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Tuesday, June 23, 1998

Oden enjoying business of boxing

Staff Writer
NEW YORK, June 23 -- The world of high finance in New York
City can be a bare-knuckles business.

In the world of boxing -- even in New York -- they let you
wear gloves.

Former Pecos resident John Oden has been involved in the
former on and off in New York for a period 25 years, but it
wasn't until a few years ago Oden decided to put on the
gloves and started a second career as "The Pecos Kid" in
amateur boxing.

"I never pursued it athletically until 1992 when I joined
the New York Athletic Club," he said. "It has a fine
tradition. Their members have won over 120 gold medals in
the Olympic Games."

Oden was already in his 40s when "The Pecos Kid" took to the
ring for his first bout 4½ years ago.

"There's nothing like walking into the ring and squaring off
with danger. You have to have great confidence in your
ability," said Oden, who graduated from Pecos High School at
a `middleweight' 155 pounds back in 1964, before earning
bachelor's and master's degrees in business from the
University of Texas in 1968 and 1970.

"The Pecos Kid" had his most recent boxing experience in a
place definitely far removed from home -- at Gleason's Gym
in Downtown Brooklyn just before Thanksgiving last year.

Oden ended a one-year break from the ring by participating
in a sparring contest, where he earned a three-round
decision over Bill "Cobra" Logan.

"It was a sparring contest, not a formal challenge," said
Oden, who enjoyed the change of pace the trip to Gleason's

"It's probably the most famous boxing gym in the world," he
said. Fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Roberto
Duran and Jake LaMotta have trained there, and it's
currently home to six reigning world champions, including
Julio Cesar-Green, Junior Jones and Arturo Gatti. His coach
for last November's bout at the gym was 1984 Olympian Darius
Ford, while 1960 Irish Olympic Boxer Jack "The Dancing
Ghost" Kendrick, has served as his coach for the NYAC team.

Oden is a partner with the firm of Sanford C. Bernstein &
Co., which he joined in 1992, the same year he began his
boxing career. He first worked in New York back in the 1970s
for Banker's Trust, then spent nine years as a senior vice
president of MBank in Dallas, focusing on real estate
investment banking.

He returned to New York in 1987 to work for Drexel Burnham
Lambert, Inc., then spent three years as managing director
of Cushman & Wakefield. He also is a member of the board of
trustees of the Manhattan School of Music, the Metropolitan
Opera Club.

None of which seems to match up with an interest in taking
up boxing as a sidelight. But Oden pointed out that other
members of the New York Athletic Club's amateur team are
also businessmen (and one businesswoman).

"There's another money manager on the team. There's one man
who's the best tailor in New York. One person on the team is
an actor, another in a poet and write, so there's an
interesting mix on the team," Oden said. "Some fight more
than others. Some come in from scratch, others come in with
good amateur records."

Oden took the name "The Pecos Kid" from his hometown and
family roots in the area which go back over 100 years. His
grandfather, Bill Arp Oden was a pioneer cowboy and
historian, while his parents, I.G. and Violet Oden were also
Pecos residents and his brother Bill still lives in the area.

Oden had never been involved in boxing before, but said. "I
always thought I could do it, and in 1993 they had an
inter-club challenge as part of their 125th anniversary. I
won the fight (over Scott "Slick" Butler) and became
heavyweight champion of the club."

"The sport feels very awkward when you first do it," said
Oden, who regretted his late start.

"If I had to do it over again, I would have begun boxing
when I was in Pecos Junior High and trained to get into
Golden Gloves boxing," he said. "It's a sport you have to
keep in shape for, not just for motivation, but for the fear
factor. If you're not in shape, you're going to get hurt."

As far as training goes, Oden has both a scenic and compact
area to work out in around midtown Manhattan, with an
apartment across the street from Carnegie Hall on West 57th
Street, and his office in the General Motors Building and
the New York Athletic Club just two blocks to the north --
and two blocks apart -- on Central Park South.

"When I'm training for a fight, I work out seven days a
week," he said adding he does in running before work in the
mornings in Central Park.

