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New Orleans boxing and Big Fred
The Internet is a beautiful thing sometimes. We use it as a toy, and sometimes as a weapon. We use it for research, and also to binge watch “Peaky Blinders.” It’s fascinating in it’s ability to draw us in. When was the last time you’ve heard a friend say, “Oh my God, I just went down a <insert something ridiculous here – maybe involving cats> hole!” It was probably yesterday; Especially, if you work in an office. And this was a trip I was planning to take today, about a subject I knew just a little about – New Orleans boxing.
But I didn’t fall into such a deep well that I couldn’t crawl out and write this for you. For, I was lucky enough to discover a fantastic piece by S. Derby Gisclair, called “Lords of the Ring,” detailing the history of boxing in New Orleans. A story spanning over 180 years, and involving characters such as visiting heavyweight champions of the world John L. Sullivan fighting at the Olympic Club in 1892, and Muhammad Ali fighting at the Superdome in 1978 – and touches upon the careers of great local fighters like Tony Canzoneri (considered the greatest fighter to ever come out of New Orleans), WBC Light Heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano and Jerry Pelligrini who sported the fabulous nickname, “the Battling Barber from St. Bernard.”
That’s where I dug my heels in, to stop the beautiful descent into the past. I wanted to read about what’s happening now with the local boxing scene. In a town peppered with boxing clubs and training facilities, I knew something had to be happening locally. It took me a bit to find anything – there just isn’t a lot out there in this sport that may be, much like horse racing, getting pushed to the side in a nation dominated by football and basketball. I bumped into a few minor stories by local outlets, but I had to go to boxrec.com to find what I needed – news about a local, from our city, that gets paid to punch people in the face. And it’s red hot, because it goes down this Saturday.
His name is “Big” Fred Kassi (18-3-1), and that is no misnomer. Cameroon-born, Kassi stands at 6 feet and, fighting in the heavyweight class, weighs in around 220 pounds or heavier on fight night. He is an intelligent fighter that can shift from the orthodox style to southpaw, with ease, throughout a fight. His most recent fight was against Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola, a fighter who has competed for the heavyweight title, and has fought such big name talent as Vitali Klitschko, Eric Molina, and Bermane Stiverne. The fight was considered a draw, but I believe Kassi beat Arreola.
Kassi, who owns and trains at the Le Boxeur gym at 1441 N. Claiborne Avenue, is 36, but only has 22 fights under his belt. In other words, he has a lot left to give. He will fight undefeated Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (15-0, 14 knockouts) on the undercard of the Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder versus Johann “Reptile” Duhaupus fight.
All of the action goes down Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The fight will be televised on NBC, in front of a million or so viewers. So, New Orleans, why wouldn’t you watch?
P.S. With all of the boxing clubs in town, I am sure there are folks that know, and are watching Big Fred’s fight this Saturday. If you are, let us know in the comments or drop me an email. I would love to hear from the all of the New Orleans fighting fans.
Mark “the Scrapper of St. Charles” Spencer