Gerbasi interviews Chuck Bodak and The night big Sonny Bombed Patterson

               Gerbasi interview of Chuck Bodak continued 


(ED. NOTE -- Herewith, we conclude the absorbing interview between Cyber
Boxing Zone's Thomas Gerbasi and longtime teacher of champions and cut man, 
Chuck Bodak.)

CHUCK BODAK (CONTINUED)

TG - What are your thoughts on Whitey Bimstein?

CB - During his time he was great. A lot of it too is that you create a
reputation and you're very fortunate in people wanting you for your
reputation, and the publicity you get, and the contacts you make, and
there's a lot of luck involved. A lot of times there's a lot of weird things
that happen too. Like for example, you work with one guy one time and you do
real good work or sometimes you're not even doing anything cause they don't
get cut or something, and the next time they don't call you, they call
someone else. To me that's luck. You got a reputation that you can do the
job. If a guy hires you once or twice and what happens the third,fourth,
fifth time or whatever? Did you lose everything or what? It's weird. Plus I
guess fighters, to a point, are eccentric, and a lot of it deals with
managers, the way the guy feels, or something.

TG - Ray Arcel?

CB - He's another guy that I had a lot of respect for because his philosophy
was "you don't train, you teach". And that's the truth. You refer to
training as working with animals because you can't educate an animal. You
train an animal. When you deal with a human being, boxing is a science,
regardless of what the product is in performing, and if you don't educate a
guy, he's got nothing. Like the old adage "he's got balls", but that's
garbage to me. When I hear that I want to throw up. It's not a question of
balls, it's a question of mentality.

TG - Eddie Futch?

CB - A good teacher. And a lot of it too, besides being a talented
individual, it's the type of person that you are. Your philosophy. How you
sell yourself to an individual.How you can function with him as a unit. He's
in that category, he's a nice person. Because you can be a great athlete,
but what kind of person are you? Which is more important than anything.

TG - Eddie "The Clot" Aliano?

CB - One of the best and a nice person. He's a laid back individual, he does
his job. And Eddie's the type of guy that you would literally have to walk
up and talk to him. He was almost like shy, but a good person. Teriffic guy.
He's a very good friend of mine.

TG - Is there a competitive thing among trainers and cutmen, or is it more
of a camraderie?

CB - Well it all depends on the relationship you have with a person. You
know, if a guy's got a lot of faults in reference to what you're looking
for, for harmony and cooperation and stuff like that, you're sort of
evasive, you walk away from situations and stuff like that because how can
you deal with something like that? It's like I'm not going to go to your
house if I feel uncomfortable or if I know you're an asshole or something
like that. I wouldn't even go there. And it's the same way with people. The
way they are a lot of times, the things that they do, and their whole
philosophy in the business and the way they treat people, you just don't
deal with them. Like a lot of them, I just walk by them, and I can get along
with anybody. But so many of them will screw you, bum rap you, try to hurt
you, why? I could never understand that. If anything, you want to help a
guy, or if he isn't compatible, you just ignore him or walk away from him.
Why get ulcers, why lose sleep over something that's not important.

TG - Are there any good young trainers around today?

CB - There's a lot of them. They ask me questions and tips and I help them
because I feel this way: if I have something you think you need, or advice,
you ask me, I'll tell you. Why be a hog, or why if you have talents or
something of value to someone, why keep it to yourself?

CHUCK ON DREAM FIGHTS

TG - Julio Caesar Chavez vs. Roberto Duran

CB - That would be a tough one because they're both literally in the same
category. They were very talented in different respects. Some of those
matchups are really tough because you have two tremendous talents, it's
almost like flipping a coin.

TG - Barney Ross vs. Oscar DeLa Hoya

CB - Well, at this stage, you'd probably have to say Barney Ross because,
Oscar, as great as he is, with the potential of being greater, you'd have to
give Barney the shade because he was always in tremendous condition, he had
a good philosophy, he was a tremendous person, which I think is a huge asset
in boxing when you deal with mentality in teaching. That would probably be
the answer there.

TG - Tony Zale vs. Marvin Hagler

CB - I'd say Marvin Hagler because he was a greater technician than Tony.
Coming from me, I'm originally from Gary. I was on amateur teams with Zale,
I worked with him at the Chicago CYO for 25 years, and in reference to an
honest opinion, I'd have to pick Hagler. See Tony was tough, but he was not
a great technician. Tremendous condition, desire, devotion, and everything
else, he had all that. And he became a success. But when it comes to great
technology, he didn't have it, not in comparison to Hagler.

