Friday, October 30, 2020

Female Boxing Pioneer Finally Gets Monument in Chatham Cemetery

By Matt Ward

Hranoush Sidky Bey, known as Madame Bey, ran a successful boxing camp in Chatham that was frequented by the legendary fighters of her day.

On a cool day in September, a private ceremony was held to honor female boxing pioneer, Hranoush Sidky Bey. The small gathering, at the Fair Mount Cemetery, included family members, representatives from the New York Turkish Consulate General, local boxing historians, Chatham Township Historical Society members, and local elected officials. 

Commonly known as Madame Bey, she came to the United States at the age of 16 with her future husband, Mehmed, a Turkish diplomat. Prior to becoming an important figure in professional boxing circles, Bey was already a "Renaissance woman." She was well-educated, spoke seven languages, sang opera, and was a fixture in the Washington, D.C. social scene. It was in Washington, D.C. that she and her husband became friends with President William McKinley. She was just a few feet away from McKinley when he was assassinated in Buffalo in 1901. 

Madame Bey ran her training camp in Chatham Township, New Jersey from 1923 until her death in 1942. Notable visitors to her camp included world champion boxers Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, Lou Ambers, Primo Carnera, Joe Louis, and Floyd Patterson. Madame Bey's life inside and outside of her boxing camp is chronicled in New Jersey boxing historian Gene Pantalone's 2016 book, Madame Bey's: Home to Boxing Legends.

Since publishing his book, Pantalone has been a vocal advocate for honoring Madame Bey's contributions to the boxing world. His research, writing and talks have made him a "go to guy" for all things Madame Bey, and his efforts have brought her contributions to the history of boxing back to the forefront of the sports world. 

"Imagine, a woman in the 1920s, just 3 years after the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote in the US, running a successful business in a man’s world in a sport thought of as only men could be involved in. Throughout its existence, the camp saw no fewer than 14 world heavyweight boxing champions and 80 hall-of-famers. It was the most famous boxing camp at the time. It is a feat that would be hard to duplicate even in today’s world," Pantalone told Patch. 

While researching his book, Pantalone, a resident of New Providence, discovered that Madame Bey and her husband were laid to rest in nearby Fair Mount Cemetery without a grave marker. Soon after making this discovery, Pantalone and the Chatham Township Historical Society became actively involved with Bey's descendants, local historians and the Turkish Consulate General to raise funds and plan for the placement of a tombstone for Madame Bey and her husband. The project to place a tombstone over the previously unmarked grave was completed on September 20, 2020. 

Madame Bey was also honored earlier this year by the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame when she was selected to be inducted into the hall of fame with the class of 2020. Unfortunately, this year's induction ceremony and banquet was postponed until November of 2021 due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked what Madame Bey means to the history of boxing, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame president Henry Hascup said, "Madame Bey's induction into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame is long overdue! Here's a lady who knew nothing about boxing, and then went on to build one of the top boxing camps in the history of the sport. There were times when there were ONLY eight recognized World Champions, and she had over half of them training at her camp."

This story also appeared on Patch

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Monday, October 26, 2020

WWE Hell in a Cell 2020

By Steve Ward

The Quarantine Era continued into month number eight this evening as Hell In A Cell emanated from the Thunderdome (Amway Center) in Orlando, Florida. This continues to be an interesting decision in my opinion as not only AEW, but also other professional sports have embraced a limited return for fans - after all, you would think there has to be several outdoor venues in Florida that would gladly host WWE with limited capacity. Nonetheless, this evening’s card boasted six matches with four titles contested and was headlined by Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre going toe to toe in the ominous Hell In A Cell. 

Universal Championship Hell In A Cell I Quit Match

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Roman Reigns

Following last months embarrassing loss to his cousin where his brother Jimmy threw in the towel for him, Jey found himself in a rematch for the Universal Championship this evening. This time the match would be escalated to an even greater level of intensity as the cousins battled within the carnal Hell In A Cell with the brutal addition of an I Quit stipulation where you must make your opponent give up. Sadly this match was another abomination with more of Roman preaching to his cousin than anything else. After Jey was beaten senseless but refused to quit, the ring was rushed by WWE officials. Following their futile efforts to get Roman out of the ring, Jimmy Uso came to his brothers aid. Roman seemingly listened to some sense but instead proceeded to put Jimmy in a guillotine choke for his efforts. Jey finally proclaimed the words I quit to save his brother leading the anticlimactic end to this contest. Following the match, Roman was met on the stage by his uncle Afa and father Sika (the legendary Wild Samoans) where they anointed him the new head of the table.

