Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Nov 16, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
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Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography
The first thirty pages of James Curl’s fine biography on former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott highlights the poverty and struggle Walcott faced from his earliest days.

Walcott was born Arnold Raymond Cream in 1914, the fourth of twelve children. He fought for candy at the age of seven. He grew up idolizing former welterweight champion “Barbadoes” Joe Walcott. When he turned professional at 16, Cream took the name “Joe Walcott.” He inserted the “ Jersey ” as a reminder of his birthplace in Merchantville , New Jersey

The young Walcott was a fast learner. He met trainer, and former great fighter, Jack Blackburn in 1934. Walcott figured Blackburn would train him. Blackburn liked the idea and invited Walcott to join him in Chicago . Sadly, Walcott missed this opportunity when he contacted a form of Typhoid Mary. Blackburn , ventured on to Chicago without him to work with a fighter named Joe Louis, which in essence left Walcott fighting in the sticks for small purses. Walcott had four children by the time he was 23-years-old. When he wasn’t fighting, he picked up work wherever he could.

Walcott’s career changed when he met Felix Bocchicchio. In 1945, Walcott was ready to retire. He was thirty-one years old and sick of fighting for peanuts. Bocchicchio convinced him that he could pave his way to a title shot. He recognized Walcott’s talent in a way that nobody else had. Like Walcott, he carried baggage. Bocchicchio’s past included stints in the Mafia and prison.

Still, the little man did as he promised.

In 1947, Walcott earned his first shot at the heavyweight title. His opponent was an over-the- hill Joe Louis (both fighters were 33-years-old). Walcott fought well during the bout. He knocked Louis down twice. His tricky moves had the great champion befuddled. The author does a good job of giving a blow-by-blow description of  Walcott’s most important fights.

Walcott lost to Louis that night by split decision. The outcome was so controversial that Louis and Walcott went at it again seven months later. Walcott again knocked Louis down, but this time the legendary Brown Bomber caught Walcott with a barrage of savage punches in round 11. Walcott went down and was unable to beat the fatal 10 count.

Walcott’s determination was admirable. He fought new heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles in 1949 and 1951. He lost both bouts by decision. Finally, in the summer of 1951, fighting Charles for what he knew would be the last time, the 37-year-old Walcott put everything he had into a left hook/uppercut. The punch twisted Charles’ face sideways and knocked him out.

Walcott would lose the title fourteen months later to Rocky Marciano in what many considered the fight of the year. Walcott looked to be on his way to a victory until a powerful Marciano right crashed against his chin. He fought one more time (another knockout loss to Marciano) and retired.

Curl’s writing on Walcott’s post-boxing career is also very interesting. The author explains in his introduction that he doesn’t consider himself a professional writer. Some of his prose does feel forced at times, but overall, the book is a very good read.

Ultimately, “Jersey Joe” Walcott deserves this biography. His story will remind boxing fans and others that dreams often do come true, if you’re willing to work hard enough to achieve them.

For more information about this book, please go here…www.mcfarlandpub.com or call (800-253-2187)

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