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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The Twilight Rounds: Rod Serling explores the dark side of boxing – Round six

The Twilight Rounds: Rod Serling explores the dark side of boxing – Round six

Requiem for a Heavyweight, the Motion Picture (1962)
Publish Date: 05/08/2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
(Original Caption) "Mountain Rivera" (Anthony Quinn, L.), the washed-up boxer, unhappily wears a comical looking Indian outfit for the degrading wrestling match arranged by his selfish, double dealing manager, "Maish Rennick" (Jackie Gleason, C.), as the loyal fight trainer "Army" (Mickey Rooney, R.), looks on helplessly.

“This is a crazy fucking business,” Joe Louis mumbled in the presence of his two-time ring rival Jersey Joe Walcott, with whom he occupied the dressing room of Washington DC’s Uline Arena on the night of March 16, 1956. Walcott was there to officiate Louis’ debut as a professional wrestler against a 320-pound journeyman grunt and grappler with facial features which were a composite of Lon Chaney Jr. and Charles Laughton, known as ‘Cowboy’ Rocky Lee. A morning snowstorm changed over to a steady freezing rain which kept the number of curiosity seekers inside the 9,000-seat arena down to less than half capacity. The weather was bad for business, and the whole scenario was bad for Louis. More than $1 million in debt to the IRS, which had seized the trust funds set up for his two children as collateral, he desperately needed the money. But what price is dignity?

Battering his way through the color barrier placed in his path with a dynamite-packed right hand, Louis had punched his way to boxing’s promised land, becoming the first black heavyweight titleholder since Jack Johnson, whose controversial reign had ended more than two decades prior. If his was a household name before June 22, 1938, Joe Louis’ first-round knockout of the German former champion Max Schmeling in their rematch at Yankee Stadium that night made him a national hero. And yet here he was at 41 years old, with a paunchy belly and receding hairline but his glory days still visible in the rearview mirror, preparing to make the long humbling walk to a wrestling ring assembled in the center of a hockey arena where he would encounter his adversary for the evening, as well as the man in the striped shirt who had twice given Louis all he could handle and then some in their two heavyweight title fights. Most people, Louis himself being one, believed Walcott had been robbed of certain victory in their first meeting after depositing the champion onto the canvas in the first and fourth rounds, only to lose by split decision. But, that was then. This was now.

Joe Louis, the legendary ‘Brown Bomber’, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, hoisted up a pair of wrestling trunks and swallowed his pride to collect bumps and bruises and a $1,050 paycheck. Louis’ endeavor as a professional wrestler came to a violent and abrupt end a mere two and a half months later in Columbus, Ohio. For that matter, Louis himself almost did too. ‘Cowboy’ Rocky Lee, once again slated to tussle with Louis, over-enthusiastically stomped on his opponent’s chest and cracked three ribs, one shard coming close to tearing through Joe’s cardiac muscles and could very well have punctured either his heart or lung. Despite the physical agony Louis was experiencing, he later said that his first concern at that very moment was, “Oh shit. There goes that good dollar.”


“Every writer worthy of the name has something to say. He has an area of storytelling that he sets aside as particularly his, that is closest to him in terms of a philosophy, a point of view, a set of judgments,” Rod Serling ruminated in the foreword to his novelization of the Requiem for a Heavyweight motion picture, published in 1962 to coincide with the film’s release. “In the case of this story, I am concerned with a species of very special men who put on gloves as children, telescope the years into a frenzied few moments, taste of a glory that is ephemeral and fleeting, and then spend the rest of their lives looking for an errant ghost in the wreckage of dreams and recollections.”

Following the success of Serling’s Playhouse 90 broadcast, “Requiem for a Heavyweight” had been adapted by the BBC the following year for a televised production starring a pre-Bond Sean Connery, and featuring Michael Caine in a bit part. Dutch television put on its own version in 1959, and “Requiem” would subsequently be produced in Yugoslavia in 1974. Serling originally wanted to breathe new life into “Requiem for a Heavyweight” not on nationwide movie screens but on a single stage beneath the bright lights of Broadway, and would remain somewhat dejected that he was unable to see this dream come to fruition in his lifetime.

