Rumble at Rama 7: The Whooping Crane Down But Not Out
22.03.09 - Jorge Antonio Vallejos: Arthur “The Whooping Crane” Cook might not have won the Canadian Heavyweight Championship on Friday, March 20, 2009, but he certainly won the crowd’s respect by bringing the rumble to Casino Rama, Rama, Ontario, Canada. “Arthur won the crowd over,” said Jason Ableson of Orion Sports Management, Greg “The Steel Pole” Kielsa’s Canadian promoters.
Cook danced to the ring with traditional dancers of the Rama First Nation reserve, the site of Casino Rama’s “Rumble at Rama” series. Dressed in traditional regalia—tanned leather with yellow trim, and a white robe sporting the colours of the Native American medicine wheel: white, yellow, red, and black—the drum heard throughout the entertainment centre announced Cook’s entrance and the bombs to come..
“I’m gonna break him down, bang that body,” said Cook of Kielsa prior to Friday nights title fight.
Things were not so easy. Kielsa moved around the ring using his height and reach to frustrate Cook. “The Whooping Crane” continued to fly in with shots that missed his opponent’s head and body.
Kielsa repeatedly landed his left hand. One left sent Cook flying back across the ring in the first round. “The Whooping Crane” smiled, applauding his foes accuracy and power.
The two men are complete opposites. The “The Steel Pole” is white, chiseled, tall, has a shaved head, and dresses in conventional boxing attire. “The Whooping Crane” is brown, chubby, average height, sports a Mohawk, and dresses in the fashion of his ancestral warriors.
One man was defending his title, the other was there to take it. Neither came to disappoint themselves or their fans.
Kielsa played the role of counter puncher. Dodging and slipping Cook’s shots and landing his jab at will. The Canadian Champion used beautiful footwork to set up combinations as well as dance around Cook.
Cook’s punches were too slow to catch the man in front of him. His constant attempts to hook off of Kielsa’s jab missed throughout the night. He would have fared better with straight rights hands to mess up Kielsa’s southpaw rhythm.
Losing the first four rounds, Cook was in jeopardy of losing his chance to win the championship he described as meaning “everything” to him. “To be a Native champion from Canada means a lot.”
With Kielsa starting to land sweet combos and racking up points, Cook needed to make some major adjustments.
“After the third round we told him he had lost every round,” said Cook’s Manager Richard Calavera. Honest advice from his corner saw Cook change tactics.
“The Whooping Crane” stopped playing “The Steel Pole’s” game. Coming out more aggressively in the fifth, Cook pushed Kielsa against the ropes and started throwing combos. The two stood toe-to-toe hammering one another. Cook gave Kielsa no room to dance, it was time to brawl, and they did.
Cook moved in an out of the pocket landing head and body shots. He put his chin in Kielsa’s face and then threw one-two’s. With his back against the ropes, Kielsa was out of his element. The crowd applauded Cook’s relentless attack and his showboat tactics. Chants that early in the fight made fun of Cook’s soft body turned to chants of support for the challenger. Cook responded by patting his glove against his mouth mimicking the stereotypical warrior cry seen in old Western films and known by the general public.
Toward the end of the round “The Whooping Crane” made the boldest move of the evening. Standing in the middle of the ring, face to face with the champ, Cook flexed both arms as if posing in a Mr. Universe competition and then threw a right uppercut that snapped Kielsa’s head back. The challenger won his first and last round of the fight.
Rounds six and seven saw the old Kielsa come back. Using his distance again, the champ was able to move in and out landing beautiful combos to Cook’s body and head. Cook had a short rally at the end of the seventh; an uppercut stunned Kielsa again, but it wasn’t enough to win Cook the round; the challenger walked back to his corner with his face all red.
“None of those punches fazed him. Those bruises were glove burns, nothing serious,” sad Calavera.
Round eight saw the most serious punch of the night. A left hook sent Cook down to the canvas. Describing himself as having a “granite chin”, Cook got up but immediately fell back down with the referee stopping the fight at 1:16.
“The Whooping Crane” might have a granite chin but his knee is susceptible to injuries like the rest of us. A hyperextension caused Cook to stay on the canvas for ten-minutes as medics looked him over and put his leg in a brace.
Using sheer pride, the First Nation’s warrior refused to go out on a stretcher and got up to lean on the ref as Greg “The Steel Pole” Kielsa was announced the winner by TKO.
Cook would have done well to do some research on his opponent. Kielsa demonstrated his vulnerability to uppercuts in his previous fight with former Canadian Heavyweight Champion Raymond “Mount Kilimanjaro” Olubowale at Rumble at Rama 6. The two uppercuts that Cook threw landed and stunned “The Steel Pole”.
“We talked about it [the uppercut] in the corner. For some reason he abandoned it,” said Calavera.
Arthur Cook brought determination, strength, skill, and resilience. He was the lesser fighter Friday night, not the lesser man.
Arthur Cook is due for surgery as a result of a hyper-extended knee injury suffered in Friday Nights bout.
“He’ll be alright. He’s got a good spirit. He’s a warrior,’ said Calavera. “Arthur did this for the First Nations. He’s traveled the world fighting but his heart is at home with his people.
Article posted on 22.03.2009
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