By Randy De La O
In an earlier post by Rick Farris, he mentions that Jerry Quarry was hard on his younger brother Mike, bullying him and roughing him up when they sparred and more or less taking advantage of the size and weight difference.
In the above article about Jerry Quarry and Joey Orbillo by Pete Ehrmann, Ehrmann says this "In the last round, with the fight in hand, Quarry dropped his hands and did an imitation of ali dancing around the ring. the crowd loved it, but Quarry says he wasn't showing off."
Both the bulling and Ali shuffling clear up something, more or less, from 1976 when I sparred with Mike Quarry. I don't remember the date but it was sometime in the middle of the year. I had yet to have a fight.
Mike Quarry showed up at the Main Street Gym one day. This was the first time I had seen him at the gym since I had been training there and I had been there for at least a year and a half. Mike carried himself like a pro. His mannerisms, the way he walked and the way he dressed. He was wearing a light blue three piece suit that day. I was skipping rope when he came through the doors. From where I was standing, Mike cut a pretty imposing figure. I immediately recognized him.
No sooner did he come through the door then he and my trainer, Mel Epstein, had eye contact. They talked for a few minutes, then Mel walked over to me in that slightly bent and rapid pace way that he did whenever he felt rushed. "You're gonna spar with Mike Quarry today" he said to me. "He wants to work with someone smaller and faster than him-you okay with that?" Yeah, I'm okay with it" I said. "Okay, Keep warming up" and he walked away.
A few minutes later I was getting geared up for sparring, putting on the cup, head gear and wraps and gloves. Mel was putting Vaseline on my face and says to me "Don't try to slug with him, it's just a workout, and don't get nervous just because it's Quarry". I'm not nervous Mel" I said, and I wasn't.
As soon as I stepped in the ring, Mike started teeing off on me. He came at me as if I was someone that he hated. It took me a minute to realize that Mike was not playing around. I immediately had a bloody nose. I was doing my best to keep him off me and I never took a backward step. When the bell went off and I went to the corner, Mel was livid. "That f*cking bastid is cutting you with his laces". I hadn't noticed but I remember saying "Mel. He wouldn't do that". "F*ck it, I'm pulling you out-he can find someone else." "Mel. don't do it" I was serious. Normally I went along with whatever Mel wanted but I was firm on this. It was a matter of pride.
We sparred about four or five rounds that day and Mike was really laying it on thick. I was being pummeled. I got in a few licks though but for the most part I was just a punching bag.
When we were done sparring, Mike was back to his old self, smiling and joking. The picture of affability. I don't think I have ever seen Mel so angry. He used every curse word he could think of and probably created a few just for the occasion. After I was done getting dressed I walked back to the floor to wait for Mel. Mike walks up to me and says "tomorrow?" Yeah sure, no problem"
The next day my friend Ken Robledo came with me. I think he wanted to see Mike kick my ass. If so, he wasn't disappointed. It was a repeat of the first day only more so. Again Mel was pissed off. I know that Mel never really cared for the Quarrys. He always thought that they had a negative influence on middleweight Mike Nixon, at least that's what he told me. So for Mel, it was just one more thing to be angry about. When I was cleaned up and ready to go, my friend Ken walks up to me and said "Man, Quarry really kicked your ass" Yeah, well..." was all could muster. "You never took a backward step though, I'll give you that".
The third and last day was more of the same. Still I was looking for some payback, just a little bit. My chance came when Mike finished teeing off on my head. The funny thing is no matter how many times Mike landed, and he did land, he never really hurt me. He overwhelmed me at times but never hurt me. He dropped his hands to his sides and did the Ali shuffle and stuck out his chin. The guy was mocking me and was probably expecting me to be awed or intimidated, instead I threw the best right hand I have ever thrown or ever will. It landed flush on his chin. His eyes rolled up and flickered and he fell against the ropes. I know I hurt him. As I rushed him trying my best to at least end this sparring session with some dignity, the guy that was working his corner called an end to the sparring. Then Mike started acting funny. He started shaking his ass and laughing the way a fighter does when he wants to show the other guy he wasn't hurt. I hate to say it but he was acting like a jerk. I think he was embarrassed.
Mel walks up to me and said "You knocked that f*cking bastid out on his feet". "I don't think so Mel, I think he was kidding" "Bullshit, he was hurt.
Later after we showered Mike came up to me and said "Randy, thanks for the workout-I had a harder workout with you than most light heavyweights". "Thanks Mike, I had a harder workout with you than most welterweights!" Maybe Mike was just being polite, I don't know, but coming from him it was quite a compliment.
Evey word was true. It took me three f*cking days but I caught him and I know I hurt him, just a little. More importantly, at least to me, I never took a backward step.