Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Interview with Pete Sparks

INTERVIEW WITH PETE SPARKS 

Question: In what year did you get your first American Pit Bull Terrier?

Answer: In 1926. I got a white dog from Harry Monroe. I called the dog Bill, his registered name was Harlon's Highland Boy. The dog's picture was on the back of the old Bloodlines Journal magazine. 

Question: So Bill was your first Pit Bull?

Answer: Yes. I then went up to Erie, Pennsylvania, to Pete Dugan's place and picked up a mother and daughter from Pete Dugan. Nellie and Queenie. Nellie was a buckskin bitch and Queenie was a white bitch. These three dogs were my start. By the beginning of the depression, I was up to 17 dogs.

Question: What year was it when you met H.Q. Kennedy? 

Answer: It was in February 1953. There was a convention up his way. He was having trouble with his magazine and a few guys suggested that I take it over. H.Q. did not want to give it up but by the following morning when we had made a deal. 

Question: So, you published "Your Friend and Mine" magazine from 1953 to what year? 

Answer: From 1953 to 1974. I found out I had some stool pigeons on the mailing list and some of the pictures in the magazine turned up on TV in Boston. Pop Hunter called me to tell me about it, so after that we found out we had the Humane Society was on our mailing list. 

Question: Was this your only reason for stopping "Your Friend and Mine?" 

Answer: Well, Baker Davis was complaining that I did not give him enough publicity. I had made up some flyers of the matches. Jack Kelly was to go into Petronelli but Jack's father died and that match was called off. Well, the Humane Society got hold of one of those flyers and had the law raid the show. After that, I decided to stop publishing the magazine.

Question: Did you get arrested?

Answer: Oh yes. They got 17 of us at the show. Baker's wife was arrested for selling beer without a license. The cops hit Baker on the head with their flashlights. He had put up a fight, but still went to jail with us.

Question: What year was it when you first saw Hunky? 

Answer: That was about 1954. I stopped off to see Pop Hunter and we went to Bob Henneberger's place. He would throw a ball and Hunky would run and get it and bring it back to him.

Question: How did you end up with the dog?

Answer: Well you see, Henneberger had a young son and the boy hit Hunky with a toy or something and Hunky tried to bite him. Henneberger knew I liked the dog so he wrote me and I bought him for $100.00.

Question: Did you ever roll Hunky before he was matched? 

Answer: Oh yes, we rolled him with some guy in Washington Heights, a bad shoulder dog. When I was in Summerville, South Carolina, Bob O'Neal and Bob Hemphill tried to match into me, but I was already matched in Cuba, through Bebo Goenaga.

Question: Was that Hunky's only match? 

Answer: Yes. The match in Cuba was in 1956, 2:17 without a turn. The other dog, Willy Lingo was the stronger of the two early. Bebo would come over to me and ask, "What da you think? - What da you think?" I told him that when Hunky was down he was resting. When Willy Lingo was down he was dying. 

Question: Why was this his only match?

Answer: Well, you see, I had him matched into Mike Ferris. J.T. Collier was working Hunky, but Hunky had heart worms so instead of taking a chance on Hunky's reputation, we called off the match. Hunky lived to be 12 years old.

Question: When did you move to Florida? 

Answer: In 1966. I bought that place from Joe Orday.

Question: What bloodline did you use the most?

Answer: Colby/Dibo. The Dibo dogs would only go for 45 minutes and quit. But crossing the Colby blood with Dibo, and they would go all day.

Question: Did you know Earl Tudor?

Answer: Yes, he was a good man. He had a fruit stand out in front of his house where he sold whiskey. He would have a few matches and cock fights every weekend. 

Question: What did you think of Carver as a dog man?

Answer: He did everything that was against the law. Sold drugs, had a whore house. His uncle was a judge and his brother was a sheriff, but he did everything against the law.

Question: What about the way he registered his dogs? 