For what it’s worth, the 1985 staging of Requiem at New York’s Martin Beck Theatre was an unmitigated disaster. Starring John Lithgow as Mountain McClintock and featuring George Segal (who can currently be seen as Pops on The Goldbergs) as Maish, David Proval (The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond) as Army, and Mari Tucci (Law & Order) as Grace, Requiem ran eight nights of previews before officially premiering on March 7, 1985. It closed just two days later after three performances. New York Magazine theater critic John Simon pulled no punches in his review of Requiem, which he described as a “piece of melodramatic claptrap” that he ridiculed as “so morally confused as to seem to condemn the revolting blood sport of boxing, only to end up sentimentalizing and hero-worshipping a once fifth-ranked heavyweight, and asking us to shed tears over his being doomed to become a wrestler.”

Although converting his teleplay into a feature film was not Serling’s first option, movie producer David Susskind, with whom Serling had enjoyed working previously on television, envisioned this as a viable and logical next step, enthusiastically championing the project from its conception. As had been the case with “Patterns” before, Serling hoped he could make lightning strike twice with “Requiem.”

“Society is quick to crown and quick to reject,” he asserted. “I suppose it is a part of the complexity of the human make-up to seek out the winner, the comer, the new runner of the four-minute mile. And the pedestals are few, transitory, and fragile platforms for greatness.” Whether the medium in question is sports, politics, film, music or what have you, we have seen myriad examples of pop culture figures hoisted onto our collective shoulders and placed on pedestals erected at messianic heights only to be dragged back down by mobs bearing metaphorical torches and crucified in a kangaroo court of public opinion.

Requiem for a Heavyweight is the story of an also-ran,” Serling explains. “Mountain Rivera is a composite of a dozen flesh and blood human beings. The prototypes may or may not be known to you, but they exist. One is a former heavyweight champion who gave the sport that elusive gift of dignity—and walked away from it with nothing but a scarred body.” Although he doesn’t name Joe Louis specifically, Serling had once praised him as “the greatest fighter, pound-for-pound, who ever lived” and it has been suggested that the sad downfall of the ‘Brown Bomber’ had partially inspired this iteration of Requiem. Serling’s comments here certainly appear to be a signpost pointing in Louis’ direction.

“Another was a leading contender who died babbling in a hospital—a battered alcoholic carcass without a suit of underwear,” he continues in cryptic and anonymous terminology. “Once, at the age of twenty-one, he had deposited four hundred thousand dollars in cash in a personal account. Still another spent ten years in a federal penitentiary for assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon was his fists. He had spent one-half of his adult life being paid for an instinct. There had been no time to learn the subtleties of morality.”

For some reason, Mountain is given a new name and different point of origin in the film. “The protagonist of this piece is a Mexican heavyweight, unschooled, ignorant, and with none of the saving graces of even the most subtle of literature’s hero figures,” said Serling of Louis ‘Mountain’ Rivera who now hails not from Kennesaw, Tennessee like his small screen predecessor but Agua Seca, New Mexico. “But they have qualities—men like this—that transcend their guileless self-destruction, their halting, think burlesque speech, their scar-tissued ugliness. It is these qualities I have tried to analyze in Requiem for a Heavyweight.”

Gordon F. Sander proposed in his 1992 biography Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television’s Last Angry Man that Rod had initially coveted Anthony Quinn for the role of Mountain McClintock for the Playhouse 90 telecast of “Requiem for a Heavyweight” back in 1956 and was very happy to have him assume the part in the movie. Quinn was a former amateur boxer who had been acting since the late 1930s and was probably best known at that approximate time for his performances in Elia Kazan’s Viva Zapata! which featured Marlon Brando in the lead, as well as inheriting the role of Quasimodo from Lon Chaney and Charles Laughton before him in a 1956 remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and portraying Gauguin in Vincent Minnelli’s Lust for Life that same year.

I have found no other evidence to back up Sander’s claim, and it doesn’t hold up under the weight of Serling’s own scrutiny. “I thought Tony Quinn was not right for it,” he categorically stated. “Jack Palance gave it considerably more dignity in the live television version than Tony Quinn did.” On a side note, Quinn later starred in The Salamander, a 1983 film based on the last screenplay Serling had completed before his death in 1975, which was an adaptation of the novel by Morris West.

Serling is certainly in the minority regarding his personal opinion of Requiem as “not a very good picture.” Generally speaking, he felt the film was “badly directed” as well as “poorly performed except for Mickey Rooney and Gleason.” I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority both fight fans and film buffs would disagree.


