View Full Version : old timers - modern fighters


sonnyboyx2
01-11-2010, 09:30 AM
who had the best training methods.. could todays fighters have survived against the old timers and visa-versa..

athletes of today are bigger and stronger, but the men at the turn of the century were "****strong" because you didn't have cars, everything had to be done by hand, they were strong and sinewy, they rode***65279; horses and trains for transportation, worked in mines... just a much tougher lifestyle... the old timers were a much tougher breed of people, far tougher than today's athletes...guys like Jack Dempsey chewed Balsa wood to strengthen his jaw, slept with meat-steaks tied to his face to make his skin as tough as leather..they had no steroids or HGH

Todays fighters are soft in comparison, the old timers could fight for 25rds or more without `gassing-out`.. Todays fighters have nothing in their training that gives them an advantage over the old timers... today they rely on protien drinks & vitamins rather than hard work.. we dont have the great legendary trainers from yesteryear, we have strength & fitness coaches and dieticians who have almost zero knowledge of boxing..

any thoughts on this subject

GJC
01-11-2010, 09:37 AM
Think the main advantage the fighters of the old days had is they had more fights?
You fight more you get better at it, same as cooking, driving, decorating anything really.
Training's one thing but no matter how much you spar etc you can't duplicate a fight.

Sugarj
01-11-2010, 12:44 PM
I'd agree with much of what you say Sonnyboyx. We do of course know that today's athletes far out perform the athletes of yesteryear though. The Olympics demonstrate this conclusively. The athletes of today do train hard to get to peak performance, nutrition and advanced training techniques still require hard graft.

That said boxers are not conventional athletes! You've got to be a little bit crazy to be a boxer! Ha Ha. Although fighters of the pre Dempsey era fought rather more rounds, quite honestly the pace of these rounds, number of punches thrown etc can be well down. There is rather little quality footage of the lower weight fighters pre 1915 so I have to base my answer on the heavyweights.......And quite frankly what fights I have seen of Corbett, Fitzimmons, Jeffries, Burns, Willard and Johnson demonstrate that while there were more rounds, there was less action in those rounds!

There were an awful lot of stand offs and feints. Some of these guys were very skilled.....Johnson comes to mind, but barring any last round highlight reels of his whippings of Burns or Jeffries the pace of these fights was not as high as Vitali or Wladimir's fights for example (who dont exactly fight thrillas in Manillas every few months either!!). Its no suprise that when Jack Dempsey came flying out of his corner it scared the life out of Jess Willard! He'd have never seen anything like that pace before.

But the old timers were strong, well conditioned, tough. They had to work for their money. They weren't spoilt by huge signing bonuses, air conditioned gyms. Those who reached the pinacle of their division did it the tough way and thats to be admired.

As for coaching......many such as Ray Arcel, Eddie Futch, Chappy Blackburn are sadly no longer with us. But the likes of Freddie Roach, Manny Steward and Nazim Richardson confirm that there are still great coaches out there today.....at least for the elite!!!

As for old timers vs today's fighters....I think that certain decades are stronger than others for certain weights of fighters. I think the welters and middleweights of today would get a shock if Ray Robinson, Marcel Cerdan, Bobo Oslen or La Motta showed up from the 40s and 50s! But lets face it most title fights were 15 rounds then. There is precious little footage of lower weight fighters who fought 25 or 40 rounders so we cant compare based on video footage, and journalistic account is no basis to make assessment.

We'd need to go to pre 1915 to make an amusing case for the heavyweights of then vs the heavyweights of now. Jeffries and Johnson would do well I'm sure. At their best these were big, strong well conditioned men with iron jaws. I couldn't see Corbett, Fitzimmons or Burns making any impact on today's heavyweight scene because they were only light heavyweights in today's terms. They were great for their day though and with today's training may well have been excellent light heavyweights or cruiserweights if they had the focus they had over a century ago.

sonnyboyx2
01-11-2010, 02:08 PM
I'd agree with much of what you say Sonnyboyx. We do of course know that today's athletes far out perform the athletes of yesteryear though. The Olympics demonstrate this conclusively. The athletes of today do train hard to get to peak performance, nutrition and advanced training techniques still require hard graft.

