Many boxing experts believe that in any other era, Jerry Quarry would have been heavyweight champion of the world. He was that good. In fact, hall-of-famer George Foreman writes in the forward that "Jerry Quarry was the best heavyweight fighter never to have won a championship belt." Foreman goes on to explain how he ducked Quarry.
Now the story of Quarry -- and his family -- is available in a book called "Hard Luck: The Triumph and Tragedy of "Irish" Jerry Quarry." It's an excellent read. And when you are through with it, the "tragedy" part is what will stick with you. As successful as his career was, Quarry was a tragic figure in and out of the ring. As a heavyweight, he was victimized by his size and birth date. He was smallish compared to rivals Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Had he come along a few years prior to Ali - or a few years after - his career could have been different.
An excellent counterpuncher, with good handspeed, good power and an incredible will, Quarry just happened to fight in an era that most consider the greatest in heavyweight history. Although he opposed it, he was also cast as "a great white hope."
What is truly sad, though, is the relationship Jerry had with his father, Jack, and the fighter's rapid decline in health after boxing. All the Quarry sons were somewhat forced into boxing by Jack Quarry. What is particularly unsettling are the stories of the vicious sparring sessions between Jerry and his younger brother, Mike, a light heavyweight contender. Both brothers -- loyal and loving to one another away from the ring -- suffered from dementia later in life and there is little doubt that those sparring sessions contributed to that condition. Jerry died in 1999 at the age of 53. Mike died in 2006 at the age of 55.
There are a few really interesting items of note in the book. It's worth picking up to read about the anecdotes about NFL hall-of-famer Ron Yary, Elvis Presley and what the Quarry brothers were doing just hours before Jerry's title fight against Jimmy Ellis.
There is also a nice breakdown of the vaunted Quarry left hook and how Jerry operated as a counterpuncher.
Published by The Lyons Press and written by Steve Springer and Blake Chavez, "Hard Luck: The Triumph and Tragedy of "Irish" Jerry Quarry," is currently in bookstores.