Pete Rademacher: Tough at the Top
By Simon Graham
Thomas Peter Rademacher will be forever immortalised in the boxing history books as Floyd Patterson’s second defence for the heavyweight title in 1957, however it was no ordinary title defence.
Patterson had beaten an aging Archie Moore the previous year for the vacant title to become the youngest heavyweight champion successfully defending it 6 months later against Tommy Jackson.
Patterson was young, naïve and according to Rademacher very beatable, however what made this fight no ordinary fight is the fact it would be Rademacher’s pro fight debut, a debut that would see him fight for the biggest prize in sport.
Rademacher himself was no ordinary person either, gifted with a strong belief in his own abilities he would set himself tough almost unreachable goals yet achieve them all with hard work and dedication.
He was an all-star Washington State offensive lineman before trying his hand at boxing, as an amateur he won numerous regional and national titles, became the army champion until finally being selected to represent the USA at the Melbourne 1956 Olympics winning the heavyweight Gold medal in impressive style.
Rademacher was a very clever salesman upon retirement he became president of a major construction business in only nine years, his salesman’s ability would stand him in good stead to pull off a preposterous proposition into history-making reality.
Rademacher began to call out the young Patterson at every opportunity for a fight to be made Olympic Champion vs world champion, convincing a business partner to put up the money Rademacher courted Cus D’Amato Patterson’s trainer with a $250,000 deal, the fight was scheduled for Aug. 22, 1957 in Seattle the only city willing to grant the fight a licence amidst public and media protests.
Rademacher started the fight jabbing Patterson at long range easily avoiding his crude lunging hooks while firing in heavy right hand counters, as the first round came to an end those in attendance including the media that had ridiculed the fight sat up to take notice, not only had Rademacher survived the first round, he had convincingly won it from a future hall of fame champion.
Round 2 saw the supremely confident Rademacher consistently jab and outbox Patterson landing more righthanders as Patterson failed to bob and weave his way past the challengers slick boxing style to land his own shots, midway through the round Rademacher landed a solid left hook followed by 2 hard right hands to the temple of Patterson, clearly shaken he dropped to the floor face first, bewildered and confused Patterson rose to his feet to see out the round.
Patterson came out for the 3rd round with clear intention, to get back to his boxing style that had served him so well, while Rademacher made a good account of himself the champion’s superiority began to shine through with speed and deadly accuracy the challenger found himself on the floor toward the end of the round.
Round 4 was pretty even the score card had Rademacher leading the fight going into Round 5, looking and boxing like a totally different fighter the champion stamped his authority on the fight knocking down the challenger with a stunning left hook, Patterson had finally found his range dropping the very game and determined Rademacher a further 3 times.
The end finally came in round 6, Rademacher throwing hopeful right hands couldn’t deal with the speed of Patterson’s inside work followed by powerful left hooks, finally the referee stopped the fight as Rademacher picked himself up for the second time in the round saving him from himself and further punishment.
Patterson was the confused somewhat embarrassed victor of the fight that night but would go on to achieve greater heights as the champion, Rademacher on the other hand had almost tasted instant victory in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, he would go on to have an up and down pro career and live a long prosperous life.
In a sport full of ups and downs Rademacher learned getting to the top is achievable for anyone, its staying there that’s the difficult part.