Skip to main content
Original Issue

'A tiger on the trail'

The tiger is Pete Rademacher, the trail is Zora Folley's, but the tiger may be toothless

He will box his ears off," saith the bookmaker. He is Zora Folley, who almost came to blows with Eddie Machen in San Francisco last April. The ears are Pete Rademacher's, and their mettle will be tested in Los Angeles July 25 (on Friday night TV) when Rademacher (him and his 0 and 1 record) boxes Folley for 10 rounds, or less. An antiquated phrase for the bookmaker—who wears low-cuts with shantung panels and white-on-white haberdashery—to turn, but Folley is a sedate, old-fashioned fellow who has the lordotic carriage of the 19th century prizefighter, if not the knickers and the sash, and looks more like he's shooting the sun than about to knock a block off. Folley fights like a proper Englishman, too. And how do proper Englishmen fight? "All the time the jabski and the blockeroo," the bookmaker once said. "But in the end, flat like a latka." "Jab, grab and apologize," Rademacher has said. Folley's end has never been like a latka but his non-aggression pact is rigorously enforced. "He has a bit of the dog in him," Cus D'Amato once observed. "I expect," says Rademacher on Folley, "to fight a fighter who does not like to fight."

"I love to fight," Rademacher says. "I just love boxing and the tougher it gets, the better I like it." Listening to that talk, Jack Hurley would shake his lean head and mutter, "A blithering amateur!" Yet Pete has made his way, inspired if blithering, up from the amateurs where he fought like a subway guard stuffing an uptown express. He was nimble, though, when he boxed Floyd Patterson and he had a jab to behold—until he started to bounce. He has always been resourceful; the films show how Pete got his second-round knockdown. He jabbed Patterson and kept the glove over Floyd's eyes so they could not see the right, crossing.

Says Rademacher: "This time I am training for a fight. Last time I was training for a promotion."

One of Pete's sparring partners is a specimen name of Sam Jones who likes to croon to himself. What does Sam think of Rademacher? "Well, I'll tell you," told Sam, reluctantly. "Pete's pretty sharp, I think. He makes some good moves—pretty good counterpuncher, 'specially in the right hand. I figure that Zora got a tiger on his trail in this fight."

This fight is the third between Rademacher and Folley; they boxed twice in the amateurs. "I won the first one," Folley recalls. "He took the second one. That was a long time ago, though, and both of us have changed so much and learned so much since then...." Pete disagrees: "The man hasn't changed at all. All he has done is learn how to pace himself to fight 10 rounds."

But has Rademacher learned and can he stop bouncing? Says Folley's co-manager, Bill Swift: "I say we're out for an early KO but I'm not saying we're going to wade in throwing wild punches. We don't fight that way."

Heavens no! But Folley has knocked them down, and despite his timorous disposition he has a first-rate jab and counterpunches smartly. It is hard to see how Pete won't get his ears boxed off for making the fight.

Said Kenny Lane on Poydras Street outside of Curley's New Orleans gym: "I don't think Brown can go those last five rounds without getting hit. He's getting up in age [Brown is 33] and I think if I hit him he's gone."

Old Joe Brown, regrettably, feels he was gone before he came. Lane, who disputes Joe's lightweight championship on July 23 (Wednesday night Fights), is just an arriviste. Most left-handers don't like to fight inside; they jab their way into a clinch and then hang on. Not Lane, he likes to fight inside and that's where Joe don't like to be fought. Says Lane's co-manager Pete Petrofsky: "Kenny won't let Brown set him up the way he did with the others. If you don't let him set you up, he won't hurt you." He will if you do; he has knocked out all his challengers. "You don't beat Joe Brown by backing up," says Lane.

Brown has fought five lefties and beaten five, which once prompted Lane to inquire, "Who were they? I never heard of them." This angried Brown's blood. "I don't think Lane would make a good champion," he said, truculently. "He doesn't have the class. I'm going to save the lightweight division from him."

Brown is training zealously for his crusade. He now weighs 139, but Trainer Bill Gore wants to put pounds on him. "Joe is liable to lose weight so fast," he says, "he could fall through his drawers and strangle himself."

Brown also has a lean frame of mind. "Him?" Gore snorts. "He thinks he's unbeatable. The way he stalks a fighter, he looks like a savage in the jungle carrying some spear." Says Brown: "It's always been my theory that anybody I can hit I can put out. I can hit Lane."

The price is 2 to 12 Brown and the short end looks good to short-end bettors. A consideration is that the fight is in Houston, which is the sphere of influence of Lou Viscusi, Brown's manager. Another consideration is that Lane's other manager is Jack (Doc) Kearns, a man aware of contingencies. It is felt that the considerations cancel each other out, like paired senators.