TG - Archie Moore vs. Roy Jones Jr.

CB - No question, Archie Moore. At this stage. After a few years of
accomplishments you might change your opinion. But it's nothing to do with
the time that he fought, or the guys that he fought. Like they'll compare
the old timers with the modern day fighters. Look at the difference in
records with a lot of them. Look at the difference in the opponents that
they fought, and not only champions. There were guys in the old days who
never had an opportunity to become champions because of the control and
everything else. Today, if you can't get a break with one organization, you
get a break with another organization, and become a champion, which is
nothing wrong. There's so much to give and they can only give so much and
somebody comes in and adds to it, which is good. The other guys, who are not
in the top three , for example, they have an opportunity to became a
champion,they have the opportunity to make a decent buck in preference to
being nothing or a nobody and just making an ordinary payday. Paying you for
what a promoter thinks you're worth. When you become a champion, you have
some prestige. It demands a little more money.

TG - Evander Holyfield vs. Ezzard Charles

CB - That's a tough one too, because Ezzard Charles was a great, great
fighter. In fact, one of the most underrated fighters that ever lived.
Another guy that was so talented. That would have to be a toss up too.

TG - What do you think about women boxing?

CB - I think it's all right, I'll tell you why. If that's what a woman
desires and she becomes talented, devout and dedicated to the sport, why
not? Look for example, in track. Can you imagine a woman pole vaulting?
Because they're not the muscular type, and it demands a lot of muscular
reaction. Plus today, women that are participating in sports develop
themselves, they have a great desire and determination, they love what
they're doing, they become masters at what they're doing. What's wrong with
that? Maybe not in comparison to the male, but on the other hand, what they
do in performing sometimes amazes you.

TG - What would you say to someone who thinks boxing should be banned?

CB - That's idiotic. Why don't they ban all the contact sports? Because
these detrimental incidents happen in all of them. You can get hurt, you can
get killed. You can do the same thing in your own home. You can fall down
and break your neck, break your shoulder, your arm, your leg, or whatever.
You can walk out of your driveway, get hit by a car and get killed. Those
things are inevitable. They happen. How can you say that it shouldn't be or
they shouldn't jeopardize themselves? So what? It's an individual's choice,
right? And if there's a penalty to pay or there's success involved, it's
yours, you earned it, you're entitled to it.

In a way it's really idiotic. If you feel that way, don't even look at it.
How can you look at something when down deep in your heart you're condemning
it? How can you enjoy it? You've got to be a real hypocrite. And these
things that happen, no one wants to see it happen. It's sad that they
happen, but hell, that's life. There are a lot of things that happen, both
pro and con, in life but who are we to judge or condemn it?

(Mr. Gerbasi is an important member of the Cyber Boxing Zone braintrust. We
appreciate his making available the deep and probing interview with Mr.
Bodak, one of the important behind-the-scenes personages in boxing history.)


