What is Old School Boxing? In general society uses terms and phrases that have been passed on from decade to decade without concious thought, heard but not defined and understood it's just accepted. But how did it originate? what does it mean?

Is old school a method of fighting or training of boxers that is obsolete and is of little or no value in the modern game? or is it tried and true concept(s) and method(s) that should have been retained and blended with the new as they came on the scene?

When did it begin? Ten years ago,25,40,50,75 or when you arrived on this planet?

It began for this writer listening to a weak radio signal in the 40's when "Sugar" Ray Robinson defeated Tommy Bell for the Welterweight title,trying to stay awake at three A.M. listening to the rehash of the Rocky Marciano -Rex Layne battle from New York and the second Pep-Saddler episode,viewed on a 10 inch black and white screen. My education in the sweet science proceeded to novice amateur beginning in 1951 competing in many exhibitions know as "Smokers",no decision contests. Then into the U.S. Army competing from 55 to 57 and then turning pro from 1958 through 1963,16-4-1,7 K.O's. In context consider this ,Roberto Duran was born June 16th,1958,this writers first professional fight,May 06,1958,so chronologically at least this qualifies the author to be considered Old School Boxing. Knowledgeable about the sport? You be the judge!

Boxing in the late forties was mainstream and it was not unusual for even non-fans to be familiar with the titleholders, Joe Louis,Robinson,Pep and Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano. There were only eight legitimate champs not one-hundred and eight and fly and bantamweight were ignored. There was little interest in featherweight but the expertise of Pep was the stimulant that kept that division before the public.


So what happened? Shortly after World War II an Octupus arrived on the scene that was to influence the way life was to be conducted,it was the emergence of a technological wave and it changed society as it had never been,it's most influential progeny Television! Consumers were obsessed to have a television set in their living room,mass assembly,(refined during the war),was converted from building weapons of war to consumer goods with the box leading the parade! Profoundly effected was the sports industries the best of the best was now accessible FREE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!

Albeit unrefined,it was a phenomenon! However in it's infancy fast moving games that covered a large area such as baseball,(U.S. National pastime in that era),combined with the difficulty of picking out a small object were difficult to follow. Boxing and wrestling
sports confined to a small area where bulky cameras could efficiently pick up the action were in vogue,knowns and unknowns were cast into the limelight becoming household villians or heroes! One of the additional problems is that this octopi has an unsatiable appetite,in boxing the first run participants were quickly consumed.

Since real World Champions and the top eschelon of boxers were now available free of charge by flipping a switch why incur the expense of going to the breeding grounds of the future stars the local clubs. Why pay to see fledglings in development when the cream of the crop was availiable gratis? That made sense;however the talent pool was quickly diminishing from attrition and overexposure and the public was being fed a parade of aging shopworn fighters who couldn't rock and roll any longer.

The T.V. executives had created a quandry for themselves,yes they had filled the void in air time and along the way developed many new fans who wanted more and more;however the incubator the small club was becoming as scarce as an oasis on the Sahara! What were the media executives going to do? Where would the new champs come from?

Aha! How about amateur boxing,in particular the Olympic program? A new source of raw material surfaced to feed the octopi! Amateurs!

Pull out your Funk & Wagnails and look up the definition of:

Amateur: One who does something without professional skill or ease.

Amateurish: Lacking the skill or perfection of an expert or professional.

They had found a solution but at the expense of what? Yes,we had now given up quality for apprentices and what was not discerned initially was that along with the raw talent came amateur thinking and little league conceptions of how boxing was to be taught and conducted.

Of course the new gendarme were self appointed experts even though they had no experience in the professional ranks,but they knew all. The game was flooded with novices and unprofessional methods,mediocrity reigned and the Old School Trainers were pushed out financially,(aided by the demise of the small clubs),and with them their expertise and nuances. The old school attitude was,yes you were a good amateur and possibly even an olympic medalist but now you would have to prove in the pro ranks that the trophy case full of medals was no fluke! However fighters were now fighting for World Championships in their 15th battle or so.

