|Philly’s Stanley “Kitten” Hayward turns 70!
Interview by Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (May 28, 2009)
In the 60’s all the tough Philly fighters seemed to have nicknames in the welter and middle divisions like Gypsy, Cyclone, Boogaloo, The Worm, Bad Bennie and the Kitten!
Well, the Kitten turned 70 on May the 26th and still looks fit and trim with his honey next to him at the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Dinner induction on the 17th!
Hayward had probably the most well liked promoter Philly has seen in Reading’s Lou Lucchese. With backing from mink rancher Bernard Pollock, also of Reading and manager George Katz you knew a title bout would come eventually.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Hayward at the dinner after questioning him telling me he was 68 last year.
KEN HISSNER: Kitten, you really are about to be 70 this month.
KITTEN: Yes, I am and I feel fit and trim. Sorry to show up late this year.
HISSNER: Did you have much of an amateur career?
KITTEN: No, but I remember sparring with veteran Bobby “Bojack” Cofer and he hurt me and tied me up not to embarrass me. He was some fighter.
HISSNER: You fought in an era of some great Philly fighters and found your way into the “between” division eventually fighting Freddy Little for the #154 title.
KITTEN: I had to earn that shot by defeating the former world champion Emile Griffith at the Spectrum in October of 1968. There was one strong guy.
HISSNER: Little was one of the most underated fighters of his time posting a 40-4 record when you met him in Las Vegas in March of 1969 for the WBC/WBA titles.
KITTEN: I got cut in the 2nd round and it was a real handicap. I lost the decision and decided to move up to middleweight giving Griffith a rematch at the higher weight.
HISSNER: This time you went to his backyard of New York to lose the decision.
KITTEN: It was 12 rounds and a good fight. The following year I started fighting overseas in France and Italy while spending time on the movie set in Denmark.
HISSNER: You did well having 3 fights in France going 1-1-1 against their best before going to Italy and returning at an older age against the younger Philly warriors that included Cyclone, Lil Abner, The Worm and return with Bad Bennie.
KITTEN: I had stopped Percy Manning (12-1), decisioned Dick Turner (19-1-1) and stopped future welter champ Curtis Cokes all within 8 months in 1963-64.
HISSNER: The Turner fight was my first fight in person. That was his last fight due to an eye injury. In 1965 you won a split decision over “Bad” Bennie Briscoe before losing to “Gypsy” Joe Harris in your next fight.
KITTEN: I was too fast for Briscoe and was inactive for 10 months before losing to Harris who had been much more active than me.
HISSNER: You came back with a pair of knockouts before your first trip to France against contender Jean Josselin in late 1967 getting a draw which means a win.
KITTEN: It set the groundwork for my return in 1970 over there.
HISSNER: You also fought a draw with Olympian Joe Shaw in 1968.
KITTEN: He had stopped Manning and C.L. Lewis prior to that and would split with Briscoe later. I thought I won that fight.
HISSNER: You were also quite a horseman I heard riding up the streets of Flourtown to Cisco’s Bar, run by Jimmy who trained brothers Tony and Hank.
KITTEN: That is a true story. Phillies Dick Allen and I were friends and horseman.
HISSNER: Well I want to thank you for your time. I know Philly Boxing History’s John DiSanto wants to take your picture being a big admirer of yours. Happy Birthday if I don’t see you before hand.
HAYWARD: Thank you and I hope to be on time next year for the Hall of Fame dinner.
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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