Great Boxers in their Own Words: In This Corner by Peter Heller

An excerpt from the book In This Corner by Peter Heller the stories of 40 world boxing champions in their own words.

IN THIS CORNER. By Peter Heller. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.

About the book: The unvarnished stories of 40 world boxing champions still alive in 1973--Jack Dempsey, Mickey Walker, Pete Herman, Gunboat Smith, Fidel LaBarba, Jack Sharkey, Rocky Graziano, Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio, Joe Louis, Willie Pep, Floyd Patterson, Archie Moore, and others. Each tells of his championship, his career, his life, his greatest fights, his controversies, and the behind-the-scenes dealings. Illustrated with photos of the champions.

From the book: JACK DEMPSEY--He couldn't come out, 4th round. It's a great feeling. You've worked for something, thought about something all your life, and you win the title. I don't think I slept all night. As a matter of fact, I remember this very well. I went to bed and tried to sleep and couldn't sleep. I had a dream that I got knocked out, and I couldn't believe it. I said there's something wrong some-place, so I'm going to go out and went down in front of the hotel. I said, "Give me a paper, kid." I said, "Who won the fight?" The kid looked at me and said, "Aren't you Jack Dempsey?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "You damn fool, you did! Don't you know?" So then I went back to bed and went to sleep.

BATTLING BATTALINO--Well, anyway, I went along, went to New York and had my hands operated on. I got as heavy as 155 lbs. I got fat as a pig. Gradually, I kept taking long hikes and I got to taper down. Start to go to the gym, work out. I was world champion. I fought one guy, Lew Massey from Philadelphia, I had an infected finger. If I didn't fight him it was going to cost me money for paying doctor bills, training, and whatnot. I had to pay it all myself. Boboo Hoff was a big racketeer in those days in Philly, so he paid all my bills, paid my training expense, transportation from Hartford to Philly. He was the promoter. He didn't want me to call off the fight. They had a full house. By having a full house, he paid all the expenses and everything and made money himself. He paid everything, and I got $3,500, damn good money in those days during the heart of the Depression, 1930. They would throw me in against anybody. I didn't give a damn who it was, big guys, little guys. I was like a bull. So finally that year I made out my taxes. I made $72,000 in 1930.

CARMEN BASILIO--Everybody's personality is different, how they feel about getting hit. You have to know that when you're fighting good fighters you're going to get hit. The greatest fighters in the world get hit. The classiest boxers in the world get hit with punches. The thing is, if you start developing a fear, then you're going to have to quit fighting.

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