KNOCKOUT ARTIST MOORE DEAD AT 84 (Chicago Tribune, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998) By Michael Hirsley Born Archibald Lee Wright in rural Mississippi, Archie Moore became an affable ambassador for the sport of boxing--to all except the 141 opponents he knocked out in setting a record. "As heavy as he was with his punch in the ring, he was that light with his quick wit and thought processes," boxing historian Bert Sugar said. Moore died in a San Diego hospice Wednesday, four days before his birthday. His age, one of the mysteries he helped perpetuate, was given as 84. Next month's heavyweight fight between George Foreman and Larry Holmes is being much-ballyhooed because each of the ex-champions is 49 years old. But Moore set that bar for longevity in boxing in 1963, when he retired at age 49 after a 27-year career. For 10 of those years, from 1952 until 1961, he was the world light- heavyweight champion. He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1966. For all his knockouts and 194 victories in 228 fights (statistics he also disputed), Moore won as much fame and respect for three fights he lost by knockout: He challenged heavyweight champions Rocky Marciano and Floyd Patterson in title fights, and at age 48, he fought a 21-year-old heavyweight prospect named Cassius Clay. That made him the only fighter to face both Marciano and Muhammad Ali. Between those two fights, in 1959, the 46-year-old light-heavyweight champion and world traveler showed his cosmopolitan character by stepping into the ring for a three-round bout against 32-year-old writer George Plimpton. Moore took it easy for the most part, but he bloodied Plimpton's nose with a first-round punch. Jabbing through tears provided the writer grist for an entertaining account entitled "Shadow Box." Nicknamed "The Mongoose," Moore's ring style was characterized by a shell-like defense with his arms and by ample trunks that covered most of his upper legs. The stocky slugger claimed dietary secrets from lemon juice to meat juice to sauerkraut juice and disputed record books' listing of his birth date and place. When his mother sided with the books' 1913 in Benoit, Miss. rather than Moore's 1916 in Collinsville, Ill., he conceded that his mother should know "since she was there." But he reconciled his version by adding, "I must have been 3 when I was born." "He was proof positive that boxing breeds character as well as characters," Sugar said. "He was both." Sugar once reviewed Moore's fights with the boxer, and arrived at 10 more fights and four more knockouts than listed in the ring records. For starters, Moore told Sugar he did not make his pro debut by knocking out the Poco Kid in 1936, as listed in the record books, "but by knocking out Piano Man Jones in 1935. "He was an actor beyond compare," Sugar said, noting that Moore even made it to the big screen. He starred as Jim, the runaway slave, in the 1960 movie, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." In the ring, Moore won his title by 15-round decision over Joey Maxim on Dec. 17, 1952. As champion, he had fierce struggles against the likes of Nino Valdes, Yvon Durelle and Harold Johnson. Moore and Johnson fought five times, with Moore winning four. Their final bout was a title fight in 1954, in which Moore retained his belt by 14th-round knockout. In 1955, Moore softened up Carl "Bobo" Olson for Sugar Ray Robinson, knocking Olson out in the third round. After the loss, Olson went back to the middleweight ranks, where he lost his title to Robinson in a stunning second- round knockout. Just as Moore thwarted Olson's title bid at a higher weight, Moore as light- heavyweight champ failed in two attempts to win the heavyweight crown. But Moore, who was 10 years older than the undefeated Marciano, did knock down the champ in the second round. The older challenger wore down as the fight wore on, but he was quoted as courageously refusing the referee's attempt to stop the fight after eight rounds: "Oh, no. I want to be counted out. I'm a champion, too." Marciano won by knockout in the ninth. Moore ended his career on March 15, 1963 on a high note, knocking out a wrestler-turned-boxer named Mike Di Biase in the third round. Outside the ring, he traveled extensively as a goodwill ambassador for boxing. The child of a broken home who took the surname of the uncle and aunt who raised him, Moore spent time in a reformatory. He put that experience to use when invited by President Dwight Eisenhower to assist a group against juvenile delinquency. When Eisenhower asked him if he was a Republican or Democrat, Moore replied, "Neither. I'm a diplomat." He was married five times. Several of his eight children kept bedside vigil after Moore, who underwent heart surgery a few years ago, was taken to the San Diego hospice last week. REMNICK DEFINES BOXERS AS 'KING' (USA Today, Thursday, December 10, 1998) By Carol Herwig King of the World-- By David Remnick, Random House-- List price: $25.00 Author David Remnick frames "King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero" around five