Joe-Frazier-Jerry Quarry

Joe-Frazier-Jerry Quarry


San Francisco, CA-When I was a wee lad, my old man used to read the twice-weekly San Francisco Chronicle column of the departed Hall of Fame writer Jack Fiske. One Tuesday column stated that heavyweight prospect Jerry Quarry would be sparring at the world renowned Herman-Newman’s Gym at 312 Leavenworth St. When we arrived a little after 4:30 PM, there was a guy at the front door, collecting 50 cents for adults, and a quarter for kids. This preceded a walk down a 40-foot darkened hallway, five steps into which you are instantly hit by the aroma of Newman’s Gym.


With old guys still smoking cigars, people had filled the bleachers, and the best description I can give you is that the smell of the gym was a putrid combination of body odor, liniments, and oh yeah, those cheap stinky cigars of taxi baron and fight manager Phil Rancatorre and a few others. From the first time I ever set foot in the joint, until it closed some 20 years later, that stale smell never changed.


After watching George Foreman all but behead a trio of sparring partners in the smaller 15-square foot ring, one of three at Newman’s, my father had to explain to me that at the time George was an amateur and that Jerry was a contender. Circa 1967, Foreman, even though he was just a teenager, I came to the conclusion after watching them both spar, that George might kill Quarry were they to ever fight. George murdered his smaller than he spar mates because he didn’t like Quarry getting the attention. Heavyweight contender or not, Jerry was no match for George even at 18 years old!


What I noticed most about Team Quarry was that none of them, not Jerry or his younger brother Mike ever wore headgear while sparring. With San Francisco heavyweight contender Eddie Machen on his last professional leg and having beaten Jerry a year prior for his lone loss, Eddie was being feted in the stands by the locals.


Quarry did little to excite the hundred or so spectators as he just went through the motions for the most part. After five rounds of sparring he faced San Francisco’s #1 boxing writer at the time Eddie Muller of the San Francisco Examiner. A boxing writer five days of every week, Eddie was first in line for Quarry. San Francisco Chronicle writer Jack Fiske disliked Muller as he had to bide his time until Eddie was done. Believe it or not, Fiske, now a Hall of Fame inductee on both coasts, Jack would live locally in Eddie’s shadow until Muller died in late 1982.


With the exception of drawing and then out pointing an aged Floyd Patterson, Jerry never really improved from the fighter that sparred in 1967. In fact, Quarry lost to every big name he faced post Patterson II. The only exception being a December 1973 first round knockout of Earnie Shavers.


In 1990, I caught Quarry in the bar at what was then the Los Angeles Forum. Talking of an impending cruiserweight (190 lbs. at time) comeback, then 44 or 45 years old, Jerry reeked from the aroma of alcoholic beverages. When I challenged him on-air regarding what he was drinking, Quarry reacted in total denial.


Within a year Quarry weighed in at 205 lbs. for a Denver, CO fight with Ron Cramer. So far gone were his reflexes, that Jerry couldn’t put two punches together. Staggering about, a man with the heart of ten men Jerry Quarry would take a ten round pummeling. Needless to say, not only was he never to fight again, but the damage inflicted by Cramer’s unabated fists pushed Jerry closer to the cliff of death. .


The man that could do the New York Times crossword puzzle in some say 15 minutes was no longer the good, concise color commentator that Quarry once was, as Jerry now had problems speaking!


Jerry Quarry In A Fog Circa 1997

Jerry Quarry In A Fog Circa 1997

When Jerry’s ex-wife called me in 1998 just two months before he died, she told a sad story. Quarry, now 53 and confined to a bed was completely scrambled mind-wise. In addition, his organs were shutting down. “He’ll be dead soon,” she said from her waitress job in Las Vegas. When I ran with this exclusive story, representatives of Quarry’s immediate family contacted me and said that the ex-wife was crazy. That Quarry was in good health, and that my reports were totally erroneous!


Three months later, Quarry, who went 53-9-4 (32 KOs) as a professional during a run that really ran from his debut in 1965 to 1975 when he was KO’d in five by Kenny Norton. After that he was lunch meat! Jerry fought once in 1977, twice in 1983, all three being wins, and was off nine years before he had his head figuratively handed to him in 1993 by Cramer.


Some will tell that Quarry’s problem was that he came along during the same era as George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Norton, the last three knocked him out. I say it was because Quarry was tougher more than he was talented. He might be more heavyweight myth that wouldn’t have excelled any further in any era prior to and/or subsequently to the 1970s. Who does he beat in the way of lineal champions if you were to drop Quarry into any era? None! All in all, Jerry was a good guy to be around.

