The sad legend of Clyde Mudgett is a gruesome tale about foolish stunts, bad ideas, poor planning and an ex-fighter who was down on his luck and decided the best way to help him out of his poverty was to rob the Anderson Meat Company of its prime beef during closing hours.
A fair pro fighter with a record of 21-15 with 14 KOs, Mudgett was pretty well done with his career when he came up with the idea to steal meat from a butcher shop in Minneapolis by sliding down the shop’s chimney at night during closing hours. Apparently, the cost of beef was a little steep.
So Mudgett came up with a plan to tie himself to a rope and slide down 50 feet of a chimney late at night hoping to gather a few steaks and tender chops and get away with enough meat to carry him through the tough times.
It seemed like a feasible crime to Mudgett, who wasn’t really much of a thief, but just a guy looking for an easy way to help feed himself.
Things probably seemed to be going pretty smoothly at first. But then Mudgett squeezed into a tight spot and was suddenly stuck inside the chimney, unable to move up or down.
That would have been OK except that it was in April of 1983 and the meat company’s heater kicked in when the temperature dropped. After all, it was Minneapolis.
“Clyde had displayed incredible short-sightedness by grossly underestimating the amount of rope he needed to descend the chimney by almost twenty feet,” Steve Canton writes in his new book, “Steve Canton’s Tributes, Memories and Observations of the Sweet Science.”
Canton writes, “The investigation (later) concluded that while coming to the end of his rope, (both literally and figuratively), Clyde must have gotten wedged against the narrow walls of the chimney and was unable to go farther down and was powerless to climb back up.”
When recovered later, the body was said to be completely mummified. On top of that, the plant owners said that on that particular night, there was nothing in the plant worth stealing.
But that’s not the end of the story. The meat processing plant was later turned into Glancey’s Boxing Gym by owner and boxing trainer Jim Glancey.
Hoping to keep gym costs down, Glancey moved into the apartment above the gym and it wasn’t long before he began to hear noises coming from downstairs late at night. It sounded like someone banging on the heavy bag or hitting the speed bag. Glancey checked it out, but didn’t find anything.
But then, even during gym hours, some of Glancey’s fighters claimed they felt someone touch them on the shoulder when there was no one near them.
Most believe it was the ghost of Clyde Mudgett.
Mudgett is just one of the characters in Canton’s book. As the title says, it’s all about fighters and their quirks and their personalities and how they dealt with both winning and losing.
What sets this book apart from most other boxing books is that Canton actually knows or knew most of the fighters he writes about. And he has photos of just about all of them. The book includes more than 550 photographs, most from Canton’s private collection, acquired after spending more than 50 years in the fight game, most of that time spent as a trainer.
Canton was close friends to many of the fighters and trainers he writes about, including late legends like Angelo Dundee, Emanuel Steward, Carmen Basilio, Hector Camacho, Ken Norton, Bert Sugar, Johnny Bos, Ezra Sellers, Don Fullmer, Joe Souza, Joe Frazier and others. Many others.
Al Bernstein did the book’s forward, writing, “Despite its diverse nature, this book does have one connecting message – that boxing is a unique and special sport that is populated by some amazing and fascinating people. I’m here to tell you that message is accurate and well delivered in this fine book.”
“Fascinating stories of fascinating people whose deeds and accomplishments have vividly come back to life,” wrote former world champion Roy Jones, Jr.
“One of the best boxing books I have ever read,” said Harold Lederman of HBO Sports. “Fabulous boxing stories about so many of my heroes, both in the ring and out of it. This book brought me back to guys like Billy Bello, Ezra Sellers, Emanuel Steward, Billy Joiner and so many others. A fabulous work, with incredible photos. You won’t be able to put it down once you open the front cover.”
Canton knows what he’s talking about. He’s been involved in boxing since he was 11, and has traveled the world, thanks to the sweet science.
“Steve Canton’s excellent boxing essays cover a wide variety of fistic topics ranging from boxing’s early days to the present,” says Dan Cuoco , director, International Boxing Research Organization. “Canton, who has spent a lifetime in boxing as a boxer, trainer, cutman, promoter, commentator, writer and historian, draws on that experience with stories of great depth, detail and passion. A must read.”
Some of the book’s chapters are “Formus White: the Greatest Amateur I Ever Saw; Davey Moore: 50 Years Later and Still Champ; Freeman Barr: The Natural; Tommy Tucker: Forgotten Prize Fighter; Esteban De Jesus: Triumph and Tragedy; Emanuel Steward: Everybody’s Best Friend; and Why There are So Few Great Fighters Today.
Canton doesn’t duck any of the tough issues that haunt boxing today. One of the chapters in his book is entitled “My Pet Peeves in Boxing,” and the list includes 16 things Canton believes need to be changed or at least addressed in boxing.
The list of pet peeves starts with fighters wearing their cups too high; announcers and commentators calling a TKO a knockout; 12-round world title fights instead of 15 rounds; slippery logos on the ring canvas; having a referee continuously slap down a fighter’s arms, push them, and constantly break them up for no reason; and day before weigh-ins instead of same-day weigh-ins, which is my biggest pet peeve.
Is Canton old school? You bet he is. And so is his book.
It’s just what the fight game needs.