fights, involving Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali. This is less a biography of any of them and more an anecdotal history. It tells how the players joined the fight game and describes the scene leading up to the five heavyweight title bouts --Liston- Patterson I and II, Ali-Liston I, II and Ali-Patterson. The author reminds us how these athletes were symbols in a time of dramatic changes in race relations and civil rights in America. Liston was the scary, dangerous black -- little more than an animal. Patterson was the good, sensitive black. There's nothing fresh about this -- it's the way the leading sportswriters of the '60s and '70s covered boxers and their bouts. But Ali challenged that, insisting on writing his own script. There is probably no other athlete of Ali's stature, and that is a rarified group to start with, who has given more time and material to the media. As a young brash Olympic champion, he was a publicity machine, writing poems, staging screaming matches with his opponents, doing whatever he needed to promote his career and his fights. His post-fight press conferences were elaborately staged theater. His monologues and the call-and-response performances of Ali's friend Bundini Brown and the rest of his entourage could have been opera. I witnessed a late example, after he beat Leon Spinks in New Orleans. While it was old hat for most of the sportswriters, I was enthralled. But as Remnick book reminds us, Ali replaced Liston as the man sportswriters loved to hate. Dick Young, Jimmy Cannon, even Jim Murray took Ali's existence as an affront. "Clay offended Cannon's sense of righteousness the way flying machines offended his father's generation," writes Remnick. Nevertheless, Ali never refused to talk to the media. And he's still providing them and their journalistic heirs, including Remnick and myself, with material. Who wasn't surprised and touched when he carried the torch at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? All of this has been well documented, in Thomas Hauser's biography of Ali, in friend Howard Bingham's photographs, in the documentary When We Were Kings. What Remnick's book reminds us is how Ali forced sportswriting to change. He didn't do it by himself, of course. Guys like Gay Talese for Esquire and Robert Lipsyte were already writing a different kind of story, treating athletes as people, not as animals or physical freaks. But the popular columnists of the time suddenly sounded shrill in the face of Ali's antics and his ground-breaking moves, like when he refused to be drafted and when he revealed his decision to convert to Islam. As Lipsyte tells Remnick, "Clay upset the natural order of things at two levels. The idea that he was a loud braggart brought disrespect to this noble sport, or so the Cannon people said. Never mind that Rocky Marciano was a slob who would show up at events in a t-shirt so that the locals would buy him good clothes. ... He was not the sort of sweet dumb pet that writers were accustomed to. Clay also did not need the sportswriters as a prism to find his way. He transcended the sports press. Jimmy Cannon, Red Smith, so many of them, were appalled. They didn't see the fun in it. And, above all, it was fun." ARCHIE MOORE DEAD AT 84 (New York Daily News, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998) By Michael Katz Archie Moore died yesterday, four days before his 85th birthday, or maybe it was his 82nd. The man who scored the most knockouts in boxing history, 145, or maybe it was 129. Moore loved to surround himself in mystery, but some things he couldn't hide: "He was one of the greatest fighters of all time," said a fellow former light- heavyweight champion, Jose Torres, last night. "In terms of excitement, he was the greatest fighter I ever saw." He died in a San Diego hospice, his health deteriorating since heart surgery several years ago, and had been in a coma for two weeks. The Old Mongoose died on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his most thrilling fight, his Dec. 10, 1958, knockout of Yvonne Durelle in Montreal in which both men were knocked down four times. "Archie carried a 16-millimeter film of that fight with him, even when we were in Zaire, to show kids," said Bill Caplan, a longtime friend and publicist for George Foreman. "He had his own charity program, he called it 'ABC - Any Boy Can,' and he'd point to himself on the canvas and tell the kids, 'No matter what, even when you're down and out, you can always get up and come back and win.' " The Durelle fight, one of the greatest in ring history, saw Moore get knocked down four times - before knocking Durelle down for the fourth and final time in the 11th round to retain a light-heavyweight title won at age 39, if one believes the Dec. 13, 1913, birthdate, that made him the oldest boxer to win a world title until Foreman, whom he helped train, dethroned Michael Moorer for the heavyweight title at age 45. The man he beat, Joey Maxim, was - like Moore - managed by the legendary Jack (Doc) Kearns, who previously handled Jack Dempsey and Mickey Walker. Kearns told how he