Good fighters were still developing Sugar Ray Leonard,Ali,Foreman,Arguello,Monzon etc,.but overall the game was changing from ability and class to brutal struggles. Out he window went old training methods plus there was now a scarcity of real champions and quality pugilists who wanabes could watch,emulate and learn from.

The Octopus became hungrier and hungrier because the new star needed opponents to devour and this eight-armed cephalopod was never late for a meal and if it was impatient with the marquee performers it surely had little tolerance for the opponents. So where in the old school the top guy or new suspect had at least respectable foes, matchmakers were now in a search for warm bodies. Believe me it wasn't peaches and cream in the old school,far from it as it has been chronicled in numerous books on the subject..

In conjuction with the introduction of the simon-pures the television industry was doing their best spin to let the public know that the quality was still alive and well. With the magic of the black box,I mean if it is said on television by a nice looking suit it has to be correct? who are you going to believe the Brooks brothers suit or your lying eyes? People were and still are so mesmerized by the media that if your told right is wrong and wrong is right enough times they figure you will eventually agree.

In case you haven't gotten it yet let's pause for an analogy-if you play for instance golf and you play with someone who is described as a hacker,(golf talk for someone who isn't very good).you'll be a hacker,but if your golfing companions are low handicappers,(good golfers),your game will rise to the higher level. So be it with boxing,if your competition is mediocre so will you be! Throw in the inactivity level of most high level boxers today of only performing once or twice a year and their expected to be proficient in the trade and eligible for the hall?

I don't want to lose your interest but after all were covering half a century but here is one final salvo or two you can add to this discourse.

The various governing bodies and commissions across the world,manned by political appointees for the most part and with limited boxing experience but yet having the power to alter the format of the game,the rules and regulations. I know they mean well,just about each and every one ,but you do not learn this game at Stanford,USC,Texas A&M,or Florida
State,rather you matriculate in this business at COHK,(College of Hard Knocks).

Throw in the Alphabet soup organizations and what you have,is a fine kettle of Fish!

So as far as Old School Boxing is concerned what we have is time tested boxing methods so completely discarded that modern practitioners and interested parties are not even aware they ever existed. And it has been replaced with new methods,some fine,in fact some excellent,others overated and on and on.......when have you heard the modern experts mention slipping punches,counter punches,feinting,parrying,pace and ring generalship? You probably haven't? These skills are some of the abilities the complete fighter possesses and are part of old school. Examples today: Bernard Hopkins,James Toney Omar Weiss and Roy Jones;however Roy is so gifted physically he let's that do his talking. What you hear from todays experts is the punch count,they are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the game but they learned how to add somewhere along the way.

This sport once a proud and mainstream entity is free falling toward oblivion from its lofty pinnacle acquired during the forties and fifties,with some exceptions it has tumbled to side show type attractions,but BOXING WILL SURVIVE!



anything to do on the sweet science,let's hear your comments,what do you think? Every members E-mail will be personally answered by this writer and selected ones posted on this site-voice your opinion on boxing over the net! also Tommy's brushes,memories and encounters with the great,near great and a whole bunch of us wanabes,some brief but with lots of twists and turns-including Archie Moore,Jimmy Carter,Emile Griffith,Gaspar"Indian"Ortega,Eder Jofre,George Araujo,Harod Gomes,Jesus Pimenta,Auburn Copland,Lauro Salas,Joe Medel,Cassius Clay aka Ali,Joe Miceli,Danny Valdez,Derby Duke Hollaway,Howie Steindler,Willie Ginsburgh,Babe McCoy,Nate Simon,Willie Parker,Walter Ingraham,Mickey Davies,Noel Humphery,Milton Parks,My Adopted uncle Jack Nolan,L.C. Morgan,Art Aragon,(the original Golden Boy),Carmen Iacobuchi,Dennis Abenilla,Al Lang,Harold Dade,Joe Beccera,Oscar DeLa Hoya,Don Johnson,Jose Cotero,Pajarito Moreno,Fernando Vargas.

Many more wrinkles to be presented to enhance your enjoyment and boxing interest in the coming weeks particularly for members!

Your going to love me or hate me,but please do one or the other,being ignored is boring!


Tommy Noel