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Primo Carnera pt 2 - Fixes and Ability

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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 8:14 pm

Who would have thought when you logged on to 606v2 today you would be greeted by not one but two threads on the Ambling Amp Primo Carnera, but following on from Tina's earlier thread that is exactly what has come to pass as following on from that thread seems to me an ideal opporunity to discuss whether the big man could actually fight or not and hopefully launch something of a defence for the much maligned fellow.

Even 80 years on from his pomp you mention Carnera to many and you will be greeted with scoffs of derision and the usual comments about his mob connections and fixed fights, with the inference still being very much that he was a puppet for the mob who for all intents bought him his heavyweight title. The fix rumours are perhaps the most persistent stain on Da Preem's career and for me whilast we cannot ever be certain some of his fights were not fixed it is almost certain the amount is nowhere near the quantity popular myth would have you believe. As some of you may know the fix rumours really gained traction with the publication of the book Le Mystere Carnera by Leon See in 1934, See was Carnera's ex mamager who was eased out by Carnera's American handlers when he began fighting over there so had decent reason to be bitter toward Primo. In this book See claimed something like 31 of Primo's first 48 fights were fixed but some of the claims do not really stand up to much analysis. For instance See claimed both of Carnera's first professional fights were fiexed. his first fight was again one Leon SSebilo who entered the ring 1-8 and went on to lose a further 3 after Carnera has despatched him before retiring. One does have to question why on earth you would need to pay good money to guarantee a win for a 6ft 7 guy of 270lbs against such limited opposition.

Similarly in his second fight against a 190lb fighter called Joe Thomas who was making his debut See again claimed to have paid 1500 to persuade Thomas to go over, but against a rookie with an 80lb weight disadvantage is this really necessary? See's book is riddled with claims of this nature that seem fanciful at best but perhaps the oddest claim is his assertion Primo's two fights with Young Stribling were not on the level, however Primo and Stribling split those fights one each and both won on disqualifications. Does a split series, even against a quality fighter such as Stribling on disqualifcations really move a guy forward that much? My personal opinion is not really.

A cursory glance at Primo's early record shows his level of opposition was often so poor it would not really have been necessary to pay them off, also the frequency and locations Primo fought in would have made such an undertaking logistically ridiculous to say nothing of damned expensive. Despite the lack of sense to a lot of the fix claims they still stuck wtih many even claiming Jack Sharkey took a dive in Primo's title win, this despite the fact that Sharkey was known for his inconsistency and the fact that Jack denied until his dying day he had took a dive, a view supported by his manager who called the finishing punch legit.

However if one does give any credence to the idea Sharkey took a dive this disregards the fact Primo managed two defences of his title and to the best of my knowledge nobody has ever come forward with any evidence to suggest either Loughran or Uzcudun were anything other than legitimate wins. This brings us on to the question of Primo's ability, now I am not stupid enough to claim he was an all time great because he obviously had his limitations, his chin being primary amongst them, but in the plus column he had limitless heart, a decent jab, slightly underrated power, terrific fitness and better movement than many of his size. Whilst his two defences hardly represent all time great defences Uzcudun was a perennial contender and decent fighter and Loughran had also proven he belonged in the heavyweight division by holding his own with the likes of Braddock, Baer, UIzcudun, Shaaf and Sharkey amongst others. It should also be noted Tommy also outpointed the Carnera sized Ray Impelletiere which suggests Primo's win cannot be shrggued off as solely the consequence of his size advantage.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said in Primo's defence is his record of two defences are more than Schmeling, Sharkey, Baer and Braddock (all the other champion between Tunney and Louis) in fact of all these guys only Schmeling managed a defence of the title and yet it remains Primo who is the figure of ridicule and watchword for ordinariness, may be in a minority on this one but I can't help but feel that is a little unfair.

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Post by oxring Mon 02 Apr 2012, 8:40 pm

If the Sharkey win is to be judged legitimate - then it is he and not Carnera who need to be castigated as one of the "worst champions in history".

The problem is - that if even as a faded past-it model of the champ he was knocked out by a starving Saffer who had never set foot in the ring before - we have to wonder whether in fact, he did need that help, even against average opposition.

I agree with you that the idea has been exaggerated slightly - why pay to split a series by DQ for instance? Of course - it gained further weight by Bogart's brilliant performance (his last I think) in "The Harder they Fall".