That said boxers are not conventional athletes! You've got to be a little bit crazy to be a boxer! Ha Ha. Although fighters of the pre Dempsey era fought rather more rounds, quite honestly the pace of these rounds, number of punches thrown etc can be well down. There is rather little quality footage of the lower weight fighters pre 1915 so I have to base my answer on the heavyweights.......And quite frankly what fights I have seen of Corbett, Fitzimmons, Jeffries, Burns, Willard and Johnson demonstrate that while there were more rounds, there was less action in those rounds!

There were an awful lot of stand offs and feints. Some of these guys were very skilled.....Johnson comes to mind, but barring any last round highlight reels of his whippings of Burns or Jeffries the pace of these fights was not as high as Vitali or Wladimir's fights for example (who dont exactly fight thrillas in Manillas every few months either!!). Its no suprise that when Jack Dempsey came flying out of his corner it scared the life out of Jess Willard! He'd have never seen anything like that pace before.

But the old timers were strong, well conditioned, tough. They had to work for their money. They weren't spoilt by huge signing bonuses, air conditioned gyms. Those who reached the pinacle of their division did it the tough way and thats to be admired.

As for coaching......many such as Ray Arcel, Eddie Futch, Chappy Blackburn are sadly no longer with us. But the likes of Freddie Roach, Manny Steward and Nazim Richardson confirm that there are still great coaches out there today.....at least for the elite!!!

As for old timers vs today's fighters....I think that certain decades are stronger than others for certain weights of fighters. I think the welters and middleweights of today would get a shock if Ray Robinson, Marcel Cerdan, Bobo Oslen or La Motta showed up from the 40s and 50s! But lets face it most title fights were 15 rounds then. There is precious little footage of lower weight fighters who fought 25 or 40 rounders so we cant compare based on video footage, and journalistic account is no basis to make assessment.

We'd need to go to pre 1915 to make an amusing case for the heavyweights of then vs the heavyweights of now. Jeffries and Johnson would do well I'm sure. At their best these were big, strong well conditioned men with iron jaws. I couldn't see Corbett, Fitzimmons or Burns making any impact on today's heavyweight scene because they were only light heavyweights in today's terms. They were great for their day though and with today's training may well have been excellent light heavyweights or cruiserweights if they had the focus they had over a century ago.

excellent reply... many thanks

GameGod
01-11-2010, 02:15 PM
Depends how long ago. If you're talking John L. Sullivan, then no - the nutrition, lifestyle and genetics today is such that he would too heavily outmuscled by his opponents. And that's ignoring the vast improvements on fighting methods and strategies.

But if you're talking the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, then not enough time has yet passed. Ray Robinson comfortably beats any other Welterweight in history, including the more recent ones.

dagrtst
01-11-2010, 02:21 PM
Old timers fought a lot differently than today's fighters. Sure, the rounds were more, but like Sugarj said, there was less action.

If you put a late 19th century elite fighter in the ring today with some of the modern elite fighters, they would most likely lose. The same can be said vice-versa. It's all because of the style in which they fought.

Sugarj
01-11-2010, 03:06 PM
Cheers Sonnyboyx.

Dynamite Kid
01-11-2010, 03:10 PM
who had the best training methods.. could todays fighters have survived against the old timers and visa-versa..

athletes of today are bigger and stronger, but the men at the turn of the century were "****strong" because you didn't have cars, everything had to be done by hand, they were strong and sinewy, they rode***65279; horses and trains for transportation, worked in mines... just a much tougher lifestyle... the old timers were a much tougher breed of people, far tougher than today's athletes...guys like Jack Dempsey chewed Balsa wood to strengthen his jaw, slept with meat-steaks tied to his face to make his skin as tough as leather..they had no steroids or HGH

Todays fighters are soft in comparison, the old timers could fight for 25rds or more without `gassing-out`.. Todays fighters have nothing in their training that gives them an advantage over the old timers... today they rely on protien drinks & vitamins rather than hard work.. we dont have the great legendary trainers from yesteryear, we have strength & fitness coaches and dieticians who have almost zero knowledge of boxing..

any thoughts on this subject



Fighters today are more athletic.