The movie’s pre-credit sequence begins with a tracking shot which pans slowly past a series of faces belonging to barflies and ex-fighters that are focused intently on the boxing match being shown on television. The ghosts of pugilism past and present who rattle their chains in this version of Requiem’s “graveyard” include the celebrated likes of Willie Pep, Barney Ross, Abe Simon, Gus Lesnevich, Johnny Idrisano, Alex Miteff, Paolo Rosi, and Tami Mauriello. The bout they have become so absorbed in happens to be the main event being broadcast from St. Christopher’s Arena between Mountain Rivera and Cassius Clay.

Unlike the Playhouse 90 version of “Requiem”, this time we not only get to see the closing moments of the fight, but experience it from Mountain’s point of view as he takes punch after punch at Clay’s speedy hands, stares up into the blinding overhead lights when he is knocked off his feet, cranes his neck to the right where the row of ringside photographers capture snapshots of his conquest and then to the left where his manager and trainer Maish and Army (Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney, respectively) look on with grave concern, and listens without benefit of being able to react to the ten-count administered by the increasingly out-of-focus form of Arthur Mercante. “Great fight, kid. You were great,” Clay consoles the still-prone Mountain before bouncing off to participate in a postmortem at center ring.

David Susskind had thought it only natural to personally seek out real-life ref Arthur Mercante for the part of the third man in Requiem. But Mercante was also desired to fill an integral role behind the camera as technical advisor. In addition to choreographing the fight scene, Mercante was tasked with finding an honest to goodness heavyweight prospect for Mountain Rivera to get pummeled by. The very first call Mercante placed was to Bill Faversham, the main investor in a Louisville consortium which sponsored the 1960 Olympic gold medalist turned professional prizefighter, Cassius Clay. The twenty-year-old ‘Louisville Lip’, who would not long after shun his “slave name” in favor of Muhammad Ali (meaning “The Exalted One” in Arabic) and walk the earth as one of those persecuted gods among men alluded to earlier, was eager to play the part.

Clay couldn’t help himself from clowning around on set which was a more than welcome diversion that helped alleviate the antagonism that was quickly developing between Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn. “Gleason was a spontaneous genius who needed no rehearsals and had the ability to memorize his lines in an eye-blink,” recalled Mercante, who would later referee two of Muhammad Ali’s title fights, his first classic dustup with Smokin’ Joe Frazier and the rubber match in his trilogy against Ken Norton. “Quinn, on the other hand, was a method actor who would laboriously review his script and try to mentally visualize every nuance of his performance. While Quinn was always early on the set, Gleason staggered into the studio late, often in his cups from a long night’s carousal.”

While the crew was occupied with camera setups, Jackie Gleason would spend his down time resting in a director’s chair that had his nickname, THE GREAT ONE, emblazoned across the back. Cassius Clay liked having fun with Gleason by sitting in his chair and insisting that it was clearly meant for him since, after all, he was ‘The Greatest.’ He would then playfully challenge Gleason to prove otherwise. “Your record against heavyweight contenders is none too good,” Arthur Mercante kidded Gleason. He was referring to an incident that had taken place in the late 30s, which Gleason recounted for Rocky Marciano in 1961 when he appeared on Main Event, a syndicated boxing program where the former undefeated heavyweight champ would interview celebrity guests and narrate fight clips.

“I was working at a joint called The Miami Club in Newark, and it was a real tough joint. As a matter of fact, they called it ‘The Bucket of Blood.’ And one night I was doing the show, and there was a little, fat, bald-headed guy at the ringside, and every time I came out to introduce an act or tell a joke, he would say something derisive, you know, nasty,” Gleason related to Rocky. “And I was hoisting a few at the time, and I said to the owner of the joint, ‘That guy is driving me nuts. If he doesn’t stop, I’m gonna take care of him.’ So, I came out another time and he began to heckle, and I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, will you excuse me for a moment? I would like to invite this gentleman to step out onto Clinton Avenue and I’d like to take good care of him.’ Then we can do the show without any interruptions.’ I never saw anybody get up as fast as this guy did. Now we get out on Clinton Avenue…the next thing I recall I was on the floor of the cellar next to the furnace. A doctor was there, the owner of the joint, and they had brought me to when I said to him, ‘Who was that guy?’ He says, ‘That guy was Tony Galento.’ I said, ‘Did you know that was Tony Galento?’ He said, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘’Why didn’t you tell me?’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re a wiseguy. I thought I’d let you go up against him.’ That was a really big mistake.”