Now, who knows where the truth resides? Was his whole career a fake? Does suspicion around some fights automatically lead to suspicion around all fights?
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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 8:52 pm

The Harder they Fall certainly did not help because it could not be more clear it is based on Carnera, even down to the frankly distasteful reference to an opponent who died which is just unpleasant in light of the Shaaf incident. Carnera was so upst by the film and the inferences in it he attempted to sue the studio responsible for $1.5m, the case was inexplicably thrown out, pity he did not win that, might have helped people realise that the film is after all a work of fiction.

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Post by ShahenshahG Mon 02 Apr 2012, 9:06 pm

I often wonder how some fighters of yesteryear get away with it? They often say this fight was thrown and this fight was thrown but the rest wrent. I was under the impression that once mafia/criminals got their hooks into you - they never let go.

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Post by manos de piedra Mon 02 Apr 2012, 9:07 pm

Actual proof of fixes is difficult to find although most of what I have read about Carnera rarely denies he benefited from having the right connections.

There are plenty of reports of some of his pposition being stopped in suspicious circumstances (some being suspended as a result) but as you say, this could just be a case of a grossly overmatched opponent looking for an easy way out as opposed to an actual fix.

However what is also very possible is that the mob used the fixes for betting, rather than protecting Carnera. That is to say they would bet on him to win by KO in the first couple of rounds and the fix was more to ensure the amount went quickly rather than fear that Carnera would actually lose.

Theres so much smoke surrounding his connections and credentials at championship level that it seems hard to imagine that there wasnt something afoot in at least some of the bouts, especially Sharkey with whom informed opinion really seem to doubt was on the level, much like Dempsey/Flynn which was also maintained as legit by Demspey despite popular concensus feeling otherwise. But for opponents of the calibre of Uzcuden, Schaaf etc then its plausible he was good enough to beat those on his own without help. Id guess that he was probably in or around a similar standard of the likes of Firpo or Willard.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 9:21 pm

Top stuff, jeff.

He is a really facinating figure is old Primo. If he hadn't had an overactive pituitary gland that turned him into such a monstrous physical specimen, he would never have had the mentality of a fighter. That and Leon See dragging him from the travelling circus to become a professional boxer.

He didn't punch anywhere near his weight, and had a chin that let him down far too often, even when matched with novice soliders, but what he did have was bulk, exceptional strength and heart. If we take the Sharkey fight as legit, the best punch he ever threw was the right uppercut that ended it. It certainly looks a genuine punch, much more so than Ali - Liston II anyway.

The sad thing for me is that he was almost certainly unaware of what was going on, and being naturally trusting by nature, he ends up with a tainted reputation, one that as a person he probably doesn't deserve.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:52 pm

Well Jeff, your examinations of Carnera, as well as your contention that history has dealt him an unfair hand, has been a joy and a real eye opener in many ways. That said, I'm yet to really be convinced of the big man's credentials, although I might be convinced otherwise if you keep plugging away!

It's interesting that Sharkey's points win over Primo is sometimes used as a means to validate the way in which Carnera reversed the result, as in to suggest that the two of them were perhaps equals - to me, it simply shrouds their second bout in even more suspicion and doubt. It wasn't just the knockout (which we'll get to in a moment or two), it was Sharkey's general performance which seemed so amiss.

While the film is inconclusive due to the angle of the camera, I'm not all that convinced by the knockout blow which took Sharkey out. Sharkey may have denied the flop, but he did say in his dotage in 1971 "even my wife has her doubts."

While we maybe shouldn't totally dismiss the punch, I can't really see any evidence which suggests it's more legitimate than illegitimate, either. The New York Times did describe it as a "tremendous right uppercut", yes, but many other ringsiders and publications maintained that the punch missed Sharkey completely. Nat Fleischer himself said "Sharkey should have knocked him out. Carnera won that fight with an invisible punch."

Doesn't really seem to be enough evidence to remove any suspicion completely, and being the straight-laced git that I am, I'm not really sold on Sharkey's excuse that he saw the ghost of the recently-deceased Schaaf which meant his concentration went to pieces.

