by John Howard
Maybe we need to add a new name to the list of boxing writers out there today. Ted Sares can flat out write about boxing.
Prior to the release of his book, Ted, a private investor by trade, has specialized in articles, essays and short stories. His book Boxing Is My Sanctuary is a lifetime of mostly first hand experiences he has encountered over the past 60 years and he describes them from a fan’s perspective.
With its 56 chapters and 355 pages (and an amazing bibliography of 24 pages), It’s hard to do the justice this book deserves in a short review. As well, it’s difficult to dig deep enough into this encyclopedia of knowledge Ted has crafted. Boxing Is My Sanctuary is sure to become a source of reference for other boxing writers. As an example of how far he goes with the detail, does anyone remember James Miller, aka The “Fan Man” and what became of him?
And you have never heard food described until you read the way the author does it. I’m a non-smoker, but to hear Ted describe torching up one of his post-fight 60 Ring cigars makes me want to try one as well.
The passion he displays is, I believe, unequaled and his enthusiasm for boxing can’t be contained. At times, I could almost feel the words come alive and jump off the pages. The author has a story to tell and does a great job in bringing out the many fights he’s attended. At times, I felt like I was right there with Ted and his dad, “Big John,” feeling the hooks to the body, hearing the roar of the crowd, the smell of sweat and perfume, the taste of foamy Meister Brau, and the juicy Italian beef with roasted peppers.
I actually choked up when the author spoke of the “bonding” (a word not used back then) between he and his father in one of the early 50’s fights. The chapter, “Getting Hooked,” brought back memories of my father and I bonding back in the early days of an Angel’s baseball game. “This is no poetic rite of passage; this was plain old manly stuff,” says the author. Only stuff a father and son could understand.
As an advocate for the sport, I felt the emotion and anger when the author describes the troubling beating ex-heavyweight Jerry Quarry suffered in an ill advised comeback at the age of 47. Quarry left the ring that night with broken teeth, cuts over his eyes, a battered brain, and $1,050 in prize money. The fight never should have happened (a black eye for the sport of boxing). Ted’s outspoken advocacy for boxing reform is evident, though he is a realist and has no illusions as to what is needed.
The kid in Ted emerges when he discusses his favorite fighter, Bob Satterfield. While the other kids idolized Joe Louis, Ted could quote the stats of “Rapid Robert” off the top of his head. Others knew about Ted Williams, but Ted knew about Ike Williams. I could tell he was fuming when he wrote about the recent film “Resurrecting The Champ.” This was a film loosely based on a written account by J.R. Moehringer that appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about Moehringer befriending a fighter who claimed to be Bob Satterfield. “When you make a film based on a true story, albeit a true story about a lie, you raise the likelihood of misrepresentation five-fold,” said Ted. Ted didn’t want anyone to confuse in any way the legacy of his idol, Bob Satterfield, with that of Tommy Harrison, the homeless ex-fighter claiming to be Satterfield.
Boxing Is My Sanctuary is an chronological sequence of essays full of great information. The journey takes us from the mid-40’s to the present. You’ll revisit the end of WWII, past presidents, a Duck’s Ass haircut, Malcolm X and the Black Muslim Movement, Hurricane Katrina, and countless boxing matches in-between. Ted’s uniquely crafted Top 100 fighters since 1950 is a well thought out list that includes some interesting surprises.
In his quest for the truth, the author leaves no rock unturned no matter what’s underneath. And in the sport of boxing — with its cast of unsavory characters — it’s no telling what you might find hidden there. If it’s there, Ted has found it. Guaranteed.
John Howard is a life-long resident of Port Hueneme, Calif. He’s a well-known online boxing writer and his work has been published in the Ventura County Star.