"I'll run in the park, and if the weather's really bad the
New York Athletic Club has a track indoors," he said. "But
Central Park is one of the greatest places in the world to

"The first mile I'll run backwards, the second will be a
skip movement, the third mile will be a zig-zag movement,
then I'll do a 100-yard sprint. Then at 6:30 I'll work on
the bags and have sparring workouts at the Club, and on
Saturday I'll go for a long six-mile run.

"I really watch my diet, and that goes on for a couple of
months before a fight," Oden said. "I get particularly
boring to my friends, but when I'm in the ring it's
enormously draining, and all that time I spent training pays

His main opponent since taking up the sport has been John
"The Torturer" Turco, heavyweight champ of the Downtown
Athletic Club, the NYAC's main rival and best known as the
home of the Heisman Trophy.

The two met on April 29, 1995, with Oden sending Turco to
the canvas in Round 3 on the way to his victory. Turco would
avenge that loss on October 18 of that year, handing Oden
his lone loss in seven decisions by split decision.

"The Downtown Athletic Club is a hard place to fight in if
you're not a member. It's a loud gym and hard to fight in,"
said Oden, who added that former World's Heavyweight
Champion "Smokin'" Joe Frazier was at the fight, and told
"The Kid" he scored the bout in his favor while presenting
both boxers with medals.

Oden and Turco would fight again a year later in the
All-City Championship, with that bout ending in a draw. That
was "The Kid's" last official heavyweight bout for the NYAC,
but six months later, on June 5, 1997, he was at the
Downtown Athletic Club to watch "The Torturer" score a
decision over Gerry Cooney, who had battled Larry Holmes
back in 1984 for the World's Championship title before
losing on a 12th round TKO.

Holmes was also in attendance that night, and Oden joined
all three in the ring at the start of the night for the
singing of the National Anthem, and was called back up for
the closing ceremonies.

He later was given, a challenged to fight by Cooney. It
hasn't been accepted, but Oden said the offer still stands.

"Boxing is a sport of great camaraderie. Some of my best
friends are on the (NYAC) team," Oden said, while adding
he's also become friends with his main opponent.

"We've developed a great, great friendship, so much so that
he invited me to his 25th wedding anniversary," Oden said.

Outside of the sparring at Gleason's Gym, Oden said his
boxing career is on hold for now, though he still has that
standing offer from Cooney.

"Gerry's gotten pretty friendly with me. I've seen him on
lots of occasions and he's quietly challenged me, but he's
awfully big. At 250 pounds, he's a lot bigger than me," Oden

All-stars announced for Juniors, Seniors

PECOS, June 23 -- The all-star teams for the Pecos Senior
League and Junior League squads were announced on Saturday,
with tournament play set to begin two weeks from now around
the area.

The Senior League team of 14- and 15-year-olds is scheduled
to open District 4 tournament play on July 6, while the
Junior Leaguers should also begin play sometime around the
July 4 weekend. Sites and opponents for both teams have yet
to be decided.

Pecos won the District 4 Junior League title last year,
before being ousted in the sectional tournament by Big
Spring American. The Senior Leaguers were able to reach the
finals of the district tournament, but were eliminated by
San Angelo West.

Several players from both those teams make up the 1998
Senior League squad. The team includes Mason Abila, Benny
Juarez, Angel Villalobos, Pifi Montoya, Joe Sotelo, Jr.,
Sebero Jaquez, Jr., Omar Luna, Alex Garcia, Ernie Baca, Capi
Magana, Gilbert Fierro, Daniel Terrazas, Paul Juarez and
Richard Rodriguez.

The Junior League squad will be made up mostly of
13-year-olds who were members of last year's Little League
All-Star team which lost in double-elimination to Ballinger
in the District 4 finals. Members of this year's squad
include Freddie Torres, Ruvel Carrasco, Tony Aguilar,
Matthew Vasquez, Michael Vasquez, Joey Ortega, Jr., Patrick
Fuentes, Barney Rodriguez, Matthew Levario, Alfredo Saldana,
Robbie Ontiveros, Travis Thorp and Marc Salgado.

Pitch clinic scheduled for Wednesday

PECOS, June 23 -- A fast-pitch clinch for girls softball
will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Maxey Park
girls softball field.

The clinic will cost $20 per player. to register, call
Connie Herrera at 445-2611 or stop by Hair by Connie at 319
S. Oak St.

