GENE TUNNEY, TED LOWRY HEAD CONNECTICUT HOF CLASS
By Kirk Lang
The most famous fighter inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame on Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino was the late Gene Tunney, the former heavyweight champion best known for twice defeating Jack Dempsey. However, the most popular fighter on hand was Norwalk’s “Tiger” Ted Lowry, who took heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano the ten-round distance in losing efforts on two occasions. No other professional fighter that ever lived can say they fought Marciano twice and lasted until the final bell - not Ezzard Charles, not Jersey Joe Walcott, not Archie Moore.
While Lowry never won a world title like Charles, Walcott or Moore, he was good enough the first night he faced Marciano - at the Providence Auditorium on Oct. 10, 1949 - that The Providence Journal, gave him the unofficial nod over Rocky, six rounds to four. The newspaper account said Lowry came close to knocking Marciano out in the early rounds. It was also noted that Lowry “all but shattered the aura of invincibility that has been built around Marciano...” When Marciano first squared off against Lowry, he was 20-0 with 19 knockouts.
Seeing Lowry at Mohegan Sun on Friday - talking fine and walking around great for a guy 13 months and a couple of days shy of turning 90 - one can only imagine the kind of fight he gave Marciano more than half a century ago. And Lowry is just as sharp mentally as he is physically. Asked early in the night if he could divulge the secret to staying so fit after all these years, he replied, “Women - women, women, women.” However, when it came time a couple of hours later to accept his induction plaque, the quick-witted Lowry was at a loss for words.
Looking out at a crowd of tables filled with Hall of Fame supporters, fellow inductees and media, he said, “To tell you the truth I’m scared to death. I don’t mind facing a man, but all these people...Please help me somebody.” Lowry introduced the crowd to various members of his family, including Alice, his wife of 40-plus years, before heading back to his seat. During his career, Lowry faced five world champions - Marciano, “Tiger” Jack Fox, Joe Louis (in an exhibition), Archie Moore and Joey Maxim. Lowry won the vacant New England light heavyweight championship in March 1949 and would win the New England heavyweight title less than a year later, against fellow 2008 Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Bernie Reynolds. Lowry went 1-1-1 against Reynolds in their three meetings between 1949 and 1950.
Going even up with Reynolds for three bouts was an accomplishment for Lowry. Reynolds, a heavyweight who passed away in 1996, fought some of the toughest heavyweights of his era, including Marciano and Ezzard Charles. “He wasn’t one of the best boxers but if you got hit by him, watch out,” said Tom Reynolds, Bernie’s nephew.
Other inductees included Larry Boardman, who sent Sandy Saddler into retirement and was once the number two lightweight in the world; Roland Pier, a longtime amateur trainer who currently teaches boxing at the Whaling City Boxing Club in New London; and Lou Bogash, Jr., who has served in various capacities in the boxing game, from judge to referee to head of Connecticut’s amateur boxing organization for several years. This year’s induction of Lou Bogash Jr. means he is one-half of the first father-son duo to be elected into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. Lou’s father - who won 100 fights according to the Hall of Fame (although one record-keeping Web site says he notched 107 victories) - was posthumously inducted two years ago. Bogash Jr. said being enshrined in the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame - his plaque will be hung in a display case inside the Mohegan Sun Arena - with his dad, “is the greatest honor of all.”
Bogash told Boxingtalk if there’s one thing he would like to be remembered for, it would be “working with the kids to make better kids out of them, and keeping them off the street.” During his induction speech, he gave credit to all the various boxing coaches that put in many long hours in the gyms. “They were the other parents to these amateurs,” said Bogash.
In addition to the inductees, Rhode Island-based promoter Jimmy Burchfield was honored with the Hall of Fame’s Achievement Award for all of the fight cards he brings to the Nutmeg State; George Phillips, a referee, judge and timekeeper who entered the pro ranks in March, received The William Hutt State Official of the Year Award; Tramaine Williams, who was named outstanding boxer in the 2008 National Silver Gloves and won a slew of other titles in the last 12 months, was honored as amateur boxer of the year by the Hall of Fame; New Haven’s Chad Dawson, who defeated both Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver this year (and won the IBF light heavyweight title from Tarver) was presented a special Champion’s Award. Also, undefeated featherweight Matt Remillard was honored as professional boxer of the year. Remillard went 5-0 in 2008. His ring return in January ended a 16-month layoff that was the result of a broken wrist that required two surgeries.
ESPN’s Mike Hill, a neighbor of boxing judge and Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame President Glenn Feldman, served as master of ceremonies of the fourth annual induction ceremony, which included a cocktail hour, dinner, silent auction and 50/50 raffle.
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