Thursday, June 11, 2009

Keeny Teran Bares Facts on Fight With Kid H.

Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, June 10, 1959

Keeny Teran's back home.

The former boy wonder of boxing who went sour on narcotics is, at the age of 28, going to give life another try.

This week, he finished a three-year stretch at Soledad State Prison. The crime that sent him there -- peddling heroin -- was just one of the hundreds of stories that kept Keeny in the headlines here for a decade.

In his glorious, notorious life, boxing's most publicized bad boy was jailed for burglary and dope, crowned as California's and NorthAmerican's bantam weight champion, and credited, in 1952, for the most courageous comeback in the history of the ring.

Yesterday, Keeny Teran sat down with me only hours after he walked through the prison gates, to discuss the next chapter in his life.

And he admitted that it might be a pretty dull one, so far as newspaper headlines are concerned.

"I'm going to try to do things right," he told me. "When I was at Soledad, I didn't serve time. I made it serve me. I read everything I could get my hands on."

"What kind of books?" I asked.

"Well, like one on the life of Teddy Roosevelt. I really picked up on him."

In prison Keeny became editor of the paper. He also went to school for three and a half hours a days until he made up enough credits to get his high school diploma.

"On the outside I was always too busy with boxing," he explained, adding softly, "and other things."

"Other things" included a taste for marijuana at the age of 11 and a side career as an addict which started with his first fix of heroin the day before his 15th birthday.

With no trace of false pride or tough guy in his voice, Keeny talked about those days.

"Nobody forced me. Nobody offered it to me. I just took it," he said. "Dope is its own agent. I just thought it won't happen to me. I'mKeeny."

Just about all through my boxing career I was hooked," he added. "That's something most people don't realize."

In June of 1952, after 17 straight wins, the kid lost to Tommy Umeda. "Before that, I was just using mildly," he said. "But when I lost that fight, it broke my heart. I figured I was indestructible. I couldn't lose.

"After that is when I stated using heavy."

By the end of that year Keeny was back on top of the world. He'd reversed the Umeda decision and for five weeks "beaten" the habit long enough to have everybody in Hollywood begging to do his life story.

"I had everything to live for," he said. But his habit was bigger than he was. He fought some more, won some good fights, lost a few -- and all the time he was fooling the State Athletic Commission doctors.

"Say we'd weigh in at 12 o'clock. I'd take my fix at 1 o'clock. then I'd wait until after 8 o'clock examination at the arena to fix again. I'd spread them around all over my body. No tracks that way."

I asked Keeny if some more boxing might be in his future.

"Right now," he said, "I just don't know. I feel fine. I worked out all the time up there. I've never been in better shape.

"But who knows what the boxing commission is thinking of me now?"

Today's Today and That's for Me

"What I'd like to do," Keeny added, "is get a job in an office. I'd like to be sports writer, but I know I'm not ready. I learned a lot up there, but I still sweat blood getting one little column done.

"Another thing," the grown-up kid went on, "I'm no crusader. I'm not going to go around telling what a bad guy I was and how wrong I was. Right now I'm going to take each day one by one, and make it my job to take care ofKeeny."

I hope he does a helluva good job.


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