"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

He Ain’t Pretty No More

From the New York Magazine archives, here’s a piece Pete Hamill once in 1969 about a Great White Hope:

Jerry Quarry was dressed in natty gray sharkskin trousers, a cobalt-blue shirt and white shoes, and he looked like all those young men in Southern California who don’t take drugs or wear their hair long or go off to Berkeley. The dark blond hair was combed straight back, with long sideburns, and you were sure that a few years ago he wore a ducktail. The face itself had that rugged blockiness you see a lot in California: straight short nose, good jaw, neat ears; only Quarry’s eyes had that peculiar maturity that comes with the acceptance of pain. He nodded and disappeared into the dressing room.

After awhile, Quarry returned and hopped into the ring. He was wearing green trunks and white boxing shoes, and he started to move briskly around the ring, flicking his bandaged hands at the air. The hard body was tanned and trim, and he twisted it and stretched it, the hands always moving, describing patterns of punches, the jab whipping straight out, the right hand jamming behind it, the short flat hook whipping horizontally across Quarry’s own chin-line. The audience seemed hypnotized.

Then Quarry went over to the side of the ring, where his trainer Teddy Bentham smeared Vaseline on his face and laced on a pair of 10-ounce red boxing gloves. Boursse came into the ring, his face masked by headgear. Quarry did not wear headgear, and you could see the blanched look on the face of John Condon, the Garden public relations man. Quarry’s fight with Frazier is the hottest prizefight of the year; the Garden might be sold out, and if it is, the live gate alone could be $750,000, with another million coming from closed-circuit television. If Quarry were cut in training it would cost someone a lot of money. But Quarry is a fighter, and the real fighters don’t really care much for headgear.


1 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 23, 2010 1:24 pm

Christ, that's excellent writing.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 23, 2010 2:22 pm

Hamill did have his moments, didn't he?

3 bags   ~  Sep 23, 2010 3:26 pm

i understand the lyricism of boxing in the abstract but I think it is an awful "sport". Quarry made over $2MM boxing during his career but died with dementia and pennies to his name, thanks to all those punches to the head. Sad.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver