Fist Fight Story
I saw Brian
Hanley fight three times. The first two were at the 75 Golden Gloves up in
Lowell, where we were both fighting in the open class. I had fought the previous
two years at 147 but was now training with a coach who was into lean, mean and
fast, and for months had run and starved my way to 135 lbs, where I was now
competing. Brian was fighting at 147, so, if I hadn't had Sal DiFazio as my
coach we probably would have fought each other that year.
I am a solid mesomorph who fights best at 147, and I can even carry 154 pounds, so the speed that coach thought I gained at 135, even at 5' 7", did not compensate for the power I lost, particularly with my signature body punches. So after two points victories,
I was eliminated that year in early February in my third bout, a bruising affair with a nartural 135 pounder from Fall River. Hector sent me crashing to the canvas with a five punch combination in the second, and though I was up at 4 he took a unanimous decision.
That same night Brian, having the previous week TKO'd a black kid from Dorchester, fought an unbeaten previous GG champ, Dave Diamond. I sat in the auditorium, eager to see how this would play out. Dave, a lithe, tightly built 5 8, was a superb technician and a fair puncher - not a guy who took you out quickly but a guy whose cumulative punches could over the course of even a three round amateur fight, could weaken you. I knew him and liked him, and had sparred him. We both knew what team we both played for sexually, but it was never discussed, or even acknowledged beyond a knowing glance.
Brian Hanley played for the same team, and didn't much care who knew it. He was a pretty blond Irish boy-next-door type; he was as muscular as I was, with thick shoulders and nice definition in his chest and arms. Back in 75 there were no jerseys and no headguards in the Golden Gloves, a state which I prefer to today's rules. I sat with my dad waiting for the fight to start and was aware of a thin, fawnlike young man in a wifebeater under a shortsleeved blue shirt loudly rooting for Brian and calling his name. Not even slightly nelly, he was still obviously gay, and very working-class, very Southie. He had, I noted, remnants of what looked like maybe a week old shiner, so I assumed he boxed too, though I didn't recall seeing him at Lowell. He was drinking what was clearly not his first beer of the night.
The fight started and in the first round Dave Diamond deployed an effective jab to really control the fight. He steadily used that left on Brian, and Brian was a guy who did not know that a boxer must never get angry. He was pissed and confused at Diamond's skill, and I noticed that he did not have any real counter-punching skills to get him out of the hole he was in. The second round was pretty much a repeat of the second, and by the third Brian's sparkly blue eyes were puffy and the left one was starting to close up. Like me, he lost a unanimous decision. Afterwards he joined the other guy, and their friends, at ringside, and when the slender young man tried to console him - with an undertone of mockery -
I heard Brian say distinctly, "Shut up or I'll fix your other eye tonight!" Hmmm, i thought to myself. Brian and eye made eye contact, and there was a tension between us, a sexual tension heightened by instant dislike.
So, these were the first two fights I saw Brian Hanley in. The second was about 7 years later. I was 30 and had been with my partner (still am!) for 5 years. I had left teaching and gone into cosmetics, and had already achieved a good reputation as a makeup artist and was doing really well at a very upscale specialty shop. Brian had parlayed a relationship with a posh Newbury Street interior designer into a very successful career. As with me, the rich back Bay and suburban matrons enjoyed working with an attractive but sexually non-threatening gay man. Brian and I did not officially "know" each other but we saw each other at the same bars and we worked out at the same gym. Always there was a sexual frisson between us, but never acted upon.
Brian was very much the snob, and, although I earned a good living and was more educated than he was, my retail job clearly made me NOT an A-list gay in his eyes. This did not bother me, I actually thought these kinds of internecine class distinctions both silly and funny.
One Friday night I went with my friend Sharon to see a local jazz cabaret singer at a bar in town. My partner couldn't abide this singer or smoky night clubs in general.
That night I spied Brian at the club, blond and hot in a tight black silk tee shirt and
fashionable linen trousers. He was in a group with several friends, male and female, and though the tough young doe-eyed man of the Golden gloves was not there, there was another guy who might as well have been his clone.
At around ten thirty Sharon and i heard shouting, and though I don't know what it was about, we saw Brian Hanley stand up, tip the table he sat at to the ground, and go after a guy at the table with his fists. It was over in a minute, but, having been in many fistfights I was breathless with admiration at the way Brian dispatched this guy. A short hook to the jaw, a short right cross to the guy's nose, and one final uppercut, and the poor bastard, whoever he was, was dazed and bleeding on the floor.
Several more years elapsed and I beacme friendly with Kevin,who worked in the visual merchandising - read "window dressing" - department of the store I worked with. We were not attracted to each other, but we had lunch together and we would spot each other at the gym. Eventually he started dating Brian, who by now was THE chic interior designer in town, and they moved in together.
To this day Brian would cruise me but not acknowledge me, as though other than sexual-
ly I was beneath his notice. He had aged well, was still blonde and handsome, and was even more into clothes than was, sometimes wearing outageous canary yellow or bright red blazers that I would have been embarrassed to go out in.
One day after a workout Kevin and I were heading for the locker room, and he said he was not showering as his apartment was just a couple of blocks away. Since he generally did shower there I thought it was bit strange, but as he took off his sweat shirt the tee-shirt underneath rode up and I saw that his ribs and sides and lean gut were
covered with dark, purple livid bruises.
