When Philadelphia had such boxers as “Gypsy” Joe Harris, 24-1 (9), Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, 30-9-1 (28), Willie “The Worm” Monroe, 39-10-1 (26), Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 32-12-4 (18), “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, 66-24-5 (53), and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, 39-7-1 (22), from 1962 to 1982 they were known as some of the best 150-160 boxers in the world. Only Hayward and Briscoe fought for world titles. The rest were too busy fighting one another instead of getting a title shot.
Harris was referred as “Bag of Tricks”! Harris won his first 24 fights, before losing his final one to former champion Emile Griffith. It was discovered Harris fought with a blind eye and was retired. He fought from 1964-1968 and died at the age of 44 in 1990. He stopped Hayward and defeated Jose Stable known as the “Philly Killer”. Stable defeated Sidney “Sweet Pea” Adams, C.L. Lewis, Charley Scott, Hayward, Dick Turner, before finally losing to Percy Manning and Harris.
Harris won a non-title fight over welterweight champion Curtis Cokes in Madison Square Garden in March 31, 1967. He traveled to Dallas, TX, for a scheduled title fight but Cokes was nowhere to be found. Cokes should have been stripped of his title but wasn’t. Harris was 151 and Cokes 149. There hasn’t been anyone like Harris since.
Hart won his first 19 fights by knockouts. He fought from 1969-1982. He defeated Hayward, lost to Monroe and Watts, drawing and losing to Briscoe. He defeated Olympic Gold Medalist “Sugar” Ray Seales but lost to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and Marvin Hagler. He is 65 years-old and assists as trainer for his son Jesse “Hard Work” Hart an unbeaten super middleweight No. 1 contender.
Monroe defeated Hart, Hayward but lost to Watts and Curtis Parker. He fought from 1969-81 with his biggest win defeating Hagler on March 9, 1976, before losing to him twice. This writer witnessed his win over Hagler. It was his second fight under IBHOF trainer George Benton. He was originally from Rochester, NY. He is 67 and part of the “Smokin” Joe Frazier stable.
Hayward fought from 1959-77. He lost fighting for the light middleweight title to Freddie Little in Las Vegas in March 17, 1969. He defeated Manning, Turner, Briscoe and lost to him, lost to Harris, Hart and Monroe. He split with Griffith. He is 77.
Briscoe was known as one of the hardest hitters in the world. Peltz said “he would have beaten Bernard Hopkins.” He fought from 1962-82. On May 6, 1967 he traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina and drew with world champion Carlos Monzon. The rematch wasn’t until November 11, 1972 losing in 15 in Argentina. He lost his NABF title to Rodrigo Valdez in 1973. They would meet again for the vacant title in 1974 and 1977 losing both times. He won 2 of 3 from Manning, won and lost to Hayward and beat Benton. He passed away in December 28, 2010 at the age of 67. He was from Augusta, GA.
Watts was the first to defeat Hagler in January of 1976 but lost in a rematch in April of 1980. He fought from 1969-1983. He defeated Hart and Monroe. He is 67 and a well-known trainer. He was from Sumter, SC.
Harris, Hart, Briscoe and Watts fought at the 23rd PAL as amateurs. Duke Dugent ran the PAL calling Briscoe his “killer”, Harris “his best” and calling Frazier “his most dedicated.”