September 7, 2017

"Who killed Davey Moore/Why an’ what’s the reason for?/'Not me,' says the man whose fists/Laid him low in a cloud of mist"

"Who came here from Cuba’s door/Where boxing ain’t allowed no more/'I hit him, yes, it’s true/ But that’s what I am paid to do/Don’t say "murder," don’t say "kill"/It was destiny, it was God’s will.'"



Bob Dylan put those words in the mouth of Ultiminio Ramos Zaqueira — Sugar Ramos — who came here from Cuba's door after Fidel Castro banned all professional sports. Ramos — who was only 5'4½" — won the featherweight crown from Davey Moore on March 21, 1963. Moore — who was only 5'2" — was favored to win, but after the 10th round Moore conceded, and shortly after that, Moore said to his manager, Willie Ketchum, “My head, Willie, it hurts something awful!” 3 days later, Moore died. Now, it's 54 years after that, and Sugar Ramos has died (NYT).
“It was my night, my glory,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1964. “I won fair and square. I beat him after he almost knocked me silly in the seventh round. I came back and beat him good. Then he dies, and nobody remembers that Ramos fought a good fight and won.”
Here's something Bob Dylan said when he performed the song in 1964:
This a song about a boxer.... It's got nothing to do with boxing, it's just a song about a boxer really. And, uh, it's not even having to do with a boxer, really. It's got nothing to do with nothing. But I fit all these words together... that's all... It's taken directly from the newspapers, Nothing's been changed... Except for the words.
How many Bob Dylan songs are about boxing? He sings Paul Simon's song "The Boxer." Of his own songs, besides "Davey Moore," there's the song about Hurricane Carter. ("Rubin could take a man out with just one punch/But he never did like to talk about it all that much/It’s my work, he’d say, and I do it for pay...") And there's "I Shall Be Free No. 10":
I was shadow-boxing earlier in the day
I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay
I said “Fee, fie, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come
26, 27, 28, 29, I’m gonna make your face look just like mine
Five, four, three, two, one, Cassius Clay you’d better run
99, 100, 101, 102, your ma won’t even recognize you
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen
I guess Dylan got over his censoriousness about boxing. "Who Killed Davey Moore?" — which I think was written about a year earlier — seems like a flat-out condemnation of the sport of boxing, blaming everybody. After Davey Moore died, there were demands that boxing should be outlawed. Dylan's protest song is part of that. "I Shall Be Free No. 10" goes with Dylan's turn away from protest, the 1964 album "Another Side of Bob Dylan." Who knows how serious Dylan ever was about condemning boxing? Maybe he was just carelessly ripping something out of the newspaper and it had "nothing to do with nothing" for him. "I Shall Be Free" — unlike the earlier "Davey Moore" — is about personal freedom. It's Rabelaisian:
I’m gonna grow my hair down to my feet so strange
So I look like a walking mountain range
And I’m gonna ride into Omaha on a horse
Out to the country club and the golf course
Carry The New York Times, shoot a few holes, blow their minds
ADDED: "Bob Dylans Boxing Addiction":
Bob Dylan owns the complex that includes The 18th Street Coffee House in Santa Monica. It has or had a gym in the back. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini trained Bob Dylan there. In Ray’s word’s “Bob has his own private gym. Best gym I’ve ever been in. On the wall there are pictures of Joe Louis, Ali, Frazier, Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones. The heavyweights of boxing and music. First time I was over there we were sparring and just to keep him honest I would tap him with a left or right....

14 comments:

Amexpat said...

Dylan owns a private boxing gym in Santa Monica.
https://www.needsomefun.net/bob-dylans-boxing-addiction-2/

Henry said...

Warren Zevon also wrote an amazing song about boxing -- on the same topic -- Boom Boom Mancini:

When they asked him who was responsible
For the death of do Koo Kim
He said, "Some one should have stopped the fight
And told me it was him."


And Morrissey wrote one of the saddest songs -- about the loser and the fans of the loser. South London Boxer Frank Bruno lost by technical knockout to Mike Tyson in 1989:

Losing in front of your home crowd
You wish the ground
Would open up and take you down
And will time never pass?
Will time never pass for us?