Elias vs. Jeff Hardy

Winner: Elias via DQ

Elias made his return from injury during the WWE Draft a couple weeks ago following a five month layoff that was attributed to being hit by a car driven by Jeff Hardy during the DUI angle they were involved in with Sheamus at the time. Elias immediately targeted Hardy leading to their first ever meeting in the squared circle this evening. Just as the contest was building momentum, Jeff Hardy followed Elias to the outside of the ring where he retrieved his guitar. Hardy intercepted Elias, took his guitar, and demolished it over him leading the referee to call an abrupt end to the match.

Otis w/ Tucker vs. The Miz w/ John Morrison

Winner: The Miz via pinfall

Following a courtroom segment on Friday Night Smackdown with JBL presiding, it was ruled that Otis would need to defend his Money In The Bank briefcase against The Miz leading us to their showdown this evening. Otis controlled the tempo for the majority of this bout which prompted John Morrison to attempt to intervene with the briefcase, however, the referee put a stop to it and he was banned from ringside. In a shocking turn of events, The Miz was laid out on the canvas and Otis proceeded to propel himself off of the ropes but was met with a strike to the back with the briefcase by his best friend Tucker. This allowed The Miz the opportunity to cover Otis for the pinfall as he became the new holder of the Money In The Bank briefcase.

Smackdown Womens Championship Hell In A Cell Match

Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Winner: Sasha Banks via submission

Following the nuclear fallout of their friendship, Sasha Banks challenged Bayley and her 380 day reign as champion to a Hell In A Cell Match. This match was better than the Hell In A Cell which opened the show, however, that isnt saying much. In the closing moments of the bout, Bayley seemed to be moments from retaining her title as she brutalized Banks with several chair shots and the Bayley To Belly, however, Sasha kicked out of the subsequent pinfall attempt. Bayley then attempted the Bayley to Belly again with the use of a chair but Banks pulled off a sloppy reversal that propelled Bayleys head into her own chair. Sasha took advantage of this as she trapped Bayleys head in the chair and cinched in the Bank Statement for the submission victory as a new champion was crowned.

United States Championship

Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Slapjack

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

The developing feud between The Hurt Business and Retribution picked up steam recently as Mustafa Ali was revealed as their leader. This evenings title contest came to fruition on the Kickoff Show as Ali challenged The Hurt Business to a match. MVP accepted the challenge and proclaimed that Bobby Lashley would defend his United States Championship against Slapjack (yes, you read that correctly) of Retribution. Bobby Lashley dominated Slapjack from the opening bell and with the exception of some brief offense on the part of the Retribution member, this was a very one-sided contest that ended with Lashley cinching in The Hurt Lock for the victory.

WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match

Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre (c)

Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall

Following his loss last month to McIntyre in the Ambulance Match at Clash of Champions, Randy Orton maintained his fixation on the WWE Championship and vengeance as he has continued to focus all of his efforts towards a rematch with the champ. Orton wasted no time taking the fight to McIntyre this evening as he disguised himself as a ringside crew member allowing him to get the jump on Drew. This didnt prove to pay the dividends Orton had hoped for as McIntyre controlled much of the early going. Orton finally turned the tide as McIntyre was met with a steel chair when he attempted to close out the bout early. The Viper then took the opportunity to unleash his sadistic side as McIntyre was forced to endure attacks with chairs, the ring steps, and his face being grated against the cage. As Orton felt his advantage slipping, he used bolt cutters to escape the cage and lured McIntyre to the top of the imposing structure.

