DOC KEARNS: TALES FROM THOSE GOOD OLD DAYS, LEWIS VS. HOLYFIELD: THE FALLOUT


                                          NOBODY'S BUSINESS 

(Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1929)

By Westbrook Pegler

     MIAMI, Fla., March 2 -- Deceived by a playful telegram stating that Jack Kearns was 
on a railroad training passing through their city, some citizens of Shelby, Mont., are 
reported to have met the train when it stopped there for water. The citizens were 
carrying a rope, and it is not to be supposed that they wished Mr. Kearns to join their 
tug-of-war team or enter some regional rope skipping tournament. On the contrary, it must 
be assumed that their intentions were not hospitable.

     One cannot blame them for harboring resentment against Mr. Kearns, but I cannot help 
wondering why it took them five years to make up their minds. They seem to have been very 
slow to anger, but it may be that it took them five years to save enough money to buy the 
rope. At any rate, this delay bespeaks extraordinary deliberation, because these citizens 
had an ideal opportunity to rebuke Mr. Kearns on the 5th of July, 1923.

     I distinctly recall meeting Mr. Kearns as he stood alone, in a doorway out of the 
rain, on the main street of Shelby, which a Cuban correspondent had called the Avenida 
del Toro, or something like that, meaning the Avenue of the Bull. This was on the morning 
after the Dempsey-Gibbons entertainment, and there was more resentment per capita in 
Shelby at the moment than I have ever seen outside of Florida, where resentment is a 
major industry. This resentment was directed principally against Mr. Kearns.

     But there he stood, looking offensively dapper by contrast to the mud-lathered 
citizens of the place. His small, pointed shoes were well polished and just faintly 
flecked with mud, which emphasized the fastidiousness of his attire. His impermeable 
topcoat was a modish garment, with a half belt at the back, and he wore gray cloth 
gloves, perhaps to conceal the diamonds on his fingers from the hobos who were stranded 
in the place. The citizens of Shelby were slogging by the doorway in the rough boots, 
oilskins, and sou'westers of virtuous toilers and casting reproachful looks at Mr. Kearns.

     Shelby was full of cheap carnival racketeers who had lost their money on various 
kinds of concessions, lawful and otherwise, and the place was positively alive with 
hundreds of evil bums from the hobo camps of the entire northwest. The hobo has been 
pictured as an amiable vagrant and it is hard to realize what foul bums these were who 
loped through the mud the day after the fight, making bold breaks for the railroad tracks 
whenever an engine began to chuff, signaling the getaway of another train.

     They were like wolves emboldened by hunger. They fought and snarled with railroad 
detectives and tore along the cinders to climb back on the box cars, cowcatchers, and 
blind baggages repeatedly after they had been bounced off. Most of them were somewhere 
between 16 and 24 or 25, the most ruthless age of the criminal, and I do not suppose 
there was one of them who didn't pack a pistol or a razor.

     The frowsy racketeers were surly, blaming not only Kearns but the prize fight 
correspondents from the big cities and the town politicians of Shelby for their disaster. 
A broke and disillusioned crap dealer explained to me that he and many other sincere 
artists had come to Shelby with the understanding that if they took care of the iceman 
they would be allowed to do business unmolested.

     I do not think I need explain what he meant by taking care of the iceman. So the 
boys, envisioning a wide open camp, had gone to the big, bluff, noisy boss in charge of 
the concessions and had paid down various amounts for privilege of dubious legality. Some 
of them wished to run saloons, others wanted to practice the subtle slide roll with the 
dice and so on.

     These tinhorns bought a great deal of ice in the aggregate, but when they set up 
their pitches and attempted to do business there was always some new variety of marshal 
or enforcement officer to close them up. And when they tore down to the big fellow to 
complain about this lack of helpful cooperation he would laugh noisily and say: "Well, I 
can't help what the state or federal people do, but so far as I am concerned I am 
cooperating one hundred per cent." It seems to have been a deliberate catch, designed to 
make suckers of a class of citizens who lived by trimming the sucker themselves.

     "Well," I remarked consolingly to the embittered crap dealer, "the big shot took an 
awful trimming himself. I understand he is ironed flat." "Says you," he responded 
cynically. "He isn't telling how much he trimmed us for." All but a few dozen fight 
customers, correspondents and fight camp roustabouts had pulled out of Shelby over night, 
leaving only the residents, the railroad cops and the stranded rabble to wallow in the 
goo as the rain pelted down on the fifth of July.

