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A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame
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Thread: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

  1. #1
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    A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    First things first: Congratulations to the new inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. And kudos to IBHOF guiding spirit Ed Brophy. He and his supporters built what so many promoters before them (some well-intentioned, some fly-by-night) promised but failed to deliver; a full-fledged HOF that pays homage to the legacy of boxing in a freestanding building with an actual museum. The place should be on the bucket list of every serious boxing fan.

    That being said, I'm flabbergasted that yet another voting cycle has passed without the electorate acknowledging Ham Fisher.

    Ham Fisher created the comic strip boxer Joe Palooka. At its peak during the 1940s, the strip ran in 900 papers and had more than 50 million readers.

    Humble, courageous, virtuous to a fault and completely without guile, Joe Palooka was a paragon of innocence in the Machiavellian world of prizefighting. While he was merely a character in the funny pages, a figment of one man's imagination, one could argue that Joe Palooka was the greatest ambassador for boxing that the sport has ever known.

    Like several other comic strip characters, Palooka was enlisted to fight the Nazis during World War II. His face on recruiting posters and his exploits in the comic strip were credited with stimulating enlistments and the sale of war bonds. It has been speculated that the term "GI Joe" originated with him.

    Joe Palooka never aged, but over time his hair became blonder and this would be the image of him that resonated. In the real world, the late Tommy Morrison, among other boxers, adopted this artifice. Indeed, after Morrison dyed his hair he bore a strong resemblance to Joe Palooka. I suspect this was no coincidence. His manager was then the crafty Bill Cayton, a keen boxing historian.

    Joe Palooka made Ham Fisher a very rich man. He derived royalties from 12 feature-length Joe Palooka films, a short-lived radio series, a short-lived TV sitcom, comic books, a board game, and sundry items for young boys such as the Joe Palooka metal lunchbox.

    Money didn't buy happiness. An ill-tempered man with very few friends, Ham Fisher committed suicide in his New York studio in 1955. The comic strip continued on without him for 29 years. Joe Palooka wasn't indomitable, but he outlived his creator by almost three decades.

    It's a fair guess that Sylvester Stallone was influenced -- if only subliminally -- by Ham Fisher. Joe Palooka, portrayed as the son of a coal miner, was a country boy whereas Rocky Balboa came from the mean streets of a big city, but otherwise the parallels are striking. Their imaginary ring battles were morality plays with stereotyped heroes and villains.

    Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the "observers" category in 2011, joining such notables as Damon Runyon, Budd Schulberg, and Bert Randolph Sugar. Ham Fisher stands apart, but hopefully in the on-deck circle.

  2. #2
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Quote Originally Posted by ArneK. View Post
    First things first: Congratulations to the new inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. And kudos to IBHOF guiding spirit Ed Brophy. He and his supporters built what so many promoters before them (some well-intentioned, some fly-by-night) promised but failed to deliver; a full-fledged HOF that pays homage to the legacy of boxing in a freestanding building with an actual museum. The place should be on the bucket list of every serious boxing fan.

    That being said, I'm flabbergasted that yet another voting cycle has passed without the electorate acknowledging Ham Fisher.

    Ham Fisher created the comic strip boxer Joe Palooka. At its peak during the 1940s, the strip ran in 900 papers and had more than 50 million readers.

    Humble, courageous, virtuous to a fault and completely without guile, Joe Palooka was a paragon of innocence in the Machiavellian world of prizefighting. While he was merely a character in the funny pages, a figment of one man's imagination, one could argue that Joe Palooka was the greatest ambassador for boxing that the sport has ever known.

    Like several other comic strip characters, Palooka was enlisted to fight the Nazis during World War II. His
    face on recruiting posters and his exploits in the comic strip were credited with stimulating enlistments and the sale of war bonds. It has been speculated that the term "GI Joe" originated with him.

    Joe Palooka never aged, but over time his hair became blonder and this would be the image of him that resonated. In the real world, the late Tommy Morrison, among other boxers, adopted this artifice. Indeed, after Morrison dyed his hair he bore a strong resemblance to Joe Palooka. I suspect this was no coincidence. His manager was then the crafty Bill Cayton, a keen boxing historian.

    Joe Palooka made Ham Fisher a very rich man. He derived royalties from 12 feature-length Joe Palooka
    films, a short-lived radio series, a short-lived TV sitcom, comic books, a board game, and sundry items for young boys such as the Joe Palooka metal lunchbox.

    Money didn't buy happiness. An ill-tempered man with very few friends, Ham Fisher committed suicide in his New York studio in 1955. The comic strip continued on without him for 29 years. Joe Palooka wasn't indomitable, but he outlived his creator by almost three decades.

