Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Night I Called Quarry . . .

By Rick Farris


"City please . . ."
"Uh, Bellflower."
"Business or residence?
"Residence."
"What listing?
"Jerry Quarry. Q-U-A-R-R-Y. I don't know the address."
"I have one listing, Jerry and Kathleen Quarry. That number is . . ."

I did it! I actually had the telephone number of Jerry Quarry, the recently crowned 1965 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champ.
I watched him on TV, as he defeated Clay Hodges in the Western Region Golden Gloves title match, which sent him to the Nationals.

A couple weeks later, in an article written by Los Angeles Herald-Examiner sports editor, Bud Furillo, I learn that the 19-year-old heavyweight from Bellflower had traveled to Kansas City, with the L.A. Golden Gloves team, and had become the only heavyweight ever to score five consecutive KO's enroute to a National G.G. title.

I could visualize the Irish-American heavyweight, his dark blonde hair brushed back on the sides with a semi flat-top.
Now I was going to call him, and see if I could find out where that gym was in the San Fernando Valley, the one they mentioned on TV.
They said it belonged to Jerry's trainer, the "Johnnie Flores Gym."

The TV announcer mentioned that Jerry Quarry began his career at Flores' gym, when he was seven-years-old.
At the time I was twelve. In my mind, I was five years behind schedule. I wanted what Jerry had.

I dial the number. A moment later I hear it ring. A man answers . . ."Hello."
His voice was unmistakably the same one I'd heard when Jerry was interviewed on TV, a couple weeks earlier.

"Hi, are you Jerry Quarry?
"Yeah."

I was now speaking with a man who would turn professional a couple months later.
His pro debut would be a prelim to the World Featherweight title fight fight between champ Vicente Saldivar and Raul Rojas.
He would quickly become a major box-office attraction in L.A. and would twice fight for the World Heavyweight title.
He'd twice fight the great Ali. He'd twice fight Smokin' Joe Frazier. He'd send Earnie Shavers to the showers in less than a round.
He was the best white heavyweight to step into a ring since Marciano.

I had a dream, and it was Jerry Quarry who helped make it possible.
He told me where I could find it and make it come true.

I was just a kid. I called him in the evening, he didn't know me.
I told him I thought he was good fighter, and congratulated him on winning the National Golden Gloves title.
I asked him about the five KO's. He was kind to me, he appreciated my recognition of his accomplishment.
I told him I lived in Burbank. He told me that he had also lived in Burbank, years ago, near Lockheed Aircraft.
There was no place in Burbank where a kid could box. Jerry suggested the Johnnie Flores Gym before I had a chance to inquire.

"The Johnnie Flores Gym is in Pacoima. I'll give you his phone number."
I wrote down the information and thanked Jerry. I told him I would find a way to see him in his pro debut at the Coliseum (and did).

"Good luck, kid." Jerry said.

The next evening, I would call Johnnie Flores' phone number.
The following day I would begin my boxing career.
Thanks, Jerry.

1 comment:

Sonnny Rey Jr. said...

In 1966 or 67 I saw a great Jr. Golden Glove fight at the Olympic Auditorium one of the fighters was from the Seaside Gym in Long Beach, I know this because I use to train with him there. In the gym we called him fierce Pierce. That night he and his opponent put on a great fight that moved the crowd to throw money in the ring. The fight ended up a draw so they tossed a big plastic ring in the air and Pierce loss the toss. Pierce never returned to the gym and I never herd from him again. It's a shame because he was a good boxer.