Friday the 13th
By Katherine Dunn
June 16, 2003
Friday, June 13th, 2003, Chinook Winds Casino,Lincoln City, Oregon.
Promoter: Top Rank; Matchmaker: Pete Susens
Ringside Physicians: Dr. Luis Rios, Dr. Ron Shear; Referees: Jim Erickson,
Dave Hagan, Jeff Macaluso; Judges: Greg Baker, Robert Flamme, Trevor
Lewis, Denis Ryan; Regulation: The Siletz Tribal Athletic Commission
I’ve decided to blame Bob Arum for the Friday the 13th horror show at the
Chinook Winds Casino. In letting the casino and the Confederated Tribes of
the Siletz off the hook, I’m giving them credit for their first fight
card, back on December 4 of 1999, when they hosted the excellent HBO
broadcast of Fernando Vargas vs Winky Wright and Diego Corrales vs John Brown. That
was promoted by Ringside Ticket, Inc run by Patrick Ortiz.
Then the Siletz held the respectable if non-scintillating May 31, 2002
show staged by Sugar Ray Leonard and featuring the 197 pound James Toney
stopping Michael Rush in the tenth round. The casino also rates kudos for
hosting a series of brilliantly
competitive amateur boxing shows over the last year or
But this Tonya-Butterbean vom fest was a Top Rank/Bob
Arum throwaway. Garbage, but good enough for the hicks
out in Oregon. We can only hope the Casino doesn’t buy any more of Arum’s
rotting pork carcases. Oops, too late. Arum pet, Robbie Knievel was
introduced in the ring that night and grabbed the mic to ramble on about
how he loved Native Americans and…maybe…it’s not quite clear… the magical
properties of cocaine? Let’s charitably assume he was either drunk or
drugged. He announced that he’d just signed to jump over a record number
of Pepsi Trucks on his motorcycle in the Chinook Winds parking lot in
Lesson…Arum is a snot-bottling promoter. He doesn’t give diddly about the
sport of boxing. He sells what’s saleable. P.T. Barnum with a Harvard law
Which brings us to another of Arum’s pets,
Butterbean, the King of the Four Rounders.
We’ve learned to live with the Bean. He’s a
jovial animal act and for all I know may be a nice man. Arum puts him
in with hapless nobody’s and Butterbean does what he does. This time
it looked like this:
Butterbean steps into ring...
4 Rounds, heavyweights
Eric "Butterbean" Esch, 325 lbs (Now 64-3-4, 49 KO’s) of Jasper, AL
stopped Troy Roberts, 229 lbs (Now 9-9,7 KO’s) of Vancouver, B.C. at :54
of the first round.
Roberts went down twice from the Bean’s sweeping right
ham to the head before the ref stopped it. No surprise there. What was a
tad alarming was the sight of the ringside physicians merrily snapping
souvenir photos at ringside rather than checking out the KO’d Roberts. The
distractions of celebrity, no doubt.
But Tonya Harding?
Can’t you see the Top Rank folks telling the casino guys, "She’s the
most famous female Oregonian and this will be her first time fighting
in her own state. Everybody will want to see her."
No mention, of course, that a lot of the
locals think the notorious Harding is a blight on the neighborhood. The
Chinook Winds crowd booed her entrance, booed her win, and booed her exit.
Only the "Sports" reporters are surprised that Tonya can’t box. The fight
folk had already guessed. The result sheet looks like this:
4 Rounds, Bantamweights
32 year-old Tonya Harding, 121 lbs (Now 3-1, 0 KO’s)
of Vancouver, WA won a unanimous decision over 24
year-old Emily Gosa, 117 lbs (Now 0-1) of Sulligent,
Alabama. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Harding.
The night after the Friday 13th show, CBZ Associate Editor Lucius Shepard
"...ESPN Sportcenter tonight did the expected with the Tonya fight. Made
fun of her and managed at the same time to make fun of women's boxing AND
boxing in general. Thanks, Bob A."