Answer: Peggy Harper would give Carver one of her Staffs. If it would fight, he would breed them and put whatever papers on the dog he wanted. You know, Joe Corvino was the same way. He would buy a whole litter from Gene Faulkerson for $7.00 a pup and would sell you any blood you wanted out of this same litter. 

Question: So do you believe the dogs of today are bred the way their papers say they are?

Answer: No. No one can say that any dog goes back to this dog or that dog, unless you were there when they were bred. I think the Colby dogs are the purest line today.

Question: After going to all those conventions, who do you think was the best conditioner? 

Answer: J.T. Collier and George Saddler where very hard to beat, but Tudor was one of the very best. Later on came Don Mayfield and Don Maloney. Mayfield was a very hard man to beat. Tudor told me one day that he taught Don Maloney everything he knew, but not all of what Tudor knew. 

Question: Well Pete, you will be 93 years old on February 21st. Do you have any regrets about how you lived your life? 

Answer: No, and I hope to make it to a hundred. These dogs made me what I am. If you stay true to yourself and to the dogs you are breeding, in time, you'll come to the top.

9 comments:

  1. Awesome interview from a Great Dog man! Having matched dogs myself since I was 15, I can honestly say the game isn't what it used to be. Nothing is pure bred, no dogs a truly game anymore in my opinion, and the sport has gone to Hell! I'm 42 years old and I Began matching dogs in 87 until 2004! In 36 matches I lost 5 and only one dog passed from those 5 loses! Just wished I was born earlier to match my dogs with real Dogmen! STP was overrated, Alblizin was overrated, as I for as I know when you match dogs against their liter mates and count that as a victor, its bullshit! Pete Sparks, O.Stevens, Don Mayfield, and Floyd Boudreaux, were dogmen, STP Kennels was pure bullshit and anything off their yard and Patrick's yard is bullshit!!!!!

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  2. I worked for a guy in my neighborhood named Paul.
    He and Pete use to do business. Breed and fight. I've been to many fight at Petes ranch in Starke Florida. I was just a little poor trailer park kid 11 years old. I'm 42 now. Have starved to death I worked my whole childhood to help my mom and my little brother. Paul nicknamed me worm. Lol I was so skinny and hungry. He and Pete both called me that. They were both great men to me. Pete lived the American dream in his way. And grand man. A grand life. Between him and Paul and them dogs. They were a huge part of making of me to this day. I have couple of dogs from Petes blood line. I traded a car for a Coby that was a great great granddaughter of one of Petes dogs. She actually was born in his yard. She was sold traded and fought countless times after Pete died. I rescue her. Puts thousands in her to get her healthy. I bred her once then had her fixed. She was a inside family dog after that. Scar tissue so bad they couldn't even draw blood from her legs. Almost every tooth gone or broke. Even so she still live to what the guessed 15 to 17 years old. She was my son's best friend he was 5 when she deid. Came home one day found her just laying she couldn't get up. She deid at vet office bleed to death. A cancerous tumor didn't know she had ruptured. Out of everything she been through. Even had to have plastic bowl cut out her stomach. Previous owner fed her out last. She was so starved when I got her she ate bowl her last meal she was given before I got her. Amazing friend she was. a testament of tough Petes breeds was.i have couple dogs from her to this day. Not many line them pits left theses days. A 33 pound Pete Sparks female pitbull. Would completely dominate a hundred pound today's what they call bully pitbulls. no compares. PAUL IF YOUR OUT THERE! It's Eddie. Well you called me worm.

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  3. Pete sparks is my great granpa. I got all kinds of cool sketches and info about him.

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    1. Hey buddy. My grandfather Ronny Newman knew is your grandpa. Are you still living in Starke?

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    2. I'd love to speak with either of you.

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    3. That's really cool man. He was a great man in my eyes

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  4. I grew up in Starke myself and been more than once to Sparks ranch. I and my brother both have owned several of his dogs. Never once did any of our dogs attack like dogs do nowdays. It was unheard of. What is really going on?

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