I started collecting boxing when we were living in Seattle and were attending the Convention Center’s Science Fiction Convention in roughly 1978-79. I still had my baseball cards from my youth as well as my football cards but they were sequestered at home with my folks in Mobile, AL and I hadn’t collected a baseball or football card since middle school. At this convention were dealer tables, one of which was sponsored by Pacific Trading Cards who was home-ported just north of Seattle. On their table were Science Fiction cards, baseball cards and a small stack of ‘48 Leaf card boxers. Until that time I didn’t know boxing cards even existed.
A couple of weeks later my wife and I made a trip up to PCT’s shop and I fell in love with cards of the guys I had seen on TV with my Dad back in the ‘50’s (which answers how I started to love the sport itself.)
I abandoned any temptation to resume baseball or football collecting because they were far too expensive. Besides, boxing seemed an undervalued genre. It still is but not so much. I started subscribing to The Trader Speaks and got hooked up with Hall’s Nostalgia who sold me about 50 T218 and T220 cards at less than $1 each. I didn’t know who those guys were in those sets so I searched until I found a dealer who knew where I could find info on most of them. His name was Jerome Shochet and he recommended a book called “Ten and Out” by Johnston which is, even today, the best classic history of the sport. I read the book and was hooked.
I joined the collectors’club in Seattle and sent for my baseball and football cards to swap for boxing at very, very good rates. I never looked back and now I have literally thousands of programs, posters, photos, postcards, signatures, cards, fight-worn equipment, and miscellaneous other material, 99% of which is pre-1964.
But even a guy who is in his ‘70’s and has collected so long, has his top wish list. Here’s mine:
Signatures: Marvin Hart and Paddy Ryan.
Antique photos: John L. Sullivan Old Judge cabinet (not cigarette card).
Programs: Louis vs. Dorazio, Dempsey vs. Miske title fights.
Pretty small list, considering, but what I have amassed since reading Ten and Out some 35-38 years ago is pretty extensive. I often get queries about what I have, so here are some. These are my best pieces in each category. Keep in mind none are for sale or trade:
Cards: Sullivan N246 Kinney, ex. Sullivan Sunday Mercury. Warshaw lists both as “one known.”
Programs: Johnson vs. Ketchel. Wilson vs. Greb 1.
Fight site posters: Liston vs. Clay 1, Miami. Dempsey vs. Miske.
Fight-worn equipment: Marciano’s gloves vs. Lastarza (title). Dempsey sash worn in ring against Carpentier.
Postcard: Johnson with officials surrendering at the Mexican border. Handwritten Ketchel postcards.
Tickets: Full Robinson-Lamotta 6; Robinson wins MWC.
Awards: Willie Pep championship Ring belt
Miscellaneous: Nonpareil Dempsey vs. George LeBlanche handwritten fight contract for “pivot punch” fight. Impeccable condition; large signatures. Joe Gans pocketwatch. Signed Robinson-Lamotta 6 fight contract. Stanley Ketchel western spur.
Okay, now that I read this I realize I have gone to being just boastful but I do enjoy telling folks what I have. Moreover, I LOVE hearing what others have. However large or small your collection, I bet you enjoy telling folks who will appreciate hearing it.
That last point is important, as you well know. When we have folks over for a glass of wine or a beer and burger they often can be found staring at the walls full of photos in my living room and clearly haven’t a clue what to ask about in a conversation. Most look like they are viewing alien pictures from Roswell. Finally they ask, “Did you box?” When I assure them I have never boxed they usually ask me one of those two questions I can’t answer: Why do you like boxing and why do you collect boxing?
Comment on this post and tell us whatcha got!