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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bennie Briscoe, R.I.P.

They buried a legendary Philadelphia fighter yesterday, a guy who fought in one of boxing's last golden ages, a touch middleweight with a shaved head who worked a day job as a garbageman in the City of Philadelphia. Bennie Briscoe was 67.

I remember reading of boxers like Briscoe, Stanley "Kitten" Hayward, Bobby "Boogaloo" Watts, Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Mathew Saad Muhammad, along with, of course, Joe Frazier, whose gym was near the railroad tracks not far from Broad and Lehigh. They would fight at the Blue Horizon on North Broad, a place right out of a Damon Runyon story, or at the Spectrum. You'd read about the fights these guys fought in the next day's papers, and the story telling was so good retrospectively you might have thought that battles among warriors from ancient Greece were being described. The world was smaller then, boxing more important, and, well, Philadelphia had a lot of very good middleweights.

Bennie Briscoe was one. The linked article recalls a kind and generous man, and reflects the who's who that showed up at his funeral to pay respects. Bennie Briscoe never won a title (he came close), but there's no doubt that he went out as a champ.


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