Put on the deck by much, much smaller men, surrendered the title in one of the most brutally one-sided Heavyweight title fights of all time, surrounded by mobsters and shysters, to say the least; I just can't see any way of accepting Carnera as anything other than a profoundly average - perhaps even poor - champion who was the beneficiary of some seriously shady dealings, although I'd agree that he probably knew very little, if anything, about them.

Still a great article though, Jeff.
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Post by John Bloody Wayne Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:50 pm

Loved reading through this.

When it comes to whether Sharkey took a dive or not, the evidence against is purely conjcture from what I've seen. If we need multiple camera angles of ever KO to know whether it's legit or not then there are plenty of KO's throughout history with just as much to back them as had Carnera v Sharkey.

Carnera, a very big, powerful and strong guy who eventually learned how to box A-OK. I don't see why the idea of him managing to pull out a KO over a much smaller, and reputably inconsistent fighter like Sharkey, is subject to so much analysis. Why not Foreman v Moorer which, by the evidence we have, looked like a far more inoncuous punch.

He maybe had some help, but every other heavyweight seems to get the benefit of the doubt.

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Post by manos de piedra Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:12 am

John Bloody Wayne wrote:Loved reading through this.

When it comes to whether Sharkey took a dive or not, the evidence against is purely conjcture from what I've seen. If we need multiple camera angles of ever KO to know whether it's legit or not then there are plenty of KO's throughout history with just as much to back them as had Carnera v Sharkey.

Carnera, a very big, powerful and strong guy who eventually learned how to box A-OK. I don't see why the idea of him managing to pull out a KO over a much smaller, and reputably inconsistent fighter like Sharkey, is subject to so much analysis. Why not Foreman v Moorer which, by the evidence we have, looked like a far more inoncuous punch.

He maybe had some help, but every other heavyweight seems to get the benefit of the doubt.

Ive never been able find anything that conclusively says whether the Sharkey bout was a fix or not. But to be fair there is a huge amount of smoke, not just surrounding that bout but other bouts too and very little denying his career was under the firm direction of known organised crime figures. That alone goes some way to alleviating alot of the benefit of the doubt. He had two fights with Stribling where they traded DQs considered by many to prearranged due to the bizzare nature of the DQs, a fight with Godfrey where he was getting soundly beaten up until the ref DQd Godfrey for no apparent reason, an early fight with Uzcuden in which he won a SD despite the ringside press only giving him 2/3 rounds won. He also spent his early years in the States doing the rounds in many smaller fights where theres ample eyewitness and press reports indicating opponents who were knocked out, quit or were DQ'd in suspicious circumstances - some ending up being suspended.

Conventional wisdom would seem to agree that he did actually improve as a fighter by the time of the second Sharkey bout, and I dont I havent seen anything to date which can prove the bout was not on the level but I do think the early part of his career at least was hopelessly manufactured and availed of underhand tactics. This maybe stuck with him, and possibly devalued some of his later work which was legitimate but I would have to contest that the grounds for suspicion were anthing other than reasonably founded by that stage.

Carnera was obviously never really a top fighter but the bigger questions for me were whether or not he had developed to enough of a standard by the Sharkey bouts to win them without help. And how much of a willing stooge as opposed to oblivious boxer he was to the people running his career. The Schaaf, Levinsky, second Uzcuden and Loughran bouts indicate he did improve as a boxer and some of the better guys he fought attested to these improvements. Sharkey was also inconsistent enough as a fighter to lose the bout legitimately also I would suggest.

Theres probably never been a fighter with more misgivings surrounding them as a fighter than Carnera but in the circumstances its hard not to be I think. I also think many other heavyweights have had similar question marks about them in more isolated cases if you consider Johnson and many of the rumours about fixes and throwing fights in his career, Dempseys loss to Flynn, the Ali phantom punch, and the first Holyfield/Lewis fight and the Evan Fields situation. These issues all still get routinely debated today despite no real definate proof available.






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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 7:50 am

Seems to me a fair summary Manos, think the thing that gets overlooked is the idea Carnera could have and in all likelihood did improve, worth remembering even for the era he fought in he maintained a fairly hectic schedule and whilst there was undoubtedly a good deal of guff in the mix there was also some solid enough opponents such as Christner and the aforementioned Godfrey, all reports suggest as well that Carnera was an extremely hard working and dilligent trainer. One report in 1933 had this to say of Carnera "The Italian's rise to the heavyweigth championship of the world was due not to size alone, but to his vast imrpovement in boxing and hitting" Should also be said there are several other reports and journalists only to happy to attest to a marked improvement in Carnera as a fighter from when he initially began in the states to his title reign.


