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October 3, 2014

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 3, 2014 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss Jerry Quarry-- He Was His Own Toughest Opponent Thad Spencer vs. Jerry Quarry Jerry Quarry was born into boxing. His father Jack had him participating in fights starting at the age of five. While still an amateur, Jack Quarry would have his son sparring with professionals who were often much bigger than the young Jerry. Many of these sparring sessions would turn into wars where Jerry would be fighting for survival. It can be argued that starting so young and being thrown in with such experi- enced fighters at that early age made Quarry into a good fighter. I would argue in re- turn it is what guaranteed his tragic ending, dying at the age of 53 after suffering from dementia for many years. My take on it is that Jack Quarry was a sadistic and cruel man who had no concern for the well being of his son. After emerging from that baptism of fire and winning many amateur titles, Jerry went on to a professional career that was marked by many triumphs and many disappointments. Jerry Quarry could fight, he could really fight. He could box, he could punch, he moved well on his feet, he was an amaz- ing counterpuncher, and he could take a punch (maybe too well). Watch videos of him at his best and there is no doubt that he had all the tools to be a champion, and a great one. So, why wasn't he? In an essay in the August 22, 2000 issue of the New Yorker entitled "The Art of Failure," author Malcolm Gladwell describes the differ- ence between panicking and choking when under pres- sure. He points out that many people view these terms as pejoratives and equate them with quitting, but that is not true. When in a state of panic an individual goes into a state of perpetual narrowing where the mind becomes focused just on survival and loses touch of the options available to survive. This is what hap- pens when a swimmer begins to swallow water and becomes fearful of drowning. Instead of staying calm and catching a breath, he begins thrashing around and gasping, often taking in more water. According to Gladwell, choking is the opposite of panic. It is about thinking too much as opposed to too little. Choking is about loss of in- stinct while panic is rever- Jerry Quarry stops Mac Foster sion to instinct. So, how does this apply to Jerry Quarry?. I have reviewed a number of videos of his fights. In his victories over Ron Lyle, Mac Foster, Earnie Shavers, Buster Mathis, Thad Spencer, and Floyd Patterson he was brilliant. He was calm and methodical. Even when facing three of the hardest punchers of his day, Foster, Lyle, and Shavers, Jerry was the consummate profes- sional. Jerry Quarry did not lack courage and he did not lack skill. With those victo- ries he proved himself one of the great heavyweights of that Golden Age of Heavy- weights, but he was never able to win the title. Why did he fare so poorly in his fights for the title? Did he choke when under the extra pres- sure of fighting for the crown or did he panic? In his first try for the cham- pionship he was matched against Jimmy Ellis for the WBA title. Both Jerry and Jimmy had made it to the fi- nals of a toumament that was organized when Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title. Quarry was the favorite going into this match. It was ex- pected he would pressure Ellis and force the battle. But in- stead, Jerry appeared to be sleepwalking through this fight, losing a fifteen round decision. He was lackluster and appeared unmotivated. Was he over thinking while in there? Was it a classic case of choking? His next shot at the title was against Joe Frazier in 1969. In this bout it was expected Jerry would come out and use his counter punching skills against the very aggressive Frazier. Instead, Jerry threw caution to the wind and im- mediately went after Frazier, Fighting Smokin' Joe's fight. Jerry's strategy was success- ful for about a round and then Joe went to work on him end- ing the fight when Quarry was unable to answer the bell for round eight. Did Jerry panic or choke in this fight? His third shot at the title was against Muhammad Ali in 1972. Earlier that evening Jerry saw his brother Mike brutally knocked out by Bob Foster. Mike was knocked cold and was unconscious for Joe Frazier vs Jerry Quarry a number of minutes. There was much concern about how badly he was hurt. This cer- tainly had to have an effect on Jerry going into his fight with Ali a short time later. Quarry came out at the bell for the first round llke a wild bull. He ran at All and actu- ally lifted the champion off his feet and over his shoulder. Jerry threw all of his skill out the window that night and ended up being stopped in the seventh round. What hap- pened? There was one other fight Jerry had where he displayed an odd behavior. This was his fight against George Chuvalo. George had a well deserved reputation as perhaps the toughest heavyweight of the time. He had never been floored, and at that time, had only been stopped by Joe Frazier. Chuvalo was giving Jerry a fight but Quarry was winning handi!y when he went down from what ap- peared to be a very light punch. It looked as ff he was caught of balance. Jerry got up immediately but then went down on one knee and re- moved his mouthpiece while the referee counted over him. It certainly looked like he would get up and continue, but he was still on his knee when the