Imo tactics/game plans have evolved so much that they can fight without engaging the opponent, not to mention the fact that there are no Championship rounds anymore. You can Box for 12 rounds but when you are fighting for 15 rounds you are generally fighting on gut and heart, its not so much about the skill you but about the heart/desire/durability/stamina you have when you get into the 13/14 rounds.

I dont equate what im about to say to all!! the fighters from the 50/60's but is it fair to say that some of the fighters from that era had questionable footwork ? it seems to me that their opponents were much more inclined to engage them and that,that might be one of the reasons i believe some of the fighters from that era did not have the greatest/fastest footwork in the world because they did not need to.

I think that is why a guy like Liston had so much trouble with Ali, that is where i believe Ali was kinda revolutionary with his style.


I guess as time goes by that toughness gets evolved out of the fighters because their bodies dont have to be that tough because of the 12 round distance and because of how much tactics and game plans have evolved. There is no question in my mind trainers know more about Boxing today than they did how many years ago, plus with advancements in nutrition people of this era are more athletic.

Its just evolution imo.

Take a look at how skinny and slight Football/Soccer players is in the 1970's are then take a look at modern day Footballers like Thierry Henry/Cristiano Ronaldo, they are both extremely quick and very strong, for Footballers anyway. Where have all the dribblers gone ? they seemed to have evolved out of the game because dribblers are technical players that dont necessarily rely on atheism but great technique/touch.

sonnyboyx2
01-11-2010, 03:26 PM
Fighters today are more athletic.

Imo tactics/game plans have evolved so much that they can fight without engaging the opponent, not to mention the fact that there are no Championship rounds anymore. You can Box for 12 rounds but when you are fighting for 15 rounds you are generally fighting on gut and heart, its not so much about the skill you but about the heart/desire/durability/stamina you have when you get into the 13/14 rounds.

I dont equate what im about to say to all!! the fighters from the 50/60's but is it fair to say that some of the fighters from that era had questionable footwork ? it seems to me that their opponents were much more inclined to engage them and that,that might be one of the reasons i believe some of the fighters from that era did not have the greatest/fastest footwork in the world because they did not need to.

I think that is why a guy like Liston had so much trouble with Ali, that is where i believe Ali was kinda revolutionary with his style.


I guess as time goes by that toughness gets evolved out of the fighters because their bodies dont have to be that tough because of the 12 round distance and because of how much tactics and game plans have evolved. There is no question in my mind trainers know more about Boxing today than they did how many years ago, plus with advancements in nutrition people of this era are more athletic.

Its just evolution imo.

Take a look at how skinny and slight Football/Soccer players is in the 1970's are then take a look at modern day Footballers like Thierry Henry/Cristiano Ronaldo, they are both extremely quick and very strong, for Footballers anyway. Where have all the dribblers gone ? they seemed to have evolved out of the game because dribblers are technical players that dont necessarily rely on atheism but great technique/touch.

i agree... especially football like you say, it is a whole different game compaired to the Billy Bremner era of the 70s...

A young nephew of mine is a pro rugby league player at a top Yorkshire club, He left home to go live in Yorkshire and i never seen him for the next 2yrs until this xmas time, i was shocked at the change in him, he has changed out of all recognition, in a one-to-one conversation with him on New Years eve he told me he is on steroids and HGH, he claims it is impossible to compete unless he is juiced-up, he claims every single pro rugby player is taking the same gear.. its club policy

Dynamite Kid
01-11-2010, 03:30 PM
i agree... especially football like you say, it is a whole different game compaired to the Billy Bremner era of the 70s...

A young nephew of mine is a pro rugby league player at a top Yorkshire club, He left home to go live in Yorkshire and i never seen him for the next 2yrs until this xmas time, i was shocked at the change in him, he has changed out of all recognition, in a one-to-one conversation with him on New Years eve he told me he is on steroids and HGH, he claims it is impossible to compete unless he is juiced-up, he claims every single pro rugby player is taking the same gear.. its club policy


Yeah? thats ****ed up.

TheGreatA
01-11-2010, 03:46 PM
Fighters today are more athletic.

Imo tactics/game plans have evolved so much that they can fight without engaging the opponent, not to mention the fact that there are no Championship rounds anymore. You can Box for 12 rounds but when you are fighting for 15 rounds you are generally fighting on gut and heart, its not so much about the skill you but about the heart/desire/durability/stamina you have when you get into the 13/14 rounds.

I dont equate what im about to say to all!! the fighters from the 50/60's but is it fair to say that some of the fighters from that era had questionable footwork ? it seems to me that their opponents were much more inclined to engage them and that,that might be one of the reasons i believe some of the fighters from that era did not have the greatest/fastest footwork in the world because they did not need to.

I think that is why a guy like Liston had so much trouble with Ali, that is where i believe Ali was kinda revolutionary with his style.


I guess as time goes by that toughness gets evolved out of the fighters because their bodies dont have to be that tough because of the 12 round distance and because of how much tactics and game plans have evolved. There is no question in my mind trainers know more about Boxing today than they did how many years ago, plus with advancements in nutrition people of this era are more athletic.

Its just evolution imo.

Take a look at how skinny and slight Football/Soccer players is in the 1970's are then take a look at modern day Footballers like Thierry Henry/Cristiano Ronaldo, they are both extremely quick and very strong, for Footballers anyway. Where have all the dribblers gone ? they seemed to have evolved out of the game because dribblers are technical players that dont necessarily rely on atheism but great technique/touch.

Liston had fought quite a few good movers and had been troubled by all of them in the past so I think it's more about stylistical problems. Machen, Whitehurst, Marshall all gave him some problems.

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Ali trained in the same gym as the likes of Willie Pastrano and Ralph Dupas and had picked up many of their tricks:

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Jersey Joe Walcott was also a big inspiration:

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phallus
01-11-2010, 11:42 PM
i agree... especially football like you say, it is a whole different game compaired to the Billy Bremner era of the 70s...

A young nephew of mine is a pro rugby league player at a top Yorkshire club, He left home to go live in Yorkshire and i never seen him for the next 2yrs until this xmas time, i was shocked at the change in him, he has changed out of all recognition, in a one-to-one conversation with him on New Years eve he told me he is on steroids and HGH, he claims it is impossible to compete unless he is juiced-up, he claims every single pro rugby player is taking the same gear.. its club policy

the new fighters are only better because of drugs, take away the HGH and test injections and the old fighters beat them. people now are soft, the old timers just had to be tough to survive, it's like putting a pitbull in the ring with poodle. the old guys would fight just off hard training and mental toughness, the new kids have to pumped up with all kinds of drugs

bklynboy
01-12-2010, 12:03 AM
who had the best training methods.. could todays fighters have survived against the old timers and visa-versa..

athletes of today are bigger and stronger, but the men at the turn of the century were "****strong" because you didn't have cars, everything had to be done by hand, they were strong and sinewy, they rode***65279; horses and trains for transportation, worked in mines... just a much tougher lifestyle... the old timers were a much tougher breed of people, far tougher than today's athletes...guys like Jack Dempsey chewed Balsa wood to strengthen his jaw, slept with meat-steaks tied to his face to make his skin as tough as leather..they had no steroids or HGH

Todays fighters are soft in comparison, the old timers could fight for 25rds or more without `gassing-out`.. Todays fighters have nothing in their training that gives them an advantage over the old timers... today they rely on protien drinks & vitamins rather than hard work.. we dont have the great legendary trainers from yesteryear, we have strength & fitness coaches and dieticians who have almost zero knowledge of boxing..

any thoughts on this subject

I think there are more factors involved. People fought a lot more often, mainly because the pay was so much less, as a result they fought injured and some ruined their careers as a result. For example today a guy with a busted hand (Pavlik) can afford to post-pone a fight. Earlier fighters took the fight, if for no other reason than to keep a roof over their head and food in the cupboard. (Jim Braddock)

Regarding training -- they trained differently partly because the fight game was different. Except for a few champions (Dempsey) who would go a year or more without a fight most fighters -- even champions -- would rarely go more than 2 months without a fight. Sugar Ray Robinson wins the Welterweight crown and fights 10 times the next year. Today 4 fights a year is active.