For the uninitiated, ‘Two-Ton’ Tony Galento was a saloon owner and heavyweight contender from Orange, New Jersey with the type of thirst only a beer barrel could slake and who possessed a physique to match. He was what Ralph Kramden would undoubtedly refer to as a “blabbermouth”, famous for uttering his pre-fight prediction, “I’ll moida the bum.” Ironically, Galento would himself be initiated into Joe Louis’ “Bum of the Month Club” in 1939, courtesy of a fourth-round knockout. He can be seen in On the Waterfront as one of corrupt mob boss Johnny Friendly’s stooges.

Arthur Mercante remembered Anthony Quinn as a “large, rawboned man who loved boxing.” The pair would often go out for lunch together during breaks in production with Quinn still in the gruesome makeup applied by Dick Smith, an industry great who is most renowned for his work on The Exorcist. “He had been a fairly successful amateur boxer before realizing he didn’t have the goods to make it in the pros,” Mercante said of Quinn. “Turning to acting, he had become a Hollywood legend, but there was nothing phony about the actor.”

Former prizefighter Abie Bain plays the police officer who escorts Mountain, Maish, and Army from the ring to the dressing room. He was also an advisor to, and stand-in for, Anthony Quinn who is said to have used Bain as the template from which he modeled Mountain’s speech patterns and mannerisms. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia but fighting as a middleweight out of Newark, New Jersey, Abie’s career got underway in March 1923, competing in ten bouts in nine months and more or less keeping the pedal pressed to the floor the rest of the way. After gradually climbing up the scales to light-heavyweight by 1930, Abie challenged world champion ‘Slapsie’ Maxie Rosenbloom (who, if you recall, was featured in the Playhouse 90 version of “Requiem”) but was knocked out in the eleventh round. The following year, Bain tangled with Jackie Gleason’s soon-to-be-nemesis Tony Galento and suffered the same fate as the roly-poly funny man would some years later.

Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney as Maish and Army are a substantial trade-up from Keenan and Ed Wynn in the live television version, with all due respect to father and son. Despite the initial misgivings regarding his casting, Ed Wynn did earn an Emmy nomination, after all. Not only would Serling employ Wynn on two occasions for The Twilight Zone, he wrote the eulogy which was delivered by Jack Palance at the comedian’s 1966 memorial service.

Rooney was an already familiar face to Serling, having starred in his Emmy-winning production of “The Comedian” for Playhouse 90, and the two would become reacquainted in the fifth dimension when Mickey was cast in the Twilight Zone episode “Last Night of a Jockey.” Rooney would later appear as well in the “Rare Objects” segment of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. Two other noteworthy Twilight Zone alums turn up in Requiem, Herbie Faye as Charlie the bartender who also serves drinks in “A Kind of Stopwatch”, and Val Avery as the promoter of the young fighter brought into the locker room for Maish’s managerial consideration who appeared in the classic Christmas episode “Night of the Meek” as—you guessed it—a bartender.

In the Playhouse 90 version, Keenan Wynn’s Maish owes money to, and is threatened by an associate of, a Mr. Henson who remains an enigmatic mob boss throughout, never pictured on camera. Serling doesn’t simply rectify this matter for the movie, he flips the script by transforming the character into a female gangster named Ma Greeny who very much makes her presence known. Ma Greeny is played by Bertha Levine, better known by her stage name Madame Spivy. A former lounge singer, she would later open her own New York City nightspot called Spivy’s Roof in the 1940s before turning her attention to acting. She made her debut on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and soon after landed the role of saloon owner Ruby Lightfoot in The Fugitive Kind, directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Tennessee Williams, and starring Marlon Brando. A woman who was short and rotund in stature and had no problem assuming a gruff demeanor when the situation called for it, Spivy had played a bouncer in All Fall Down just prior to her role as the heavy in Requiem and subsequently materialized in Frank Sinatra’s dream sequence in The Manchurian Candidate.

Very early into the movie, an elaborate chase scene ensues where Gleason’s Maish is pursued throughout the Olympic Auditorium (doubling for St. Christopher’s Arena) by Ma Greeny’s thugs, her main man played by Michael Conrad, a future visitor to The Twilight Zone as Sheriff Harper in season five’s “Black Leather Jackets.” While watching this play out, you can’t help but wonder whether Serling, director Ralph Nelson, or cinematographer Arthur Ornitz drew inspiration from 1949’s The Set-Up. Robert Ryan’s Stoker Thompson is double crossed by his manager who alerts him mid-fight that he has arranged for him to take a dive, a directive Stoker ignores and wins the bout. He is then hunted down in very similar fashion by the goons employed by a mobster called Little Boy. Stoker has his hand broken out in the alleyway, effectively ending his boxing career, whereas Maish gets trapped in the center of the ring and is worked over by Ma Greeny’s hoodlums as an incentive to speed up their cash transaction.