As this plan didnt progress as Orton hoped, he again baited McIntyre to climb down the side of the cage aligned with the announce table. As they were halfway down the side of the cell, Orton pried the champs fingers loose and launched him off the side of the cage and through the announce table below. McIntyre willed himself back into the cage and alluded an RKO which he answered with a Claymore Kick. Orton managed to roll out of the ring to avoid the pinfall and recover. After slowly rolling back in, he dodged a second Claymore Kick attempt and answered with an RKO which allowed him to pin McIntyre crowning himself as the new world champion for the 14th time.

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Sunday, October 4, 2020

WWE NXT TakeOver 31

By Steve Ward

Just one week following Clash of Champions, WWE returned with NXT Takeover 31 from the brand new Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Essentially, the Capitol Wrestling Center is a scaled down version of the Thunderdome as WWE has again implemented the virtual fans with the primary difference being Performance Center athletes, family, and friends also surrounding the ring. The event also marked the debut of Wade Bad News Barrett on commentary with Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix - a much needed infusion of life since the departure of Mauro Ranallo. The concise card featured five bouts with four titles on the line and was headlined by Finn Balor going head to head with Kyle OReilly for the NXT Championship.

NXT North American Championship

Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

Winner: Damian Priest via pinfall

Takeover kicked off in electrifying fashion as the man formerly known as Punishment Martinez in Ring of Honor defended his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano. This hard-hitting contest fired on all pistons from the opening bell. One of the most brutal spots of the match evolved as the two men battled in front of the announce table where Priest hoisted Gargano up into the Razors Edge and propelled him so his spine collided with the edge of the ring apron. Following a low blow that caused a momentum shift late in the match, Priest was still able to prevail as he executed The Reckoning to solidify the victory.

Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

Winner: Kushida via submission

This grudge match evolved after each man essentially cost the other their respective title opportunities for Takeover. Like the opening contest, this one also got off to a ferocious start as Kushida ambushed Dream in the midst of his entrance. The advantage did not last long as Dream was able to assert control over the contest by engaging in his well known mind games. Kushida was able to withstand the Dream Valley Driver and The Purple Rain Maker to systematically dismantle Dreams left arm. The final moments of the match saw Kushida cinch in The Hoverboard Lock as Dream attempted another Dream Valley Driver and he sustained the hold throughout as he forced Dream to tap out.

NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah Swerve Scott

Winner: Santos Escobar via pinfall

Since the demise of 205 Live, the Cruiserweight Championship has been adopted by NXT. Tonights bout featured two men who had their personas manipulated in typical WWE fashion shortly following their arrivals. First, we had the champion, Santos Escobar, who may be better known as El Hijo del Fantasma. In his case he debuted under that moniker until he unmasked himself and formed Legado del Fantasma. Escobars opponent, Isaiah Swerve Scott, was formerly known in Ring of Honor as Swerve Strickland. Swerve was able to execute the impressive 450 splash late in the bout, however, it wasnt enough. The two proceeded to jockey for position on the ring apron as Swerve was knocked down and inadvertently struck his head on the steel ring post. This opened the window of opportunity for Escobar who hoisted him up in a double underhook and drove Scotts cranium into his knee to allow him to earn the pinfall.

NXT Womens Championship

Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae

Winner: Io Shirai via pinfall

Late in the match Shirai appeared to be in dire straits after the referee was inadvertently knocked out and LeRaes husband, Johnny Gargano, made his way to the ring in a referees shirt. As the referee came to, Johnny Gargano was able to distract him while LeRae took the title and decked Shirai with it. This just wasnt enough as Shirai first executed a perfect Spanish Fly and then immediately followed through with the Over The Moonsault to retain her title.

NXT Championship

Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle OReilly

Winner: Finn Balor via pinfall

After Karrion Kross was forced to relinquish the NXT Champinship immediately after he defeated Keith Lee for it due to injury, Finn Balor quickly emerged as the new champ. This evening he was pitted in his first defense against the Undisputed Eras Kyle OReilly. This opportunity was substantial for OReilly as he has been known throughout his career as a tag team specialist primarily alongside Bobby Fish and has never competed in a singles match at a Takeover event. Kyle OReilly certainly brought his A-game this evening as his submission prowess was on full display, however, The Prince was able to withstand the challenge as he finished him off with the Coup de Grace to retain his title.

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