Robinson wilts in the heat of Yankee Stadium, loses to Joey Maxim


(The Associated Press, Tuesday, June 24, 1952)

By Jack Hand

Joey Maxim and Sugar Ray Robinson sweated it out in the gyms today, awaiting
tomorrow's once-postponed lightheavyweight title bout at Yankee Stadium.

As luck would have it, a warm sun, wilting humid New Yorkers, turned up 24
hours late. The weather man promised more of the same tomorrow, but he also
forecast scattered thundershowers late in the day.

The fight could not be held tonight because of a mutual no-conflict agreement
between the New York Yankees and Giants. The Giants were playing a twilight-
night doubleheader at home with Cincinnati.

If postponed tomorrow, the bout will go on Thursday despite a Dodger-Giant
game at the Polo Grounds. This was a "write-in" game not originally scheduled,
and thus is not covered in the Yankee pact.

Strong Robinson support appeared shortly after yesterday's original weigh-in,
changed the odds from 6 to 5 and "pick 'em" to make Sugar Ray a 13 to 10
favorite in his bid for a third title.

Sugar Ray, the middleweight champ, weighed 160 to Maxim's 174 3/4 yesterday
but they must weigh again tomorrow.

Wily Jack Kearns, veteran manager of Maxim, resorted to a rule book
technicality to claim he was supposed to weigh in today and not tomorrow. The
doctor quoted the New York State Athletic Commission rule book as follows:

"In the event of a postponement due to weather conditions, new weights and
physical examinations will be required the next day."

As today is "the next day," he put Pal Joey on the scales and weighed him in
at 174 1/2. Bob Christenberry, chairman of the commission, was expected to
take a dim view of such shenanigans and insist on a second weigh-in in the
Madison Square Garden lobby at noon Wednesday, as announced.

Because Maxim must make 175 pounds or less and Robinson has no weight problem,
many feel the postponement will be more of a strain on the champ from
Cleveland. He worked much harder than Robinson, boxed over 100 rounds and
trained to hit a peak near the class limit yesterday. The two-day wait is
bound to have some effect.

Perhaps you will remember Jersey Joe Walcott's dull performance in his second
Joe Louis bout after he waited two days in a hotel room when rain forced
successive postponements. His handlers brought Jersey Joe to a peak and then
lost it.

The same thing goes, of course, for Robinson. But he has trained lighter,
boxed fewer rounds and concentrated on getting his legs ready to go the full
15 against a man with a 15-pound weight pull. Sugar Ray's only danger is in
going too far past 160 and slowing himself down. That was why he loosened up
in the gym yesterday.

Maxim, after a four-mile road jaunt this morning, went through a brisk workout
at Stillman's Gym this afternoon during which he perspired freely. His
exercises consisted of three rounds of shadow boxing, a session with the light
bag and another with the skipping rope. He wore a bathrobe during part of the

Kearns said that the lightheavy champion weighed 174 1/2 after coming in off
the road, and Maxim himself reckoned he would weigh in lighter tomorrow than
the 174 3/4 he scaled yesterday.

Up in Harlem where a large crowd jammed around the entrance to the Uptown Gym,
awaiting his appearance, Robinson zipped through a light drill of shadow
boxing, bag punching and rope skipping. He did no road work.

After he finished, he weighed 157 1/2 or 2 1/2 pounds less than he did
yesterday. Sugar Ray said he would come in tomorrow at about 159 1/2. He
planned to rest at his Riverdale home and will not dry out.


(The Associated Press, June 25, 1952)

By Jack Hand

NEW YORK -- Joey Maxim dramatically saved his world light heavyweight title
tonight after taking an early round beating when Sugar Ray Robinson was unable
to come out for the 14th round of their title bout in the steaming, 103-degree
heat of Yankee Stadium.

Reeling to his corner in sheer exhaustion after the 13th, Robinson's bid for
ring immortality as a triple champion ended on his stool in his own corner, a
technical knockout victim. It was the first time in the brilliant, 137-bout
career of Robinson that the Harlem Sugar Dandy had been stopped.

The soggy sweatbox that was Yankee Stadium had already exacted its toll of
Referee Ruby Goldstein in the first 10 rounds of the struggle, fought before a
whopping shirt-sleeved crowd. Overcome by the heat, Goldstein had to give way
to sub Referee Ray Miller in the 11th.

