Boxing: Two from the 50’s
22-10-07 - By Ted Sares: The 50’s were pretty much my generation and admittedly, I am bias when it comes to boxing in that decade. Many have referred to it as the Golden Age of Boxing. If it was, then Teddy “Red Top” Davis and Eugene “Silent” Hairston were surely typical of the fighters who did battle on Friday Nights Gillett’s Cavalcade of Sports with Don Dunphy announcing. One was a top contender; the other just a very good fighter who offered great entertainment to fans who were becoming accustomed to something called television..
Article posted on 22.10.2007
Teddy “Red Top” Davis was a crafty and slick fighter who knew all the moves and knew how to go the distance. He fought 146 times and finished with a 68-73- 5 slate. Amazingly, he was stopped only 6 times in his career. He fought just about everyone who was anyone and almost always gave a solid account of himself. RedTop fought top-level boxers for money and lower-level ones for wins. Occasionally, he would pull off an upset such as when he beat Paddy DeMarco and George Dunn. He beat the great Percy Bassett in 1954 for the 'Interim' World Featherweight title (Champion Sandy Saddler was in the Army). Sadler won it back from Davis the following year with a great exhibition of heeling and cuffing as was his wont. All told, “Red Top” split four with Bassett. He fought Willie Pep three times and did battle with Tony Demarco, Art Aragon, Edie Compo (in a strange fight that is a story in its own right), Del Flanagan, Harold Jones, Flash Elorde, Tommy Collins, George Araujo three times, and many others with incredible records coming in.
Gene “Silent” Hairston, 45-13-5, was a rugged fighter who did his best work inside. Some said he had the style to give Sugar Ray a run for his money. He fought 11 times in 1950 and, gets this, 18 more in 1951 giving me many televised opportunities to see him do his magic in the ring. Talk about great opposition, his foes included the likes of Lee Sala, Paddy Young, Kid Gavilan (twice), Paul Pender, Rocky Castellani, Walter Cartier, Laurent Dauthuille (twice), Robert Villemain, Jake LaMotta (twice), Carl 'Bobo' Olson, and Charles Humez. It reads like a Hall of Fame Induction list. Among his many accomplishments, he drew with Jake LaMotta, beat Kid Gavilan, out pointed Lee Sala, 61-1 coming in, stopped Paddy Young, and sent Charley Zivic into retirement.
The thing was “Silent” was deaf, though he never asked for special accommodations. Nevertheless, it was because of him that boxing arenas added flashing lights to their ring posts. Other boxers also found the flashing lights helpful, so arenas continued to provide these flashing lights long after he retired. Ironically and sadly, an eye injury forced him to give up boxing at age twenty-two and he never got an opportunity to win a World Title or at least to fight the great Sugar Ray Robinson.
These were just two of many boxers I witnessed with my family and neighbors on Friday nights on a pathetically small 9’ Admiral TV set in the 50’s. The memories of these relatively comforatble times (given the war ridden years of the 40’s and of the Korean War), are still with me, but isn’t that what boxing is all about, great memories?
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