A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 25, 2011
“Styles make fights” (boxing adage)

"Styles make fights” is a boxing adage that dates to at least a March 1938 newspaper story by syndicated sportswriter Grantland Rice, describing the styles of heavyweights Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. A heavy puncher against an expert technical and nimble boxer (such as George Foreman against Muhammad Ali), for example, creates a contrast of styles that the public wants to see.

In his book My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing (2009), Angelo Dundee (Ali’s trainer) wrote, “It’s an old boxing adage that ‘styles make fights.’ But styles also make fighters, and perhaps the most important part of training is the development of a fighter’s style, one perfected by long hours of training in the gym.”

A similar boxing adage about styles is “Fight a boxer and box a fighter.”


7 March 1938, Springfield (MA) Daily Republican, “The Sportlight” by Grantland Rice, pg. 10, col. 6:
But styles make fights and Schmeling’s style is far different from Mann’s.

13 July 1940, Hartford (CT) Courant, “Lew Jenkins Is Willing To Swap Punches In Ring; Lightweight King Takes Chances With Open Fight Style,” pg. 11:
Styles make fights and by no stretch of the imagination can the enthusiastic Jenkins admirers visualize Armstrong getting past the rattlesnake left-hooks and lightning rights that carried the former U. S. Cavalry blacksmith to a record of 30 knockouts in 56 starts that took him to the world’s lightweight championship.

2 November 1942, Lowell (MA) Sun, “Bivins, the Butcher, Can’t Watch Fight” by Harry Grayson (NEA), pg. 15, col. 2:
“That might give you definite ideas,” he (James Louis Bivins—ed.) asserts, “ and a fighter seldom fights two fights alike. I know I don’t. Styles make fights, as you know.”

16 April 1950, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “Opposite Styles of Dykes, Masciarello Indicate Action Monday” by Pete Baird, sports, pg. 5, col. 3:
Styles make fights, matchmakers say, and the styles of Bobby Dykes and Tony Masciarello Monday night ought to make a good one at the Coliseum arena.

Google News Archive
21 July 1955, Lawrence (KS) Daily Journal-World, pg. 13, col. 1:
Fuentes, Constance Give
Poor Video Ring Show
As Californian Wins Out

NEW YORK (AP)—Some styles make fights but the styles of Ramon Fuentes and Hector Constance don’t.

Google News Archive
28 January 1967, Virgin Island Daily News, pg. 15, col. 1:
Differences Between
Emile Griffith, Archer

By MILTON GROSS
NEW YORK (NANA)—Styles make fights. They also make fighters, but what is even more contrasting than the ring signatures which distinguish champion Emile Griffith from challenger Joey Archer, are their personal habits.

Google News Archive
5 February 1977, Virgin Islands Daily News, “The Sportsman” by The Associated Press, pg. 19, col. 1:
An old ring adage that may have started with David and Goliath insists that styles make fights. In short, Fighter A has the style to whip Fighter B who can takeFighter C who can knock over Fighter A.

It has to do with guys who force the action, guys who like to play stick and move, guys who like to counter punch, and guys who like to set up an opponent for one big shot.

New York (NY) Times
SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Duran’s Torture Chamber
Published: December 09, 1989
(...)
Boxing matchmakers always say that styles make fights. Against each other, Leonard’s style was made in heaven, Duran’s in a torture chamber.

Google Books
The Fight of the Century:
Ali vs. Frazier March 8, 1971

By Michael Arkush
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons
2008
Pg.107:
Brenner, a Garden fixture since the late 1950s, was regarded as the premier matchmaker in the business. “He created the phrase ‘styles make fights,’” said Bruce Trampler, a matchmaker for Top Rank in Las Vegas. “He could see the fight before it happened.”

Google Books
My View from the Corner:
A Life in Boxing

By Angelo Dundee with Bert Sugar
New York, NY: McGraw Hill
2009
Pg. 64:
It’s an old boxing adage that “styles make fights.” But styles also make fighters, and perhaps the most important part of training is the development of a fighter’s style, one perfected by long hours of training in the gym.

New York (NY) Times
June 12, 2009, 7:04 pm
Different Playing Styles Make for Memorable Series
By JOE LAPOINTE
DETROIT — Going into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Friday night, there had been but one fight in what may be remembered as a classic championship series for clean play, high skill level and distinctly different teams in both playing style and group personality.

In boxing, they say “styles make fights,” meaning that opposing fighters with differing styles produce interesting matches.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Friday, November 25, 2011 • Permalink