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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 9:35 am

Interesting stuff, I had always considered Carnera to have been a black-and-white Valuev without the skillset or chin, but there's obviously a lot more to him than that.

Does anyone know much about the 'Super Dreadnought' weight class that was discussed after the Schaaf tragedy?
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 9:43 am

Union Cane wrote:

Does anyone know much about the 'Super Dreadnought' weight class that was discussed after the Schaaf tragedy?

Is mentioned in the book Union but like these things tend to do kind of withered on the vine, will provide the full details on my lunch but as it was proposed it would have left Primo with something like ten opponents he was eligible to fight which obviously was not the most practical of solutions. Was a silly idea then as it is now, also ignores the fact that the autopsy pretty much said Carnera was in no way responsible for the death of Schaaf, interesting you say that about Valuev though as I have always though Valuev was pretty much Carnera without the ability, personally think Carnera has a lot more in his locker, think his jab is better, his conditioning and his movement at the very least.

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Post by oxring Tue 03 Apr 2012, 12:58 pm

Union Cane wrote:Interesting stuff, I had always considered Carnera to have been a black-and-white Valuev without the skillset or chin, but there's obviously a lot more to him than that.

Does anyone know much about the 'Super Dreadnought' weight class that was discussed after the Schaaf tragedy?

Valuev had a skillset?

Appearances suggest to us that Carnera packed a bigger punch. Valuev never really put his full weight into his shots. As for skillsets - I believe Carnera was the more rounded fighter - however - his chin was not one for the ages.

Were big Nik to meet da Preem - it would be an interesting fight - and I'm not sure who I would pick. Valuev perhaps due to the strength of the jaw?
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:12 pm

Well, you don't get to 46-0 with no skills at all.

I was alluding to the fact that my knowledge of Carnera was (until yesterday) sadly lacking, and on the basis of two excellent threads I can see that there was much more to him than I originally thought.

If he were around today his one advantage - his size - would not be a factor as he is smaller than the K-Bros, Fury, Price etc, who would all, in all probability, send him packing.
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:19 pm

Union Cane wrote:Well, you don't get to 46-0 with no skills at all.


Calzaghe did (only joking Steffan)

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Post by oxring Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:22 pm

Union Cane wrote:Well, you don't get to 46-0 with no skills at all

You do if Don King is your manager.

Joking aside - his opposition up until Donald has the combined record of:

403-186 - with 6 debutants.

It is an incredibly padded resume, mixed with several "fortuitous" points wins as well. I will grant you the slightly facetious point that at 46-0 - he will have had more skills than I - but that's about as far as it goes. He was a big body and a chin with a passable jab - and not all that much more.
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:24 pm

I'm not making out that he is Joe Lewis...
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:30 pm

Or Mahummad Alli for that matter.

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Post by manos de piedra Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:34 pm

I would guess that Carnera had more skills and ability than Valuev. But sizewise hes still not really in Valuevs league who would still be bigger by some 60lbs and 7 inches.

I would envisage a terribly ugly fight not seperated by too many rounds either way.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:37 pm

It is kind of mental to think just how big Valuev is, obviously there are a good number of photos in the book of Primo stood along side normal sized folk and he is bleeding massive, to consider as manos has said Valuev has an extra 7inches and 60lbs on him is just ridiculous.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:40 pm

Of all the fantasy fights that 606v2 could be discussing, it is Valuev - Carnera. We have truly reached the nadir.

I am going to go with Primo. I like the guy and Valuev doesn't punch as hard as a starving Zulu soldier.


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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:46 pm

rowley wrote:It is kind of mental to think just how big Valuev is, obviously there are a good number of photos in the book of Primo stood along side normal sized folk and he is bleeding massive

I have some coffee table book at home that I bought years ago, jeff. It has a picture of Primo holding some Flyweight boxer whose name escapes me. It is a ridiculous picture as it looks like big Primo is holding a baby on his hip. He is a monster of a guy.