count reached ten. Jerry jumped up then, but it was too late. What was going on here? When I compare his three title fights with his great vic- tories I see two different fight- ers. I don't believe it was fear that got to Jerry in his title matches, but something about being on the verge of winning the title got into his head and he had a hard time handling it. Did he choke? Did he panic? Or did he just give up before the bell rang?. And what about the Chuvalo fight? Part II Next Week. It was the summer with- out fireworks, at least those that might have been asso- ciated with the Boston Celtics. But as we drove down Route 128 on the way to the team's annual media day, we knew one thing was for cer- tain: it was time for the men in Green uniforms that in- habit the Hub to get back to work. The Celtics practice facil- ity at HealthPoint in the western most section of Waltham features a replica of the court that is k11own to fans around the world. But here, it is just the floor and the baskets with a small section of seating that looks as if it could hold 200 people at most. Significantly, ban- ners indicating each and every one of the Celtics' 17 NBA Championships are also on display here; but oll the walls, rather than hanging from the rafters as they do at the Garden. Perhaps the most signifi- cant difference is the place- ment of an additional ban- ner on the wall of the prac- tice facility. It is white like the others but entirely blank. It is displayed for all to see -- waiting to be inscribed, embossed and emblazoned -- with the year of the next Celtics Championship. It is Banner 18 and its halaging there is meant to. be a chal- lenge --- win a champion- ship, take me down and adorn me -- filling in this pronounced gap on this wall of championships. Thus it is that each time the Celtics take to the floor for practice, their challenge is visible, larger in its silence than perhaps it ever could be in oratory, and much more visible and longstanding. Just how impressive is this scene? Well, we saw one member of the Fourth Estate recording it for posterity on his cell phone. Media Day is exactly what the name implies -- a day for the media members who cover the Celtics to come together and interact with the team, Coach Brad Stevens, GM Danny Ainge and a number of the press officers that assist the media throughout the season One large area was set aside for photography. It was there that various photos were taken for display on the TD Garden Jumbotro~. In addition, the head 'and shoul- der shots that fans will see on websites and in news- papers were also taken. Still more images were taken for the team's media guide and other publicity efforts. On the practice court it- self, there were a variety of stations, representing nu- merous media outlets. Some were stops for audio inter- views for radio stations, others were set aside for television outlets. One of the more popular -- set up in one corner -- was the classic press conference configuration. It was there, one by one, that Ainge, Coach Stevens and every player made a stop -- each fielding questions in his own way. The Celtics acquired several new players in September -- who knows how many will be on the open- ing night roster -- but all pledged their allegiance to the storied franchise and expressed thankfulness and gratitude for the opportunity of being with the Celtics. For those who were return- ing it was a time to look ahead toward the new sea- son -- to put the disappoint- ments of the past campaign in perspective and to em- brace with vigor and vitality the possibilities of the up- coming 82 games that lay ahead. All returning players in- sisted that this year's team would be better than last season's, saying that a year with Coach Stevens had done them good. Everyone was on the same page -- and many had already par- ticipated in informal prac- tices -- some throughout the summer and others since Labor Day. Kelly Olynyk perhaps came up with the best line when some asked him to describe his rookie year experience last season. "It was like having to take a test with- out going to class," said the seven-foot center, who played his college ball at Gonzaga University. We had the chance to re- new acquaintances with a number of people who cover the Celtics, as well as the members of the media rela- tions staff who have assisted us over the years. As the afternoon wound down, the pace slowed and the number of reporters dwindled. We took our leave, got back in the car and drove north on Route 128, taking as a positive symbol the bet- ter-than-average flow of rush hour traffic. If the Celtics fare as well as they weave their way through the NBA this sea- son, then this year will turn out better than last, with the prize of a playoff berth becom- ing a reality at journey's end. MARCHAND'S IN SHAPE -- Bruins Coach Claude Julien had words of praise for vet- eran Brad Marchand as the B's neared the conclusion of their two weeks of exhibition games. "He trained this summer to come to camp and be a better player," noted the coach as the squad prepared for the regular season opener on October 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Garden. Julien said that last season he didn't think Marchand "trained properly for ice hockey. His cardio wasn't the greatest. The whole year he just struggled with it. This year he seejns a lot better. He seems to have more endurance out there. His shifts are much better because of it. He already is a better player than he was all of last year. ~