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Having spent several years on what we referred to as the Ave (23rd Ave) in Oakland California, I recalled a boxer I knew slightly.
His name was Johnny Gonsalves. I met him in a restaurant where he hung out with the son of the owner I was acquainted with.
I and my roommate ate at the restaurant often and Johnny was in there much of the time. Johnny was an excellent boxer but lacked a heavy punch. He had a few KO’s but won most of his fights by the point system.
The woman who ran the restaurant was asked by Johnny are you going to come down to the auditorium and watch me fight tonight.
She calmly said “Who are you fighting?”
He told he and she said, “I have already seen that one.”
Johnny was taken aback by that answer but after a while he said, “Well I’m fighting him again.”
Once again she said quizzically, “Why?”
He didn’t have a good answer for that so he started talking to his friend. He managed to get a television appearance and fought Ralph Dupas in New Orleans.
Dupas gave him the worst beating he had up to then. Dupas was a good boxer and could punch your lights out. Johnny Gonsalves was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.
While I wasn’t a big fan of boxing my brother and I went ever so often to the Oakland Auditorium. There we would see some of the well know boxers.
I was standing by a railing when Archie Moore the light heavyweight champ walked up next to me and I was amazed at how small he looked. I stood tall over him. I had seen him fight several times on TV and he looked much bigger.
One thing about the fights promoted in Oakland was there was more fighting going on in the audience than in the ring.
On one occasion the fight in the stands got going so good the boxers in the ring stopped and watched it until the cops broke it up and then continued with their match.
The cops liked to get some of the extra duty at events they enjoyed. They got in free and got paid at the same time.
Similar things happen when at the Raiders football games. My cousin and I had season tickets for all the Raiders games. You were lucky to get out of there without being soaked with beer.
There were always one or more fights breaking out around you at some time during the game. They usually started after half time for it took a while for them to get drunken up enough to lose control.
Why the people near the fight always threw their beer at the participants I could never figure out.
Coming down to it I guess I enjoyed the fights as well as the events I went to.
One last note: I once saw a guy who had a huge black eye a day after a Raiders game and he was explaining to his friend how he had been in a fight at the game the day before.
He was smiling as he told the story and was wearing the black eye as a badge of honor
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