Meanwhile, writers around the country were waxing colorful at Tonya’s
expense. In Portland, Brian Meehan hit The Oregonian’s front page with
indignation….."The slight Gosa and the short, square Harding offered the
picture of a middle school girl battling a lunch lady."
And they’re all right. Tonya looks like she’s been on the Tony Galenta
beer diet. Pale flab was oozing out between her trunks and her top.
Whoever recorded 117 lbs for Gosa and 121 lbs for Harding is dreaming.
Everybody in the room could tell that Harding out-weighed the teeny Gosa
by at least twenty pounds.
And Harding was exhausted by the end of the second round.
Gosa, who works in a pawn shop and has two children, started learning to
box two months before this fabulous debut. She apparently thought it all
had something to do with cheer leading so she danced and waved and smiled,
as cute as a bug. It’s lucky Harding can’t box. If she’d known how to
throw a single punch, she might have hurt Gosa. Fortunately she just
and wallowed for four rounds.
It’s not surprising that some penny-ante promoter talked the broke and
desperate Tonya into the ring and provided her with a "trainer" who
couldn’t teach spit to fall. And it’s no surprise that Bob Arum is willing
to make use of this rolling catastrophe.
It could even be interpreted as part of Arum’s campaign to destroy women’s
boxing. He’s often said he doesn’t approve of
it and won’t promote it. But he’s glad to offer a little T&A joke for the
crowd. He signed Lucia Rijker thinking she was a gorgeous babe in a red
dress. When it turned out she was also a helluva fighter he swapped her
for Playboy cover girl Mia St. John. When
St. John betrayed him by gradually, painfully learning to box a little,
she was cut loose. Now, here’s Tonya. Do we see a new Arum pet in the
The rest of the Friday the 13th card looked like this:
10 round main event: Heavyweights
Orlin Norris, 210 lbs (now 54-8-0-1, 29 KO’s) of
Lubbock, TX stopped Troy Weida, 229 lbs (now
41-15-2-1, 30 KO’s), of Kewanee, IL at 2:27 of the
third round. A TKO win for Norris.
During the last decade, Orlin Norris has been in with, and lost
respectably to, a Who’s Who of the heavyweight division. Now, at the age
of 38, he says he’s going back down to cruiserweight because he’s tired of
battling monsters. In what may have been his last bout as a heavyweight,
Norris looked solid and
healthy at 110 lbs. On a squalid night of mis-matches and hype, Norris
provided a brief glimpse of smart, classy boxing against a sturdy
journeyman. Norris used crisp, clean combinations in
extended flurries to drop and hurt Weida in the second
round and stop him in the third. A barrage to the head in the third round
left Weida still on his feet but stunned as referee Jim Erickson called a
merciful halt to the proceedings. This main event got no publicity since
the entire focus was on the four-round freak shows.
6 Rounds, Super Welterweights
Reggie Davis, 156 lbs, (now 7-1, 4 KO’s) of Portland, Oregon stopped
Cebien St. Pierre, 152 lbs (Now 7-18, 3 KO’s), of Las Vegas, NV at 2:56 of
the 4th round. TKO win for Davis. St. Pierre looked a smidge better than
his dreadful record suggests, and he had an awkward presentation, bent at
the waist and coming in at crab level. Davis had an excellent amateur
career and is
improving as a pro. He kept his head and handled the St. Pierre problem in
a methodical way.
6 Rounds, Super Middleweights,
Billy Thompson, 167 lbs (Now 7-2, 4 KO’s) of Lubbock, TX won a split
decision over Victor Branson, 163 lbs (Now 4-6-1, 2 KO’s) of Willamina,
OR. One Judge scored it 58-56 for Branson, The other two judges saw it as
58-56 for Thompson.
Branson hits hard if you’re still in the way after he phones in advance
notice of his intention to throw. Thompson got the message and dealt with
4 Rounds, Featherweights
James Ramos, 133 lbs (now 1-1, 1 KO) of Salem, OR stopped Luis Chavez, 132
lbs (Now 0-1) of Portland, OR at :54 of the first round. Ramos can box a
little bit. Chavez can’t.