|Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
BOXER ROSS PURITTY: WHERE'S THE MOVIE
Where’s his movie? It’s not often Mr. Mom can be heavyweight champion of the world, but when it happens, you want to stand up and applaud. Here is such a story, of Ross Puritty, a real life Rocky, except without the thug background or the “Eye of the Tiger” music.
The uniqueness of Ross Puritty’s boxing career cannot be overemphasized. Not many go from college football starter to pro boxer, nor go into it after graduating from college. Not many go into it without being brought up in a boxing “club” nor stay with it after losing eight of the first sixteen matches. Not many emphasize family first, manage their own career and manage to stay out of the clutches of promoters like Bob Arum or Don King. The few who can do that, who will take on all challengers, who can improve throughout their career, who stay in good enough physical shape they’re ready for a match in short notice, are worthy of mention. The ones that do, who also happen to gain the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World, like Ross Puritty, deserve that movie, or a book about them, or, at the very least, a spot in a Silliman on Sports column.
Ross Puritty is a man of principle. He believed in training hard, staying at the same weight and always being a man of his word. In an interview, Puritty says the boxers he admired most were Oscar de la Hoya, George Foreman and Roy Jones, Jr because these guys made a life for their family beyond boxing.Puritty fought Tommy Morrison to a draw when Morrison was considered unbeatable. He then went on to shock the world by besting undefeated Wladimir Klitschko in Kiev before a stunned and silent partisan sellout crowd.
Did we say real life Rocky before? Doesn’t the Klitschko beating remind you of Rocky vs Ivan Drago? Wladimar is another super tall - 6’7”- Ukranian athlete with speedy fists giving him the nickname “Dr. Steel Hammer.” And just like Rocky Balboa going to Ivan Drago’s home turf to tame the giant, Puritty went to the Ukraine to spoil Klitschko’s home crowd giddiness. Dr. Steel Hammer had never fought someone with the stamina and shape to take his punches for 10 or more rounds. Most of Klitschko’s twenty-nine opponents had been out in less than three rounds. An admirable feat, especially considering Ross “The Boss” only had three weeks to prepare for the fight.
Some of you might be asking, if Puritty was WBC Heavy weight champ, why hadn’t we heard of him? Why didn’t you see him defend his title on a pay-for-view fight? The truth is most hard core boxing fans were well aware of Ross. To them, Puritty, who was never knocked out and only knocked down a few times, was known as having the hardest chin in the business. But if you hadn’t heard of him, the long and short answer might be Don King. The modest Ross probably won’t tell us that. But, everyone knows Mr. Electro-hair controlled the WBC. If you didn’t sign with Don or play ball Don’s way, he’d keep you from getting a title fight. Ross Puritty was his own manager, along with his wife, Twila. Integrity meant something to Ross, staying out the underworld of boxing meant something to Ross, maybe more than hooking up with King.
Today the retired from boxing Puritty helps coach football as well as mentoring amateur boxers in a youth club called “Wichita Hard Hitters” in Wichita, Kansas. Not a bad undertaking for a former champ. Not a bad undertaking for a Mr. Mom. Now, where’s the movie?
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|Silliman On Sports
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