The heat and the 15 1/2 pounds he gave away to Pal Joey from Cleveland
suddenly caught up with Robinson in the 13th. The crowd was stunned when Sugar
Ray, the sure-footed dancing master of the first 10 rounds, fell flat on his
face in the 13th as he threw a wild haymaker right. The sight of Robinson on
his face from a missed punch was an indication of his desperate plight.

As the 13th ended, he collapsed, wobbling against the ropes near a neutral
corner and had to be dragged to his own stool.

Dr. Alexander Schiff, ringside physician, climbed into the ring and asked
Robinson, "Can you go on?"

The middleweight champ replied, "I can't get up on my feet. I'm all in."

Dr. Schiff then signaled Referee Miller it was all over on Robinson's own

Dr. Schiff said, "Robinson suffered from heat exhaustion similar to that which
affected Referee Goldstein early in the fight."

Robinson was a cool artist of perfection in the early stages and it looked
like he would laugh off the weight advantage the 30-year-old Maxim held. But
it finally caught up with him this sizzling evening.

Weighing only 157 1/2 to Maxim's 173 in a second weigh-in for this bout that
was postponed 48 hours Monday because of rain, Sugar Ray outsped Maxim to pile
up a wide early lead. Time after time he danced into the attack with his
stinging combinations and slipped away from Maxim's jabs. But the time finally
came when he could dance no more.

Under New York rules it was listed a 14-round TKO since the bell had sounded,
starting the 14th.

Before he had to be assisted from the ring, a heat victim, Referee Ruby
Goldstein warned Maxim two or three times for trying to use his elbow on Ray's
head and sliding the back of his glove over Robinson's face. He also chastened
Sugar Ray for holding on when they got at close quarters.


(The Associated Press, Saturday, January 16, 1954)

By Jack Hand

NEW YORK -- "I was Mom's boy. Helped with the washing and the cooking. I was
raised like a girl."

The man across the table was Jack Dempsey, the cruel puncher who humbled Jess
Willard and flattened Luis Firpo in a riotous brawl that was voted the sports
thrill of the last 50 years.

Dempsey's early life -- from 1895 to 1915, before the record books pick him up
-- has produced a thorny wilderness of hal truths about a homeless hobo on the
prowl for three squares a day.

Part of it is true. Much is pure fiction. Dempsey, himself, isn't even sure of
all the facts. Men didn't have much time to keep track of days and years in
the roaring mining camps of Colorado and Utah at the turn of the century.

The former heavyweight champ, who will be 59 on his next birthday, June 24,
sat in a booth at Jack Dempsey's restaurant on Broadway, talking about his
early days. He spends more time in his restaurant these days, re-organizing
the management. From time to time, visitors stopped at the booth.

"Will you sign this dollar bill for me, Jack? It's for my son, Ricky, back in

"I'll never forget how nice you were to the kid who wanted your autograph in
New Britain."

"Please sign this, Jack. Down in High Point, North Carolina, there's only one
name in boxing -- Jack Dempsey."

That was the way it went. Every few minutes Jack had to stop talking to flash
his grin, shake a hand and sign a paper. He loved it.

You might think the name "Dempsey" would have begun to fade. After all, it was
1927 when he fought Gene Tunney the last time, 27 long years ago. But they
still flock to wring his hand.

"I never was a hobo," he said quickly. Dempsey talks fast, as impatient with
words as he used to be with his fists. "Sure, I rode the trains (freights);
everybody roden them. But I never was a bum."

He thought for a moment before adding "the American drifter built the West.
Nobody thought nothing of it. Fellow went from town to town, looking for a
job. You rode the trains -- the rods, the blind baggage, the top of freight
cars. Everybody was drifting.

"I never stayed away from home too long. I missed my mother too much. I was
Mom's boy, next to the youngest boy in our family of 11 kids. We always had
enough to eat at home. Everybody had to work. We were just ordinary working
people, drifting around the West, making a living, that's all.

"I used to help Mom around the house. The first job I had was thinning beets,
pitching hay and working a threshing machine on a farm. We'd live on a farm in
the summer and move into some mining town in the winter.

