I first wrote this article in September 2019 about boxer Floyd Patterson and I believe his story embodies what sport can do for an individual and in that sense for society and deserves to be repeated:
Floyd Patterson was born in North Carolina in 1935. In the midst of the Great Depression, his father moved the family to New York City. Floyd’s father worked hard but the family was poor. Floyd was a quiet, sensitive boy who was deeply hurt by the daily assaults poverty brings on human dignity. As a result, he became grumpy, withdrawn, and truant.
At the age of 10 he was sent to the Wiltwyck School for Boys in Esopus. Wiltwyck had an equality where everyone was in the same boat. Patterson
thrived there. He learned to read and put on boxing gloves for the first time.
At the age of 12 he returned to Bedford-Stuyvesant and attended public school. Then, at age 14, he went to Gramercy Gym and got under the
Guidance by boxing manager and trainer Cus D’Amato. At 16, Patterson wanted to turn pro to support his family, but D’Amato wanted to
boxing him at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He won the Olympic middleweight gold medal by recording five knockouts in five
After the Olympics, Patterson turned pro. His first fight earned him $300, which he spent on a refrigerator and television for his family. Patterson continued
fight and make a name for yourself. In 1956, Rocky Marciano retired as the undefeated world heavyweight champion. Since the title is vacant
The heavyweight division went through an elimination process, and in 1959 Floyd was matched against Archie Moore for the title. Patterson won and
became the youngest heavyweight champion in history at the age of 21.
In 1959 in America, everyone knew who the heavyweight champion was. Patterson was now famous and had socialized with the world’s biggest celebrities
Tag, as did singer Frank Sinatra and actress Kim Novak. Everyone wanted to be the champion’s friend.
A year later Patterson signed to fight number one contender Ingemar Johansson. Patterson was the clear favorite. But maybe too confident
Patterson felt intense racial and nationalist pressure to win and lost in three rounds. Patterson was hit by a powerful right hand
Johansson, known as the “Hammer of Thor”. In that third round, Floyd would go down seven times.
Patterson returned to New Paltz humiliated. The happiness, the phone calls, and the “friends” all disappeared. The press criticized him for it
a real heavyweight and his “peek-a-boo” style as too defensive. For a while, Patterson sank into depression and hated Johansson for taking it
everything from him.
The American press loved the charismatic, flamboyant Johansson, portrayed as a playboy, nicknamed “Ingo”. The tabloids were
filled with photos of Ingo and one supermodel after the other.
In their rematch on June 20, 1960, pundits predicted another victory for the great Swede. This time Patterson would win with a devastating KO
the fifth round.
At that moment, Patterson’s true character was revealed. Johansson was off the canvas and was convulsing while his foot was jerking terribly. Patterson was not rejoicing or boasting about the win. Instead, he rushed to Johansson’s side, knelt down next to him and stroked his
Forehead. In that moment he realized the fragility of hatred and revenge. Noted boxing author Burt Sugar wrote that Patterson “ennobled her
Floyd emerged from the fight as a heavyweight champion, but he also emerged with his true values reinforced. Reading about Patterson’s life
and speaking to people who knew him, I was struck by the adversity he faced and how it made him stronger and more human.
I met Floyd in the early 1980’s while working at the Catch Us If You Can running store in New Paltz. I was 28 and he was 47.
Boxers have always done “street work”. Running allowed fighters to build the stamina needed for 12–15 rounds and keep them lean. Patterson ran five to six miles a day. From conversations with his daughter, Jennifer, it was evident that he enjoyed his running. Floyd was an athlete, and after retiring from boxing in 1972, running allowed him to maintain the fitness he expected of himself.
In 1982 the running boom was in full bloom. Everyone was jogging, and the Stockholm Marathon took up the idea of pitting Patterson and Johansson against each other. The hype drew a lot of interest and Patterson won easily with a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes.
Jennifer ran with her dad and said he could have run a lot faster if he hadn’t stopped to shake countless hands. The following year, they had a “rematch” with the same result. At the 1984 New York City Marathon, at the age of 49, Floyd ran a personal best of 3:35. Jennifer went on to become one of the top marathon runners in the region. In a way it was a gift from her father.