placed Moore's wife behind the Durelle corner in Montreal. After the fourth round, after Moore got up, thinking to himself, "This is no place to be resting, I'd better get up and get with it," he waved to his wife. Durelle was so unnerved by what he felt was a show of bravado that Moore eased back into the fight. That fight was perhaps symbolic of his 27-year career, which included 22 months in reform school. His first of two failed attempts to win the heavyweight title, against Rocky Marciano in 1955, also displayed his valor. Marciano, 10 years younger than his challenger, had Moore so hurt that the referee wanted to stop it in the eighth round. "Oh, no, I want to be counted out," Moore protested. "I'm a champion, too." He was a great champion, the oldest to ever hold a title at 48 years, 59 days. He was not the greatest light-heavyweight ever -- Ezzard Charles, before moving up to heavyweight, beat him three out of three. He lost four times to Charlie Burley and told boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar: "There were six knockdowns in those (Burley) fights and none of 'em were mine." But he was a marvel in his baggy, knee-length trunks and the "armadillo" cross-armed style he eventually taught to Foreman. "He'd hold both arms horizontal, and go into that defensive shell," said Caplan. "And that right arm would come out of there so sneaky they couldn't see it." After Marciano retired, Moore fought Floyd Patterson - at 21, half the light- heavyweight's age - for the vacant title and was stopped in the fifth. His last major foray into the heavyweight division was against a young poet who had proclaimed, "Moore Must Fall in Four." Cassius Clay, who had been trained briefly by Moore, lived up to his prediction. After his pro debut, the future Muhammad Ali had been sent to Moore, then 47 and light-heavyweight champion, to be trained. Moore ran what he called "the salt mine" about 35 miles from San Diego where young fighters had to wash dishes (or not eat) and mop floors. Ali went home before Moore could work his corner in a bout, but the Old Mongoose always had a fondness for him. "Guys like myself beat a pathway," said Moore, "but he knocked down the door." Moore had a training connection to an even more recent champion. Mike Tyson's new trainer, Tommy Brooks, was first trained by Moore, who worked with kids in San Diego. Once, President Eisenhower invited Moore to the White House for a forum on juvenile delinquency. The president was so impressed, he thought Moore would make a good congressman and asked the fighter if he were Republican or Democrat. "Neither, I'm a diplomat," Moore replied. Moore grew up in the St. Louis area when Jim Crow and the Depression were dominant. His first pro fight came in 1935 against Piano Man Jones, according to Sugar. Moore's purse was small coins collected in a hat passed around by fellow Civil Conservation Corps camp members. Moore often hopped freight trains to get to club fights in alleys and saloons. Sometimes, he was not supposed to win, which could explain a lot of the early losses on a record of 199 victories, 26 losses, eight draws and one no- contest, with maybe 145 knockouts. "He was the best-known light-heavyweight in history," said Torres. "In fact, Archie Moore was the first to give real prominence to the division." Moore held the title until finally stripped in 1962. Between defenses, he would balloon in weight to well over 200 pounds and then used what he called the "Aborigine diet" to get down to the light-heavyweight limit of 175. "When I was a young man traveling in Australia, I was taught this diet by an Aborigine," Moore would say. "It was disgusting," said Caplan. "He would chew his food, mostly meat, and get all the juices -- and vitamins -- out of it, then spit it out." How old was he? Was he born in Collinsville, Ill., in 1913, or in Benoit, Miss., in 1916? Moore's most famous answer was, "I have given this a lot of thought and have decided that I must have been 3 when I was born." He lived in San Diego for more than 50 years. Caplan said Moore furnished his home with one of the first boxing-glove shaped swimming pools, earned by playing Jim in the 1960 "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." He fought from 1935 until 1962. His son Billy Moore said yesterday, "My dad lived a good life and we're not sad -- we know he's gone home to be with the Lord and we rejoice in that." Moore also is survived by his wife, Joan, and seven other children. ARCHIE MOORE DIES AT AGE 84 (Los Angeles Times, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998) By Steve Springer The heart of Archie Moore, a heart that powered him through nearly three decades in the ring, 231 bouts and a record 143 knockouts, finally gave out Wednesday. Thirty-five years after his last bout, Moore, the only man to fight Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, died in a San Diego hospice at age 84. "My dad lived a good life and we're not sad," said Billy Moore, one of eight children of the former light-heavyweight champion. "We know he's gone home to be with the Lord and we