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Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, MAY 23, 2014 BOOK REVIEW: F V .@ " , " .... (V CHUVALO A Fighter's Life The Story of Boxing's Last Gladiator By George Chuvalo with Murray Greig Harper Collins Chuvlo vs. Ali 1 "t fight. Chuvalo was a stick and move boxer during the early part of his career. He would later change to the brawling style he is best remembered for when he realized he had superior strength and punch- ing power over most of his opponents. George butt up an impres- sive record early in his career against solid compe- tition. He actively cam- paigned for a match against another up and coming star by the name of Cassius Clay, but Clay wanted nothing to do with him at that stage of his career. A few years later, after Clay, now Ali, had become champion, George's manager got a call offering Chuvalo a shot at Ali and the Heavyweight Title. The only catch was, George had to be ready for the bout in only three weeks. It seems that Ali and Ernie Terrell had signed for a fight to be held in Toronto. Terrell had pulled out and the pro- moters needed a last minute replacement. Chuvalo was more than happy to step in. In a fight that went the full distance, Ali showed his bril- liant speed and reflexes, but George was not intimidated and gave Ali plenty to handle while punishing him to the body. George loves to tell people that after the bout he went dancing with his wife while Ali went to the hospi- tal because he was urinat- ing blood from the damage caused by the body punches he absorbed. This fight sealed Chuvalo's reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Ali loved giving his oppo- nents nicknames, and it is interesting reading how Ali came to bestow the moni- ker "The Washerwoman" on George. Instead of taking of- fense at the name, Chuvalo used it as a way to drum up publicity by staging a couple of events attired in a washerwoman's garb. Kind of an odd thing for one of the toughest guys in the world to George Chuvalo today. be doing, but it was effective. Chuvalo's accounts of his many fights are interesting to read, as well as the many characters he was associ- ated with during his long career, some very shady and some downright comical. His relationship with his man- ager Irving Ungerman was quite rocky and strained over the years. He speaks well of his very loyal trainer Teddy McWhorter, who was by his side for most of his career. He wasn't crazy about Rocky Marciano. A lot of the book is choppy, and at times there is way too much information about what went on during train- ing. I'm not sure if it is really necessary to get into the details of how wet dreams may or may not affect a boxer's performance, and of the measures taken to pre- vent them. The toughest chapter to get through is the one about George's family life. His youngest son, a heroin ad- dict, committed suicide. Two other sons died from over- dosing on drugs, and his first wife, Lynne, committed suicide. Chuvalo discusses all of this and the pain he suffered while coping with it, but I also got the sense there is more to the story as he excuses a lot of bad be- havior on the part of all involved including him.self. He remarried shortly after his wife's suicide and said his new wife, Joanne, is the reason he didn't take his own life. This chapter left me questioning the character of the man outside of the ring. As boxing autobiographies go, this is not one of the best, but Chuvalo fans will enjoy reading George's side of the story about his many great fights. He also goes through a list of questions he is often asked. It is very interesting to hear whom he considers the best defensive fighter he ever fought. I agree with his assessment on that one. I can't highly recommend this book, but if you are a Chuvalo fan it is worth read- ing, just be ready to be a bit disappointed by him. The 1960s and '70s are considered by many boxing fans as the golden age of heavyweight boxing. The names All, Frazier, Fore- man, Quarry, Ellis, Norton, Young, Shavers, Lyle, and many others will always be remembered. I'm not sure if it was exactly the golden age, but it certainly was a period of the most competitive matches in heavyweight his- tory. Fight fans argue over who was the greatest boxer, the greatest slugger, who had the best jab, hook, right hand, the hardest puncher. Opinions differ on all of these categories, but in one department all boxing fans are in agreement. When it comes to who had the best chin, the name George Chuvalo is always the one that comes out on top. Chuvalo fought nearly all of the top heavyweights of the day over the course of 20 years. He lost close deci- sions to Floyd Patterson (A Ring Magazine Fight of the Year) and Oscar Bonavena, won a decision over Cleve- land Williams, and kayoed Jerry Quarry. In that time he was never knocked off his feet. That is an amazing accomplishment when you look at the people he fought. George had a total of 93 bouts and was only stopped on two occasions, against two of the most devastating punchers of the time: Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He won 73 fights with an amazing 64 of those wins coming via knock out. Chuvalo gave Muham- mad Ali 2 very tough battles, the first being for the cham- pionship over 15 rounds. Now, George Chuvalo lzas published the story of his life. He was born in 1937, the son of Croatian immi- grant parents who had settled