A 'GENTLE, GENTLE' MAN (San Diego Union-Tribune, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998) By Jerry Magee Archie Moore, a boxing wonder whose career endured through four decades and a record 143 knockouts, died yesterday in a San Diego hospice. "His death was due to old age and the accumulation of life," said John Stump, a son-in-law of the former light heavyweight champion. How old Moore was at the time of his death is uncertain. Boxing records say he was born on Dec. 13, 1913, in Benoit, Miss., but Moore listed the year as 1916 and the place somewhere in Missouri or Illinois. "My mother should know, she was there," Moore in 1961 told Jack Murphy, then sports editor of The San Diego Union. "But so was I. I have given this a lot of thought, and have decided that I must have been 3 when I was born." Moore, whose real name was Archibald Lee Wright -- his father deserted his mother when Archie was an infant -- had been taken to a hospice about a week ago because of his failing health. Moore's son, Billy, said his father was not fully aware of his surroundings, but he recognized his children, who kept a bedside vigil. According to Stump, the senior Moore was married five times, with the unions producing three daughters and five sons. In effect, Moore wrote his own epitaph in an article on him written by Murphy and published in the magazine The New Yorker in 1961. "One of these days," said Moore, "the law of averages, or maybe the law of gravity, will catch up with me. I can't last forever. I've been thinking about how I want to go. "I want to be respected. When I'm finished, I want people to say only one thing of me. I want them to say, 'There goes a man.' "Moore also talked of writing a book in which the last chapter would be titled "The Prolonged Sunset." "I've been looking at the sun for a long time, but it still hangs there on the horizon," said Moore. "When it goes down, it will go all of a sudden." Moore lived here in a home on E Street -- he termed it "Easy Street" -- on the site where in 1946 he operated a restaurant known as "Archie Moore's Chicken Shack." After retiring as a fighter in 1965, he instituted his "Any Boy Can" program. "His program was one of the earliest and most effective mentoring programs for at-risk kids," said Gov. Pete Wilson. "It taught them a lot more about life than how to box. It taught them about competition and sportsmanship. It taught them self-reliance and self-discipline, confidence and courage." Wilson termed Moore "the ultimate role model" and "a great fighter, great teacher and great friend." For San Diegans, Moore was the hero who came to live among them and who treated people with a courtesy that said they were the stars, not him. "He was an ambassador for his sport across the world," said Bob McElroy, director of the nonprofit Alpha Project. "He could have moved to Bel Air, Fairbanks Ranch or somewhere else, but he decided to put his money in his community. Before Ken Norton, he was San Diego's only champion." Moore was, said San Diego City Councilman George Stevens, "a longtime friend" and "one of the most gentle, gentle persons that I know." Mayor Susan Golding called Moore "a great citizen of San Diego." After retiring from boxing, "He spent the rest of his life, really, giving back to the community and the kids," Golding said. "He was a fantastic role model." She said she had planned to enter Moore in the San Diego Hall of Fame. "I will certainly make sure that will happen this year," Golding said. Moore was about 15 when he had his first fight as a lightweight in Hot Springs, Ark., in January 1936. He won by knockout in two rounds. He continued to fight through the '40s, '50s and '60s, finishing with a record of 196-26-8 and one no-contest, with 143 KOs. "Childe Arch," as Murphy frequently referred to him, was about 39 before he was granted a title shot. In this bout, he won the light heavyweight championship by outpointing Joey Maxim and went on to defend his title nine times. Moore, meantime, also was campaigning as a heavyweight. He lost to three heavyweight champions, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali. He is the only boxer who opposed both Marciano and Ali. His bout against Marciano in September 1955 was a thunderous one. Moore, boxing out of his unique peekaboo stance, floored Marciano in the second round and later contended that the referee permitted Marciano more than the legal amount of time to recover. Marciano eventually wore Moore down to the point where the referee wanted to stop the fight after the eighth round. "Oh, no," an exhausted Moore protested. "I want to be counted out. I'm a champion, too." The bout was stopped in the ninth round. It was Marciano's last fight. He later was killed in a plane crash in Newton, Iowa. Moore's most tumultuous battle, and the one that did the most to establish him as a classic fighter, was against Canadian Yvon Durelle in 1958 in Montreal. Durelle knocked Moore down four times before Moore rallied to score an 11th- round knockout. Moore -- known as the "Old Mongoose" -- and Durelle fought again in 1959. This time, Moore scored a third-round knockout. Moore's first fight in San Diego was in 1938 against Frank Rowsey, whom Moore stopped in the second round at the Coliseum at 15th and E, where Moore boxed frequently, engaging such fighters as Shorty Hogue, Jack Chase, Kid Hermosillo and Rusty Payne. Before he became a world champion, Moore opposed such well-known fighters as Ezzard Charles (twice), Jimmy Bivins (five times), Harold Johnson (three times), Clarence Henry and Bob Satterfield. He also was in against boxers of lesser renown named Alabama Kid, Piano Man Jones, Bandit Romero, Professor Roy Shire, The Cocoa Kid, Dynamite Payne, Tiger Brown, Four H Posey and Battling Monroe. Moore was about 41 when he fought Marciano. He went on to fight nearly 50 