[joe-frank-list] The Emile Griffith - Benny Paret boxing match described in 'The eighty-yard run'

russellbell at gmail.com russellbell at gmail.com
Mon Oct 12 04:54:02 PDT 2020

	About 1:50 into this episode Joe says, 'Now Griffith disposed
of all his challengers in the early 1960s and I would like to give an
illustration at this time of his ferocity in the ring by describing
his fight with a challenger whose name was Benny "Kid" Paret.'
	Benny Paret was the welterweight champion at the time of this
fight, 1962 March 24, having beaten Griffith 1961 September 30.

	About 2:20 Joe says, 'I believe he designed women's clothing
as well' - I think not, just hats.

	About 3:50 Joe says, 'Griffith went after Paret with a kind of
concentrated fury, a controlled rage which he sustained throughout the
rest of the fight until finally - and I don't remember exactly what
round, probably around the fourth or the fifth - he caught Paret in a
corner and opened up with a two-fisted attack and hit Paret with
incredible punches to the head so that at a certain point Paret lost
consciousness, but because he was leaning up against the ropes, in the
corner, he couldn't fall back onto the canvas and he couldn't fall
forward because Griffith kept punching him back up into a standing
	Paret knocked Griffith down in the sixth; Norman Mailer, who
was there, wrote that Griffith had trouble getting up.
	In the twelfth round Griffith caught Paret in a corner and
beat him unconscious.  He held Paret against the ropes with his left
and hit him with his right.

	Joe says, 'A few hours later, at a nearby hospital, he was
pronounced dead.'  
	Paret lived for another ten days.


	This fight was broadcast on nationwide TV; the Wikipedia entry
claims it was 1 of only 2 times a man was killed on television, the
other Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald.  Apparently there's video
on YouTube.

	Norman Mailer wrote an account, 'Death', published in
'Esquire' and his book 'Presidential Papers':

	'This fight had its turns.  Griffith won most of the early
rounds but Paret knocked Griffith down in the sixth.  Griffith had
trouble getting up, but made it, came alive and was dominating Paret
again before the the round was over.  Then Paret began to wilt.  In
the middle of the eighth round, after a clubbing punch had turned his
back to Griffith, Paret walked three disgusted steps away, showing his
hindquarters.  For a champion, he took much too long to turn back
around.  It was the first hint of weakness Paret had ever shown, and
it must have inspired a particular shame, because he fought the rest
of the fight as if he were seeking to demonstrate that he could take
more punishment than any man alive.  In the twelfth, Griffith caught
him.  Paret got trapped in a corner.  Trying to duck away, his left
arm and his head became tangled on the wrong side of the top rope.
Griffith was in like a cat ready to rip the life out of a huge boxed
rat.  He hit him eighteen right hands in a row, an act which took
perhaps three or four seconds, Griffith making a pent-up whimpering
sound all the while he attacked, the right hand whipping like a piston
rod which had broken through the crankcase, or like a baseball bat
demolishing a pumpkin.  I was sitting in the second row of that corner
- they were not ten feet away from me, and like everybody else, I was
hypnotized.  I had never seen one man hit another so hard and so many
times.  Over the referee's face came a look of woe as if some spasm
had passed its way through him, and then leaped on Griffith to pull
him away.  It was the act of a brave man.  Griffith was
uncontrollable.  His trainer leaped into the ring, his manager, his
cut man, there were four people holding Griffith, but he was off on an
orgy, he had left the Garden, he was back on a hoodlum's street.  If
he had been able to break loose from his handlers and the referee, he
would have jumped Paret to the floor and whaled on him there.'

	Jonathan Coleman attended the fight when he was 10, remembered
it in 2013 for 'The New Yorker':

russell bell

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