In the company of Army, Mountain answers a want ad for a job as a movie theater usher, only to be turned away after being rudely notified that they don’t have uniforms in his size. Mickey Rooney is given the perfect opportunity to exit the scene by delivering a great one-liner which Rod Serling no doubt crafted with deliberate pleasure, “I like TV better anyway.”

This rejection brings Mountain to the employment office where he encounters his case worker and love interest, played this time by Julie Harris who was among the first members of New York’s famed Actors Studio and made her mark in Hollywood relatively early thanks to her terrific performances in two adaptations of classic novels, Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Shortly after Requiem would come The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s hair-raising book, and Harris was later offered a role as a series regular on my Mom’s favorite nighttime soap opera, Knots Landing, which would be my first introduction to her.

If you happen to be a Planet of the Apes fan, this curious little bit of trivia might be of tangential interest. In Requiem for a Heavyweight, Julie Harris plays the role originated in the Playhouse 90 broadcast by Kim Hunter six years earlier. Hunter, of course, was later cast as Dr. Zira in 1968’s Planet of the Apes, a part she would play opposite Roddy McDowall in the first three films of the classic series. She came on board somewhat late in the process, however, as a replacement for the actress who was initially slated to appear in the movie, Julie Harris.

The card game that Army and Maish play back at the hotel is memorable for the way Jackie Gleason reacts, albeit in much more subtle tones, to Mickey Rooney’s idiosyncrasies which calls to mind how hot-headed Ralph Kramden would get so easily fed up with his quirky pal Ed Norton on The Honeymooners. Stanley Adams returns as the wrestling promoter, Perelli (slightly different spelling in this version), the lone holdover from the original cast of “Requiem.” He devises an Indian chief gimmick for Mountain in this iteration, scheming with Maish toward a Cowboy vs. Indian angle for the boxer’s grunt and grapple debut.

Grace, meanwhile, has set up a meeting for Mountain with a couple by the name of Reardon who run a summer camp for kids in the Adirondacks so that he can interview for a position as a counselor. Maish sabotages this opportunity by getting Mountain drunk, their binge starting at the hotel and winding up three sheets to the wind at Jack Dempsey’s Broadway Bar where they are seated with the champ himself before he is called away to play host to a birthday party at an adjacent table. By the time Mountain gets to the Hotel St. Moritz, he is in no condition to make a good impression on his potential employers. He forgets their room number and staggers up and down the tenth floor hallway yelling the Reardons’ name and banging on random doors. He carelessly upsets a room service cart and the clamor brings Grace out of the Reardons’ room but, before she can intervene and possibly salvage the situation, a rueful Mountain retreats to the elevator.

The hotel’s desk clerk, it is worth pointing out, was played by middleweight contender Steve Belloise who came up just a little short in two consecutive 1940 title shots against Ken Overlin at Madison Square Garden. Belloise subsequently scored a first-round knockout of his Requiem costar Tami Mauriello and dispatched both Al Hostak and Georgie Abrams well inside the distance, but lost his rematch with Hostak on points. He was unable to answer the bell for the eighth round in a 1949 world middleweight title eliminator against Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium, and was stopped in his last two bouts by Laurent Dauthuille and Billy Kilgore. His final ring record was a more than respectable 95-13-3 with 59 KOs. Ring 10, a non-profit organization based out of Long Island which provides financial assistance to former fighters in need, named their Top Contender of the Year Award after the Bronx-born Belloise who passed away in 1984.

“These are scars, not medals,” Mountain points out petulantly to Grace who has followed him back to the hotel. “You know why I talk so funny? Because I’ve been hit a million times.” Despite the fact that getting tipsy and lousing up the interview was Maish’s idea, Mountain was knowingly complicit in undermining the chance to prove his self-worth. “I belong with dirty towels in locker rooms,” he concedes sadly. A tender scene becomes momentarily fraught with savagery as Mountain pulls Grace down onto his bed and begins to force himself on her before quickly realizing what he is doing and tells her to go.

On her way out of the hotel, Grace runs into Maish on the stairwell. “Now you can go out and find yourself another charity,” he says to her with smug self-satisfaction. “Let me tell you something, Miss Miller, and you better dwell on this. You don’t understand the breed. You think when you put clothes on an ape, you make him a dancing partner.” She slaps him across the face and turns away to cry. ”You want to help him, Miss Miller? I’ll tell you how you can help him. Leave him alone,” Maish advises her. “He’s been chasing ghosts so long, he’ll believe anything. Any kind of a ghost. Championship belt. Pretty girl. Maybe just twenty-four hours without an ache in his body.”

