“DAT WAS A HELLUVA AD, GEORGE. A JOEY ARCHER/DICK TIGER BOUT IS ALL THIS TOWN’S TALKIN’ ABOUT, BUT I STILL AIN’T GOT NO FIGHT. HOW DO WE CAGE THIS GUY TIGER?” “NO SWEAT, JOEY,” I SAID. “LISTEN PAL, YOU GOT ANOTHER TWO HUNDRED BUCKS ON YA?”
In 1966, Joey Archer, from a neighborhood near mine in the Bronx, was a middleweight contender, trying to get a shot at the crown. The champ then was the Nigerian Dick Tiger, who wanted nothing to do with Archer, a good boxer with the reputation as a spoiler. Tiger was planning a rematch with Emile Griffith, a former champ. Archer, with a Bronx brogue equal to mine, was a buddy of Ed Rohan, my production manager. When Rohan mentioned to me that Archer was going nuts and he scraped up a few hundred bucks and was looking for somebody to do PR, I figured it would be fun to use a chutzpah ad to pull it off. I did these two one-column ads. They were minuscule but they knocked fight fans dead. The first ad started the commotion, the second ad churned it into a furor.
The Daily News put Joey on their front page, challenging a snarling tiger through the bars at the Bronx Zoo. Archer and his flattened beak became a hot property on the talk-show circuit, while sportswriters attacked the surprised but complacent Dick Tiger. Finally, the brouhaha forced an immediate elimination bout! A few months after these tiny ads, a Griffith-Archer match was set for Madison Square Garden. You know what happened?
1. The fight was a sellout.
2. I didn’t get free tickets.
3. I had to buy them from a scalper
and I paid through the nose.
4. I bet a bundle on Joey Archer.
5. He lost.