Memories of a boxing great

To the editor:

One of my boyhood heroes died last week, Cowboy Billy Smith. He had more than 30 pro fights and also won the Golden Gloves in his division. I liked him because he was small in stature, like myself, but he also had guts.

The highlight of every year was his match against Tommy Fix from Shelby, Ohio. Every year, Cowboy would outpoint Fix and win the match to the great disgust of Fix. My father and I walked back to downtown with Fix and his manager the last time he was defeated by Cowboy in the Big Red gym. We reviewed the fight and my dad was giving him pointers, since my dad was a novice boxer in his youth and also served on the Steubenville Boxing Commission as a judge for many years.

Cowboy was billed as the flyweight champion in North America at that time. A fellow came up from Cincinnati by the name of Carmen Saccabucci to challenge Cowboy for the title. Saccabucci would stand his ground in the middle of the ring, rarely moving, looking to score points with a solid punch.

Cowboy maneuvered around and around like the classic boxer he was. The fight went to the limit of rounds. Split decision was announced 2-1 in favor of Cowboy. A small riot ensued as fans threw folding chairs in the ring at Harding Stadium, because they though a hometown decision fiasco had occurred. My dad, a boxing judge, voted for Saccabucci. I also thought he out-pointed Cowboy.

Seeing the situation was getting out of hand, Runt Mavromatis, the Steubenville boxing commissioner, jumped in the ring and declared that the boxing commission overruled the judges. Buff Alton, Cowboy’s manager, was furious. Cowboy lost his title.

Now, all this happened about 45 years ago or longer, so if I made a mistake in my memories, I apologize.

Jim Rinaldo