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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Boxing taught many things

Friday, December 17, 2004

"It taught us discipline and how to get along with our fellow man. ... I never remember anyone getting hurt."

Tom Moore, Golden Gloves boxer

Part 2 of 3

Cordell Hull was 14 years old when he joined the Eagles Boxing Club in 1948. At 95 pounds, he fought in the lightweight division. His younger brother, Walt, joined as soon as he was eligible.

Their dad, Walter Hull, got his sons interested in boxing and enrolled them in the Eagles Boxing Club.

"We weren't as big as Dad," Cordell, 70, said when he and another brother, Dick, 63, recently discussed the Golden Glove Tournaments and the area boxing organizations.

"He was six feet tall and 210 pounds," Cordell said of his dad. "At that time I was 5 (feet) 4 (inches), and weighed about 95 pounds. Just 12, Walt was 5 feet tall and about 65 pounds. I think Dad just wanted us to learn how to protect ourselves."

Dick volunteered that he had tried boxing once but the first time he got hit in the face by a punch he said, "This isn't fun," and turned in his gloves that day. Another brother, Tom, was too young to participate at that time.

Even though Dick didn't want to box, he enjoyed watching his older brothers and followed their matches enthusiastically.

In the Golden Gloves there were three classes, sub-novice, novice and open with eight different weight categories in each class. Age wasn't the defining factor. The youth were matched up by weight and experience.

Boxing was a big sport back then. Most of the local boys either participated or attended. Dick and Cordell tried to recall the boys they remembered from the boxing club.

"Oh, there were just lots of us," Dick said. "Bill and Harold Lovett, Bill, Bob and Tom Woods. The Woods brothers were all good," Cordell said. "But I think Don was probably the best. And there was Ed Lawhorn, Don Parksey, Jackie Moore, Jim McHargue, Harold Cheeks, Bob Benford, Dick Allen, Buck Rogers.

The Hull brothers paused a moment to think, look back, try to remember.

"Jimmy Pierce was an outstanding boxer," Dick said. "And I remember Maurice Bostick, Lou Barum, Virgil Moore, Bobby Glenn, Grover Young, Jack Eldridge, Tom Moore.

Tom Moore was later asked about his Golden Gloves experience by phone.

"That was the thing back then," Moore said. "We used to train upstairs over the Eagles building. I won fights but never a championship.

"At one time a trainer told me I held the record for quickest knockout, 29 seconds in the first round.

"It taught young men lots of things," Moore continued. "It taught us discipline and how to get along with our fellow man. We didn't have the trouble back then we do now, especially on the streets because a lot of the young boys were involved in that and we got along with each other. I never remember anyone getting hurt."

Moore said he went off to the service and when he returned the boxing club didn't have the involvement anymore. He said the organizers got older and sick and no one picked it up.

When asked how he felt about his boxing experience, Moore said, "Oh, I liked it. I really liked it."

Dick Hull explained that the Eagles Club did more than participate in the Golden Gloves event. They had a lot of benefit fights to raise money for various organizations such as the March of Dimes, the Optimist Club and Boys Club of Terre Haute. They fought against other clubs in the area in about a 50-mile radius.

Another former Golden Glove boxer was in town recently and shared his experiences with boxing back in the 40s and 50s. Bobby Woods, who now lives in Terre Haute, came from a family of 12 kids with seven boys.

"All of us boys started boxing by the time we were 12 years old," Woods said. "Me, Billy and Donald were Golden Glove champions by the time we were 16."

Woods described a frequent event the boys liked to participate in because they could win some pretty good money.

"It was called the Battle Royal," Woods said. "Everybody in the same class, there'd be about five or six, would get in the ring and slug it out 'til there was just one left. The audience threw money in the ring while the fight was going on and the guy left at the end got all the money."

Woods spoke fondly of one of the main trainers of the day.

"Johnnie Willman trained us and talked to us," Woods said. "He inspired each and everyone of us. He was one heck of a man."

Dick concurred about Willman and the other boxing volunteers as well.

"Without pay, these trainers, promoters, sponsors and workers helped these young men prepare for their futures," Dick said.

"The boys were developing strong bodies and strong minds. Besides improving physical strength and coordination, boxing increased the boys' ability to make quick decisions, use good judgment and improve discipline. It also helped them set goals, build character and gain pride in their abilities and accomplishments.

Tomorrow: Cordell's favor-ite fight.

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