rejoice in that." Despite the fact that he held the light-heavyweight title for 11 years, an especially amazing accomplishment considering it occurred in the era of the undisputed champion, Moore, in his later years, was just as likely to dwell on the one that got away. It wouldn't take much prodding for him to talk about his 1955 fight against Marciano, the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. Moore loved to reenact the second-round inside right uppercut that floored Marciano and brought him as close to defeat as he would come. "It was a fast punch," Moore recalled long after his fighting days were over. "It was a punch delivered from the side. Those punches are not in action anymore because there's nobody to teach those tricks and traits anymore. I had Rocky right there, I should have been able to finish him off. But it wasn't to be." To friends, Moore would complain that the referee, Harry Kessler, had given Marciano a slow count, allowing him a few extra precious seconds to recover. Though dazed, Marciano recovered sufficiently to knock out Moore in the ninth round. It shouldn't be surprising that Moore would inject a bit of controversy and intrigue into the Marciano fight. The only thing he loved more than befuddling opponents in the ring was befuddling those around him by maintaining an air of mystery and uncertainty. His mother said he was born in 1913, Moore said it was 1916. His mother said he was born in Benoit, Miss.; he said it was Collinsville, Ill. Even his record knockout total is in dispute. The Guinness boxing record book credits him with 145 knockouts, the Ring Record Book 143. Moore even managed to maintain a shroud over something as simple as a diet. He loved to tell listeners it was an aborigine diet, which he had obtained in Australia from one of the natives in exchange for a sweater. And he said it began every day with a drink of hot sauerkraut juice. Those who knew him say it wasn't quite so mysterious. When in training, Moore would simply bite into a piece of meat, suck out the juice and then spit it out. But there was no mystery about his ring skills. Moore's first fight was a two-round knockout of the Poco Kid in Hot Springs, Ark., on Jan. 31, 1936. His last was a third-round knockout of Mike DiBiase in Phoenix on March 15, 1963. That gave Moore a record of 196-26-8, with one no contest. "In my view, he was the greatest light-heavyweight in the history of boxing and one of the greatest boxers in any division," former light-heavyweight champion Jose Torres said. "What he accomplished after he was 30 years of age was unbelievable. He became greater and greater the older he got." Moore finally hung up his gloves at 49, but he wasn't through fighting. In retirement, he continued to battle against juvenile delinquency and drug abuse through an organization he called ABC, for Any Boy Can. President Eisenhower once invited Moore to the White House for a meeting on juvenile delinquency. "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?" Eisenhower asked "Neither," Moore said,. "I'm a diplomat." Fighting in an era when boxers' purses were a fraction of what they are today, Moore also found time to make money any way he could. He sold used airplanes. He owned a restaurant in San Diego named the Chicken Shack. When he fought in San Diego, he would take the microphone from the ring announcer after his bout and invite the crowd to come over for dinner. Former Herald-Examiner and Times columnist Melvin Durslag recalled Moore once entering the ring and proudly turning his back to the camera so viewers could read the writing on his robe: "Nate Rosenberg's Diamond Palace." Funds were so scarce when he fought that Moore, who then lived in New York, once took a train to Philadelphia for a fight and then took the train back the same night to avoid the expense of a room. When he won the light-heavyweight title from Joey Maxim in 1952, Moore's purse was $800. He once entered the ring with writer George Plimpton for a magazine article Plimpton was writing. Moore bloodied Plimpton's nose, but the two became lifelong friends. "He was looking for some publicity," Moore said of Plimpton. "I gave him a stiff jab to the nose to make him earn it." No surprise. Anybody who entered the ring with Moore knew they'd have to earn anything they got. Times staff writer Tony Perry and the Associated Press contributed to this story. * * * Archie Moore at a Glance * * * -Career: 1936-65 -Total bouts: 231 - Record: 196-26-8 (plus one no contest) - Won a record 143 bouts by knockout. - Held light-heavyweight title from Dec. 17, 1952, through Feb. 10, 1962. - Won light-heavyweight title Dec. 17, 1952 (def. Joey Maxim, 15-round decision). - Fought Rocky Marciano for heavyweight title on Sept. 21, 1955, was knocked out in ninth round. - Fought Floyd Patterson for heavyweight title on Nov. 30, 1956, was knocked out in fifth round. - National Boxing Assn. withdrew recognition as world light-heavyweight champion on Oct. 25, 1960. - New York State Athletic Commission withdrew recognition as world light- heavyweight champion on Feb. 10, 1962.