September 23, 2017

Bruce Springsteen presents a real conundrum for lyrics obsessives. He’s not quite the poet like Dylan, Van or Costello nor the wry workingman and arch character builder like Randy Newman or Mose Allison. He rocks hard but is basically an earnest soul revue live act. Perhaps as much as anyone though he’s carved his own space, filled by virtuoso guitar, taskmaster band leading and a work ethic which sustains rather than drains pure artistry. Happy birthday Boss. The Brown Brothers love you.

Who Killed Davey Moore?

Sugar Ramos
Sugar Ramos

9/13/17

Ultiminio “Sugar” Ramos died last week. Ramos was a world-championship featherweight boxer active in the 50’s and 60’s who started his professional career at the age of 15. He was born and then raised dirt-poor in Matanzas, Cuba in the 1940’s. Ramos stood just shy of 5 feet 5 inches, but he hit as a mule kicked – hard.

In 1958, Ramos beat his countryman, Jose “Tigre” Blanco by a brutal knockout. Shortly after the match, Blanco died of a brain hemorrhage.

Fast-forward to March 21st, 1963, Dodger Stadium, Elysian Park, Los Angeles – the world featherweight title match: Sugar Ramos v the 4-year defending champ, Davey Moore. Moore was widely thought of as one of the top pound for pound fighters of his day, and as evidenced by the venue, boxing was a big deal in 1963 America.

Moore got the better of Ramos in the early rounds, battering the Cuban with heavy artillery, but Ramos kept his composure and knocked Moore out in the 10th. Moore was able to leave the ring under his own powers, but slipped into a coma shortly thereafter and then passed at a local hospital. Word has it that Moore hit his head on one of the ropes surrounding the ring (and the below video appears to corroborate this), and that at the time, those ropes were not padded. Word also has it that Ramos, ever the mensch, was present at the hospital post Moore’s death and was absolved of responsibility by Moore’s widow…

Ramos continued to fight until retiring in 1972 – a true warrior and a gentleman as the story goes, and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

The 1963 fight and subsequent death of Moore was immortalized by the great Bobby Dylan at the height of his folk phase with the song “Who Killed Davey Moore” which asks lots of questions but doesn’t take a firm point of view on the actual culprit. Here’s a link to that song along with a video of Moore v Ramos from that fateful nite.

https://youtu.be/IssR_J0QWr4