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Old 06-27-2009, 06:39 PM #1
Southpaw16BF Southpaw16BF is offline
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Default Inside The Life Of Carlos Monzon

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I like the fellow
who in the heat of battle
was able to plant our flag
in the toughest terrain.
Champion in his game,
confident in his ability,
he saw the vultures grouping,
chased them with his hat
and seared them with his poncho.

If you go forward tenaciously
you'll struggle through with your message,
even though your wagon gets stuck
and the cattle crush you.
There's nothing wrong with the man
who wears out his knife
defending his honor.
The coward hands it over to the police
without ever taking it out of its sheath.

Here's to you, Carlos Monzon.
one hundred percent Santafesino.
the new world champion.
Strength, fists and heart.
From this old tree,
for you a prize of honey
and a laurel wreath.
From your tent a cry of victory,
a woman's hand in yours,
and a carnation pinned to your lapel.
—JILIO MIGNO, translated by L. Tarabein

It had been raining off and on for a month in parts of the Argentine pampas. Rivers were out of their banks surrounding the city of Santa Fe, 240 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. A cold wind blew across brown ponds that now stood in the grasslands. In the basement gym at the Club Atl�tico Uni�n in Santa Fe, the floor was laid over with a scum of gray mud. At five o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, Carlos Monzon came down the concrete steps into the small, damp room where a couple of dozen boxers were shuffling in the slime, pounding leather bags with their fists, snorting and dodging and throwing straight right hands in imitation of the style that had turned Monzon from a shoeshine boy into the middleweight champion of the world.

That afternoon Monzon had been at a school where he posed for photographs with a lot of screaming children. He had left the school and driven his lilac-colored Fiat to the club. Inside the high brick walls of the club grounds are rugby and soccer fields, and a swimming pool filled with oily water and so much rubbish that Monzon could almost have walked over it to the gym. Monzon had been up all night drinking Scotch and playing the guitar and singing with friends, and he looked like a man who had just swallowed a ****roach. His title light with Benny Briscoe of Philadelphia, now scheduled for Nov. 11 in Buenos Aires, had been postponed for the third time in a week. His mood was sullen and edgy.

"Don't mind it if Monzon doesn't seem to like you," a friend of his said while the champion was changing clothes in a corner. "He's that way with nearly everybody. The way he grew up as a poor kid on the streets, he never needed to know much about manners, and he doesn't trust many people."

The young boxers in the gym wore an assortment of costumes—Bermuda shorts, bathing trunks, polo shirts. Some were barefoot. Monzon put on a classy blue training outfit and climbed between tattered ropes into the gym's only ring. He began skipping rope, his feet hammering on the wooden floor. If you got knocked down in that ring, they could pick a box of toothpicks out of your back.

"People say Monzon doesn't have any right to make so much money these days just for hitting people a few times and knocking them cold," his friend said. "But they don't know how many hours he has spent down here in this basement, getting hit. He's worked hard to be the champion. Now he can do what he pleases."

The champion kept missing beats with his rope. Finally he scowled and tossed the rope to his manager. Amilcar Brusa, a big man with a flattened nose. Brusa looks very much like Roscoe Sweeney of the comic strip. Thirteen years ago when Monzon wandered into the Club Atl�tico Uni�n, it was Brusa who kept him from going back to the streets. Brusa got a doctor to feed him meat and vitamins. Brusa taught him to box, straightening out the powerful right-hand punch that has knocked out 54 of Monzon's 90 opponents. Monzon has won 70 fights without a loss in the last eight years. Since he knocked out Nino Benvenuti for the title in Rome in November of 1970, he has defended his championship live times and has won all five by knockouts.

"It's that right hand," his friend said. "The strong right hand is the Brusa trademark. See? All the kids down here are trying to do it. They all want to be like Monzon."

Last edited by Southpaw16bf; 06-28-2009 at 08:28 PM.
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