March 20th, 2011 By Pedro FernandezBOXER’S DEATH WAS MURDER OR ACCIDENT
San Francisco, CA- It was an early summer morning in 1972, Eddie Machen, once the #1 ranked heavyweight contender was found dead lying in a driveway of the apartment building he lived in on the 3300 block of Mission St. here in The City. Right next to the greasy spoon that still is the Nulite Kitchen, Eddie had been living there since his 1967 retirement brought about by his losing to Boone Kirkman. After boxing, Eddie got a job with the Teamsters and worked odd jobs for local businesses. Among other things, Eddie drank a lot at the four bars and the bowling alley that were all within 200 feet of his front door.
CUS KEPT FLOYD AWAY FROM THREE GUYS
Unlike a lot of older fighters, Machen who was born in Redding, CA, a city around 100 miles from San Francisco, didn’t show any signs, at least to me, from the residual effects of over 60 fights. Truth be told, then champion Floyd Patterson’s manager Cus D’Amato, kept Floyd away from Eddie, Zora Folley, and Sonny Liston. Sonny would get Patterson after Floyd, no longer able to face the public’s constant clamoring for Floyd to face Sonny, that Floyd finally told Cus to make the fight. D’Amato’s reluctance to fight Machen and Folley was based on Cus’s belief that both Machen and Zora were too cute and would box circles around Floyd.
MIGHTA’ BEEN GAY, BUT CUS WASN’T STUPID!
Liston would get his shot and drilled Patterson in the first round in consecutive fights. Machen did receive a WBA title shot, vacant seeing it was taken from Muhammad Ali & fragmented for the first time in the sport’s history, losing in March 1965 a UD 15 to the underrated Ernie Terrell. But by this time, Eddie who had been fighting since 1955, was done! Losing to Liston and Foley in 1960 on points, that was probably Eddie’s peak. And then there was the fight two years earlier, while boxing writers were talking about the 24-0-1 Machen as the next champ, this before he went to Sweden and was KO’d in one round by then 22-0 future champ Ingemar Johansson.
SAN FRANCISCO’S BOXING SHARKS THOUGHT LITTLE OF INGO
Coming off a Draw 12 with the aforementioned Foley for the #1 slot, who by the time he faced Ali in 1965, like Machen, was done! Either Bennie Ford or Babe Griffin, one of these guys, both of whom were the boxing hierarchy in San Francisco, made the decision to send Eddie to Sweden. Still, it was obvious that Ingo could punch and Eddie was advised. At 22-0 & 13 whacks, Ingo dropped Eddie thrice before it was called.
BEAT THE PREVIOUSLY UNBEATEN JERRY QUARRY
The best thing that happened to Eddie in his latter years in the trade was his UD 10 win over red-hot Jerry Quarry (17-0-3) in July 1966. From that point forward, Eddie won one fight over ham & egg type George Johnson. After that, Eddie lost to 12-0 Joe Frazier, Henry Clark, and again his final bout with Boone Kirkham. Eddie retired in 1967 at the age of 35 with a pro log of 50-11-3 & 29 KOs.
SO HERE’S THE CRIME SCENE FOLKS & EVIDENCE
It happened in the wee hours of August 8, 1972, Machen, who had taught me the basics of boxing, was found dead about 40 feet below his apartment door. There have always been two theories regarding his death. The first, Machen, who had some sleep walking incidents, opened up his front door and fell over the balcony to his death. The other has Eddie opening the door for somebody he knew, who then through him over the railing. Hall of Famer Don Chargin thinks it was murder. So do I as Eddie was doing “piece” work for local loan sharks. Unless somebody were to confess to killing Machen, we’ll never know one way or the other.