     "Aren't you a little nervous about sticking around here, looking so neat and 
wealthy, with all these bums and these irritated townspeople who blame you for the flop?" 
I asked Mr. kearns, crowding into the shelter of the doorway beside him. "Why, how you do 
talk," Mr. Kearns remonstrated. "These are all nice boys. They may say some things they 
don't mean when they are upset, but they really like old Dr. Kearns. That is why I stuck 
around instead of leaving with Dempsey last night. They had some money they wanted to 
give me. They pretended they didn't, but I kind of coaxed them and brought in the revenue
men to talk over the government tax. So they gave me what I had coming.

     "This is an attractive little place," the doctor observed with a gesture at the 
sagging canvas of the hot dog stands, the muddy furrows of the Avenue of the Bull, and 
the brown lakes of standing water in the hollows. "The waterfront view is swell. I like 
this place. I did well here."  It occurred to me that Dr. Kearns must be a timid fellow 
to loiter on in Shelby under the conditions prevailing that day. And I have an idea that 
it was a good thing for the citizens that the doctor was not aboard the train when they 
met it with a rope. They would simply have lost one rope.


PUNCH LINE: IT'S A DRAW (Los Angeles Times, Sunday, March 14, 1999) By Steve Springer NEW YORK--The heavyweight division still doesn't have an undisputed heavyweight champion. But it has one heck of a dispute. In a decision that pleased no one except maybe Evander Holyfield, Holyfield and Lennox Lewis battled to a draw Saturday night in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd of 21,284, a crowd that indicated by its reaction that it felt Lewis had won the fight. Judge Eugenia Williams of New Jersey scored it 115-113 for Holyfield. Judge Stanley Christoudoulou of South Africa had it 116-113 for Lewis. Judge Larry O'Connell, who comes from Lewis' native England, scored it dead even at 115-115. The Times had it 116-113 for Lewis, giving Lewis seven rounds and Holyfield four with one even. Roy Jones Jr., the World Boxing Assn. and World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion, serving as a commentator on the TVKO pay-per-view telecast, said he was "ashamed" after hearing the verdict. And he wasn't saying that because he thought Holyfield won. The reaction of the two fighters and their handlers to the decision is a pretty good indication of what they thought. "I got robbed," a furious Lewis said. "I controlled the entire fight. I'm so disappointed. I wasn't going to leave here with just one belt. I felt I won the fight hands down. It was my time to shine and they ripped me off. What happened in there was what you call politics. I am the undisputed champion of the world and the whole world knows that. He should give me those two belts because he knows they are mine. " Holyfield (36-3-1, 25 knockouts) retains the International Boxing Federation and WBA titles. Lewis (34-1-1, 27 knockouts) still has the WBC belt. Holyfield, while claiming victory, didn't say it with much conviction. "If he wants to get it on again, well get it on again," Holyfield said. "I thought I won the fight. I was taking my time, saving my energy and I did the best I could, but I thought I won the fight." Holyfield's trainer, Don Turner, seemed relieved at the announcement of the draw. "I thought we won the last four rounds to win the fight," Turner said, "but it was definitely close. But I'm not complaining." The next obvious move would be a rematch. What does Lewis say? "I say automatic rematch," Lewis replied, "but I doubt he'll fight me again." Lewis' promoter, Panos Eliades was angry enough Saturday night to say of a rematch, "Absolutely no way." That, of course, was Saturday night. Considering the fact that Holyfield got $20 million for Saturday night's effort and Lewis got $10 million, and figuring that Lewis could ask for equal pay in Holyfield-Lewis II, don't count out a rematch that fast. Don King, to the surprise of no one, already was licking his lips at the thought of another meeting between the two, visions of dollar bills floating in his head. "I absolutely want to do a rematch," King said, "but I don't know where. It was one of the greatest promotions I've ever done." Hardly. Nobody is going to confuse this one with Ali-Frazier I, the fight many were comparing this one to simply because there hasn't been a heavyweight match like that in this building since that 1971 bout. And that streak is still intact. Lewis did what many said he could not do. He showed the character and heart so many felt he lacked, he held the shorter Holyfield at bay, not allowing Holyfield to fight inside where he likes to work. Lewis held Holyfield off with an effective jab, and seemed to do the most damage with his right hand. It was a strange fight for Holyfield. He entered the ring seemingly intent on making his prediction of a third-round knockout come true. Holyfield did nothing for the first two rounds, failing to land a meaningful punch. He appeared to concede those rounds to Lewis in order to set himself up for the third round and the knockout he said would show the world whether he spoke "the truth." Asked earlier in the week what he would do it he failed to get that knockout as advertised, what he would fall back on for Plan B, Holyfield said, "There is no Plan B." In that respect, he was right. Holyfield launched a furious