Fuller confounded the boxing set in Boston not long ago by sending a fighter he
manages to a psychiatrist. Fuller felt that his man was becoming alarmingly
savage in the ring. Resorting to psychoanalysis to eliminate a quality widely
sought in boxing would have been enough to make Fuller an enigma to fight
fanciers, except for one consideration—he was one.
Fuller is, to put
it in a word, atypical. As the Boston sports press regularly and accurately
describes him, he is a "socialite millionaire." His father, the late
Alvan T. Fuller, served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, and as a
pioneer auto distributor built the family's name and fortune. Peter, at 38, is
now president and general manager of the firm, the largest of its kind
(Cadillac- Oldsmobile) in the country.
Fuller grew up in
a luxurious, art-stocked, five-story Beacon Street mansion. Like George Apley,
he went to Milton Academy and, of course, Harvard (class of '46). At Harvard he
captained the wrestling team and then took to amateur boxing. He won 50 of his
55 fights, 30 by knockout.
For nearly 10
years boxing was his life, and even now, though slightly deskbound, married,
with six children, and some nine years away from the ring, Fuller still looks
like a fighter. He has wide shoulders, a blocky neck and face, prominent
eyebrows over deep-set eyes, a jutting jaw and the remnants of a cauliflower on
his right ear—though this last is a souvenir from wrestling.
These days he is
in a number of side activities, such as land-development projects, horse and
cattle breeding, Thoroughbred racing and, of course, the fight game. As often
is the case with the man who has almost everything, the most difficult to
obtain is the most compelling. In Fuller's case, he dearly wants a heavyweight
fighter to call his own, to manage and direct according to his own dictates and
theories; he is not, as other men of means have been in "managing"
fighters, a dabbler. As far as possible, Fuller is a do-it-yourself man, and he
has thrown into the effort his considerable energy, talent and resources.
established what has jocularly come to be known in the Boston area, if not yet
the outlands, as The Peter Fuller Fellowship for Fighting, or sometimes simply
The Fuller Fight Foundation. By either name, this is Fuller's personal
grant-in-aid plan, under which he has provided, in varying degrees, board,
room, tuition and laundry to three heavyweights. Two have flunked out and lost
holder is a rough diamond of a fighter named Tom McNeeley Jr., who quit
Michigan State when it dropped boxing in his sophomore year and turned pro
under Fuller in July 1958. McNeeley is a strong and angry man of 24, and he has
won all 22 of his pro fights, 17 by knockouts. He is now, in Fuller's view, in
the junior year of a four-year course that will lead to the degree of
heavyweight champion. McNeeley is one of several fighters who have ambitions
for a title bout with Floyd Patterson.
Under the terms
of the fellowship, Fuller guarantees McNeeley not less than $60 a week, against
purses earned. Fuller pays all training expenses, and the two split the gross
purses 50-50. Most states do not allow a manager the 50-50 split, but Fuller
was able to have the Massachusetts Boxing Commission, legalize the arrangement
because, as he explained it straightforwardly: "They knew of me. They felt
it was a contract to the advantage of the fighter, and they knew I wouldn't
skimp in the one area where skimping was possible—training expenses."
He has not. If
anything, his assistance to McNeeley has been remarkably more lavish than that
of many managers, as a sampling of the bills borne by Fuller tend to
reception for McNeeley, on the occasion of his turning pro, at Boston's
venerable Parker House. Cost $208.89.