times after that, including a 1962 knockout loss to Ali (then known as Cassius Clay). At one time, Moore operated a training camp he labeled "the Salt Mine" near Ramona. When Clay was little-known, he showed up there. Moore had him washing dishes. Quickly, Clay departed. Moore was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame three years after his final bout, a three-round knockout of Mike DiBiase in Phoenix. Moore served in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Reagan administration, lecturing in prisons and boys clubs. "When I'm invited to speak at a prison," Moore said, "I usually accept, because nobody walks out in the middle of my speech, and there is no heckling." Moore also appeared in several motion pictures, among them "Huck Finn," in which he portrayed Jim, a runaway slave. "The other night, I watched him in 'Huck Finn,' " said Stump, his son-in-law. "The way he cared for Huck really touched me. Watching him, I almost wanted to be Huck. It was so beautiful." Cypress View Mortuary is in charge of funeral arrangements, which have not been completed, according to a mortuary spokesman. A SAN DIEGO IMMORTAL (San Diego Union-Tribune, Thurs., Dec. 10, 1998) By Nick Canepa Archie Moore is dead. But you will get an argument from me. I still can feel his presence and see that sparkle in his eye. I always will have that. Great men such as Archie do not die. They never really do leave us. They are immortal. Archie Moore was a San Diegan. He is one of our immortals. Archie was more than just a great fighter, and he was a great fighter. Some who know the sweet science will tell you he was the greatest of them all. But this was a man. A vital man. A man who did so much for the youth in this country. A peaceful man who made a violent living. And a happy man. "Wouldn't it be awful if a man had to go through a day -- even one day -- without a little music and laughter," he once told his great friend and favorite newspaperman, the late Jack Murphy, who dubbed Archie "The Old Mongoose." Jack admitted the nickname fit only the Archie Moore of the ring. It did not describe the person out of it. "He has practically none of the irritable nature of that ferocious little animal," Murphy wrote. That was so true. Archie was a gentleman with an exuberance for living, and Archie lived a long time, longer than he cared to admit. I don't know if anybody ever got Archie's age straight, even Archie himself. His obituaries will claim he was 84 when he died Wednesday, which probably is correct. His mother always insisted Archibald Lee Moore was born Dec. 13, 1913, in Benoit, Miss. Archie always claimed it was 1916. "My mother should know; she was there," Archie said. "But so was I. I must have been 3 when I was born." To my regret, I hadn't talked with Archie at length for quite a while. The last time I had a long visit with him was in November 1994, when he invited me to his Southeast San Diego home, which was part house, part museum. He had undergone triple-bypass surgery earlier that year, but he was in great spirits and seemed willing to go a few rounds with me. Archie was talking about George Foreman, whom he advised for many years, and Rocky Marciano and getting hit hard. "George can punch," Archie was telling me. "When you talk about punchers, these men can knock your head off, can give you a concussion with one punch. "I've been hit hard. Marciano..... every punch he hit you with spelled curtains. No matter where he hit you, the arms, shoulders, anywhere, it hurt. He finally hit me (in 1955) and stopped me." Few men did. Let me tell you something about Archie Moore, the fighter. His record is without equal in the history of boxing. And I'll tell you something else. It isn't going to be equaled. As long as man insists on getting into a ring with another man, it isn't going to be touched. Archie, the greatest light heavyweight of all time, fought from 1936 to 1965, which means he was over 50 when he had his last bout. He stepped onto the canvas 231 times and won 196 of those. But it's the knockouts. Archie won 143 fights by knockout, a world record that will stand until the sun becomes a ball of ice. It is up there with the unapproachable sports records, such as Cy Young's 511 pitching victories. And, the thing was, Archie wasn't a notorious bomber, like a Marciano or Foreman. He was a brilliant ring strategist, a boxer in the purest sense. He was sweet, Archie was. He was showing me his style that November day in 1994. "I would call myself a clever boxer," he said. "I knew how to duck punches and stop punches before they started." And then he cut himself off, as though he was embarrassed. "This is the first time I've bragged on myself in some time," he said. But he went on, at my urging. "I was in love with boxing because it was what I could do and it wouldn't hurt me, because I was so clever. My nose was never broken; the only thing I ever broke was my hands, beating on guys." How good a fighter does one have to be to take part in 231 bouts and never suffer a broken nose? It's astonishing. But this was a magnificent fighter. I consider myself fortunate to have known him. And I saw him fight. Even in his later athletic years, he remained a ring master. Archie told me his first fight was against a fellow named Four H. Posey, and it took place in a Poplar Bluff, Mo., club before a group of "150 white guys." It was Archie's first victory. By decision. "I beat Four H. Posey to a fare- thee-well," The Old Mongoose said, chuckling. Now he has passed from this life, this incredible man who was so much a part of 20th century sports. To a better place, as they say. I'm sure there will be children who have left us far, far too soon there, surrounding Archie and loving him. And, hopefully, a boxing ring. The eternal fighter can box to his heart's content. Box forever. I can't help but