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:47 pm

Well as others have suggested, we're looking at a truly turgid fight here; the best part of 600 lb of combined bulk lumbering all over the shop until one of them tires just that little bit before the other. I'd probably lean towards a late knockout in favour of Valuev. Slightly better jab, so if he gets on his bike there's a chance that he could sap a lot of Primo's energy and strength by making him chase, all the while softening him up. If push comes to shove, I'd be more worried about a tired Primo's chin holding up to Valuev's punching than the other way round, even if Valuev does punch woefully beneath his weight for a man standing 7' tall and scaling 320 + lb.

Either way, it wouldn't make for good viewing.
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:48 pm

This the one Tino?

Spoiler:
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:50 pm

Very good Union, but no. It was a genuine Flyweight boxer and quite well known as well, I just can't recall his name. I will have a look tonight.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:52 pm

I'm with Tina in backing Carnera. Disagree with Chris, I actually think Primo has the slightly better jab but will say we ain't comparing Liston and Holmes here, also think he has slightly better conditioning and movement. Am not overly worried about Da Preem's chin because what is often overlooked is whilst he was over plenty think I am right in saying he only got counted out once and did have a tendency to get up when put over and as Tina has said Valuev is hardly Louis punching wise.

Not a lot in it and not a fight I would bust a gut to watch but just think Primo is the little more rounded guy, and that Valuev is really pretty awful all considered.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:54 pm

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:Very good Union, but no. It was a genuine Flyweight boxer and quite well known as well, I just can't recall his name. I will have a look tonight.

There is a picture in the book of him carrying three guys, one on his back and one on each arm. Whilst debate rages about his boxing ability, and perhaps fairly apparently his strength was absolutely genuine and he was freakishly strong.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:55 pm

I'd have to back Valuev, as Chris said would be a horrible fight to watch, but I just can't see Richard Kiel Carnera doing a David Haye, which is pretty much the only way to beat the big lump.
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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 1:57 pm

I imagine so too, Jeff. Wasn't he working in a circus as a strongman act before Leon See and the like saw an opportunity to milk him to within an inch of his life in the world of professional boxing?
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:00 pm

88Chris05 wrote:Wasn't he working in a circus as a strongman act before Leon See and the like saw an opportunity to milk him to within an inch of his life in the world of professional boxing?

Yep, that is certainly true. I believe he was WRASSLIN and boxing in the booths with a travelling circus.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:01 pm

88Chris05 wrote:I imagine so too, Jeff. Wasn't he working in a circus as a strongman act before Leon See and the like saw an opportunity to milk him to within an inch of his life in the world of professional boxing?

He did Chris, this is another thing that makes See's fix claims seem odd, surely he saw something to suggest Carnera could make a fighter to invest time and effort into him, if so why would he then go to the trouble of fixing as many of his fights as he claimed.

Spoiler:

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Post by oxring Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:02 pm

rowley wrote:I'm with Tina in backing Carnera. Disagree with Chris, I actually think Primo has the slightly better jab but will say we ain't comparing Liston and Holmes here, also think he has slightly better conditioning and movement. Am not overly worried about Da Preem's chin because what is often overlooked is whilst he was over plenty think I am right in saying he only got counted out once and did have a tendency to get up when put over and as Tina has said Valuev is hardly Louis punching wise.

Not a lot in it and not a fight I would bust a gut to watch but just think Primo is the little more rounded guy, and that Valuev is really pretty awful all considered.

Although under modern rules - especially in the UK - getting knocked down is a sure fire way for the fight to be stopped by the referee in a TKO - not sure if da Preem would be allowed to have numerous spells on the canvas before getting up and carrying on with modern refs.

Reckon Primo had the better engine. Valuev's workrate was - well - about what you'd expect for a guy of 320 pounds. Even then it was quite slow.

Next up - Peter Buckley vs Eric Crumble at 160...what round does the Professor win in...
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:06 pm

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:

Yep, that is certainly true. I believe he was WRASSLIN and boxing in the booths with a travelling circus.

He returned to wrestling when his boxing career was over, he was hugely successful at it as well, was apparently very popular with fans of that kind of thing and made a good living at it, which given how shamelessly he was exploited through his boxing career is the very least he deserved.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:20 pm

rowley wrote:
Mind the windows Tino. wrote:

Yep, that is certainly true. I believe he was WRASSLIN and boxing in the booths with a travelling circus.