SONNY TAKES CHICAGO By Thomas Gerbasi "Sonny New Champ." So read the headline of the New York Daily News on Wednesday, September 26, 1962. The night before, Sonny Liston blitzed Floyd Patterson in 126 seconds to win sports' most prized possession, the heavyweight championship of the world. No WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBU titles. Just one undisputed crown. And by the looks of things, it seemed like Sonny would reign for as long as he wanted. September 17, 1962 -- The pre-fight medical examination turned into a shouting match between the two fighter's camps over the type of gloves to be worn in the fight. Dan Florio, Patterson's chief second, wanted both fighters to wear the gloves ordered by the fight's promoters. But Liston's people wanted Sonny to wear gloves which were custom made to fit his large fists. Athletic commission chairman Joe Triner ruled that Liston could wear the custom made gloves. But Patterson's manager, Cus D'Amato, didn't let it die. And finally, Triner relented, and said that he would review the matter further. The fighters? Patterson and Liston both sat silently. September 19, 1962 -- Daily News writer Gene Ward makes a trip to Liston's training camp in Aurora, Illinois. "He started out with more sparring partners, but two of 'em quit and one of 'em got his ribs stove in." says Jack Nilon, Sonny's adviser. One of those sparmates, Jimmy McCarter, concurs "He hit Fenado Cox on the arm the other day and knocked him flat. Wherever he hits you it hurts." Spectators are charged 99 cents to watch Liston work out, and they're not disappointed. He opens with four rounds of shadow boxing with 175 pounder Allan Thomas. Next came three rounds on the heavy bag, three rounds on the speed bag, and his signature training method, his rope skipping to the strains of Jimmy Brown and the Flames' "Night Train." The record plays for 3 minutes and 35 seconds. Liston goes through six playings. To finish up, Liston gets a medicine ball hurled at his stomach a number of times, and performs 64 situps on a specially designed board. An onlooker remarked "How will Patterson go about hurting this man?" Liston next meets the press, and he's his usual pleasant self when asked if Patterson will be the toughest opponent he's faced. "Can I tell if this winter's gonna be cold? No. And I can't tell if Patterson's gonna be tough. I might get rid of him quick. He might get rid of me quick." September 22, 1962 -- It's close to fight night, and both men are on edge. Liston greets his press agent with an unsmiling "Hello, you miserable rat" after the agent brought the press to camp. And Patterson is just as snippy. Floyd gets asked "Are you awed by Liston's massiveness?" His response? "I'm not fighting his massiveness, I'm fighting him. Liston, he talks too much, so I think my confidence is different from his. His is on the surface. To support it he seems to have to keep talking about what he will do to me." The Tale of the Tape Patterson Liston 27 Age 28 189 Weight 212 6-0 Height 6-1 16 1/2 Neck 17 1/2 40" Chest(Nor) 44" 42" Chest(Exp) 46 1/2" 32 1/2" Waist 33" 14 1/2" Biceps 16 1/2" 12 3/4" Fist 14" 21 1/2" Thigh 25 1/2" 6" Wrist 8 1/2" 15 1/2" Calf 16" 9 1/2" Ankle 12" September 24, 1962 -- The glove controversy strikes again. While both camps argued back and forth, Liston finally puts an end to matters with a disgusted "Oh, they're all right". So Sonny will wear eight ounce Everlast gloves on fight night, as will Patterson. Also in effect for the fight will be the five point must scoring system, and the mandatory eight count. The card will start at 8:30pm Chicago time, with the main event coming off at 9:40pm. The line on the fight is Liston as favorite, with the odds being 8-5. But the sports writers of the nation are firmly in Floyd's corner, tabbing him as a victor, 51-32. The Daily News staff picks Liston by a 4-3 margin. Jimmy Powers, Dick Young, and Bruce Stark all like Patterson by kayo, in six, ten, and eight rounds respectively. A cartoon in the News depicts Patterson landing a right on Liston, with the caption "The Liston Myth". Below reads the following: "Tonight in Chicago, Floyd Patterson will attempt to answer a question of long standing: Is Sonny Liston a genuine ogre or is he a fairy tale phony, hiding behind a scowl and a sneer? My guess is the latter, and it will take Floyd just eight rounds to prove it!" September 25, 1962 -- Before a crowd of 18,894 at Chicago's Comiskey Park, Sonny Liston knocked the heavyweight crown off Floyd Patterson's head with a quick one round knockout. Liston landed the first punch of the fight, a right to the head. Floyd immediately clinched. Floyd missed a wild left, and Liston retaliated with a left of his own, which landed. Liston continued to move forward, landing shots on Patterson. A left to the head, then the body, and another right and left put Patterson down. Floyd went into a crouch, shaking his head as referee Frank Sikora counted him out at the 2:06 mark. Back in the dressing room, it was obvious that the title had not calmed Sonny much. Irked by the questions from the press, he commented "This is worse than the fight. I'd like to go out there and fight him some more." Did Patterson hurt Sonny? "Yeah, he hurt me when it looked as though he was going to get up at nine. But he couldn't make it. I expected to get him early. He was a good champion. I hope that the public will forget the past and give me a chance to be a good champion, too." The Patterson locker room was as upbeat as a funeral. Cus D'Amato, who didn't want Patterson to fight Liston, sat with Floyd's mother Annabelle, both wearing anguished looks on their faces. Annabelle also wanted her son in the ring with Sonny again. "I want Floyd to fight him again. I don't think he would have won even if he had beaten the count and gotten up." What about Patterson himself? Did he hear the count? "Not clearly. I thought I heard him say eight, and I jumped up. I thought I made it." But Floyd did say that he planned to invoke the rematch clause in the contract. Liston-Patterson II would be made...with the same result. This fight was the richest one-time sporting event ever. Patterson's take? 1.7 million dollars. The new champ went home with $400,000, the most ever for a first time heavyweight challenger. You want to add insult to injury for Patterson? Floyd and his people tried to leave Comiskey via the ushers' room, to avoid the crowd. They subsequently found themselves locked in the room. a hammer and a metal pipe was unable to break the lock, so a hacksaw had to do. Patterson stood by watching, holding his head. Talk about a long night.