Tricks from the Master of the Philly Shell
George Benton is someone I have written about numerous times on this site, of course he was also one of the fighters featured in my book Forgotten Legends of the Ring. Benton was a master of the Philly Shell style of fighting, hailing from Philadelphia, Benton was the number one contender to the Middleweight title for a time in the 1960’s. Due to Boxing politics he never did get his shot at the title but after his boxing career he did steer a number of fighters to the world championship as one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time, where Benton’s nickname would become ‘The Professor.’
We all know the Philly Shell is known for its ability to roll punches and counter punch but a lesser known trick of Benton’s defence was his ability to parry and slip punches. This is a move I believe all young boxers should be learning.
Benton, as a practitioner of the Philly Shell defence, would leave his lead hand low which meant for quick strikes such as the jab, he was really only relying on his rear hand and his ability to slip punches. Mostly Benton was using the rear hand to parry the jab – with his right hand hanging just below his chin, when a jab came Benton would parry the jab by moving his rear hand in a short horizontal position from right to left. This accomplished not only avoiding the punch, but the parry is also great at diverting momentum in the opponents punch making it more difficult to throw a punch with the same hand in quick succession. Benton it seemed though, had ingrained in his movements the outslip slip after the parry.
The outside slip after the parry meant that if you threw a double jab at Benton, he had parried your first jab and then slipped harmlessly out of the way for your next jab – at times it looked like Benton had combined the movement into one, parrying the jab whilst also slipping to the outside, making it very difficult to land cleanly on Benton. Just as effective, if you threw the jab, cross at George Benton, the parry and slip would also avoid both of those punches, if you followed up with a left hook, Benton because he had already slipped to the outside, was in perfect position to either just stay there to avoid the punch or bend at the waist to avoid the hook.
Benton would most commonly use the double jab as his counter punch when coming out of the parry and slip, circling to his left when double jabbing. Other times he might counter with the right cross or right uppercut, George Benton really was one of the finest defensive wizards Boxing has ever seen. His legacy still continues to this day, Ronnie Shields, a former boxer and now boxing coach to world champions such as the Charlo Brothers, learnt to coach boxing under George Benton.