dec. 10, 1998)

By Royce Feour

Legendary Archie Moore fought around the world in his 228 professional bouts,
but only once in Las Vegas.

Moore, the former light heavyweight champion, died in San Diego on Wednesday
at age 84.

Marc Ratner, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission,
remembers when Moore fought at the original Cashman Field on May 2, 1955.
Moore, the "Old Mongoose," was world light heavyweight champion when he took a
15-round decision over Nino Valdes.

"That is one of the first fights I went to," Ratner said. "I got to meet him
later. He was one of the greatest champions in the history of the sport.

"We will miss him greatly. He is one of the most revered fighters of all time.
He and Ray Robinson are two of the all-time greats."
Moore also worked the corner as a trainer in Las Vegas for former heavyweight
champion George Foreman.

Legendary matchmaker Teddy Brenner, 81, was at Madison Square Garden for 21
years when the New York arena was known as the "Mecca of Boxing."

"Archie was a great fighter," Brenner said. "He was a great light heavyweight
who could fight heavyweights and could fight middleweights. He had natural

Brenner said Moore never got the chance to fight some of his era's top boxers.

"They wouldn't fight him." Brenner said. "Nobody knew how good he was because
he was so good he overshadowed (everybody else)."

Scott Woodworth, Top Rank Inc.'s site coordinator, said when he promoted in
San Diego from 1989-95, he got to know Moore.

"Archie would religiously come to those cards," Woodworth said. "What I
remember most about Archie was the fans loved him in San Diego. He was always
great to all of our fans. He couldn't shake hands with them (because his hands
were bad), but he would give them the fist.

"He would sign anything anybody brought up. He never turned them away. I never
saw him do that. He was very cooperative."

New York matchmaker-manager Johnny Bos remembered the stories of how Moore
would manage to make weight.

"He would go on a diet," Bos said. "He said he got it from the Australian
Aborigines. He would buy a steak, chew it all up, get all of the juices out of
it and spit out the meat.

"He said the nutrition came from the stuff you get out of the meat, not the
meat itself. That was his diet to make weight."

                          KO KING MOORE DIES AT 84  

(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998)

By Tom Wheatley

Archie Moore, the second of 11 world boxing champions from St. Louis, fought
all comers and knocked out more than anyone since the invention of the fist.

He won the world light-heavyweight title at age 39, held on to it for 10 years
and called it quits when he was 49.

Age finally caught the ageless wonder on Wednesday in San Diego, where he died
after a long illness. He was 84, with another birthday due Sunday.

Mr. Moore, called The Mongoose for his quick efficiency, was more than a
boxing legend. Midway through this segregated century, he was a sign of hope
and pride and success for black American youngsters.

"That's right," said Virgil Akins, 70, the former world welterweight champ
from St. Louis. "He stands way out. Joe Louis was the top man. We'd tie tin
cans on our bicycles and ride 'em down the street when he fought. And Archie
was in that category, too."

Mr. Moore later befriended and trained with Akins.

"He was a nice man, a nice man. He grew up on the South Side on Papin Street.
He left town in the '30s, something like that, to get fights. But he always
kept coming back and staying at the Booker T Hotel at Jefferson and

Local boxing coach Ben Stewart, 62, said, "He was a legend within his own time
with us. We marveled at the fact that we could go to the gym and watch him

Local coach William "Sarge" Anderson, 62, a former St. Louis Golden Gloves
champ, said, "Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore were the guys that everybody
wanted to be like back then. That's who we idolized. Everybody knew Archie
Moore. I watched all his fights on TV."

Several generations had that pleasure. Mr. Moore never let birthdays get in
the way of business, which began with a six-round decision over Murray Allen
in Quincy, Ill., in 1936.

>From then until he retired in 1963, Mr. Moore was willing to throw his
baffling defensive system at any takers.

The Ring Record Book credits him with 215 professional fights. That's a mind-
boggling average of more than seven fights a year for nearly 30 years.

He finished with 183 victories, including a record 129 knockouts. He lost 22
times, only seven by knockout. He fought nine draws and one no-contest.

Probably only Ezzard Charles, who beat Mr. Moore three times in the late
1940s, ranks higher in light-heavyweight lore.

Mr. Moore won the world title -- in an age when pro boxing had only one
unalphabetized world -- at The Arena on Dec. 17, 1952 against Joey Maxim.

Mr. Moore clutched that title for 11 years.

He eventually crossed the 175-pound limit for heavyweight title shots with
Rocky Marciano and Floyd Patterson, plus a non-title bout with a brash lad
named Cassius Clay.

Mr. Moore was nearly 42 when Marciano KO'd him in Round 9. He was nearly 43
when Patterson stopped him in Round 5. And he was a month shy of 48 when Clay,
who became Muhammad Ali, stopped him in Round 4 in 1962.

Mr. Moore ended his career two fights later in 1963 as the only man to fight
Marciano and Ali.

He was born in Benoit, Mississippi, on Dec. 13, 1913, but was raised here.

And he never forgot it, sharing his knowledge on visits back to his hometown.

"He'd come to the gym and help everybody out," said Mike Buha, 76, of St.
Louis. "He'd put the gloves on and hit the heavy bag and show me what to do."

That was in the '40s. Four decades later, Mr. Moore was still visiting local

"I was training James `Hooks' Williamson," Anderson said. "Archie was sitting
in a chair with this old African hat on."

Mr. Moore stood up twice to tell Williamson to use his jab more. Finally, the
ex-champ - then well into his 70s -- leaped into action.

"He went over and pinched the meat on Hooks' side and said, `When I tell you
to use the jab, young man, you use the jab!' And he just went back again.

Hooks' eyes got so big. He said to me, `Sarge, who was that? He scared me!' "