He returned to wrestling when his boxing career was over, he was hugely successful at it as well, was apparently very popular with fans of that kind of thing and made a good living at it, which given how shamelessly he was exploited through his boxing career is the very least he deserved.

I think he had a relatively peaceful end to his life, didn't he? You probably know more than me but didn't he end up owning a shop in America or something before he died as a old man? Not too bad for a guy manipulated relentlessly and then left pretty much broke by his unscrupulous backers.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:24 pm

I heard that he settled in Los Angeles, where he opened a restaurant and a liquor store. Carnera died in 1967 in his native town of Sequals, Italy, from a combination of liver disease and complications from diabetes
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Post by oxring Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:26 pm

rowley wrote:
Mind the windows Tino. wrote:

Yep, that is certainly true. I believe he was WRASSLIN and boxing in the booths with a travelling circus.

He returned to wrestling when his boxing career was over, he was hugely successful at it as well, was apparently very popular with fans of that kind of thing and made a good living at it, which given how shamelessly he was exploited through his boxing career is the very least he deserved.

Heard once on a radio biopic that he ended up near penniless and running a sweet shop - which doesn't ring true given he opened a restaurant, liquor store and one of his kids went on to be a doctor.

Anyone know where this myth came from?
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:27 pm

All true about his relatively comfortable post boxing career, appears to have made good money from wrestling and as Tina has said bought a booze shop and restaurant with the earnings which both did OK, sent both his kids to college and as Union has said returned to his home town to die in peace which is a pretty happy ending all things considered.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:30 pm

Starred in several films along the way as well, quite a life he had.
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Post by JabMachineMK2 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:31 pm

Not a fan of black and white boxing

Spoiler:

But after watching this

I think I am now.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:32 pm

oxring wrote:
Heard once on a radio biopic that he ended up near penniless and running a sweet shop - which doesn't ring true given he opened a restaurant, liquor store and one of his kids went on to be a doctor.

Anyone know where this myth came from?

Trevor McDonald, I believe.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by manos de piedra Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:32 pm

Ive felt that regard the fixing, its probably meant as a pretty loose term. I dont think its neccessarily meant that Carnera needed every bout to be fixed in order to win, but I think the guys he was fighting, especially early on, were basically paid to show up and not put up much of a fight. In many cases they were boxers who were just happy to be getting paid rather than boxers whos careers were going anywhere so when Carneras management selected them on the premise that they were merely to pad the big guys record they werent inclined to upset the apple cart.

In alot of cases the opposition was so poor that Carnera would almost surely have won anyway but the impression I get is that the management just wasnt taking too many chances and decided they may aswell pick guys who were just as happy to lose as win for the same kind of money. Much of it was probably blurring the line between record padding and outright fixing to a degree. Though today we see these European based journeymen selected for upcoming prospects often coming over with absolutely no will to win and no intention of upsetting the odds. In some cases the bout may aswell have been fixed for all the effort put in.

I just think the Carnera was basically a staged managed fighter. Ive read that the end of Carnera was down to a couple of reasons. Firstly that Mike Jacobs became almost solely in charge of running boxing in New York around the mid 1930s and for many of his other faults, his near decade long control of boxing in MSG and New York more or less kept mob influence to a minimum until his health began to fail and the likes of Blinky Palermo, Frankie Carbo and the other associated "Combination" figures got a foothold. Thus in the mid 1930s Carnera could no longer rely on mob influence or control helping him out and his "beneficiaries" decided that the game was more or less up with Carnera and they had milked him dry. So they washed their hands with him around the same time as Jacobs took over the Garden.

The era wasnt the strongest by any means for heavyweight boxing and even the better heavyweights seemed plagued by inconsistency so I tend to think Carnera was probably a fairly legit top ten heavyweight at this time as opposed to a complete fraud. But I also think he was pretty ordinary all things considered and Im not convinced he would have got to where he did without some other "help" and careful guidance of the people who took an interest and a stake in him.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 2:38 pm

In all fairness Manos the emergence of Joe Louis was probably more of a factor, as Tyson proved in the mid 80s there is nothing better for cleaning up a poor era than a young heavyweight of genuine ability, suspect it was running into such a fighter as Primo did that did as much to end his title aspirations as any shadowy back room dealings, whether Primo would have been put anywhere near Joe had he still had his backers full support is debateable but suspect it was obvious to all but the clinically insane that Joe was the new broom in the division so they knew the likes of Primo and probably many others days were numbered.