    It's a fair guess that Sylvester Stallone was influenced -- if only subliminally -- by Ham Fisher. Joe Palooka, portrayed as the son of a coal miner, was a country boy whereas Rocky Balboa came from the mean streets of a big city, but otherwise the parallels are striking. Their imaginary ring battles were morality plays with stereotyped heroes and villains.

    Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the "observers" category in 2011, joining such notables as Damon Runyon, Budd Schulberg, and Bert Randolph Sugar. Ham Fisher stands apart, but hopefully in the on-deck circle.
    Arne K., babee!

    Palooka was considered for the class that inducted Sly Stallone. They wanted only one of several considerations from the fictional world and went with Balboa, if you will. I'll tell you who should never be considered for the Hall-of-Fame and that's Mickey, Rocky's trainer. I saw all six (seven? Nine?) of the Balboa movies and came away with a million questions, of which I'll list two here:

    1) The last name Balboa is not even Italian. I can only imagine that he got it from driving past Balboa Blvd. while living in LA.
    2) Micky and the rest of the boxing universe never noticed that Rocky never knocked down a jab and caught everything with his face? While I don't have the time to go and check every bit of footage in the Rocky series, I don't recall him ever knocking down a shot...which leads to him catching virtually everything thrown in his direction. You would think, that at some point, somebody would have brought this up to the fighter and his trainer.

  3. #3
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Wow, Dino! Put down that haterrade. Hehehe! The Big-Screen Rocky did knock down a couple of jabs and even slipped and slided and countered punch. Against "Clubber 'Insane' Lang," Big-Screen Rocky was a boxing machine against what "Micky" called "uh wrecking machine."

    Balboa is for Hollywood effect, just as "Stallone" is. The Italian way to pronoun the name is "Sta-yo-nee." You know everybodee and dey momma come up odd jive in Hollywood for effect. Holla!

  4. #4
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Wasn't in the script Dino... and amazingly the audience in general overlooked it or didn't care.
    In fact the more punches rocky caught on his face ... the more it endeared him to the masses who emphasized with Rocky on a spiritual level of not being able to deflect the situational jabs that hit us in real life. Just suck it up...Suck it up and keep fighting. ..Overcoming adversity etc...etc... This was the Hollywood mantra and why the movie generated an obscene amount of sequels. Face fighting inspiration.

  5. #5
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Good stuff Arne. I never heard the name "Palooka" until I watched the movie "Pulp Fiction," where Travolta's character calls Bruce Willis', Palooka. I had to look it up to find out what it meant. C'mon Dino, you gotta give Mick credit for being innovative...he had Rock chase the chicken to acquire "demon speed" as he called it, haha.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Grimm's Avatar
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    The chicken chase wasn't the only thing creative - the bar was raised to new levels when Rock decided he no longer needed sparring, when preparing for his most dangerous opponent ever in Ivan Drago. But of course Mick wasn't around then and can't be blamed. The evidence is there: Rock repeatedly refused to take good advice. The same traits made him the heavyweight champion of the world, despite having the height of a heavyweight hobbit - partly due to his demon speed, partly due to his LaMotta-chin x2.

    Now Drago, or the man acting - Hans 'Dolph' Lundgren - was a real fighter, though not boxer. In the 80's he was one of the worlds finest practitioners of kyokushin knockdown karate: big, strong, aggressive and with great technique, and winner of British Open (a grand prize in the world of knockdown karate). He really is a big man - Stayonee must have wore high heels for them scenes when they stood toe to toe. Good for him he had the demon speed.

  7. #7
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimm View Post
    The chicken chase wasn't the only thing creative - the bar was raised to new levels when Rock decided he no longer needed sparring, when preparing for his most dangerous opponent ever in Ivan Drago. But of course Mick wasn't around then and can't be blamed. The evidence is there: Rock repeatedly refused to take good advice. The same traits made him the heavyweight champion of the world, despite having the height of a heavyweight hobbit - partly due to his demon speed, partly due to his LaMotta-chin x2.

    Now Drago, or the man acting - Hans 'Dolph' Lundgren - was a real fighter, though not boxer. In the 80's he was one of the worlds finest practitioners of kyokushin knockdown karate: big, strong, aggressive and with great technique, and winner of British Open (a grand prize in the world of knockdown karate). He really is a big man - Stayonee must have wore high heels for them scenes when they stood toe to toe. Good for him he had the demon speed.
    Interesting tidbit about Lundgren, I never knew he had a competitive background in fighting. I remember reading how he and Van Damme had a friendly sparring match to promote their movie "Universal Soldier." Guess it all makes sense now.
    Courage is not the absence of fear, it's action in the face of fear.

  8. #8
    Advanced Users the Roast's Avatar
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    I chase the chicken before I go to sleep sometimes. It helps if I'm tossing and turning...

  9. #9
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Hahaha!

  10. #10
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    Re: A conspicuous oversight at the international boxing hall of fame

    Very informative/interesting read, Arnie. Good stuff.

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