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I Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 S tr ~ iiiiiiii~i~i~i~ ~~ ,~=~ .~ .... -i~i~, What's So Funny About Boxing? a boxing theme. Chaplain was in a famous short film in which he boxes Cham- pion Jack Dempsey. He dazzles Jack with his speed and scores a quick knock out over the champ. While it is funny and obvi- ously staged, you do see some great moves on the part of Chaplin. These are the same moves he needed in order to perform much of his slapstick comedy. Maxie Rosenbloom Red Skelton Boxing is a violent and vi- cious sport where the goal is to knock your opponent senseless. Intimidation is a big part of the gamesman- ship that comes into play before a bout. Think of the Sonny Liston stare. Most of his opponents were defeated before the bell rang after the having Sonny's bone chilling gaze cast upon them. Fighters often leave the ring after a bout under their own power, but are some- times taken out on stretch- ers. Some never recover from their injuries. The tragic stories of fighters end- ing up broke and having lost their faculties are endless. So, given all of the tragedy that surrounds boxing once described by Jimmy Cannon as "The Red Light District of Sports", why is there so much humor con- nected with it? In 1968 Sonny Liston and Andy Warhol were featured in a commer- cial for Braniff airlines. In the ad,' the two are seated next to each other on an airplane. Warhol is turned to- wards Sonny and is discussing Campbell Soup cans. Liston is just staring at him. Suddenly, that stare that has paralyzed men with fear for years brings out laughter. Liston is the perfect straight man. He doesn't say a word, but his staring at the diminutive Warhol is side splitting. The former Heavyweight Champ shows great comedic talent in this piece. Red Skelton, the beloved comedian, had many alter egos he would use in his act. One of the best was the char- acter Cauliflower McPugg, a slow-witted boxer always in search of his first win. When asked about his training re- gime, he responded "I train 24 hours a day. You want to know when I sleep? When I'm fighting." Bob Hope had been a boxer in his youth using the name Packy East. One of his lines about his boxing career was "Some boxers are carried from the ring. I'm the only one that had to be carried both ways." Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, and many others did comedy bits with Laurel and Hardy While comedians have made us laugh with their take offs on boxing, there are many funny stories from the actual world of boxing. The night Max Baer fought Joe Louis, Max had Jack Dempsey in his corner. The fight wasn't going very well for Baer, so between rounds Dempsey wanted to help build his confidence. He said to Max "You're doing great kid, he hasn't landed a glove on you." Max, his eyes wid- Dempsey and Chaplin ening in amazement at what he just heard, responded "Well Jack, if Louis hasn't laid a glove on me, you'd bet- ter keep an eye on the ref- eree because someone is beating the hell out of me." Heavyweight contender King Levinsky once made a tour of England fighting a number of the locals. Before his return to the States he was invited to a banquet. As was the custom before the meal was served, glasses were raised and the toast "Long live the King" was given. Upon hearing this, Levinsky humbly rose from his seat and said "Gee guys, thanks a lot." That caused a few eyebrows to be raised. Light Heavyweight Cham- pion Maxie Rosenbloom appeared in a number of films in comedic roles. He was also featured on radio in shows such as "Duffy's Tavern". He was always cast as the ex pug with a few marbles missing. Rosenbloom also teamed up with Max Baer for four com- edy shorts in the early 1950s. They were billed as the Two Maxies. The only surviving reel is entitled "The Champs Step Out." It can be seen on YouTube. Baer was in a number of movies where he not only displayed comedic talent, but he was also a decent actor and good song and dance man. The most famous of these movies is "The Prize- fighter and The Lady." This film was made just before Max challenged for and won the Heavyweight Title. His co-star? Champion Primo Carnera. Jack Dempsey was also in the movie along with some impressive Hollywood talent that included Myrna Loy, Walter Huston, and Otto Kruger. Baer was know as "The Clown Prince of Boxing', and could be as funny in the ring as out. He was quick wit- ted and always smiling. There are quite a few funny lines from box- ing, some of which are of unknown origin. Lines like, "I had to quit boxing because I had bad hands. The referee kept stepping on them." In the Woody Allen movie "Mighty Aphrodite" the boxer Kevin, played by Mark Rapaport, describes his career record this way, "I had sixteen fights and won all but fifteen of them." Terms to describe fighters and their styles can also be quite funny. You will hear things such as "He's a to- mato can" and "Canvasback" to describe fighters without much talent. "He gets mad when you miss him" for a fighter who takes a lot of punches. "China chin" and "He has a glass jaw" for box- ers who can't take a punch. "It was so bad, the people at ringside got soaked" to de- scribe a fighter who took a dive, or "Went in the-water." Yes, boxing, the most tragic of sports has produced a lot of laughs as well. As William Shakespeare has said, "All the world's a stage." The Bard also wrote comedies and tragedies, some are hard to character- ize. Boxing can be just as difficult at times, though I see it as much more tragic. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss EARLY STARTS -- When the Bruins play their first exhibition game on Septem- ber 24 it'll be simply a fore- taste of the real thing -- the regular season opener on October 8th against the Phila- delphia Flyers. In a way, today's Bruins fans are fortunate that they don't have to wait very long following the conclusion of summer until their favorite team comes to the fore once again. After all, it was just a few short weeks ago that America was observing Labor Day. But earlier generations of Bruins Nation weren't quite~ so fortunate. In the Bruins very first season of competi- tion in the NHL (1924-1925), things didn't get under way until December 1. They only played 30 games in the six-team league in that first go around. The B's got off on the right foot, though, defeating the Mon- treal Maroons, 2-1, in their season opener in the Hub. We say the B's got off on the right foot back then but un- fortunately things didn't re- main on an even keel. When all was said and done, the Black and Gold finished with a 6-24 record. They often call the early decades of the NHL the era of the Original Six. Those B's back then knew all about that for in their original NHL sea- son that's where they fin- ished -- dead last and sixth. Other than the work stop- page seasons in the modern era, that December start would be the latest first face- off for a full regular season that the Bruins would ever experience. The very next year (1925- 1926) the season opener was played on November 26, a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh. For the remainder of the 1920s, the season openers would come earlier and earlier. By the time the 1930-1931 season debuted, the lidlifter was on November 11 (Armistice Day back then). All through the 1930s the season openers remained in November, although they ad- vanced to earlier dates as the years went by. The first Octo- ber opener came on a Hallow- ' een night (October 31, 1942) when the B's dropped a 3-2 decision to the Canadiens in Montreal. This was one of the seasons of the war years, the era of World War II. Like Major League Baseball, the NHL never stopped but continued playing right through the con- flict. Of course, one of the rea- sons for the earlier openers was that the seasons were getting .longer. That 30-game first season back in 1924- 1925 was just a memory. By the time of the 1942-1943 campaign, the number of games played had doubled to 60 -- even though the num- ber of teams in the league remained steady at six. A decade later (1952-1953) the opener came on Colum- bus Day (October 12, 1952), a I-1 tie with Montreal at the Garden as the games in- creased to 70 -- still with only six teams. And that is what we might call a threshold date for the modem era. Only three times since then has the season opener come on or after Oc- tober 12th. The most remem- bered of the three was on Oc- tober 19, 1966 as the B's posted a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Two individuals who.would come to figure prominently in Bruins history made their debuts that night. One Rob- ert Gordon Orr played in his first NHL regular season con- test while Harry Sinden coached his first game from behind the bench. The other two fell in the 1970s when the B's opened the 1977-1978 season on Oc- tober 13, 1977 with a 1-1 tie against Atlanta at the Garden and then started the 1978- 1979 campaign on October 12, 1978 with an 8-2 win over Pittsburgh on Causeway Street. As veterans return once again and the B's begin prepa- rations to start their season, one might wonder what was the earliest date for an opener. It's rather recent since it came on October 1, 2009 when the B's lost 4-1 to the Washington Capitals at the Garden. Other early starts for the B's in the Hub came on October 2, 1997 when the B's posted a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Garden and on October 2, 1999 as the Bru- ins lost to Carolina 3-1 at the Garden in their last season opener of the 20t~ century. As for openers on Octo- ber 8 -- well, there's been sev- eral of those. The initial one came way back on October 8, 1955 as the B's started the 1955-1956 campaign with a 2-0 loss at Montreal. Another took place on October 8, 1959 when the Bruins lost again to the Canadiens by a 2-0 count. A third was at the start of the 1963- 1964 campaign when Boston and Montreal dueled to a 2-2 tie. The B's also suf- fered a 4-2 setback at the hands of Los Angeles on 'October 8, 1972 when they opened the season as defend- ing Stanley Cup champions. Remember the Quebec Nordiques? They beat the B's 7-5 in Boston on October 8, 1981 to start the 1981-1982 season while Washington topped the B's 4-3 in the Hub on October 8, 1987 to start the 1987-1988 campaign. The Bruins beat their former New England rivals -- the Hartford Whalers -- 4-3 in overtime on October 8, 1992 while the B's battled New Jersey to a 3-3 overtime tie on October 8~ to start the 2003-2004 season. So it'll be 11 years since the last October 8'h opener when members of Bruins nation settle into their seats for the game against the Flyers -- a contest that will start an- "other great NHL season of hockey in the Hub. 4