Having already written a e-book about maniacal South American fighter Edwin Valero, Don Stradley likely skilled déjà vu when poring over the troubled story of Argentine middleweight Carlos Monzon.
Just like the hot-headed Venezuelan, the fighter they referred to as “Escopeta” carried horseshoes in his gloves and lived a reckless life past the ropes, the place he typically fell foul of the legislation. In A Fistful of Homicide: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon, Stradley rattles by way of the boxing legend’s hovering highs and crippling lows, sketching a compelling portrait of a gifted however self-destructive soul who remodeled from a feral Santa Fe road child right into a famend world champion.
Sports activities followers will probably be drawn to the work due to Stradley’s appreciable powers of description: he’s most likely among the best battle writers working as we speak. And there are few higher topics than Monzon, a darkish artist who pulverized a slew of rivals throughout a thirteen-year unbeaten streak that stretched from 1964 to the tip of his profession in 1977. Alongside the best way he made fourteen profitable title defenses and established himself as an all-time nice within the middleweight division.
“It was most likely in Santa Fe that his chilly glare was developed,” writes Stradley in an early chapter. “Within the many years to come back, Monzon’s depraved stare would grow to be chillier and scarier. It will take time, although, till his bodily energy was sufficient to again up his intense expression, however the finish consequence was a glare that might grow to be his trademark: a chilly, imply look that mentioned FUCK OFF.”
“Escopeta” profitable the world title in 1970.
In contrast to the authors of many boxing biographies, Stradley isn’t fully in thrall to his topic. Though the superior victories over Napoles, Valdes, Benvenuti, et al are eloquently chronicled, he observes that Carlos didn’t at all times win rave critiques: “When he’d first gained the title, there was reward for his uncommon model, the best way he waited to strike, as one author put it, with the persistence of a sniper. As time handed, nevertheless, there was an inclination to level out his benefits in dimension, and little else. Remarks trickled in from English-speaking commentators throughout Monzon’s bouts that he was ‘crude however efficient’ and ‘awkward however will get the job executed.’”
One can sense Stradley’s sneer later within the e-book when he notes that “Monzon grew to become a greater fighter in retirement … The boxer who had typically been dismissed as a classless thug was now revered as an all-time nice.”
Battling fellow nice Bennie Briscoe.
After all, Monzon was an all-time nice, of that there could be little doubt. Stradley finally agrees, marvelling on the 87-3-9 ledger “Escopeta” compiled regardless of battling “arthritis, a rising reliance on alcohol, and sufficient private issues to present most males an ulcer.”
Regardless of its comparative brevity at 128 pages, A Fistful Of Homicide manages to be a number of issues without delay: a personality research of a brooding, malevolent archetype; a easy however absorbing boxing biography; and a pulpy story of a hideous crime barnacled with conflicting testimonies. To Stradley’s credit score, he pulls the diffuse supply materials right into a coherent complete and, like Berserk, his biography of Valero, the e-book could be consumed over the course of some hours.
Alicia Muñiz: 1955-1988.
All through, the reader positive aspects perception into what made Monzon such an all-powerful presence within the squared circle, and likewise what a chunk of shit he was exterior of it: abusive, conceited, delinquent. He was a product of brutal poverty who “created a masks for himself, a type of grandiose, omnipotent bully who was at all times in management… like all narcissists, his picture was fragile; he was by no means removed from turning into utterly unhinged.”
These aware of the Monzon story know the way it all turned out: a dozen years after his retirement, the burned-out, coked-up ex-champ was convicted of strangling his ex-girlfriend, mannequin Alicia Muñiz, earlier than tossing her off the balcony of an house within the resort metropolis of Mar del Plata. Six years later he died in a automobile crash whereas on furlough from jail, bringing the curtain down on a wild cautionary story.
Alicia and Carlos in happier days.
Of the aftermath of the homicide, Stradley generously quotes from Argentine columnists and first sources like Monzon’s son Abel, whereas additionally bemoaning the tawdriness of the entire tableaux: “In the end, the Monzon story grew to become much less a chance for sociological debate than a morbid peep present, an opportunity to point out lurid images of Alicia smashed on the bricks, her naked legs nonetheless lovely even because the life flooded out of her. It was a giant nasty dollop of Mar del Plata decadence, overflowing with floor glitter and low-cost celeb.”
Monzon and Giminez.
Though the one individuals who definitively know what occurred between Carlos Monzon and Alicia Muñiz are not with us, Stradley presents readers his personal principle of what unfolded, this being that Monzon, “an offended, illiterate man consumed by petty jealousies,” flew right into a rage when he realized each how far he’d fallen and that Muniz would by no means reconcile with him. Primarily based on the post-mortem stories, it’s a reputable speculation.
Husk of a Champion: Monzon in jail close to the tip.
In direction of the tip of the e-book, Stradley brings the story updated, summarizing a thirteen-part biopic entitled Monzon that aired in Argentina in 2019 and not too long ago appeared on Netflix, and considering the assorted warring factions within the fighter’s homeland, these being the feminists who vandalize Monzon statues and protest his deification, and the apologists who play down his violent nature whereas portraying him as a form of cursed saint. Curiously, this latter group consists of Susana Giminez, the glamorous actress who typically skilled Monzon’s wrath first hand.
“Monzon’s actual legacy,” concludes Stradley, “often is the ongoing pressure between those that idolize him and people who want to neglect him.” — Ronnie McCluskey