Friday, 30 October 2015

Eddie Futch.... The Master..




Eddie Futch was born in Hillsboro Mississippi in 1911 but moved with his family to Detroit when he was five years old. The Futch family lived in the Black Bottom section of the City..   Futch played semi-professional basketball with the Moreland YMCA Flashes and planned to attended the YMCA College School at the University of Chicago, but the Great Depression changed his plans and forced him to work shifts at The Wolverine hotel to bring much needed funds into the family home...  Here Eddie would meet friend and trainer / Promoter Don Arnott..  In 1932, Futch won the Detroit Athletic Association Lightweight Championship, and in 1933, he won the Detroit Golden Gloves Championship. Eddie trained at the Brewster Recreation Center Gym, and often sparred with the future champion Joe Louis. However health issues and a potential heart murmur prevented Futch from turning professional, and he began training boxers. Eddie Futch was a phenomenal trainer, perhaps the greatest strategist who ever lived. He prepared fighters to perform their best at the highest levels of the sport for several decades.  The list of Champions who worked under Futch's tutelage include Don Jordan, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Michael Spinks, Alexis Arguello, Marlon Starling, Wayne McCullough and Montell Griffin ...  Jordan however was Futch's first world champion, crowned in 1958.
Eddie Futch was noted for his work with heavyweights, he was first hired by Joe Frazier, and his chief cornerman and manager Yank Durham to help him prepare for a fight in 1967, with Scrap Iron Johnson..  He trained Frazier to stay low and create a sense of perpetual motion and pressure Johnson consistently ..  Futch was using Fraziers height as an advantage, making the opponent continually punch down, making Joe a tough target to hit without taking as much punishment as a boxer with a more conventional fighting style would.
The tactic proved to be highly effective, and Frazier remained undefeated, winning the New York title from Buster Mathis, the man he had replaced in the Tokyo Olympics and WBA crown from Jimmy Ellis with solid knockouts. All of which led to the inevitable victorious showdown with Muhammad in March 1971 at New York's Madison square Garden.. Futch would be by Joes side for all three historic bouts with Ali..  Eddie would train four of the five men who would beat Ali..
For Kenny Norton Futch's master plan for his first Ali fight was for Ken to try and out-jab Ali. Although a pressure fighter, Norton had a good jab. Futch reckoned this would play mind games with Ali, who was so proud of his own jab. The plan seemed effective..    For Frazier v Ali 1, Futch told Frazier to wear down Ali with persistent body punches,  Futch also believed that Frazier's constant bobbing and weaving would make Ali uncomfortable because he would often have to punch down , which was something he was not used to doing. Finally, Futch noticed that Ali's uppercuts were thrown sloppily and technically incorrectly, he instructed Frazier to throw a left hook over the top of Ali's right uppercuts, and told his fighter to beat Ali to the punch when doing so, something that worked perfectly in the 15th round when an exhausted Ali threw a half-hearted uppercut, Frazier feinted a left and then unleashed a huge sweeping left hook at Ali's head, which floored him and created an famous moment in boxing history.
Frazier won the fight by a unanimous decision and was recognized as the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Four and a half years after the Fight of the Century, Frazier and Ali met for a third and final time in a fight known as the "Thrilla in Manila" in September 1975. Futch served as Frazier's manager and chief second for the fight, having inherited those duties from Durham who died from a stroke shortly after Frazier's defeat by Foreman in 1973.
Futch's would ultimately save Joe from himself in the 14th round of one of the most brutal heavyweight fights ever witnessed..  A decision Frazier held bitter against Futch for years..  Eddie would stand alongside dominant heavyweight champion Larry Holmes another of the elite club to beat Ali, then prepare another Ali tamer in Jamaican Trevor Berbick, albeit against a much faded Ali..
Eddie would then work with his fighter Holmes nemesis,  Michael Spinks, who would become the only light heavyweight in history to arrest the heavyweight title..
Following Michael Spinks defeat at the hands of Mike Tyson, Eddie had no invested interest in a ranked heavyweight, until he met Riddick Bowe..  Everyone labeled Bowe a quitter, an underachiever who wouldn't rise when the going got tough, but Futch had faith..  Eddie said "he'd judge Bowe as he found him" and after brief introductions Futch set Bowe a strict training regime while he was supposedly out of town..  This was the acid test..  On a cold winters morning unsupervised would this underachieving quitter set out on his 5 mile runs at 5am..  Futch watched from a vantage point unbeknown to Bowe and to the young mans credit, he never missed a beat..  Futch proclaimed that he would make Riddick Bowe a champion.  31 fights later he would fulfill his promise to Futch and outpoint Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas to claim his crown..  Unfortunately after Bowes defense against Britains Herbie Hide Futch left understudy Thell Torrence in charge, washing his hands of his young charge who had began to lack discipline, at 84 years of age Futch didn't have time for bullshit..    Eddie still had the magic to steer Montell Griffin towards becoming the first man to beat Roy Jones Jr. and Wayne McCullough one of the most exciting champions in his division..    October 10th 2001 , Eddie Futch passed away in Las Vegas...  I was in town the week of his life celebration at Caesars Palace, it was the final farewell of one of boxings leading lights..   An extraordinary man..