Saturday, February 08, 2014

"He was a heavyweight."


Louis found Chip in the kitchen making himself a Bloody Mary and asked him, "Who's Ezra Pound?" 
Chip said, "Ezra Pound," stirring his drink and then pausing. "He was a heavyweight. Beat Joe Louis for the crown and lost it to Marciano. Or was it Jersey Joe Walcott?"
- Elmore Leonard, Riding the Rap, 1995 
- Quoted in François Villon in His Works: The Villain's Tale by Michael Freeman, 2000

The inside joke here, explained to me by my friend, the poet and boxing aficionado Robert Lashley, is that there was a fighter, a great fighter, by the name of Ezzard Charles.

From Wikipedia: Ezzard Charles:

"He returned to boxing after the war as a light heavyweight, picking up many notable wins over leading light heavyweights, as well as heavyweight contenders Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall and Elmer Ray. Shortly after his knock-out of Moore in their third and final meeting, tragedy struck. Charles fought a young contender named Sam Baroudi, knocking him out in Round 10. Baroudi died of the injuries he sustained in this bout. Charles was so devastated he almost gave up fighting. Charles was unable to secure a title shot at light heavyweight and moved up to heavyweight. After knocking out Joe Baksi and Johnny Haynes, Charles won the vacant National Boxing Association World Heavyweight title when he outpointed Jersey Joe Walcott over 15 rounds on June 22, 1949. The following year, he outpointed his idol and former World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis to become the recognized Lineal Champion. Successful defenses against Walcott, Lee Oma and Joey Maxim would follow. 
In 1951, Charles fought Walcott a third time and lost the title by knockout in the seventh round. Charles lost a controversial decision in the fourth and final bout. If Charles had won this fight, he would have become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight championship.:

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