- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Silvani made Machen spar with only one glove while he was learning to hook to the body with the left and to hook off a jab. Then he took off the left glove and put one on the right hand and went over the right-hand moves.
"It wasn't hard," Silvani explained. "Eddie's got the feet. He moves his feet good and that's where it starts. The hands follow the feet. You got to be able to move on your feet and stay on balance, and Eddie could do that. He is a good athlete."
Machen has had five fights since Minskoff and Silvani came into the picture and he has won all five by knockouts. "I feel better now," he said in Sweden last week. "I think better. I don't remember the bad time very well. They tell me about it, but I don't remember." Vince Correnti, who owns a car-wash business in San Francisco and 10% of Machen, is one of the people who can tell Eddie about it. "I've known Eddie 10 years," he said in Machen's dressing room in a gymnasium at Solna, a suburb of Stockholm. "He used to come into my place, and we got to be real good friends. And then this one afternoon he comes in, he looks worried. Eddie was one of Sid Flaherty's fighters, never saw any money, got fights on too short notice, and now it is just before Christmas and I know he hasn't got any money, but I don't know how worried he is. So we talk in my office a little while. Then I get a call and I've got to go out back for a while, and when I get back to the office Eddie is gone. He went off in my car, but I always let him use it, so I don't think anything about it. Then, about an hour later, I get a call and this cop says. 'Do you know Eddie Machen?' and I say, 'Yes.' " Machen had taken Correnti's white Chevrolet convertible and started for Redding, Calif., where he was raised. In the glove compartment of the car was a pistol: Correnti is a deputy sheriff with a permit to carry the gun. When the car ran out of gas, Eddie found the pistol and fired three shots out of it into an embankment beside the road, although now he doesn't remember doing that. A passing motorist heard the shots and called the police. When they arrived, Machen was sitting quietly in the car, the pistol on the seat beside him, and he told the police, "I'm thinking of killing myself."
"They took me to Napa for observation," Machen said in Sweden. "I don't remember any of this. Vince came to see me, and someone said I talked to Joe Louis and Archie Moore, but I don't remember any of it. I know I needed $3,000 and it was Christmas time and I couldn't get it and I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep after they started taking care of me, either. I couldn't relax. I felt like I had to go and go. And then they gave me the electric treatment."
Machen recovered quickly from the breakdown. Walter Minskoff and his brother, who are building contractors and real estate dealers in Los Angeles and New York, bought up his contract in partnership with Correnti, and Machen's financial problems were over, since the Minskoffs pay him $1,000 per month against his earnings. Under Silvani he gained confidence as a fighter as well. "When I was younger, I got in bad," Machen said. "I got in with some bad people. There was a ring of us, and we took turns robbing places. We had a big silver barrel gun and people remembered it and we got caught, seven times altogether. And then Soledad, and I spent three years there." Machen was 23 when he was released from prison at Soledad, and he began fighting then. He talks frankly about prison and about his nervous breakdown. "Now I feel better and stronger and surer of myself. I am not confused."
In the heart of Stockholm, surrounded by friends and newfound well-wishers, Eddie Machen goes about his business cheerfully and calmly. "This is one I don't got to worry about," said Al Silvani. "I had Tami Mauriello, you know. A great fighter. I used to say to him, 'Tami, it ain't the punches in the ring makes a fighter punchy. It's the taps on the back from his friends, all those people hitting him on the back saying you're the greatest, buddy. When he loses, they all go away.' Tami comes to workouts with six, eight people. I say, 'Tami, what's this? You got to work.' He says, 'Al, they're my friends.' In a little while the friends pat him on the back so much he can't get his breath. But Eddie, he's been there, that ain't going to happen to him."
But fights, of course, are won in the ring. In Ronneby against mediocre sparring partners, Patterson was the same Patterson. He has an unfortunate habit of planting himself flat-footed against ah attack or when he is going to launch an offense. This habit cost him two knockouts at the hands of Liston and knockdowns at the hands of far less talented fighters like Roy Harris and Pete Rademacher. He has little ability to move on his feet. ("He is fast from the waist up, but not from waist down," said Machen.) He cannot move laterally, so that he will not be able to slide away from Machen's left hook or from his strong right hand. Patterson has quick hands and a quick head in avoiding punches, but he tends to depend too much on his hands and his head and not enough on his feet.
Finally, he has the most grievous of faults in a heavyweight—he gets knocked down. "I got a stronger head," said Machen, who has been knocked off his feet only once (by Johansson in the first round when Machen came into the ring cold). "I got a better head. Quite naturally, you got to be a better man in the ring with a strong head."