Now that you have signed up to fight Floyd Patterson, the present heavyweight
champion, I will pass along a few words of advice, since you have the same
problem I once had at your age. I had won the amateur heavyweight championship
of the U.S. and the British Empire. I had also won the light-heavyweight
championship in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920. As the heavyweight champion of three
universities: Yale, Harvard and Oxford, I had repeated visits from big-time
managers who told me that I could make a million dollars fighting and, perhaps,
win the world's title. I made my decision not to accept their fabulous offers.
Now, in the Indian summer of life, I still have a question in my mind—could I
have been champion of the world?
You must have had
a constant battle with your conscience about-remaining an amateur. Since you,
and only you, made the decision, I feel that you are making the correct one.
You are through with college, having a Bachelor of Science degree. You have
finished your military service, and now you want to get a financial stake with
which to start the future. You have a wife and a child, and it would be a fine
thing to collect some capital with which to start on a worthwhile career.
It is true that
many boxing experts state you have no chance, that you are going against a much
more experienced boxer and one who has come up the hard way. Patterson has come
up the hard way through many contests—not only as an amateur, but as a
professional. At 22 he is a worthy champion, a good boxer and a heavy puncher.
I greatly respect him inside and outside the ring since seeing him win the
middleweight championship at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland in 1952. I
think Floyd has many things to learn about the art of self-defense and
aggressiveness in boxing, and with you he must be cautious.
Never will I
forget the dramatic way in which you demolished the Russian heavyweight
champion at the Olympic Games in Melbourne. The Russian had a string of more
than 200 victories to his credit behind the Iron Curtain, but you knocked him
out. You were the complete master of the contest from the first blow. You
showed the self-confident spirit necessary to become the best amateur
heavyweight champion. You demonstrated the magic of believing in yourself, a
magic so necessary in winning life's battles.
There is a saying
that "a good big man can beat a good little man." This is only true if
all other things are equal—experience, age and punching power. What you need
more than anything right now is a lot of boxing experience. As you neither
drink nor smoke and lead a systematic life you are in excellent physical shape.
But, the thing that will help you most, will be your spirit. Remember,
Patterson has the spirit of a champion also. In golf they say, "Keep your
eye on the ball." In fighting they say, "Keep your chin in."
Combine these two—keep your eye on Floyd and keep your chin close to your left
I know that there
are several writers who have suggested that this bout is dangerous for you to
indulge in. I do not agree with them. It is true that all physical contact
sports have an element of danger. We have to take chances in order to lead a
strenuous life and get the most out of it.
thousand-to-one upset might come about on August 22 in Seattle, Wash., with its
native son as champion. Gene Tunney did it against Jack Dempsey in Philadelphia
in 1926 and repeated it in Chicago in 1927. Almost all the writers said that
Gene did not have a chance, but their alibis the next day corrected their
misjudgment. I trust my faith in you will require no alibi come August 22.
Good luck, Pete,
and keep your thoughts right and high!
Edward P. F. Eagan