Another major difference was the lack of film. Today trainers dissect the film of their fighter's opponents and develop a game plan to exploit specific weaknesses. Yeah, I think that Roach and Nazim Richardson could come up with great strategies against the greats of the past but how well would they do with no film and only 3 weeks to get their fighter ready?

One more round
01-12-2010, 12:19 AM
I think style matchups dominate the outcome of fantasy fights, moreso than the era. But that said, the pre 20's era fighters would get worked in today's fights. The fights were far longer and slower paced, and there was a bigger emphasis on grappling.

The guys today would just box them off their feet.

bklynboy
01-12-2010, 12:25 AM
I'd agree with much of what you say Sonnyboyx. We do of course know that today's athletes far out perform the athletes of yesteryear though. <b>The Olympics demonstrate this conclusively.</b> The athletes of today do train hard to get to peak performance, nutrition and advanced training techniques still require hard graft.


It's not as simple as it looks. The early Olympics were populated by the son's of the gentlemen class. Only the wealthy sent their kids to Princeton and Yale and could afford to send their sons to compete in Greece or London. As late as the 50s and 60s many athletes didn't compete for lack of funds. Now we have professional athletes, men and women who train year round with corporate and government sponsors.

The sponsoring cities of the Olympic Games also have incentives to break records. It makes for a successful Olympic experience. Tracks are made to go faster. The speed skating rinks in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, for instance, are specially done up: hard fast ice on the straight aways and ice that helps skaters keep their grip around the curves.

Not to mention faster ice we have better skates, sharper blades, and aerodynamic clothes and helmets.

This makes it difficult to compare Olympians of today with Olympians of a 100 years ago. However fighting has been going on since forever. We have some advantages in nutrition and stretching but I think that a great fighter back then would be a great fighter today.

bklynboy
01-12-2010, 12:27 AM
I think style matchups dominate the outcome of fantasy fights, moreso than the era. But that said, the pre 20's era fighters would get worked in today's fights. The fights were far longer and slower paced, and there was a bigger emphasis on grappling.

The guys today would just box them off their feet.

Look what Holyfield did to Tyson in their first fight. The grappling Holyfield won.

And also there were a lot of human windmills (think Aaron Pryor).

sonnyboyx2
01-12-2010, 03:35 AM
I think there are more factors involved. People fought a lot more often, mainly because the pay was so much less, as a result they fought injured and some ruined their careers as a result. For example today a guy with a busted hand (Pavlik) can afford to post-pone a fight. Earlier fighters took the fight, if for no other reason than to keep a roof over their head and food in the cupboard. (Jim Braddock)

Regarding training -- they trained differently partly because the fight game was different. Except for a few champions (Dempsey) who would go a year or more without a fight most fighters -- even champions -- would rarely go more than 2 months without a fight. Sugar Ray Robinson wins the Welterweight crown and fights 10 times the next year. Today 4 fights a year is active.

Another major difference was the lack of film. Today trainers dissect the film of their fighter's opponents and develop a game plan to exploit specific weaknesses. Yeah, I think that Roach and Nazim Richardson could come up with great strategies against the greats of the past but how well would they do with no film and only 3 weeks to get their fighter ready?

i agree with you... excellent points made about trainers studying fight-film

mickey malone
01-12-2010, 04:39 AM
Old school attitude combined with modern day training techniques would without doubt create the ultimate boxer..
Had the advantages of studying film and improved diet been on offer back then, the standard of boxing would have been even better than it was, with some fighters being greater and others being not so great, but they'd have blitzed the current day crop of Primadonna's for breakfast.. This by means of being far more seasoned and active or work hardened, if you like..
Pig hungry promoters have eroded the game since day one, to the point where these days, most of the natural talent are chosing other sports in which to nurture their skills. World champions only fight about once or twice a year, because it takes that long to work out which greedy fvcker's getting what..
The old school way was, 'The more I fight, the more money i'll get'..
That's why boxing history is so interesting and full of amazing facts.. It will always be interesting, but sadly as time goes by, the quality in numbers are depreciating at a concerning rate..