Davey Moore, the 29-year-old coloured boxer who lost his featherweight championship on Thursday in the city where he won it, lost his life today in White Memorial Hospital, Los Angeles.
Governor Brown of California renewed his pledge today to seek a referendum in the State Legislature to ban all boxing in California. In the United States Senate, Senator Estes Kefauver, Democrat, of Tennessee, said he would reintroduce an old bill for Federal regulation of boxing. “The death of Davey Moore,” he said, “is another milestone in the boxing industry’s history of mistreated human beings.”
While other governors and legislators were looking into their own laws, and possible ways of stiffening them, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy was echoing in several cities the Pope’s denunciation of boxing as “barbarism,” the boxing industry itself had good cause to complain that for once it was more sinned against than sinning. For overnight it became pretty certain that Davey Moore’s fatal injury was not due to any blow he received from the victorious Sugar Ramos.
Neurosurgeons at the Los Angeles hospital spent yesterday comparing their clinical findings with slow-motion film tape of the whole ten rounds that were fought, and especially of the last moments of the bout. They had been puzzled, and reluctant to ascribe Moore’s peculiar injury to any human blow known to the books. It was, said Dr Cyril Courville, the chief of the three-man team, “a tiny bruise on the front stem at the base of the brain.” The coma was caused by swelling, not (as it invariably is in cases of excessive punishment) by haemorrhage.
The television tape showed that after the knock-out blow Moore landed on his seat in the corner of the ring, with his head slightly tilted towards the rope. In the blur of the next split second the rope (which at that point has little flexibility but much snap) jerked outward and then snapped back against the nape of the boxer’s neck.
Consequently, last night the doctors announced that this was “the major probable cause” of Moore’s brain damage.
Dr Courville’s diagnosis was corroborated by the other two neurosurgeons. After they had tentatively made it, they played the tape over many times and scrutinised Moore’s carriage and muscular behaviour in the last round. There was no doubt that he was in good fettle for the first two minutes of the round until a left hook made his knees wobble. He fell on to one knee but, after a quick ruling of a slip, was up again. But he never got back his balance and Ramos caught him in his stumble with three straight left jabs. Then he keeled over backwards towards the corner and the floor, and the flicking rope.
An autopsy failed to establish whether it was Moore’s fall or the blows he received moments earlier that caused his death. Bob Dylan later wrote a song called Who Killed Davey Moore in response to the growing outrage directed at the sport of boxing following Moore’s death.
- November, 01, 1933
- Lexington, Kentucky
- March, 25, 1963
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- Died of head injuries suffered in championship boxing bout with Sugar Ramos on March 21, 1963
- Ferncliff Cemetery