Saoul Mamby: A Very Memorable Boxer

By Ted Sares - He was 43 the last time he won a title and 60 at the time of his last fight –Anonymous

A streaking Derrell Coley, 19-0-1, stopped him at age 46 in 1993. He was 42-30-6 at the time and would finish with 84 fights and a record of 45-33-6. This was the only stoppage he ever suffered.. He then won three of his last five fights, his final coming at age 53 against 40 year old Kent Hardee in 2000. “Sweet” Saoul, a black Jew from Brooklyn, was a savvy and slick fighter with a granite chin and presented a difficult style for his opponents from Lightweight to Welterweight for well over 20 years.

After a tour of duty in Vietnam (he served as a grunt and did not participate in any boxing exhibitions), his first pro fight was a loss against Jose Peterson in New York on March 31, 1971. Just nine months later, he fought to a draw with rugged and undefeated Edwin Viruet at the Felt Forum in New York.

In 1977, he lost by a highly controversial SD to Saensak Muangsurin in Korat, Thailand for the WBC light welterweight title. Previously, he had battled to a draw with Harold Weston, lost to Roberto Duran in Miami, and then to the great Antonio Cervantes in Venezuela. After successful fights in Paris and Curacao, he returned to the Garden and beat tough Norman Goins in 1979. His 12-fight win streak included wins over Maurice “Termite” Watkins and Esteban De Jesus, and then against Sang Hyun Kim in Seoul, South Korea for the WBC Light Welterweight crown which he defended successfully in Las Vegas, Detroit, Indonesia and Nigeria.

The native New Yorker was a road warrior if ever there was one fighting in exotic places throughout the globe. The win over Sang Hyun Kim was particularly gratifying since Kim had previously beaten Muangsurin to whom Mamby had lost in Thailand.

He would lose the crown to LeRoy Haley, 45-2-2, on June 26, 1982 at the Front Row Theatre in Highland Heights, Ohio. Four months later, he beat the crafty and “old school” Monroe Brooks, 48-6-4, in Cleveland, Ohio, but he lost his rematch with Haley and then dropped a UD to Ronnie Shields.

On August 23, 1990, at age 43, he beat undefeated Larry Barnes for the New York State Welterweight Title. But after this moment of glory, he lost 8 straight including dukes with Charlie “White Lightning” Brown and Pat Coleman. After his first career stoppage loss to Coley in Largo, Maryland, he then beat one Innocent Mushonga in Zambia, limited George Kellman in Florida and equally limited Darren McGrew in Ocala, Florida. His “last” fight was against the aforementioned Kent Hardee, 20-6-1, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Not only did Sweet Saul fight just about anyone who was anyone, he usually fought them on their home turf. He did battle in France, Guyana, Canada, Spain, and Zambia. As well, he toiled in Nigeria, Jamaica, Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Thailand, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. He also fought in fourteen different states. Since all but one of his 33 losses came by way of decision, God only knows how many were “home cooking.”

While the highpoint of his long career was winning a world championship, certainly his stoppage over Roberto Duran conqueror and former WBC lightweight champ, Esteban De Jesus, in July 1980 (on the Holmes-LeDoux under card) has to rank pretty high).

Saul Mamby was a veteran who successfully competed at the highest level, won a world championship, and was a road warrior extraordinaire. He was another very memorable boxer.

Post Script: Mamby fought again (and lost a UD) on March 8, 2008 in the Cayman Islands. He was 60 years old at the time. This type of thing diminishes his prior body of work, for as Ron Borges once said, “A boxing ring is no place to grow old. It is no place to chase after faded glory, either.” (“Even For Boxing, It Was Sad,” By Ron Borges, The Sweet Science, June 26, 2008).

Article posted on 08.03.2009

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