Quantcast

From the S&S archives

Frazier chases German for boxing gold medal

By HAL DRAKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 25, 1964

TOKYO — Joe Frazier, a Philadelphia butcher with a meat ax in both hands, gave America its lone gold medal in the 1964 Olympic boxing finals Friday night by soundly beating timid Hans Huber of Germany to easily win the heavyweight crown.

Frazier stalked his stolid, cautious opponent for three rounds in the last fight of the finals. The husky 20-year-old punished the retreating German severely but could not bring him clown. For the first time in the tournament, Frazier had to score a decision over an Olympic opponent instead of stopping him. He had knocked out or TKO'd three others.

Huber, a 30-year-old bus driver from Bavaria, backed away as Frazier drilled in quick straight lefts and cracked the German with resounding right crosses. But they landed on a target that was always rolling and ducking away.

Frazier's best weapon, his crushing left hook, did not get into it until the last minute of the final round. A flush punch mashed Huber's ear. He wobbled and swayed, but clinched his way out of trouble and was on his feet when the bell rang.

Huber did little but paw listlessly with his left. Once or twice he landed jolting rights.

Yet, if only one other judge had seen it the same way as Ion Bomfa of Romania and J.H. Common of Fiji, Huber would have won. Both gave the one-time wrestler all three rounds.

The crowd was filing toward the exits at Korakuen lce Palace and the stands were half-empty when the flags were raised and the Star Spangled Banner played. But the American team's tiny dressing room was bedlam. Frazier blinked at flashbulbs and answered a volley of questions.

"I'm all right ... no, he didn't hurt me. I feel great. I got what I came to Tokyo for. Well, he (Huber) moved very nicely ... he got away from my left hook but I got him good with my right, a lot of times. I had him close (to a KO).

"Could I take Mathis? You bet I could. I could take him tonight or tomorrow."

Frazier was talking: about Buster Mathis, the 300-pound heavyweight who defeated him the only two times in his 37-fight amateur career. Mathis had eliminated Frazier from an Olympic berth, but had to bow cut in favor of his teammate because of an injured hand.

Everyone, every weight, the cream of the world's amateur fighters competed Friday. Until the last bout, there wasn't a bad fight on the card.

Things got off to a rousing start when Italian Fernando Atzori (who defeated U.S. flyweight Bob Carmody) took a decision over a determined Pole named Artur Olech in three fast, free-swinging rounds.

Atzori was in command all the way; Olech was buckled and staggered many times, but in the first and third rounds he made dangerous rallies.

When the tiny Italian was called the winner, he gave an Italian performance — he cried.

Anthony Villanueva cried too, but with grief and disappointment.

The Filipino lost a loudly booed decision to Russia's Stanislav Stepashkin in a bloody featherweight division battle.

Villanueva's father had won the bantamweight bronze medal at the 1932 Games at Los Angeles, and he wanted a gold one to place beside the elder's.

Villanueva had suffered deep cuts in Thursday's fight with American Charley Brown and came into the ring with tape over both eyes. He was rated little chance in his bout with Stepashkin, who has shoulders like a medieval axman and a punch like a thrown brick. The Russian had easily disposed of every opponent.

At the bell, Villanueva rushed Stepashkin and reddened his nose with a beautiful series of stabbing rights. He hooked the right twice and made Stepashkin hold. He brought fans to their feet by staggering the Soviet boxer with a left to the head.

In the second round the two mixed it up in close, with hooks. In one flurry, the bandage came off Villanueva's eye in a smear of blood and the claret gushed from his nose. But that right was arcing over and still landing; Stepashkin was getting one, and sometimes more, for everyone he landed.

Villanueva's opponent must have been a hazy figure in a red blur during the final round, but he still met the Russian punch for punch. The blood covered all of Villanueva's face a

nd streaked his opponent's arms after clinches. But the Russian finished that last round with his left eye cut, his right eye: half closed, his nose and one ear streaming blood.

A roar of protest went up when British referee R.H. Gittins raised Stepashkin's hand. Fans jeered its the Soviet national anthem was played.

There was no question about who won the Titian Sakurai-Shin Cho Chung fight for the bantamweight title. Both the Japanese winner and the Korean were southpaws.

Sakurai, easily the standout fighter in the lower weights, rushed Chung and dropped him in the first seconds of the opening round with a flurry of blows. Chung was up to push back feeble returns as the Japanese fighter drove him all over the ring. Sakurai dropped Chung across the middle strand of the ropes with a. right that cracked like a pistol shot. Chug stumbled up again, to take a few more blows before the bell.

Sakurai had everything on Chung in strength and class, including longer arms and a more rugged build. Chung was dropped again, driven to his haunches on the ropes. The crowd gasped in a mixture of admiration and pity as he came back for more, After Chung went down for his fourth eight-count, the ref stopped the bout at 1:24 of the second. A jubilant Sakurai was awarded the gold medal and left the ring to be thrown into the air by his teammates.

Jozef Grudzien, a tough-punching lightweight, started a three-bout streak for the strong Polish team by beating Vellikton Barrinikov of Russia in three rounds. Two more victories were scored over Russia by men who wore the Polish colors.

Light welterweight Jerzy Kulej and welterweight Marian Kasprzyk beat Russians Eugeny Frolov and Richards Tamulis, respectively, by getting past the longer reach of their rangy opponents with a punishing tattoo of body blows.

Light middleweight Boris Lagunt recouped for the Soviets when he faced Joseph Gonzales, a chunky Frenchman. The taller Russian had too much of everything for him, smothering his hooks with straight, cracking lefts and sharp right crosses. Fighters like Gonzales are dangerous as long as they're on their feet. He rushed back in the third round to inflict a nasty gash over Lagutin's right eye and make the finish close.

Valery Popenchenko, a Russian middleweight gnarled with muscle, dropped Emil Schulz of Germany after baiting him with clever feints and a fast, jolting left. Schulz fought in a fog until another right dropped him on his face; the fight was stopped in 2:05 of the first.

Cosimi Pinto, an Italian light heavyweight, jabbed and hooked Alexy Kiseliov of Russia into a groggy pulp. But when he rushed in for the finish, he would time and again he driven back by a staggering blow. The Russian was still trying to drive in the big one when the final bell doomed his hopes for an Olympic title.

After this came the anti-climax, the American victory that followed a dull fight. It was like a crowd chaser. A cheering stand of Russians emptied very quickly. Perhaps, when there were not as many Soviet victories as they hoped for, an American champion would have been unbearable.

(Editor's note: Joe Frazier met Buster Mathis only once in his pro career, beating him on a TKO on March 4, 1968. He lost only four times as a pro — twice to Muhammad Ali (including the "Thrilla in Manila) and twice to George Foreman.)

from around the web