Hank Kaplan Tribute Biofile

14.12.07 - By Scoop Malinowski: The Hall of Fame boxing historian Hank Kaplan has passed away at age 88. I never met Hank in person, we talked several times on the phone. Hank was a super nice man, a quality human being and friend who would always try to help you with any questions or research you were working on. Obviously Hank loved the sport of boxing. Having known Hank the short time I did, there is a desire to write some sort of a tribute for him and about him. This man deserves some kind of tribute, as one of the sport's most renowned is the best I can was the last interview we did together last year....

Scoop: What was your greatest boxing moment?

Hank Kaplan: "[Pauses]...Watching Ali cut down Liston in Miami. I was a big fan of (former world Middleweight champion) Fred Apostoli - his fight with Freddie Steele (KO 9 in New York rematch in 1938 - Steele had scored a KO 10 over Apostoli in 1935 in San Francisco). I liked his boxing style, his personality. Another is when Sugar Ray Leonard outpointed Marvin Hagler."

Scoop: I agree, he defeated Hagler that night. It was close but Leonard won. You could tell by Hagler's reactions after the last bell.

Hank Kaplan: "Angelo Dundee called me from training camp every day, from North Carolina. I followed it day by day. I had a lot of faith in Leonard. Coming back after a few years away with the retina injury, and he did a masterful job outpunching Marvin Hagler."

Scoop: How do you see Hopkins vs. Tarver playing out?

Hank Kaplan: "Hopkins is a guy who's very conscious of his age. He doesn't want to waste energy. He doesn't have the full confidence he can go 12 hard rounds. So he saves himself. I think he's going to be very defensive in the early rounds, though he'll be looking for openings. But he won't be very busy. After the first five or six rounds, he'll have to be busy or he'll lose the fight. It'll be the same as the Taylor fight. I look for Tarver to outpunch and outwork him, or possibly stop him."

Scoop: What was your most painful moment in boxing, or worst moment?

Hank Kaplan: "I had a few of 'em...okay, one of the worst that comes to mind now, one that affected me - there may be more but this comes to mind first - was when Jose Torres knocked out Willie Pastrano in the Garden. Willie was my pal. When you fall in love with a fighter and he gets stopped, it hurts."

Scoop: Can you share a memory or two of some of your first encounters with famous boxers? Like what were some of your first experiences meeting a famous fighter?

Hank Kaplan: "I was on Broadway when I was a kid. All the sudden we see a crowd gathering. Curious as kids are, we went over to see what was going on. It was Jack Dempsey on the street. Near his restaurant. From there on I saw a lot of Dempsey. Dempsey was one of those guys who could stop traffic when he walked out the door. I met (former Featherweight champ from 1906-1912) Abe Attell - that was a big thrill for me. Back when I was a young boy, I had an insatiable appetite to read anything and everything about boxing. I read everything I could get my hands on. All the experts back then would often pick the best fighters and they all picked Abe Attell. They had a lot of respect for him. When I finally met Abe Attell, that was a big thrill. I had read so much about him. I met Joe Louis who I would say was my all-time boxing hero. Phenomenal guy. Forget his personality, he was a great fighter too. He's my favorite. His delivery was the smoothest, the prettiest to look at. He just made everything look so easy. And he was a great guy in addition."

Scoop: I have talked with many people who met and knew Joe Louis and all of you guys just adore him so dearly. Everyone just seems to love Joe Louis. What was it about him?

Hank Kaplan: "He was a super guy. A humble guy. He never jumped up on the ropes, he was a gentleman.. He never disgraced the sport. Just a wonderful guy. Honest. If you asked him a question, he would give you an honest answer. And his boxing style was just beautiful to look at. He was a great two-fisted fighter."

Article posted on 15.12.2007

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