Nice piece about pride-of-Chelsea heavyweight champ John Ruiz by guest columnist Carlo Rotella in Monday’s Boston Globe.
Even hardcore Boston sports fans didn’t take much notice of him. Boxing isn’t as popular now as it was in the days of Rocky Marciano or even of Marvin Hagler, but Ruiz, who was never a big talker or a thrilling give-and-take puncher, was particularly unequipped to seize the attention he deserved from his hometown. It would have helped if his name was McRuiz or Ruizetti, but even that might not have done it.
It’s hard to explain Ruiz’s virtues to people who don’t care about boxing, and even to many who do. Few noticed that he was stronger, better trained, and tougher than almost everyone he fought. His sturdy, smooth-muscled body didn’t have the blown-up bodybuilder look commonly associated with heroic strength, and he didn’t knock opponents into next week. More than anything, he was stubborn. Exercising a terrible workmanlike patience in the ring, grinding and banging and shoving and hauling, he wore down an impressive roster of more spectacularly gifted fighters who were typically favored to beat him.
Rotella, director of American Studies at Boston College, is also currently producing standout commentaries for WGBH radio.
This guy’s good. Keep an eye on him.