"My mother and dad came from Logan, West Virginia. Her maiden name was Mary
Priscilla Smoot and my father's name was Hiram Dempsey. They got religion down
in Logan and joined the Mormon Church. That's how they happened to move West.
My grandather was Anderson Dempsey, a county sheriff, county surveyor and a
captain in the Confederate Army.

"By the time I was born the family had moved to Manassa, Colorado. My father
was an elder in the church but my mother really was the most religious -- she
was very devout. I still believe in it myself. We take care of our own during
tough times. And have missionaries who do a great job. Now they call it the
Latter Day Saints."

Dempsey first worked in a mine at Logan when the family returned to West
Virginia briefly, trying to recover some of his grandfather's land that had
been sold for taxes. Most of his mining days were spent in the West at places
like Cripple Creek, Creed, Leadville, Victor and Salida, in Colorado.

"My father worked outside, driving a team of horses most of the time," he
said. "First, I was a mucker, that's the thoughest job of all, shoveling out
the ore. The pay was about $1.50 or $2 a day. After awhile it got so I'd go
away for three or four months on a job. I'd try to bring home $100 to my
mother if I could.

"That was when I really started fighting. I'd always boxed around home because
one of my brothers, Bernard, was a fighter. He also fought under the name Jack

"In the mining camps on a Saturday night they'd have a fight. Some new fellow
would drift in, like me, and I'd fight the local champ, bare fists. Maybe he'd
be a big fat guy who couldn't fight much.

"I knew enough to stay away long enough to get the other fellow tired. Then
I'd let him have it. We used to fight until one guy got knocked out or quit.
You were no good if you quit. They'd take up a collection and maybe you'd get
$1.75 or $2 or $3, in pennies, nickels and dimes. It was found money, an extra
dollar on the side. I was only a 135-pounder then.

"The secret of boxing is very simple -- hit the other guy and don't get hit
yourself. Anybody -- even a baby -- can punch if they don't get hit back."

There was more, much more as incidents from the past popped to mind. But this
gives you a rough idea of the life of Jack Dempsey, 1895 to 1915, before the
record book picks him up.


(The Associated Press, Saturday, January 23, 1954)

By Jack Hand

NEW YORK -- Bob Christenberry, chairman of the New York State Athletic
Commission, suggests a small tax on all boxing clubs to provide an emergency
fund for subsiding small clubs.

Christenberry is holding a series of off-the-cuff meetings with leading
promoters in New York state, including the International Boxing Club, Emil
Lence of Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway and Norm Rothschild of Syracuse, on his
new plan.

If boxing does an annual gross business of, say, a million dollars in New
York, a two per cent tax would set up $20,000 to help the small clubs. In many
cases, $300 would be the difference between operating successfully or folding.

Joe McKenna, veteran White Plains promoter, tried to run weekly shows at the
Westchester Community Center without any television backing. He ran one show,
lost about $50, and threw in the sponge.

If Christenberry's plan materializes, such a club would be able to dip into
the emergency fund on one condition -- the promoter would have to promise to
introduce two new faces on each boxing show. In that way, small club promoters
would be encouraged to develop new talent from the amateur ranks.

There is no question about the fight business needing new talent. With network
TV shows on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the promoters are forced
to overwork the available "name" fighters. Matchmakers know they must make the
best of what they have. That is why you see the same fighters back month after
month. Even the losers are assured of steady work.

Take New York City, for instance. Years ago there used to be a small club
operating every night in the week and often two on the same night. St.
Nicholas Arena, White Plains, Broadway Arena, Sunnyside, Eastern Parkway, Park
Arena, Bronx Coliseum, Ridgewood Grove, Rockland Palace -- all those and more,

Now the only clubs running in the New York City area are Madison Square Garden
and Eastern Parkway. Each has a network TV contract that carries the load.

It is the same story upstate. Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester and Utica used to
run every week. Now the best they can do is an occasional "spot" show. Only
Syracuse operates with any degree of regularity.

The economic state of the nation, when most boys can get good pay without
taking a chance on getting banged up in the ring, is responsible for some of
the lack of talent. But the small clubs, always the breeding ground of future
stars, also are important factors.