The legendary Bill Joel was an accomplished amateur boxer?
Although the musician has endeared tens of millions with performances, music apparently wasn’t his first love.
As a youngster living in Long Island, NY, a short and slight Joel started to box to protect himself, having previously been a victim of bullying.
Who knew young Billy would flourish in the boxing ring and eventually enter local tournaments?
And keep in mind that New York’s amateur boxing program is no joke and was, perhaps, even more competitive when Joel fought.
The program has produced Mike Tyson, Gerry Cooney, Riddick Bowe, Carmen Basilio, Buddy McGirt, Iran Barkley, and many more; even a fella named Mickey Rourke.
As an amateur boxer, Billy Joel won his first 22 bouts and even competed in the Golden Gloves before dropping back-to-back scraps.
In his final bout, his opponent managed to break Billy’s nose, forcing the young man to pursue a career as a musician.
Now it makes sense… Joel mentions four boxers in the same passage in his 1989 hit ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire.’
Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Perhaps Sugar Ray Robinson, Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, and Rocky Marciano were early boxing idols?
It’s not yet known at what weight Joel participated. At a lean 5’5,” he may have been a lightweight (132 lbs in the amateur ranks) or a featherweight (125 lbs in the amateur ranks).
What would have happened had Joel won those last two amateur boxing matches and didn’t get his nose broken?
Would the ‘Piano Man’ have been the next Willie Pep or an early incarnation of Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather?
Perhaps Billy Joel would have achieved superstardom as a boxer too?