"Where the fuck did you get those?" I asked. He stammered something about falling, but I knew. And he knew I knew. We both dropped it and the next time I saw him Kevin had a black eye that rivalled anything I have ever seen.
"Kevin, did Brian do this to you" I inquired.
He said, "Yes, he did. He has been doing it since the beginning." I said, "Kevin, he is a boxer, and bigger than you are. Domestic abuse is domestic abuse. You need to fight back! I can give you some pointers."
Kevin said, "He is to big and strong, and too mean. He loves the idea of a one-sided beating, of just dishing it out." Again I was in 'hmmm' mode. Experience has taught me that many people who just like "dishing" it out also like taking it as well.
At that point I was lifting and running but, though I still banged the heavy bag and hit the speedbag once a week, I wasn't sparring.
So for several weeks I skipped Mike's and lifting and just went to Somerville for boxing training, and I got in about 12 rounds over a month, with two guys I knew, one of whom had turned pro. I knew I was ready to contact Brian Hanley.
At first, Kevin was against it. But he warmed to the idea of seeing Brian take a beating. But we needed to work out the logistics of when and where.
Around this time one of my clients had hired Brian to decorate her newly purchased condominium at the Four Seasons. Marjorie had gone to her Palm Beach home, and had given Brian carte blanche to do as he wanted. He was more or less at the condo all day long. Kevin told Brian that he wanted to earn a few extra bucks on top of what he earned at the store so Brian hired him to help with the gruntwork, measurements etc.
That Monday they were going to paint 4 foot square patches of the walls in various colors to see how they would work. They were to be alone there all day.
I arrived at the prestigious hotel and condominium complex at exactly noon. I told the concierge I was meeting the decorators at Mrs Hirshberg's unit. He let me in. I went up in the elevator with a curious sense of elation.
I knocked on the door, and Kevin let me in. He was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, and Brian was wearing ridiclously expensive Versace jeans and a cashmere sweater in vivid blue. Brian looked at me, and then at Kevin, and said, "What the fuck is HE doing here?"
I introduced myself and Bian said, "I know who you are. Mister Powder and paint who also boxes!" I said, "Hanley, I am here more in the latter capacity than the former. But I think you will need my skills with powder and paint when i am finished with you!"
"Oh you think so, huh?" he snarled.
I took off my leather jacket and stood there in jeans, trainers and a black tee shirt. "Hanley, the guys you beat up are always smaller guys who can't fight. Let's see what you've got with someone who can!"
I whipped off my tee shirt. Hanley took off his cashmere sweater. "I'm going to enjoy this," he said. We squared off on the big white drop cloth. I rolled my pecs and moved enough for him to see that I was not 135 lbs anymore as in Lowell, but 155 very hard solid lbs. his body was still in very good shape, and his eyes blazing.
I came forward with a piston like jab, as fast as Dave Diamond's had been, but harder.
I had continued to box long after Brian had stopped, and my jab had the power of the average guy's hook. I kept it in his face, snapping his head back again and again. Brian tried to use his own jab but was back pedalling too much for it to be effective.
Once I had him hurt I planned to abandon a boxing strategy and make it a FIGHT.Heried the old trick of parrying my jab and countering with his right, but he was rusty, and when he threw the counter-right I extended my own right arm and shoved the punch away and outside. I resumed my jab and was gratified by the fact that he couldn't answer my jab with his own - I continually caught his jab with my right. I feinted with my right and threw another triple jab - bam- bam -BAM - and was rewarded by the first trickle of blood from Brian's right eye.
He put his handup and touched the blood, astonished. Kevin was as quiet as a mouse. Brian smiled and came forward with a rush, and I threw him into a wall wet with fresh pale peach paint. To my astonishment I realized that Mr Hanley- as Isuspected - liked the idea of a one-sided beating. It was several minutes before i realized he was fighting back in only the most perfunctory manner. I went to work on his body with unrestrained ferocity, pounding his body as if it were my old Everlast black leather heavy bag, criss crossed with duct tape. I landed three consecutive left hooks to the liver, pure mickey Ward, and Brian moaned as though with pleasure rather than pain. I pushed him chest first against another wall (mint green) and dug my right into the small of his back, then spun him around and held him against the wall with my left hand, now with knuckles shiny green, and dug my right uppercut again and again into Brian's solar plexus. He grunted, wind knocked out of him, but his eyes looked ecstatic. I felt wildly exhilarated and slightly dismayed at this unknown side of myself that was revelling in administering the kind of unanswered punishment that Brian liked to give.
"Fight back, fucker!" I said. He smiled and half heartedly punched the air.Kevin stared bemusedly. "He likes, it, Mitch!" And of course now I liked it too. I switched upstairs and started punching his pretty, petulant blond's face. I deployed the jab again, and then fired a short right cross into his cheekbone. i didn't want to break his nose - too expensive to fix. I smashed him in the mouth with an uppercut, and then one last hook to the jaw. Brian swayed and then staggered, and then fell against me. He put his arms around me, his head on my chest, and slid to the floor like that, hands now on my ankles, and gazed up at me through puffy half shut bleeding eyes. He and I and the drop cloth wore various shades of Ralph Lauren eggshell finish latex paint, and he and the drop cloth were also covered with blood.
I said to Kevin, "I trust the water is connected?" He smiled and tended to hisw boyfriend while I cleaned myself up and let myself out.
view all stories