Now that you have signed up to fight Floyd Patterson, the present heavyweightchampion, I will pass along a few words of advice, since you have the sameproblem I once had at your age. I had won the amateur heavyweight championshipof the U.S. and the British Empire. I had also won the light-heavyweightchampionship in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920. As the heavyweight champion of threeuniversities: Yale, Harvard and Oxford, I had repeated visits from big-timemanagers who told me that I could make a million dollars fighting and, perhaps,win the world's title. I made my decision not to accept their fabulous offers.Now, in the Indian summer of life, I still have a question in my mind—could Ihave been champion of the world?
You must have hada constant battle with your conscience about-remaining an amateur. Since you,and only you, made the decision, I feel that you are making the correct one.You are through with college, having a Bachelor of Science degree. You havefinished your military service, and now you want to get a financial stake withwhich to start the future. You have a wife and a child, and it would be a finething to collect some capital with which to start on a worthwhile career.
It is true thatmany boxing experts state you have no chance, that you are going against a muchmore experienced boxer and one who has come up the hard way. Patterson has comeup the hard way through many contests—not only as an amateur, but as aprofessional. At 22 he is a worthy champion, a good boxer and a heavy puncher.I greatly respect him inside and outside the ring since seeing him win themiddleweight championship at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland in 1952. Ithink Floyd has many things to learn about the art of self-defense andaggressiveness in boxing, and with you he must be cautious.
Never will Iforget the dramatic way in which you demolished the Russian heavyweightchampion at the Olympic Games in Melbourne. The Russian had a string of morethan 200 victories to his credit behind the Iron Curtain, but you knocked himout. You were the complete master of the contest from the first blow. Youshowed the self-confident spirit necessary to become the best amateurheavyweight champion. You demonstrated the magic of believing in yourself, amagic so necessary in winning life's battles.
August 18, 1957
There is a sayingthat "a good big man can beat a good little man." This is only true ifall other things are equal—experience, age and punching power. What you needmore than anything right now is a lot of boxing experience. As you neitherdrink nor smoke and lead a systematic life you are in excellent physical shape.But, the thing that will help you most, will be your spirit. Remember,Patterson has the spirit of a champion also. In golf they say, "Keep youreye on the ball." In fighting they say, "Keep your chin in."Combine these two—keep your eye on Floyd and keep your chin close to your leftshoulder.
I know that thereare several writers who have suggested that this bout is dangerous for you toindulge in. I do not agree with them. It is true that all physical contactsports have an element of danger. We have to take chances in order to lead astrenuous life and get the most out of it.
The proverbialthousand-to-one upset might come about on August 22 in Seattle, Wash., with itsnative son as champion. Gene Tunney did it against Jack Dempsey in Philadelphiain 1926 and repeated it in Chicago in 1927. Almost all the writers said thatGene did not have a chance, but their alibis the next day corrected theirmisjudgment. I trust my faith in you will require no alibi come August 22.
Good luck, Pete,and keep your thoughts right and high!
Edward P. F. Eagan