Dodgers' ratings led to cast changes

AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES, June 23 -- Like producers of a TV show that's
sagging in the ratings, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Bill
Russell and general manager Fred Claire got the axe at

Two of the team's stars already had been dispatched by Fox
ownership. But as Fox employee Bart Simpson might say,
``Don't have a cow, man.''

``We're going to make this organization move in a direction
it needs to go,'' promised Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda, who
was introduced Monday as the team's interim GM, along with
new interim manager Glenn Hoffman.

``There is a lot of talent here. These fellas can play
better baseball,'' Lasorda said.

Team president and CEO Bob Graziano thought so when he
fired Russell and Claire, both employed by the Dodgers for
more than 30 years. He said the decision was his, in
consultation with Peter O'Malley, who sold the team to
Rupert Murdoch's Fox Group in March.

The change failed to show any results in the team's first
game on the field Monday, an interleague matchup against

Jim Bruske, the Dodgers' third reliever in the bottom of
the ninth inning, walked Tim Salmon on five pitches to force
home the winning run.

The firings late Sunday are the latest major changes under
Fox ownership. The Dodgers recently traded fan favorites
Hideo Nomo and Mike Piazza, who had spent his entire career
with Los Angeles. Both are now with the New York Mets.

Terms of the trade that sent Piazza to Florida were worked
out between Chase Carey, chairman and chief executive
officer of Fox Television, and Marlins president Don Smiley.

Claire seemed to be the point man in designating Nomo for
assignment, effectively ending the pitcher's career with the
Dodgers, and then trading him to the Mets.

O'Malley, who remains chairman of the board, said he agreed
with Graziano.

``I've been asked 100 times since this morning, `If the
O'Malleys still owned the team, would you have done the same
thing?''' he said. ``The honest answer is yes. I've been
disappointed in the team's performance.

``I felt we were flat, and had been for some time.''

Will Lasorda wield his newfound power by cutting future

``I don't foresee any great deal of changes,'' he said.

Mavs hope draft will have turnaround

Associated Press Writer
DALLAS, June 23 -- Of Texas' three NBA teams, only the
Dallas Mavericks are in position to get an impact player in
Wednesday's annual draft.

Because of their 20-62 record last season, the Mavericks
have the sixth pick overall, and general manager Don Nelson
said at least two great players should be available at that

Nelson said the club can't go wrong with two players likely
to still be available from his ``wish list'' of North
Carolina junior forward Vince Carter, St. Louis freshman
guard Larry Hughes, Kansas senior forward Raef LaFrentz and
North Carolina junior forward Antawn Jamison.

For the San Antonio Spurs, this year's draft is a
completely different scenario from a year ago, when they had
the No. 1 pick overall.

With great fanfare, they took 7-foot Tim Duncan of Wake
Forest, who was such a powerful force his rookie season that
the Spurs finished 56-26; only five teams will draft behind
San Antonio in the first round. Scouting director R.C.
Buford said the Spurs hope to find a perimeter shooter with

Having a first-round pick at all is a luxury for the
Houston Rockets. Before last year, the last time Houston had
a first-round pick was 1993, because of trades. This year,
the Rockets have not only their own pick, but two from the
Toronto Raptors as well.

However, all three are in the middle of the first round.
Carroll Dawson, the Rockets' vice player of basketball, says
the club is leaning toward adding youth to the roster rather
than trading up for an impact player.

``To some extent, the younger you are, the less you get
hurt and you can bounce back quicker,'' Dawson said. The
Rockets stumbled to a .500 record last season because of
recurring injuries to Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.

North Carolina teammates Jamison and Carter both decided to
skip their senior seasons to go into the draft early.

Jamison last season joined Michael Jordan as the only Tar
Heel to be named by The Associated Press as the college
basketball player of the year. At 6-9, Jamison is undersized
for a power forward, but has the makings of a dominant NBA
player, Nelson said.

The 6-6 Carter has an inconsistent jump shot but probably
is ``the best athlete in the draft,'' Nelson said.

A first-team All-America pick at Kansas, the 6-11 LaFrentz
``played against the best competition in the country for
four straight years,'' Nelson said. ``He has size and
experience and maturity, and he's ready to play in the

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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