FLOYD PATTERSON by Ted Luzzi May 11, '06 10:47 PM
by Jim for everyone
Floyd Patterson was not the greatest heavyweight champion of all time.. At one time he was thought to be one of the worst champion.This is the story of a man who had been castigated as a "cheese champion ". Knocked out twice in one round in the most important fights of his career, and yet continued and finally earned respect from the majority of boxing fans and writers and peace as a man. Floyd Patterson grew up in the despair and poverty of the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghetto in New York.He was so shy he would spend many hours alone in inky darkness in a cubbyhole at the end of the high street subway.He was a hermit, a child hermit. Patterson said he felt like a freeloader at home as his father had to work hard but there was never enough to go around .One time Patterson put a big X through his picture in a family photo and said "I didn't like that boy" Patterson became a thief. He stole fruit , milk , then bigger items. However he started to get caught and he started to build a police record. In 1945 he was sent to the Wiltwyck school for boys. Patterson said he considered it jail. However it was a country place and its where Patterson learned to box.He said that boxing brought him some self-respect and he stopped hiding and he stopped stealing too. Patterson was sent back to the city to a "600" school where they warehoused troubled kids. His two older brothers sparred and trained to become boxers and he did too. At 17 he won the Golden Gloves middleweight crown. Cus D' Amato became his manager.D' Amato was quick to realize that he had a rare talent on his hands. Patterson had two of the fastest hands Cus had ever seen and he could hit with power to abruptly end fights too. Patterson mowed them down as a amateur and won a Olympic Gold medal. He was carefully matched as a pro. Some started to complain that he was too carefully matched as he clobbered a series of 16 easy foes. In June 1954 Cus D'Amato took a chance with his tiger and had him fight Cleveland's Joey Maxim. Patterson was only 19 and so the fight was a 8 rounder. Maxim was a seasoned tough pro and ex champion. It was close but Maxim got the decision. It was one of the turning points for Patterson . As he stood their defeated for the first time as a pro D'Amato told him. "You feel terrible right now, I'll have you train and learn so you never have that terrible feeling again" Floyd rededicated himself and victories followed . Then the big one with Archie Moore for the title. A terrific left hook sprawled Archie Moore to the canvas and Floyd was the youngest heavyweight champion in history. However he was not acclaimed. The general feeling was shown by Joe Woodman" He was lucky to be around when the heavyweight class was at a all-time low and still luckier when Marciano retired, ..Even Primo Carnera would have handled Patterson without any trouble. "Charlie Goldman Marciano's old trainer said"Comparing him with Marciano ,Dempsey and Louis or Corbett is foolish even Harry Greb the middleweight could have beaten him' The heavyweight championship was indeed it seemed at a low point.Cus D'Amato did not help by having Patterson fight the worst challengers of all time. They hit rock bottom when Patterson defended the World Heavyweight title against Pete Rademacher, a fighter who was having his very FIRST fight as a professional ! It got worse when Pete knocked Patterson on his butt and went six rounds until he was stopped. The critics had a field day .But Patterson followed orders. The best contenders were avoided. Finally Patterson took on a opponent with a chance. Ingo Johannson ,the glamor swede with a big punch. Disaster struck home in the form of a straight right hand that left Patterson on the canvas in round three. Patterson hauled himself up at the count of nine only to be demolished by 6 more knockdowns for a total of 7 in one round before the referee stopped it.Dan Parker reflected the general attitude. "Ingemar demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction why Cus D'Amato had been feeding invalids, amateurs and tyros to the champion." However Patterson earned some respect by not making excuses. He holed up in his own"nightmare" world as he described it and trained without cease for a full year. No fighter not even Rocky Marciano worked harder than Patterson for that rematch. His career and his self respect was on the line. He was quoted "I wanted redemption more than I ever wanted anything else." June 20, 1960 Patterson fought the fight of his life and clocked the big Swede for a KO in 5. As he ran around the ring in joy he stopped and looked at press row with triumph. He beat Ingo again and was for the first time starting to be accepted as champion . However the shadow of Sonny Liston loomed big .Liston had annihilated practically the entire heavyweight division during the time Floyd and Ingo were playing tag with the title. D'Amato emphatically did not want Patterson to fight him . Pressure came from everywhere and finally pride made Patterson take the match with the man called the "worlds best fighter " even before he won the title. The results for Patterson were worst than the most dire predictions. Liston knocked him out in the first round of each of the fights. It was "like a fly with a bulldozer" one writer wrote. Jimmy Cannon maybe the most respected writer of the day wrote, "The Liston fights revealed Patterson as the greatest hoax in all sports." After the first fight Patterson was so ashamed he put on a fake beard and a hat and drove by himself alone back to New York hoping to be not seen. It was the hermit again. "Patterson should retire" said Joe Louis he is no longer championship caliber.Who would have dreamed that 2 years later Patterson would come back to a point that Nat Fleischer editor of Ring magazine would write, "The position of Floyd Patterson is one of the most amazing developments in boxing history.No champion ever appeared more devastatingly defeated and discredited than did Patterson following his second successive one-round knockout by Sonny Liston two years ago. Disillusionment over Patterson reached the point at which critics marked him off as the sorriest title holder of all time to the accompaniment of an echoing chorus of assent from the public."...........There is no episode in ring history comparable to Patterson's return to favor and fistic respectability in the eyes of the public in two short years. Not only have Patterson's performances since the Liston debacles been artistic successes. They have surpassed fiscal expectations.In defeat Patterson grew as a man... A man who found his strength by becoming his own man and fighting the best heavyweights and mostly beating them. His record is well known and no sense repeating it here. "Victory over Myself " is the title of his book about himself and the once shy guy finally somehow did it. The one time hermit that hid under the subway even became the New York State Boxing commissioner !

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