in Canada. Not being a very good student, George learned the value of hard physical work early in life. At 12 years of age he stepped into a boxing gym for the first time. Believe it or not, The photographs in both the Globe and Herald captured the moment in a timeless for- ever. There they were in the bench area -- the Bruins players and coaching staff- their heads and eyes lifted skyward, much like the in- credulous earthlings depicted in those old black and white flying saucer movies. However, the B's were not gazing up at an unidentified flying object (UFO) but a sta- .tionary, suspended one -- the Jumbotron -- upon which an alien tale was displayed. For there, in the closing moments of Game 7 with Montreal, the reality of the unexpected was about to land. The B's, the best team in the league and the winners of the President's Trophy for amass- ing the most points over the rigorous 82-game schedule in the 30-team league, were about to be eliminated in the second round. By their arch enemy -- the Canadiens -- no less. The end came despite the fact that the B's had not one, but two chances to put the only team from Canada participating in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs away for good. In tennis, it's called double match point. But the Bruins couldn't take advantage -- not even after the series had been reduced to a best-of-three affair with two of those games in Boston. "When you look at our team and the way we play we are a team that usually can wear other teams down and create more scoring opportu- nities -- which we just didn't do," explained Bruins Presi- dent Cam Neely at a press conference five days after the B's were sidelined for the summer. "We just didn't play our type of hockey that you saw over the course of the regular sea- son. We weren't getting pucks in properly, we weren't get- ring them in deep. We weren't able to create any type of cycle game that we usually do. We didn't have multiple opportu- nities. When we were in the zone it was usually one and done." Earlier, on Breakup Day, two days after they were eliminated, B's coach Claude dulien, indicated it was a series that featured frustra- tion and disappointment. "I know it's frustrating for everybody," said dulien, who has been behind the Bruins bench since 2007. I think our players are extremely disap- pointed. They feel they let the city, our fans and everybody down. I know that for a fact. "I've heard from a lot of the players and our guys take pride in representing this city and this organization. There were huge disappointments after the final game." GM Peter Chiarelli indi- cated that the team is in good shape going forward and that while there will be some changes, he described them as tweaking rather than wholesale in nature. One player that might be on thin ice is veteran Shawn Thornton, beloved by many B's fans because of his physi- cal, enforcer style of play. He is also 37, on the downward slope in terms of hockey play- ing years remaining. "I thought he had an up and down year," noted Chiarelli. "He isn't just a fighter be- cause he contributed on his line. But there is definitely a trending away from that style." Chiarelli indicated that he would meet again with Thorn- ton, who lives in Charlestown and really wants to stay in Boston. Another player who came in for comments was Brad Marchand. Chiarelli indicated that Marchand may have to change part of his game by finding a balance between his aggressive, agitator style and being "a real good hockey player. We have to dial back some of that stuff," said Chiarelli. So, it'll be a longer summer for the B's this year. Remem- ber, that the B's lost in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final on June 24 th. This year, the Garden ice was removed on May 19 tb. The core of the team should remain the same. The overall goal is that next year the final results will be better. SETTLING FOR SIXTH? -- Hey, maybe not. Just because the Celtics only captured the sixth pick in NBA draft lottery doesn't mean that something was lost. There may well be some real good talent out there when you get past the first five. The one we like best is Larry Bird who was selected sixth overall in the 1978 NBA draft. And then in 1996 Antoine Walker also was chosen as the sixth man. Paul Pierce was even fur- ther down the list -- 10 a in 1998. But we digress. The C's also have the 17 th pick in this year's draft, scheduled for June 26 th in Brooklyn. Well- known NBA players who were not chosen until #17 include Shawn Kemp in 1989 and Jermaine O'Neal in 1996. So, you just can't tell. Anyone selected could rise to the occasion over time and become an NBA All-Star. It's also true that anyone selected could fail to measure up and be gone from the league within a year or two. The selections are based partially on numbers -- which can't measure effort, heart, attitude and motiva- tion. And in the end those are the attributes -- when com- bined with skill -- that will determine winners or losers in the league. IN MEMORIAM -- Remem- bering Red Sox Spanish lan- guage play-by-play radio an- nouncer Juan Pedro (Papa Oso) Villaman on the ninth anniversary of his passing (May 30, 2005). He died in an early morning car accident on Route 93 in Wilmington while en route to his home in Lawrence following a Red Sox- Yankees weekend series in New York. He was 46 and in his eighth season with the Spanish language broadcasts at the time of his passing.