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Post by manos de piedra Tue 03 Apr 2012, 3:04 pm

rowley wrote:In all fairness Manos the emergence of Joe Louis was probably more of a factor, as Tyson proved in the mid 80s there is nothing better for cleaning up a poor era than a young heavyweight of genuine ability, suspect it was running into such a fighter as Primo did that did as much to end his title aspirations as any shadowy back room dealings, whether Primo would have been put anywhere near Joe had he still had his backers full support is debateable but suspect it was obvious to all but the clinically insane that Joe was the new broom in the division so they knew the likes of Primo and probably many others days were numbered.

Yeah thats true but Louis was the protoge of Mike Jacobs and his influence in both getting a black heavyweight into the picture, giving him opportunities and selling him to the U.S public may not have been as successful if he hadnt had near complete control of the MSG and boxing in New York City at the time or if the mob had a heavy influence on things. It may have been Louis forced out into the wilderness or forced to play ball with the mob if the likes of Owney Madden and his associates were calling the shots. Louis was essentially the coup de grace on Carneras career either way though but I think by that stage Carneras connections to the mob and reputation had suffered to the point that the mob no longer really felt he was worth the investment any longer. Baer had already demolished him and he was seen as a bit of a fraud. Probably exaggerated as your article suggests. He did manage to beat guys like Walter Neusal who which suggests he was at bare minumum a good Euro level champion and most likely at least a valid top ten heavyweight. Just not sure if he was ever really genuine champion material.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 3:21 pm

The point about his handlers does seem to be fair, all the reports suggest Madden dropped him quicker than a Louis hook when he began to lose a few. Think he was one of those guys who was half decent enough in a weak era but was never likely to have the ability or adaptability to have a long or succesful reign, do feel a little sorry for him though, being a heavyweight champion who was probably a good step short of the top level does not put him in that exclusive company but few others seem to be such figures of ridicule as Primo.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Wed 04 Apr 2012, 11:13 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:Very good Union, but no. It was a genuine Flyweight boxer and quite well known as well, I just can't recall his name. I will have a look tonight.

I found the picture last night, as I know you were all interested.....

The Flyweight that Primo was carrying like a baby is none other than Victor "Young" Perez, former World Flyweight champion. I still can't find the picture on line though so you will all have to use your imagination. Or alternatively, you're welcome to come round mine and have a quick look.

On a serious note, and quite apt seeing as we were talking about a slightly 'sad' figure in Carnera who actually ended his life in peace, Young Perez was the other way round.

Perez was a Jew of French Tunisian descent who started his boxing career in 1928. He beat American Frankie Genaro in 1931 to become, at the time, the youngest world champion in history, before going off the rails and living the 'good life' in a way not befitting a world level boxer. He lost his title a year later to Jackie Brown. He carried on fighting until 1938 mainly in Paris, despite the growing anti-Semitism in the country. When the Nazis occupied France in 1940, he tried to escape Paris before returning. He was eventually arrested in 1943 before being deported to Auschwitz. He was actually allowed to train at Auschwitz and even took part in a exhibition fight against an SS guard, not that disimilar to Kay Masaki and Primo Carnera. When the war was nearing its conclusion and the Allies were closing in on Poland, Perez was sent on the now infamous 1945 'death march' upon which he died, either as a result of being shot for attempting to escape or complete exhaustion. He was 33 years old.

What a terribly sad story for a man who will forever occupy a place in boxing history.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Rowley Wed 04 Apr 2012, 11:18 am

What a fascinating but thoroughly depressing way to start the day Tina, cheers for sharing

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Wed 04 Apr 2012, 11:22 am

rowley wrote:What a fascinating but thoroughly depressing way to start the day Tina, cheers for sharing

You're welcome.

Who would have thought that a couple of threads on a much maligned heavyweight from the black and white era would throw up such interesting anecdotes as we have seen over the last two days.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Rowley Wed 04 Apr 2012, 11:24 am

We even managed to discuss Carnera on a couple of occasions, far too populist for me this topic, am going back to black fighters from the 1910's nobody has heard of for my next thread, this double figure responses will never do.

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