I'm not a professional book reviewer by trade. All I know is that when I finish reading a book, I either like it, or I don't. Carolyn Kellog I ain't. But after completing 'Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye' from Russell Peltz about his fifty years in the boxing business, I gave it the best compliment possible.
I purchased three more from Mr. Peltz (where I actually PayPal'd to his personal account) to give out to a few friends. There's no bigger endorsement I can give it.
If you are a boxing fan, or someone in the industry -- this is something you should read. It's right up there with 'Only the Ring was Square' from Teddy Brenner, in terms of being an easy to read guide on the inner workings of this industry. It's broken up into quick chapters, and gives a detailed history on Peltz's life in boxing (and in many ways, boxing is his life) and the men who helped shape it.
For guys like me, when I think of the Philly boxing tradition, Peltz has been the one constant the past few decades. Many have come and gone since the first time he was sticking up fight posters on telephone polls, or making his first four round contest. But Peltz has survived, if not always thrived. There is a perception that promoters just rake in money, and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. That simply isn't true, especially at the local level. Peltz was a promoter who for many of his cards had no safety net of television license fees. He had to make real fights that would sell tickets.
The work was hard, and the profit margins were often thin.
What was interesting is that throughout it all, Peltz kept meticulous notes on his profits and losses for each promotion. He recounds his days running the Spectrum boxing program, turning down a chance to work with Marvelous Marvin Hagler (who went through the gauntlet of middleweights in 'the City of Brotherly Love' on his way to the middleweight title) the rise of Atlantic City as a boxing market, and the changing of the boxing business as premium cable networks became a major force in the industry.
The belief here is that Peltz is as honest and forthright as possible. He'll admit he's made mistakes (Hagler, ahem), and it wasn't always a smooth ride on Bash Blvd for him. But you don't last this long in any realm without being highly competent and incredibly committed. The other thing that really stood out to me in reading this is that back then boxing -- which has always been a business -- was much more of a real sport. Fighters had to fight more often, and they truly were forced to learn their craft.
I don't think there's any doubt that Russell agrees with me.
This book is 57 chapters over 424 pages (still, it'll go by quickly once you get into it). But there is one story that really stood out to me. And I hope Russell doesn't mind giving a quick synopsis of it. For those who plan on reading 'Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye', well, spoiler alert for the next several paragraphs.
Chapter 6 is about Peltz's long-time relationship and eventual friendship with manager, Joe Gramby, who handled George Benton. Peltz had promised to book Benton on an upcoming show, but as he did the math, his calculations said the Benton's purse, and that off his opponent, would leae him in the red. But as he noticed that Benton was not in town training at the gym, he was relieved that Benton wouldn't be on the card.
But a couple of weeks before this promotion, in strolls Benton, to the consternation of Peltz. Who told Benton that he had made other plans. Besides, no official agreements were signed for this bout. Benton, who later become a world-class trainer, called Gramby on the pay phone inside the gym.
As Benton handed the phone over to Peltz, who told him that they had never had a contract for this date. To which Gramby countered, "What's the matter, isn't your word any good?"
Peltz was shamed into adding Benton onto the bill. The card operated at a loss.
About a dozen years later, Peltz and Gramby consummated a deal to have Randall 'Tex' Cobb be a part of a local cable show in Atlantic City. The duo would go on a Sunday morning to a local spot for breakfast where they agreed on a contract for Cobb to get a $20,000 guarantee. A few hours later a call came from Gramby. Peltz, who describes himself as the ''eternal pessimist''(and I can corroborate that) had an ominous feeling about this.
Gramby informed him that Don King had just called and offered Cobb a shot at Larry Holmes for a half-million bucks. Peltz admits that it would've been impossible for him to have asked them to turn down a deal of that nature.
But Gramby told Peltz, "I told him I had a commitment to you, and even though the contracts are not filed I was not going to break my word." (Eventually Cobb would face Holmes in what was a notable mismatch that caused Howard Cossell to swear off boxing on ABC, but only after going through with this commitment to Peltz.}
Yes, there are honorable people in boxing, believe it or not.
You want to read more stories like this -- go get this book.
The Top Rank/ESPN card on Saturday night was a bit of a snoozer, but Bruce Carrington looks like a guy to keep an eye on....April 30 will be an interesting night of boxing...Personally, I think both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame. But my question is if it was their usage of banned substances -- or strong insinuations, of it -- why was David Ortiz given entry? The hypocrisy is striking to me.... Joe Burrow is special, the Bengals struck gold with him....With a Super Bowl win, does Matt Stafford state a case to get a bust in Canton?.....I can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org....