Pedro Fernandez


  • Pedro, great story. I remember Jerry Quarry well, he was a hot and cold fighter. On his best nights he could beat top guys and on his off nights he would not look so good.
    His best fights I remember are:
    When he KO’d unbeaten big puncher Mac Foster in NY.
    When he beat an unbeaten and big puncher Ron Lyle
    When he KO’d in one round big puncher Earnie Shavers.

  • Sanchez / Gomez was huge in August of ’81. I remember watching it at my grandmother’s place in Sacramento. Gomez, moving up in weight was 32-0-1 with 32kos. Little did we know that Sanchez would be dead in a year.

    I believe Quarry was talking comeback again in the early 90s when Big George was making some noise. This seemed to bring the old guys out, Ron Lyle came back and went 4-0 in 1995 at age 53. I think Quarry didn’t look good in sparring and his comeback was scrapped.

  • Pretty good analogy. Thanks for your comment.

  • I was a big Ali fan in the 1970’s and only remembered Jerry’s losses to Ali and Frazier. For that reason at the time I did not think too highly of Jerry as a fighter.

    However, further research revealed he was a lot better fighter than I thought.

    KO’d Mac Foster when Foster was 24-0 with 24 KO’s.

    Easily beat Ron Lyle, even hurt him. This is the same Ron Lyle that a year later would knock down George Foreman twice and come within a whisker of KOing Big George.

    KO’d in one round arguably the hardest puncher of all time in Ernie Shavers.

    Gil Clancy trained Quarry. He said Quarry was the hardest puncher he’d ever seen and Gil trained George Foreman.

    Gil Clancy once also described Jerry Quarry as the best gym fighter he’d ever seen but that he should have saved it for the ring. By contrast, Ali was not a good gym fighter but saved it for the ring.

    Just as Jerry’s last fight and his good chin caused his premature death so too did Ali’s fight with Holmes cause a lot his current problems. Had both not had good chins and had such heart, they’d of been stopped or quit within a couple of rounds instead of taking a sustained beating. Their courage was their downfall.

  • Geoffrey Sadao Prenter

    At his best, Quarry was a great counterpuncher with fast hands and and dangerous power. And yes, he was tough. I think he struggled with inconsistency. Some nights, such as in his 2 fights against Patterson and his fight against Ellis for the vacant WBA title in ’68, he looked hesitant and lethargic. However, on the nights he beat Thad Spencer, Mac Foster, Earnie Shavers and Ron Lyle, he looked really good.

    It’s just tragic what happened to him. He was a knowledgeable and articulate commentator, and he seemed to have a lot of charisma. I know that he took some tests in the early 1980’s and cognitive impairment/brain damage was evident. Whoever maneuvered him into that fight with Ron Cramer should’ve been arrested.

    Jerry Quarry literally gave his life for the sport of boxing.

  • I remember watching from a hotel room the second Quarry/Ali fight. It was billed as the Soul brothers Vs the Quarry Brothers, since mike Q fought Bob foster. I saw the Quarry and Lyle fight. Maybe Jerry’s best fight. I think he would have been a top ten contender in most era’s , but you might be right about him not being a lineal champ. He would have had a good chance against Tubbs, Seldon, Ruiz and a fat out of shape Page.

  • Pedro, I always heard that Jerry Quarry beat the crap out of Joe Frazier when they sparred in 1966 in Los Angeles. Supposedly Yank Durham had to stop the session to save Frazier from getting Ko’d. What have you heard about that session?

  • Hey Pedro,

    Since your feeling nostalgic, what’s your opinion on the late great Sanchez vs Gomez. I was not that familiar with Gomez’s career but saw an interesting documentary on the boxers life. Could Gomez defeat Sanchez in your opinion?

  • Good story,i hope present day boxers read this article.Lesson is know when to quit.Its very hard to start another career after boxing.

  • He knocked out Shavers in one, who went the distance with Ali and Holmes. Knocked Mac Foster who went the distance with Ali. Beat ex champ Floyd Patterson. Dominated Ron Lyle. Knocked out 5 straight in the national golden gloves. Some Myth

  • Mr. Rizzo,

    Jerry Quarry and I were associates. I met him in 1966. Your racist remarks were way out of line, ask the former Mrs. Jerry Quarry of Las Vegas, who came to Jerry’s aid when he first got sick. You have been put in the spam folder meaning you will never post another comment at Have a good life!


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