Floyd Patterson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York in 1991. In June, as part of the launch ceremonies
They have a 5k race that a lot of boxers run. That sounds like a fun road trip.
Floyd was one of the most famous athletes to ever come from our area. However, over time, many have forgotten his achievements. His story is one
a remarkable tale of triumph over adversity and human resilience. Patterson was a man who lived the best values of his generation. He was a
Man of faith who believed in hard work. He cared about his family, was loyal to his friends, and generous to his community.
From circumstances that might have broken others, he learned and grew as a person. If others may have been seduced by fame and money,
Patterson knew what was important. In many ways he remained the quiet, reserved, sensitive boy of his youth, but as a man he was respected
himself, and his sensitivity matured into empathy for others.
Morning Star Run for Shelter
On Saturday 23rd October the Morning Star Run for Shelter 5Kk started from the Morning Star Christian Fellowship on East Chester Street in Kingston.
The Fellowship used the walk to raise money for the Darmstadt Homeless Shelter in Kingston and the Transformation Life Center in Rehabilitation
West Park and raised more than $1,600. The race attracted 56 competitors and was a challenging 5km course that went up and down all the hills between East
Chester Street and Foxhall Avenue.
New Paltz’s Tom Eickelberg pulled ahead of Ryan Kleitz and won by 18:02, Kleitz by 18:37. Third was Brandon Roman in 19:55. On
In the women’s race, Kate Dammer (24:07) edged out Molly Young (24:13) and Jacque Schiffer (24:22).
Race Director Bill Maynard and the Morning Star Christian Fellowship did an excellent job putting on a great event with t shirts and gifts
Certificates, refreshments and beautiful watercolor prizes. The race was the final event of the 2022 Onteora Runners Club (ORC) Grand Prix.
The ORC Grand Prix was a 10-race series that began in April with the Kiwanis Kingston Classic. The series included races starting at one mile
Route to the 13.1-mile Rosendale Runs Half Marathon. The series tests a runner’s versatility and durability. The runners collect points in each race,
and there are prizes in three categories: overall winners, 10-year age groups, and survival prizes, which go to those who complete all 10 races.
You must complete at least five races to qualify for an award.
This year’s top three men overall were Ryan Kleitz (80 points), Travis Greaves (69 points) and Don Mac Thurston (64 points). The winning
Women were Jacque Schiffer (77 points), Pat Johnson (48 points) and Kathleen Reuben (44 points).
Men’s age group winners were Liam Regan (20-29), Caleb Carr (30-39), Mark Hryvnia (40-49), Jason Taylor (50-59), Steve Sansola (60-69) and Phil Canion (70- 79). For women, the top runners in their age group were Andrea Girolamo (30-39), Jessica Sunshine Smith (40-49), Jen Murray (50-59), Lori Kiernan (60-69), Karen Spinozzi (70-79) . and Kathleen Balthazar (80+).
That year, the series had six survivors: Victoria Loughlin, Michael Spang, Phil Canion, Andrea Girolamo, Kathleen Reuben, and Jacque Schiffer. More than 100 club members participated in the 2022 series, of which 45 received awards.
While the Grand Prix may be over, there are several races to complete the year. Circle your calendar for these upcoming events:
• Nov. 13: The After the Leaves/Josh Feldt Half Marathon. All information about this race can be found on the zippy-reg.com website.
• Nov. 24: Kingston Turkey Trot 5K and 2-Mile Fun Run/Walk. For information about the Turkey Trot, visit kingstonjl.org/turkeytrot.
• December 4: The 39th Reindeer Ramble 5K starts from the Kingston and Ulster County YMCA on Broadway in Kingston. Contact the YMCA for more information on the Ramble.
• December 31st: End the year with the legendary – some might say infamous – Viking Run 10K in Rosendale. For information about this race see
the ORC website at onteorarunnersclub.org.
Steve Schallenkamp has been a runner, race director, volunteer and coach in local running groups since 1966. He is a member of the Onteora Runners Club and President of the Shawangunk Runners Club.