In Boxing News: Klitschko Clocks Byrd, Boxer/Poet Arthur Cravan

BY Robert Ecksel ON April 23, 2006
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Boxing Soviets claim another Yankee casualty

With seemingly not a care in the world, Wladimir Klitschko totally dominated IBF heavyweight champ Chris Byrd over six one-sided rounds before lowering the boom, aka the right hand, at 47 seconds of round 7 Saturday at the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany.

Byrd had been hammered all night long, smacked around the ring. He’d been down twice, was on unsteady legs, and was bleeding from a gash when referee Wayne Kelly mercifully stepped in and called a halt to the action. Klitschko the Younger, Wlad the Impaler, Wlad the K, Dr. Steelhammer, is the new IBF heavyweight champ. With the win Ukrainian Klitschko becomes the third heavyweight from the former USSR to hold a major title. Klitschko joins newly crowned Belarusian Sergei Liakovich (WBO), who took Lamon Brewster in deep water in Cleveland, and the larger-than-life Beast from the East, Russki Nicolay Valuev (WBA), whose win over John Ruiz in Berlin, while controversial, is in the books, as the troika of big men who have just about turned boxing history on its head. If, or when, Kazakhstan’s Oleg Maskaev clocks Hasim Rahman (WBC) and claims that belt, it will be mission accomplished for the Four Horsemen of the Boxing Apocalypse who’ve been galloping in our direction for longer than most of us knew or were willing to admit. While the rest of the world was in the 20th century, the Soviets were in the 19th, and the classical arts – violin, opera, boxing – thrived in the East as they were dying on the vine here in the West. As might be expected, especially with a heavyweight title on the line, all the big hitters stepped up to the plate this weekend and took a swing at the results of Klitschko-Byrd. As far as conclusions go, everyone agreed without much dissent that Klitschko beat Byrd’s butt. There are calls for Byrd to retire; whether he retires or not, there’s a new heavyweight champion in town, and his name is Wladimir Klitschko … You may have noticed a familiar looking presence working the champ’s corner, a man who bears a striking resemblance to a recent candidate for mayor of Kiev in the Ukraine. Former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko admitted, not for the first or last time, that he would be tempted to have one more fight against, you guessed it, Lennox Lewis. "When Lennox Lewis comes I will do one more fight,� said Vitali. “Please speak to Lennox Lewis. It all depends on him. If he makes his comeback, I will be ready to make a comeback myself. Right now there is not a reason to fight. If fight, then Lennox." Double-L is busy making life and might not want to take time from his busy schedule to destroy life, whether it's his own or someone else's. Be that as it may, Vitali Klitschko is pleased as punch at the progress his younger brother has made. He is a believer: "I have always said he (Wladimir) has more talent than me. If he fights to his potential he could be a second Lennox Lewis. He has got what it takes to be a great fighter� … From the sublime to perhaps the ridiculous comes an article from El Universal in Mexico, the Miami Herald in the U.S., that focuses on one of the more obscure pugs in the annals of the fight game, the boxer/poet Arthur Cravan. The piece begins: “The NAFTA era has finished off whatever was left of Mexico’s mythical status as a no-man’s-land where troubled foreigners escape to redefine themselves, lose themselves, or die.� Before the insane border wars with our neighbors to the south became the norm in Fortress America, Mexico used to hold a special place in northern minds. U.S. journalist Ambrose Bierce once wrote of Mexico’s “good, kind darkness.� And for the novelist Malcolm Lowry, Mexico was a hallucinogenic puppet show fueled by ambition, rotgut, sweat and the DTs. “But another candidate has recently emerged – or rather, re-emerged – to fill the prototype of the mysterious stranger who made Mexico his last address under curious circumstances.� That mysterious stranger was the boxer/poet Arthur Cravan. Born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 22, 1887, to Otho Holland Lloyd and Helene Clara St. Clair, little Fabian’s dad’s sister, Constance Mary Lloyd, was married to the poet, playwrite, wit and raconteur Oscar Wilde (“Illusion is the first of all pleasures�), whose connection to the Marquess of Queensberry, whose Queensberry Rules from 1867 govern boxing to this day, is worth looking into. The boxer/poet Fabian Lloyd changed his name to Cravan in 1912 in honor of his fiancée, who was born in the village of Cravans in western France. Why he chose the name Arthur is still in dispute. Arthur Cravan was a personal favorite of the Dadaists and the Surrealists. He reinvented his public persona on a regular basis and was given to issuing a steady stream of outrageous remarks and cryptic statements. To confuse future academics, Craven even left behind a paper trail of farcical documents and hoax poems, some of which he signed "Oscar Wilde." Although Cravan had been described by others and/or himself as a conman, an adventurer, a thief, a muleteer, a chauffeur, and a gold prospector, it was Cravan's skill as a boxer – he fought Jack Johnson in Barcelona in 1916 – that gave him instant cred in avant-garde European art circles. His rowdy poetry readings and provocative lectures often degenerated into drunken brawls, which in keeping with Dada was a sign of success. Cravan fled France to avoid conscription in World War I and entered the U.S. He bolted the States for Mexico in 1917 when Uncle Sam tried to enlist the boxer/poet to fight in the “war to end all wars.� Cravan married a New York poet he met in 1918 and in October the newlyweds planned a trip from Mexico to Venezuela. Because they were strapped for cash, Cravan’s wife booked safe passage on a ship, whereas Cravan went to Salina Cruz, the Oaxacan seaport on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, looking to buy a sailboat – and was never heard from again. Cravan may have been murdered. Cravan may have set sail, capsized and drowned. No one knows for sure. There were intermittent and unconfirmed reports of sightings of Cravan in Mexico for many years. There were even rumors, probably more hopeful than true, that A. Cravan was actually the mysterious anarchist novelist B. Traven, who wrote of the Mexican Revolution with such empathy, insight and grace. Viva Zapata. Viva Arthur Cravan. Viva Boxing.

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