The most radical divergence Serling makes from the televised broadcast of “Requiem for a Heavyweight” to the feature film is the tonal discord of their individual outro. After standing up for himself, Jack Palance’s Mountain McClintock is bestowed a happy ending in the Playhouse 90 version, teaching a young boy how to box aboard a train heading home to Kennesaw, Tennessee where he will work as a camp counselor. In the motion picture, however, Anthony Quinn’s Mountain Rivera remains shackled to his devotion to Maish and is summarily doomed to a bleak, pessimistic fate.

With a four-way midget free-for-all in progress inside the ring, Mountain puts up an admirable fight against Ma Greeny’s henchmen in the dressing room, but ultimately agrees to an eight-match contract with Perelli, with an option for sixteen more, rather than have Maish take a severe beating or even worse for non-payment of his debt. Outfitted in a braided hairpiece and headdress, and enveloped in a Navajo blanket, Mountain makes his way to the ring amidst a chorus of boos, jeers, and oaths past the midget wrestlers, one of whom is played by Angelo Rossitto. Standing just under three feet tall, Rossitto had a lengthy acting career which dated back to the silent era in the late 20s. His most significant, sometimes notorious, screen appearances came in Tod Browning’s Freaks (in which he dances across the table at the wedding feast of Hans and Cleopatra, passing around the communal loving cup only to have Olga Baclanova throw its contents in his face), March of the Wooden Soldiers, The Wizard of Oz, Poverty Row quickies like The Corpse Vanishes and Scared to Death with Bela Lugosi, Confessions of an Opium Eater, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Matched against real-life wrestler Haystacks Calhoun, who routinely wore overalls as his ring attire and tipped the scales at an imposing 450 to 500 pounds, ‘Big Chief Mountain’ stares around the arena with a blank, almost disbelieving expression for a few moments before raising a tomahawk above his head, belting out a series of war cries, and dancing in circles while the introductions are made and Army watches from the wings and weeps.


“Tragedy is a big word. To justify its use it must pass muster with a battery of literary judgments established over the years. Misery, however poignant, is not interchangeable with it. But that it is a true story, an honest one, an uncompromising one—this I lay claim to,” stated Rod Serling in his Requiem for a Heavyweight movie tie-in novelization.

“Too much of it came out of a five-round prelim at St. Nick’s. Too much of it is simply a transcript of a dialogue in a dressing room while an aged doctor worked on a nineteen-year-old Negro in a coma. And too much of it walked past me in the lobby of Madison Square Garden—shuffling, battered faces of ‘also-rans’ who had left too much of themselves inside too many rings for too many years in front of too many screaming people. If some of the people seem like clichés—predictable and familiar to the sport—it is because in real life they are an integral part of the habitation. There are crooks, leeches, pimps in sweat shirts, and filth in pin-striped suits; flesh peddlers and garbage collectors who trade on the Mountain Riveras, and who leave a stench more persistent than any human sweat or liniment,” Serling opined in no uncertain terms. “If they seem predictable and one dimensional, it is because there is no subtlety to a fix, a deliberate mismatch, or a selling-out of a human being for cash money.”

(Rest period prior to Round Seven…to be continued)



Christopher Benedict. Joe Louis Wrestles With ‘Cowboy’ Rocky Lee and Reality (Ringside Report, October 10, 2015, accessed at https://ringsidereport.com/?p=56296)

Martin Grams, Jr. The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic (OTR Publishing, 2008)

Joe Louis. My Life (Harcourt, 1978)

Donald McRae. Heroes Without a Country: America’s Betrayal of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens (Ecco, 2002)

Arthur Mercante, with Phil Guarneri. Inside the Ropes (McBooks Press, 2006)

Gordon F. Sander. Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television’s Last Angry Man (Dutton, 1992)

Rod Serling. Requiem for a Heavyweight (directed by Ralph Nelson, Columbia Pictures, 1962)

Rod Serling. Requiem for a Heavyweight (Bantam Books, 1962)

John Simon. Theater/Little Week of Horrors (New York Magazine, March 18, 1985)

Tony “Two-Ton” Galento vs. Jackie Gleason as Told to Rocky Marciano (Main Event, 1961, accessed at




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