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Oregon native has a story to tell

Clay grad fought Tyson, Foreman

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David-Jaco-Spontaneous-Palooka

Boxer David Lee Jaco wrote "Spontaneous Palooka."

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This version adds Saturday as the day of the book signing.

Former heavyweight boxer David Jaco took on all comers in the 1980s and 1990s, including the ferocious Mike Tyson.

Jaco, who was born in Oregon and graduated from Clay High School, still swears that Tyson only knocked him down twice in a first-round TKO in 1986.

"Tyson was only 19 at the time, but he was already on the cover of Sports Illustrated," Jaco said. "I went at it with him. I got knocked down once. Then he knocked me down again. The ref told me, 'Good fight.' He said it was over because of the three knockdown rule [in a round]. But I only remembered being knocked down twice. So I argued with the ref. I was fighting for my life. I didn't believe him until my corner man told me he was right."

Jaco, who now lives in Florida, will share amazing stories from his career and autograph copies of his new book Saturday in Oregon.

Jaco will sign copies of his book, Spontaneous Palooka and Mr. Mom: The Story of a Man's Love for his Children and Prize Fighting, at Ralphie's Sports Eatery on Navarre Ave. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Copies of the book, which came out last month, are $10 at the signing.

"It will be like a reunion," said Jaco, who has many relatives in the area and visits about once a year. "If you show up, you'll have a good time."

Jaco said he became known as a "Palooka" or an incompetent boxer who is easily defeated because he never refused a fight. He took on some of the sport's most recognizable names back when the heavyweight division was wildly popular.

"I fought George Foreman, Tommy 'The Duke' Morrison, Tony Tucker, Carl 'The Truth' Williams, Leon Spinks, Oliver McCall, and 'Buster' Douglas," Jaco said.

The journeyman finished with a 24-25 record with one draw. He recorded 19 knockouts but also was knocked out 18 times. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, he was known as "Big Jake."

"I would go down, but I would get back up. I would not lay down," he said. "Every time I got a call, I would take the fight. I fought Tommy Morrison on ESPN on one-day notice."

Jaco said his major misstep was not having a manager and not taking the sport seriously enough.

"I've been told by many people I could have been a champion if I had stayed away from the partying and the girls," Jaco said. "I managed myself. That was where my career went wrong."

Jaco said his biggest win was when he stopped Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in 1985.

Jaco said he gives details about his fights in the book, which he said took two years to write. But he said he also includes "all the crazy things that went on."

Jaco said the book includes "killer pictures."

"I've been all over the world," he said. "I hung out in China with Muhammad Ali for two weeks. I have a rare picture of him bowling."

The book also details the beginning of his career in 1979 in Oregon. He said he defeated a fighter by the name of "Vicious Vick" in a Toughman contest at the old Sports Arena.

"In the book I talk about working out at Pearson Park and at a local gym in downtown Toledo," he said.

Jaco said he is in talks with three people in the movie business who are interested in making his book into a feature film.

"Once you get started, you can't put it down," Jaco said of the book, which also can be purchased at davidleejaco.com.

Although Jaco said he never became a millionaire, he said the Tyson fight allowed him to become a providing father to his young twin sons. Both became boxers as well.

"I made $5,000, and it was not much, but it changed my life forever," Jaco said. "I was able to pack up and move to Florida to take care of my kids. I just wanted to make sure they were raised right. I never made that million-dollar payday, but I accomplished what I wanted to. I was able to take care of my kids."

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.

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