D said...

I filled my Dylan quota on the previous post at about the time you put this one up.
The Dylan song (or verse) that came to mind reading this post re: what song was Rabelaisian: wouldnt singing about a stripper trying to wind back the clock, as you write a letter to your love, fit the bill? (Where Are You Tonight?)

traditionalguy said...

Two boxers fight the other man,one on one,with one winner and one loser. That focuses the mind. It's not our group against another group submerged into roles on cooperating teams with leaders and followers. Boxing is a male specialty. Women are not designed for one on one fights. Women are valuable as cooperating role players on teams. That conundrum was what Bob Dylan was attempting to deal with in his early music writing days. And he did it well.

khematite said...

As reported in Rolling Stone, actress Gina Gershon actually decked Dylan in a 1996 sparring match:

"In a 2000 conversation with Interview magazine, Gina Gershon revealed that she sparred with Dylan while filming 1996's Bound. "One time he gave me a little jab in the face, and since I'd told him not to do that, of course I went insane and hit him really hard," Gershon said. "He did go down, and I almost started to cry, thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm the jerk who broke Bob Dylan's jaw.'"

"It turned out that Dylan was uninjured. "He just said, 'Oh no, I need a good woman to kick my ass every now and then,'" said Gershon. "He's a real boxer. We have the same trainer in Los Angeles."

Char Char Binks said...

Boxers are much better protected by referees and corners who stop fights earlier now, at least in the USA.

Oh, and there was boxing after Castro took over, and still is, but not PROFESSIONAL boxing. Imagine taking that beating for FREE!

People say Ali was the greatest, but he never faced Teofilo Stevenson, the Cuban who thrice garnered Olympic gold.

Laslo Spatula said...

Hank Jenkins, Old-Timey Boxer...

Boxing today, they surely have made it little better than girls pillow-fighting. Don't get me wrong, I like to watch girls pillow-fighting, but when I see a boxing match I want to see men pounding each other into bloody submission and sodomy...

They don't even sodomize the loser anymore. In my day, you lost a fight, they bent you over the ropes and the winner fucked you in the ass, right there in front of the crowd. And that crowd -- they would throw beers at you, so not only were you being sodomized but you were also getting drenched in warm beer...

I only lost three fights, but my ass surely remembers each one. But the wins: oh, the glory of pummeling a man into pulverized defeat and then fucking him in the ass. Never have I felt more alive, or more manly...

Nowadays, sometimes the boxers even shake hands after the fight: it is like they are all homosexuals, now, afraid to fuck the loser in the ass. Maybe I'm just an Old-Timer who can't understand today's girly ways, but in my day YOU DID NOT WANT TO LOSE A FIGHT...

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Hank Jenkins, Old-Timey Boxer...

I remember losing a fight to Eddie Lane. Not only was he the superior fighter that night, but he had a HUGE cock...

To this day I am baffled by how he got that whole thing in my ass: it was like a baby's forearm the size of a baseball bat, with a clenched fist. I bent over, and Eddie tried to fit that huge cock in my ass, but it just wouldn't go: it took five full minutes of shoving and wiggling for him to actually sodomize me -- man, that crowd was restless...

Still, I got off lucky: when Eddie beat Leroy George he actually punctured Leroy's rectum, and Leroy died three days later. THAT was when boxing was boxing, my friends: that was when boxing was boxing...

I am Laslo.

Yancey Ward said...

It has been a long time since I have heard that song. When I first saw it tonight, I thought of the other boxer Davey Moore from the 80s who died, I think, in a car accident.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molly said...

According to the wikipedia page on "Forever Young", "Memorably recited on American TV by Howard Cosell when Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight crown for the third time."

Plumb Family In Turkey said...

Who killed Davey Moore is one of my favorites. Of course that list runs to the dozens with Dylan. Dylan covered Zevon's Boom Boom Mancini along with other Zevon songs after Zevon died.

EDH said...

I thought this was a song about beef stew in a can?