Former late night talk show king Dick Cavett is one of my inspirations and it’s a joy to watch his old 70s and 80s conversations with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Racquel Welch, Orson Welles, Sophia Loren, Mike Tyson.
Accidentally I found he did a 30 minute sitdown with legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel, who was 91 years old at the time. Arcel, most ring observers would now, trained Roberto Duran, Ezzard Charles, Benny Leonard, Jimmy Bivins, and countless others.
Some of the interesting revelations he told Cavett and viewers…
As a trainer he was in the opposite corner against Joe Louis fourteen times. At the ring instructions at center ring of one of those fights, the Brown Bomber recognized Arcel and said during the tense moment, “Are You here again?” And they all laughed.
Arcel said Benny Leonard’s parents were disgraced when they learned Benny was boxing. When he came home after earning $35 for an early pro fight and gave it to his father, who earned $8 a week as a clothes presser, the Leonards changed their view on boxing.
Ezzard Charles had about ten guys in his entourage who followed him around everywhere, fully supported by Charles.
Arcel said he thought one of the greatest performances he ever saw in a ring – and possibly the best heavyweight champion he ever saw – was Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard. Arcel said he believed that version of Dempsey could beat any heavyweight champion to that day in 1991 with the possible exception of just Joe Louis.
Arcel said chewed tobacco was a secret source to stop the bleeding of a fighter’s cut.
Arcel ran with all his fighters and stayed physicall active.
Arcel said no two fighters are alike, their styles and thinking are different.
Arcel believed Muhammad Ali lost three very important years of his career during the exile from 1967-1970 and the hiatus also negatively effected Ali’s coordination and reflexes. He said constant activity is very important for a top boxer.
Arcel said he saw Jack Dempsey’s third fight in NYC (for $18), which didn’t impress him much. Dempsey was discouraged then and took a train back west and then hooked up with Doc Kearns and his career ascended.
Arcel said a fighter having to think about a fight with an opponent for two months and also listening to all the various sources of advices is very stressful for any fighter.