It’s more a punch from the past instead of a blast from the past.
Roy Caldwell, of Uhrichsville, himself once a boxer, found a 1931 fight card recently that included a name familiar to Newcomerstown residents and all fans of The Ohio State University Buckeyes football team: Woody Hayes.
Woody was fighting at 160 pounds and was taking on Tommy McMillen of New Philadelphia, fighting at 155 pounds, in the eighth bout on the fight card.
Dennis Parks, a Newcomerstown High School graduate and long time "red coat" at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, recalled that Woody and his brother, Ike, would sometimes fight at the Sportsman Club south of Newcomerstown.
"My uncle, Gene Parks, one time told me when he was young and had finished his paper route, he was headed home on South River Street," Parks said. "When he went by the High School (now the Middle School), he saw a light on in the Office of the Superintendent, who at the time was Wayne Hayes, Woody's Dad. My uncle said he went over to the window and when he looked in, he saw Mr. Hayes sitting in a chair and in the middle of the room were Woody and Ike with boxing gloves on. The rumor was, whenever the ‘boys’ had a difference of opinion, their Dad would let them settle it by boxing. Whoever won the match, won the argument."
Another story appears in one of the books written by Woody Hayes.
Parks said that Woody wrote that his father would give speeches around town to make some extra money.
"One time he was to speak and only a handful of people were in attendance," Parks said. "He asked the people why did they think no one was coming (to the talk). One of the people said to Mr. Hayes, ‘Don't you know, your sons are boxing at the Sportsman Club tonight and they usually draw a crowd.’ Apparently Mr. Hayes didn't know his sons were boxing at the Sportsman Club making money."
Joe Blundo, a columnist for The Columbus Dispatch, also once wrote about the fighting Hayes brothers, saying they boxed under the names Battling Nelson and the Cuban Kid.
Blundo wrote about Ike Haye’s posthumous induction into the Iowa State University Hall of Fame. Blundo said that in Ames, Iowa, Ike Hayes is remembered as a football player and a renowned veterinarian who died suddenly in 1955.
Ike Hayes rivaled — or maybe even exceeded — Woody’s competitiveness, if the stories told by Ike’s daughters, Mary Hoyt Hemmer and Marty Armstrong, both of Upper Arlington, are any indication, Blundo wrote.
Blundo wrote that Ike Hayes was born in 1911 in Clifton, Ohio. His sister, Mary (who became a Broadway performer), was eight years older, and his brother, Woody, was two years younger. The family moved to Newcomerstown, in Tuscarawas County, before Woody was 2.
Ike hitchhiked to Iowa State to go to veterinary school. He played guard on the football team, earning all-conference and All-America honors in the 1930s.
Ike served in World War II and established a veterinary practice in Waterloo, Iowa, where he was known for treating horses. Ike died of a heart attack in 1955, three weeks after Woody’s Buckeyes beat the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The Iowa State campus has a marble bench dedicated to him.
And of course, Ohio State fans would like to forget the most famous Woody Hayes punch, against a Clemson football player that resulted in Hayes being let go at Ohio State.
Lee Bishop, a local historian, posted on Facebook that "despite the passion he displayed at Clemson, Woody Hayes was one of the finest men I ever met. I was president of the OSU Veterans Association in 1970. We were working with Angel Flight (Women's AFROTC) to put together a program to celebrate Veterans Day at the Vets Hospital in Dayton. I went into a Jerry's Restaurant to order dinner. Standing at the cash register was Woody Hayes paying his check. I figured nothing from nothing leaves nothing, so I introduced myself and quickly told him what we were trying to do. He asked if I was going to order and then suggested he join me while I ate so we could discuss the project. So in the middle of November, college football's most critical month, Woody Hayes spent a Sunday at the Dayton VA hospital. He, of course, made the program and memories those vets and we OSU folks will never forget. What coach today would do that in November while contesting for a national championship? He was an awesome man."
Gary Baker of Coshocton and owner of Baker’s IGA in Newcomerstown, said that "those who met Woody realized what a great man he was. I had that privilege on several occasions in Newcomerstown. One of his favorite people was Clyde Barthalow of Newcomerstown. Woody would pick Clyde up any time he was in town to give a speech. He always told the audience what a great teacher Clyde was and how he influenced his life. As many know, Woody was also a great student of history and battles in particular."
And even when those battles against his own brother in days of his youth.