attack in Round 3, landing two solid right hands and a good left hook. Lewis, who has faded in the past in the face of a furious attack, passed his moment of truth by getting through the round in good shape. Holyfield won the third round and the fourth rounds with his aggressiveness, but then he seemed to fade. On the Times' scorecard, he also got a draw in the sixth round and made a late charge, winning rounds 10 and 11. Lewis won the rest. Perhaps it was a loss of adrenaline after his boast of a third-round knockout failed. Perhaps the mind games he was trying to play with Lewis had done in him instead. Or perhaps it was the fact that Holyfield didn't seem to take Lewis seriously in the weeks before Saturday night. Eight days before the fight, Holyfield was in Los Angeles on a whirlwind publicity tour while Lewis was hard at work at his training camp in the Pennsylvania mountains. Holyfield recently was rated as the third-greatest heavyweight behind Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali. Holyfield thought he should be considered for No.1. Not just yet. At this point, he can't even be rated above Lennox Lewis.
EUGENIA AND THE FIFTH ROUND (New York Daily News, March 15, 1999) By Mark Kriegel The fifth round of Holyfield-Lewis should rank among the most egregiously judged in heavyweight history. As per the Compubox calculations, Holyfield connected on 11 punches while Lennox Lewis offered payback at a rate of almost four-for-one. Lewis whacked Holyfield 43 times, many of those measured overhand rights, big, bludgeoning blows. Among pugilism's great puzzles is how Holyfield remained on his feet. Still, that's a small wonder compared with the scorecard. Judge Eugenia Williams, representing the International Boxing Federation, scored the fifth round for Holyfield. "I was able to sleep last night," she said from her room at the Pennsylvania Hotel yesterday afternoon. "I know I didn't do anything wrong." Eugenia Williams did not see the same round the rest of the planet saw. "All I could see was Lennox Lewis' back," she said. Though she watched from the ring apron, Williams said her problem was vantage point. The TV cameras had a better one. "I could not see the blows that I saw on TV," she said. "On TV they showed a side view. . . . (The judges) saw the fight from different angles. I even at times stood up (to see). But if I couldn't see it, I wouldn't score it. That's what you're told to do, score what you see. I may take a lot of heat for that. But I couldn't estimate. I scored what I saw. If I couldn't see, I couldn't second-guess." Now she'll be second-guessed the rest of her life. The fifth round was only the most outrageous on a crazy card that had Holyfield winning 115-113. The British judge, Larry O'Connell, had a 115-115 tie, while South African Stanley Christoudoulou had a sane score, 116-113 for Lewis. The attempt to crown an undisputed champion only yielded a great dispute. Was Williams' card an example of corruption, or incompetence? For the record, Eugenia Williams makes her living as a municipal accountant for Atlantic City. She's been a boxing judge for 15 years, making her pro debut in 1989. IBF boss Bob Lee selected her to represent the sanctioning body at the bout to unify the heavyweight title. "I was thrilled to take this fight," she said. Her $1,600 fee was paid by the promoter, Don King. He paid for her three nights in a $125 room. He also paid for her meals in the form of coupons to Cafe 31, a far less upscale eatery than, say, the steakhouses where promoters and networks treat sportswriters. Eugenia Williams didn't have to do anything "wrong" to make this arrangement wrong. It's a flagrant conflict of interest. It's also standard boxing practice. The promoter pays. But from the looks of things Saturday night, King didn't mind the bill. He couldn't have been more happy with the draw decision. He can make another fortune selling another rematch. And so can Eugenia Williams' patrons at boxing's sanctioning bodies. That's the certain corruption here, the campaign for a rematch. Evander Holyfield still believes in himself against all odds. But that crazy courage has become a form of dangerous denial, and the money men are exploiting it. "I thought it was an acceptable decision," said Lee, the IBF boss. "I thought it was very close, but I can live with the scoring." He can live with the judge he selected and her terrible take on that fifth round. "If that's what she saw, that's what I support," Lee said. "She's a good official, very knowledgeable, a seasoned veteran with well over 20 world title fights. . . . She attended all our seminars." After the fight, with more than 21,000 fans still booing the decision, Lee met for a quick caucus at ringside with his counterparts, Gilberto Mendoza of the WBA and Jose Sulaiman of the WBC. "We decided there ought to be a rematch," Lee said. " . . . We could make it mandatory if we had to. . . . A rematch would be in the best interests of boxing." It would also be in the best interests of the sanctioning bodies. The IBF gets 3% of the purse for sanctioning a title. The WBA and WBC get up to 3.5. For a fight like Holyfield- Lewis -- with $30 million in purses that's $900,000 right off the top. The proceeds, according to Lee, are "used to run our office." But lest you think the IBF runs an extravagant office, understand that the monies also go toward "various seminars." The kind Eugenia Williams attended.