Gloves are hung up by Lacey boxing pro
By ALISON GRILLO
FORKED RIVER BEACH — A speed bag and a heavy bag once hung in “Irish Teddy” Mann’s garage, where he prepared for 47 professional bouts.
When he wanted the real thing, he would leave his Panama Court home and drive 60 miles to a Vineland gym for sparring practice. For roadwork, he used the streets of Lacey Township, and the middleweight was a familiar sight in his green sweatshirt. He did this for six years.
But after cuts over his eyes forced a stop to his last bout, Mann decided to put an end to the training and car trips.
And he made a point of disassembling the makeshift gym.
“That was so I wouldn’t get interested in fighting again,” Mann said recently amid the photos, trophies, medals and mementoes in his living room.
Then why, nineteen days after losing to Doug De Witt, is Mann eager to talk about making a comeback?
“I still like to fight. I just don’t the things surrounding it,” Mann said. He called the people who handled his career, “a sneaky bunch, but that’s what boxing’s like.”
“It’s so funny now, when he gets home all dirty,” Mrs. Mann said upon her husband’s return from the working world. He had spent the day in Atlantic City, with a friend’s construction crew, removing part of an old pier.
Mann said he saved some money, ”but you could always use more. That’s why I’m working.”
He washed up, took a cup of coffee and flopped on the couch to talk about the fighting, bleeding, hassling with managers and living with tough decisions. But bitterness does not quite surface.
“Things would have to be right for me to fight.”
He talked about getting out of his fight contract and then using his contacts in the ring world to set up his own fights. Just two or three more.
At 31, Mann isn’t getting any younger. He started his professional career at 25, “just for the heck of it,” after years of amateur boxing. Mann compiled a 26-11 record, including 15 knockouts, through a style termed “insanely aggressive” by friend Randy Gordon, editor of Ring magazine.
“If Teddy had a punch as big as his heart, he would have been heavyweight champion,” Gordon said. But the lack of a big punch — the kind that floors opponents rather than staggers them — limited Mann’s career, Gordon said.
Mann’s best year, however, may have been his last. His greatest purses were won in the last 12 months, he said, though he declined to say what they amounted to.
On March 20, Mann enjoyed the finest victory of his career when he took a ten-round decision from Robbie Epps in a nationally televised bout in Atlantic City. Epps, ranked 7th in the world by leading boxing authorities, had held a 30-1 record and was a 3-1 favorite going into the fight.
“I beat him pretty convincingly,” Mann recalls.
His victory over Epps was marred by cuts, a problem that has plagued Mann throughout his pro career and that he said has become progressively worse in his last ten bouts.
In the first round, Epps opened a cut over one of Mann’s eyes. In the fifth, the two fighters bumped heads and Mann sustained another cut.
The win earned Mann the number eight spot in the World Boxing Association’s middleweight rankings.
Mann might have climbed higher — perhaps to contender status — had he managed to get by John Collins in their Aug. 16 bout in Chicago. Collins, on a string of 22 straight knockouts, was fighting in his hometown. He won a decision.
“I chased him around the ring,” Mann said. “In that fight I felt I could go on for another four years.”
Again, cuts were a problem.
“I should have stayed in Atlantic City instead of going all over in my fights,” Mann said. “I wasn’t getting any breaks in the decisions.”
Mann’s recollections of his Oct. 20 bout against De Witt is a near blank. He says he remembers only two moments: answering the opening bell, and asking his handlers how many rounds he had lasted. They told him the fight was stopped in the sixth, with Mann’s cuts bleeding profusely.
“I usually had a good cut man — Eddie Alliano. I’m sure if he had been there it wouldn’t have been stopped.”
“I guess I got a fair deal,” Mann said. He does not claim he could have been a champion, only that he might have done “a little better” under different circumstances.
“It could have been worse. I could have not boxed at all.”
The Beacon, Manahawkin, NJ, 05/06/82