paraphrase Jimmy Cannon, the late, great sports columnist, and what he wrote of his friend Joe Louis. Archie Moore was a credit to his race. The human race. BOXER ARCHIE MOORE DEAD AT 84 (Washington Post, Thursday, Dec. 10, 1998) By William Gildea Archie Moore, regarded by boxing aficionados as the greatest light-heavyweight of all time, died yesterday in San Diego. He was 84. Moore, who knocked out what is believed to be a record 145 opponents, held the title for 11 of the 27 years he fought professionally. He was the only man to fight Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali. Moore's health declined in recent years. He underwent heart surgery a few years ago and his condition deteriorated the past two weeks, according to a son, Billy. Moore was taken to a San Diego hospice last week, where most of his eight children kept a bedside vigil. "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." Known as "The Old Mongoose" for his agility, fearlessness and quick strikes, Moore was an artist in the ring. He was renowned for both his lethal punching and crab-shell defense. He did not get his opportunity to fight for the light- heavyweight championship until 1952, when he was 39 years old. At an age when most boxers are well past their prime, Moore won the title on a 15-round decision over Joey Maxim. Moore then successfully defended the title nine times, including two more 15-round decisions over Maxim. His last title defense was in 1961, when, at the age of 47, he retained the title in another 15-round decision, over Giulio Rinaldi. Moore had some of his greatest battles with rival Harold Johnson, with Moore winning four of their five meetings. The one time Moore's title was at stake, in 1954, he knocked out Johnson in the 14th round. Moore also defended the title against Bobo Olson, Yolande Pompey, Tony Anthony and twice against Yvon Durelle. Moore's bloodiest fight was his first meeting with the Canadian Durelle, in 1958. Durelle knocked down Moore four times before Moore knocked him out in 11 rounds. Between light-heavyweight title defenses, Moore failed twice to win the heavyweight crown, suffering knockouts by Marciano in 1955 and Floyd Patterson in 1956. He also was knocked out by a student of his, Ali, then Cassius Clay, in 1962, when Moore was 48. Moore knocked down Marciano and almost took the heavyweight title, before Marciano knocked him down six times. Archibald Lee Wright, Moore's real name, began fighting professionally in 1935, knocking out Piano Man Jones in two rounds in Hot Springs, Ark., according to The Ring record book. Moore's last fight came in 1963, when he knocked out Mike DiBiase in three rounds in Phoenix, although he fought an exhibition in 1965, knocking out Nap Mitchell, also in three rounds. Moore fought 234 times, compiling a record of 199 victories, 26 defeats, 8 draws and 1 no contest. He registered 145 knockouts, according to The Ring. Moore was coy about his age. When asked what it was, he usually would smile and remain silent. By Moore's mother's account, he was born on Dec. 13, 1913 in Benoit, Miss., although when pressed one time about this he insisted that the year was 1916 and that the place was Missouri or possibly Illinois. "My mother should know, she was there," he told Jack Murphy, the late San Diego sportswriter. "But so was I. I have given this a lot of thought, and have decided that I must have been 3 when I was born." The greater mystery about Moore was the keen intellect he always retained despite the great number of fights that he had. He was known for his wit and grace. The first boxer to incorporate himself, Moore once was asked why he kept Doc Kearns around as a sort of manager. " 'Cause he's smart," Moore said. "What do you mean, smart?" he was asked. "Doc Kearns is so smart," Moore said, "if you give him 200 pounds of steel wool, he'll knit you a stove." Moore helped George Foreman with tricks of the ring starting in 1960 and then again when Foreman began his comeback in 1987. Moore knew Jack Johnson. One of Moore's idols was Kid Chocolate. Another was Joe Gans, the great lightweight known as "The Old Master." As a young man, Moore studied everything he could about Gans, who died of tuberculosis in 1910. "Like any boy," Moore once said, "I would pick out a hero." Moore fulfilled one of his ambitions in later life when he was taken to visit Gans's tomb near Baltimore. Moore fought 22 times in Baltimore, which he considered one of his "hubs, like airports." In Baltimore, Moore befriended a pharmacist named Bernard Levin, who recently recalled phone calls he received at his drug store from Moore: "I'm at the airport. Send somebody out in the car." Moore would say. Then the two would pretend to spar, in the drug store. "He'd call me 'Kid Cream.' He always had some name," Levin said. "Archie's a beautiful man," Levin said. "Archie is unhurt. He never had a cauliflower ear. He's unmarked except for a little scar across an eye because he fell out of a high chair when he was a baby. I know of no fighter who could roll with a punch like Archie could." Moore spent much of his time working with youth in San Diego, and discussed the problem of juvenile delinquency in a White House visit with President Eisenhower. Eisenhower said he believed Moore should be a congressman and asked him: "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?" Moore replied: "Neither. I'm a diplomat." In 1960 Moore did run for assemblyman in California but was beaten, in part because instead of campaigning he went to Italy to fight. Moore, who is survived by his wife Joan and his eight children, once told Murphy that he planned to write a book some day and call the last chapter "The Prolonged Sunset," explaining: "I've been looking at the sun for a long time, but it still hangs there on the horizon. When it goes down, it will go all of a sudden."