Box Like the Pros

Box Like the Pros

by Joe Frazier, William Dettloff


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Former World Heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier and William Dettloff, senior writer for The Ring magazine, present a complete guide to the fight game – from the history of the sport to how to throw a crushing uppercut and take a punch without flinching.

Drawing from the experiences of one of the masters of the sport, Box Like the Pros is a must–have for anyone pursuing boxing as a hobby or who is interested in training to become a professional boxer. Frazier, with longtime boxing writer William Dettloff, presents a complete introduction to the sport, including the game's history, rules of the ring, how fights are scored, how to spar, the basics of defence and offence, the fighter's workout, a directory of boxing gyms, and much more. Box Like the Pros is an instruction manual, a historical reference tool and an insider's guide to the world's most controversial sport.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060817732
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/01/2005
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 637,447
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Smokin' Joe Frazier was an Olympic gold medalist and the world heavyweight champion for three years. His three epic battles with Muhammad Ali — the last of which was the famed "Thrilla in Manila" — are legendary. He's a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and author of Smokin' Joe: The Autobiography. He currently trains fighters at the world-famous Joe Frazier's Gym in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

William Dettloff is the senior writer for The Ring magazine and boxing columnist for He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

Box Like the Pros

By Joe Frazier

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Joe Frazier
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060817739

Chapter One

The Fight Game: A History

In the Beginning

Prizefighting is the oldest sport in the world. Older than baseball, football, basketball, rugby, hockey -- any sport you can name. Fistfighting, as a competition, was practiced during the original Olympic games in ancient Greece, and you can find mentions of it even farther back than that -- in ancient Egypt. There's something about man that he likes to test himself against other men to see who's better at fighting. And people like to watch. That's just the way people are, and they've been that way forever.

Even though you can trace fistfighting all the way back to the origins of man, it's really the bareknuckle version that came about in eighteenth-century England that set the table for the fight game as we know it today. Those boys were rough. There was no ring -- a circle of spectators formed the ring -- and the guys wore no gloves, and there were no real rules or rounds or judges. They fought until one guy couldn't fight anymore. They could go at it for hours on end, punching, kicking, gouging, wrestling. They just fought.

As rough as it was, the sport took hold. As it's always been, the working class got it started and pretty soon the upper class started following it. Even the kings and queens over there in England got into it, and schools started opening up that taught guys how to fight. Before long they started using actual rings. The first recognized champion was James Figg, who was the best-known fighter around in the 1720s. But it was still a rough sport. Here's an example: something a lot of guys did that was perfectly legal in a fight was "purring" -- kicking a downed fighter with a spiked boot. Those guys were serious.

In 1732, John Broughton, Figg's successor, introduced new rules that outlawed things like purring. Broughton's Rules governed the sport until 1838, when the London Prize Ring Rules were established. But even those rules allowed opponents to do so much in the ring that in most countries prizefighting was illegal. Finally, in 1867, John Graham Chambers and his friend Sir John Sholto Douglas, the eighth Marquis of Queensbury, wrote up 12 new rules. They moved the sport forward, closer to how we know it today. The Marquis of Queensbury Rules outlawed wrestling and required gloves and three-minute rounds with a minute's rest in between. Also, a floored fighter had 10 seconds to get up or he lost.

Besides Figg and Broughton, there were a lot of heroes from the bareknuckle era. There was Jem Mace, the "father of boxing" and the world champion from 1866 to 1882. There was Daniel Mendoza, the first of the bareknucklers to bring an element of science to the game; John Jackson, who succeeded Mendoza and opened one of the most successful fighting academies ever, where he taught members of England's aristocracy "the noble art"; the legendary Tom Cribb, and America's Tom Molineaux, a former slave; and, of course, the great

In September 1892, when "Gentleman" Jim Corbett beat Sullivan to become the first recognized world heavyweight champion under the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, a lot of people thought the fight game would soon die out. They thought the gloves and the new rules made the fighters too soft. In fact, the game had already gone through a couple of periods when people lost interest in it. But it wouldn't be the first time people predicted the death of boxing. The fight game has a way of surviving, and it survived -- even flourished -- into the next century.

From Terry McGovern to Jack Johnson: Turn-of-the Century Heroes

The dawn of the modern boxing era in the late 1890s and early 1900s saw a shifting of the game's center from England to America. That wasn't an entirely good thing; at the beginning of the century, the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, repealed the Horton Law, which had legalized the sport in that state. The business and its participants reacted by moving to the other coast, once again proving boxing's resiliency. And it still did well in England and was starting to take form. At the dawning of the twentieth century there were six recognized weight classes: heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, and bantamweight. And there were great fighters and great rivalries in every division.

After whipping Sullivan in 1892, Corbett, the heavyweight champion, almost immediately began a feud with Bob Fitzsimmons, one of the more remarkable fighters of the era. Fitzsimmons was boxing's first triple-division champion. In 1890, he knocked out Jack Dempsey ("the Nonpareil") to win the middleweight crown. He and Corbett took public swipes at one another over the next several years and met finally in March 1897 for the heavyweight title. At 34, Fitzsimmons was four years older than Corbett and 16 pounds lighter, and for much of the fight he took a beating. But in the 14th round he stepped forward with his famed "solar plexus punch" and knocked Corbett out. He subsequently was dethroned by James J. Jeffries in June 1899, but in 1903, at 40 years of age, he beat George Gardner for the newly created light heavyweight crown. He continued fighting competitively until he was 50.

Jeffries was a dominant heavyweight champion who retired undefeated but was begged by the American media and fight establishment to come out of retirement to face Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion. Johnson was decades ahead of his time. Big, strong, and athletic, he dominated the heavyweight division as a contender in the late 1890s, and fought a series of bouts with the other excellent black heavyweights of the day -- Sam Langford, Joe Jeanette, and Sam McVey. Although he beat white heavyweights, too, heavyweight champions since Sullivan refused to face black challengers and subsequent champions followed suit. Johnson settled for what was called the "black heavyweight title" until December 1908, when he stopped Tommy Burns for the legitimate title.


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