5/01/2008 11:22pm, #1
Pat Putnam's name to be removed from boxing award
Pat Putnam's name to be removed from boxing award
Organization president says writer had falsely claimed he was a highly decorated Marine during the Korean War.
By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
6:42 PM PDT, May 1, 2008
A national boxing writers organization will remove the name of Pat Putnam from an award after confirming that the acclaimed writer, who died in 2005, had falsely claimed he was a highly decorated Marine during the Korean War, the group's president said Thursday.
The Boxing Writers Assn. of America was set to honor brothers Lamont and Anthony Peterson with the Pat Putnam Award at the group's dinner Thursday night at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Bernard Fernandez of the Philadelphia Daily News, who is the group's president, said that he would refrain from mentioning Putnam's name when announcing the honor.
"I'll talk about them overcoming adversity, and the award has Pat's name on the inscription, but Pat's name will not be mentioned," Fernandez said of the Petersons, who overcame homelessness as children to become championship contenders. "I don't want this to detract from these kids' special moment.
"At some point, we'll re-name the award."
Putnam, who worked most notably for the Miami Herald and Sports Illustrated, claimed to have endured 17 months as a prisoner of war in Manchuria, and also claimed to have received four Purple Hearts and the Navy Cross.
"We have no biographical files on a Pat Putnam, and after checking all of our casualty reports, there were no Purple Hearts awarded to a Pat Putnam nor any wounds suffered by a person of that name," Danny Crawford, spokesman for the Marine Corps History Division in Virginia, told The Times.
Military historian Doug Sterner, of Pueblo, Colo., said he checked into Putnam's credentials after reading an article Fernandez wrote this week about the Peterson brothers. Sterner said he presented Putnam's full name, his Social Security number and date of birth to military officials, and was told, "He never served in the Marine Corps." Another researcher, of POWnetwork.org, reported Putnam had never been a POW, Sterner said.
Marine Corps spokesman Major Jay De La Rosa said a full check of Putnam's information was processed by his office and national personnel files for other military branches and found "no record on file."
Putnam's daughter told ABCNews.com that her father always was a story-teller. "He was Irish and could tell a story," said Colleen Putnam. "Maybe this one he yarned. I don't know."
Putnam said her father's war stories began when someone asked him about the scars on his back that were from a car accident. "He said he was in the war, and it grew and grew. Maybe my father didn't know how to stop it."
Muhammad Ali received the Putnam award last year. Putnam, who died at age 75, broke a major story in 1964 when he reported Cassius Clay was changing his name to Ali. In 1982, Putnam won the association's Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism.
Famed boxing writer faked Korean War legacy
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday May 1, 2008 18:06:10 EDT
As a widely admired boxing scribe at Sports Illustrated, the late Pat Putnam was known as someone who could spin a tale with the best, sharing the stories of all-time greats such as Muhammad Ali. But Putnam didn’t just spin a tale about boxing. His own widely celebrated background as a Marine veteran and former Korean War prisoner of the Chinese — with four Purple Hearts and a Navy Cross — wasn’t true, Marine officials said Thursday.
Putnam, who died in 2005, does not exist in Marine Corps Archival Tapes, a list of Marine veterans that covers Corps history until about 1970. He also does not exist in any Marine medals databases, including one for the Navy Cross, the Corps’ second-highest military honor. The revelation came just hours before the Boxing Writers Association of America was set to award the Pat Putnam Award at the association’s annual award dinner at the posh Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.
The award, launched in 2005, honors perseverance in overcoming adversity. Previous honorees include Ali, honored in 2006 for his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, and Izzy Burgos, a 2007 recipient who began an amateur boxing career at 12 in 2005.
Bernard Fernandez, BWAA president, said he would still honor the 2008 recipients Thursday night, but would not mention Putnam.
“He had a substantial enough career as a major, big-time successful sports writer that he didn’t have to do this,” said Fernandez, a columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News. “Being someone in his line of work, I can’t believe he didn’t think this wouldn’t come to light eventually. He had to know this would come to light, and that people would get hurt.”Fernandez said he first learned of potential inconsistencies in Putnam’s service record earlier this week when he was called by Chuck and Mary Schantag and Doug Sterner, who run Web sites dedicated to preserving the stories of war heroes and exposing fakers. “They checked it 17 ways to Sunday, and it came up totally bogus,” Fernandez said. “He had us all fooled. You’re talking about media people (in the association), and he had us buffaloed.”
The Schantags and Sterner began investigating Putnam’s story after Fernandez wrote in a Philadelphia Daily News column on Tuesday that Putnam — the “rawhide-tough Marine” who “came back [from Korea] with four Purple Hearts and the Navy Cross” — would be happy with the 2008 selections for the award bearing his name. Those winners, brothers Anthony and Lamont Peterson, grew up homeless in Washington, D.C., but are now top boxers in their respective weight divisions, Fernandez’s column said.
Putnam’s background as a Marine veteran and prisoner of war has been covered in numerous publications over the years, including Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe and several boxing Web sites. At the time of his November 2005 death, boxing columnist Michael Katz also recalled a 1988 trip to South Korea with Putnam to cover the Olympics in which Putnam introduced him to a Korean general in charge of the country’s amateur boxer program.
“Please turn around,” Katz recalled Putnam saying, on the Web site maxboxing.com. “I want to see if I recognize you.”
Fernandez said Putnam’s story became believable, in part, because he had one lung missing and a steel rod inserted in his back “many years ago.” Putnam perpetuated the myth that the injuries were sustained in combat, rather than a car accident, Fernandez now believes. “The proof is overwhelming,” said Fernandez, who noted the association’s “overcoming adversity” award will not carry Putnam’s name next year.
“He told a little fib 50 years ago, and look where it is now. At some point, it passed the point of no return, and he couldn’t go back.”
There is much to be learned from this latest incident, foremost is how to handle a situation where a big name is caught up in such a scandal and proven to be a complete liar concerning their military background. The Boxing Writers Association Of America has set a new standard by taking someone they held in such high regard they named an award after and just being honest and letting the truth be told, not covering up for a friend and not continuing the lie as Mark Denny of Dog Brothers Martial Arts and Dan Inosanto have both done in their relationship with Dr. Muang Gyi the liar and coward who also used the sacred status of POW as a stepping stone to financial gain.
There are many similarities between both mens stories of war, both Putnam and Gyi had recieved physical injury as civilians, Putnam with a car wreck and its suspected Gyi shot off his own toe playing with guns and later claimed he was tortured as a POW. Both used this as physical evidence they were Combat Vets and POWs. The major diffrence being, at the end of this day not even Putnams own daughter is defendeing the lies or the liar, nor making a personal attack on the messenger.
A big thanks goes out to the research team at POW Network, good job!
Last edited by Omega; 5/02/2008 2:21am at .
5/02/2008 2:22am, #2
Is there a point to your little rant?