HENRY ARMSTRONG: A BOXING IMMORTAL by Bill Kelly When Boxing's Hall of Fame opened in 1954, three fighters of the "modern era" were inducted: Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey and Henry Armstrong. Henry Armstrong was more than a boxing champion to me. Armstrong was a mythic. A legend. We kids growing up in New Jersey worshiped him. Revered him. "Skill, "determination" and "courage" doesn't begin to describe the hold Armstrong had on our imaginations. On the boxing public's. We called him a variety of nicknames: "Hammering Hank," "Homicide Hank," "Hurricane Hank," Human Buzz Saw," "Little Perpetual Motion." We lifted him above the rest of the sports world. If he got caught in a flagrante delicto with a Harlem floozy, picked up for drunk driving, caught cheating on his income tax, we could shrug that off. But if Henry Armstong quit in his corner, say like, Bonecrusher Smith or Roberto Duran, we would be physically ill. We couldn't live with that. Gratefully, he never did. But that is the kind of grip Armstrong had on us. To us, he was like the Hapalong Cassidy hero of a hundred Saturday afternoon chapter plays. He could do no wrong. Like John Wayne, he never let you down. Even his losses were epic: Lou Ambers won the World Lightweight Title from him on a 15 round decision in 1938; Fritzie Zivic took his welterweight crown via a 15 round decision in 1940; In 1941 Zivic stopped him in the 12th when he tried to retain that title; In 1943 he lost to Willie Joyce, Beau Jack, and Sugar Ray Robinson. He retired in 1945 with a final record of 150-21-9, 1 ND, 100 knockouts. From 1937 through 1939 he won 46 bouts in a row, 27 by knockout, ranking him third for the most consecutive knockouts in pro boxing history behind Lamar Clark and Billy Fox, both with 43. Armstrong learned to fight almost in his infancy -- on the streets of St. Louis. He started fighting professionally in 1931. In his first fight, against Al Iovino in Braddock, Pa., he was KO'd in 3 sessions. But he was grim, stubborn, relentless. He trained till he sweated blood. Disappointed after failing to earn a spot on the 1932 U.S. Olympic team, by 1937 he was as unstoppable as flood waters. Forget Sugar Ray, Beau Jack, Ambers and Zivic. Looking up into the ring, you imagine a swarm of Africanized Bees swarming across Brazil looked like this. He was as uncontrolled as Australia's rabbit population. Everybody got excited. His fights were quite simply, as one-sided as Christians tossed to starving lions. Alexis Arguello, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran later held three world titles. But they won theirs in an age when there were not only more weight divisions but more sanctioning bodies that handed out world championships like wine at an Italian wedding. In 1937 he beat Petey Sarron via 6th round KO to win the featherweight crown - which won him the Fighter of the Year award from Ring Magazine. Seven months later he took the welterweight crown from the immortal Barney Ross. Three months later Armstrong completed the "triple crown" by whipping "The Herkimer Hustler," Lou Ambers via 15-round decision and gaining the lightweight belt. No longer wishing to make the 126 pound limit, he vacated his featherweight title to concentrate on defending his welterweight crown, which he successfully defended it six times, beating the likes of Ceferino Garcia and Baby Arizmendi, before losing his lightweight title to Lou Ambers on August 22, 1939. His attempt to wrestle the middleweight title from Ceferino Garcia in 1940 was a bitter disappointment. "I beat Garcia eight out of 10 rounds," said Armstrong. "It was one of my easier fights. I had beaten Garcia a couple of years before when I was the welterweight champion. But there was no way I was going to be allowed to win the middleweight title. "Before the fight, I was offered a lot of money to throw the fight. I refused to do it. I found out later the guys who talked to me worked for Bugsy Siegel. Only one man, the referee, a guy named George Blake, scored the fight. When it was over, he threw up his hands to signify a draw. And then he ran out of the ring like his ass was on fire. When news reporters asked him for his score card he said some kids stole it. That was the last time Blake ever worked a fight in California." One of this writer's finest hours came when I met, and interviewed Armstrong at the Banquet of Champions in Los Angeles, in 1982. I asked him to pose for a picture with Lou Ambers, who was also being honored, but he refused. Ambers also refused to pose with Armstrong. The distrain they held for one another after 43 years made Watergate look like a kindergarten exercise. When Armstrong challenged Ambers for his Lightweight crown tickets sold for $16.50 ringside, $250 reserved and $1 general admission. Armstrong won a split nod but at the end of 15 rounds Ambers was virtually unmarked while Armstrong needed 10 stitches around his mouth. His left eye was a plumb. "I beat him good," Ambers told me. "When the bell sounded ending the fight my own handlers had to steer him to his corner." Armstong said he won because of his two early knockdowns of Ambers - "one in the fifth the other in the sixth." Seeking revenge, Ambers won his title back in 15 rounds in 1939. "I never weighed over 135 pounds even when I was fighting middleweights," said Armstrong. "When I fought Barney Ross for the welterweight title, they allowed me to wear my robe at the weigh-in. I also had weights hidden in my hands. I weighed in at 142, but I was about 135." Armstrong hated Fritzie Zivic even more than he did Lou Ambers. "I lost a lot of fights I know I won," Henry told me. "I remember when I lost the welterweight title to Fritzie Zivic in 1940 I thought I won easily. Zivic was the dirtiest fighter I ever met. He kept thumbing the whole fight. He hit low and elbowed me. On the same card that evening, Ray Robinson had his first fight, a four rounder. Afterwards, he came to my dressing room and said, "Henry, you're my idol and someday I'm going to knock out Zivic for you.' Two years later, he did." In 1943 Robinson won a 10-round decision over Armstrong. In a later interview with Robinson, he told this writer he held Armstrong up for 10 rounds out of respect. This d idn't jive with what Armstrong told me. "I almost knocked Ray out," said Henry. "He kept throwing those bolo punches at me. Well, I'd mastered how to defend myself against bolos from Ceferino Garcia. Ray threw one to many and I hit him with a right hand that sent him across the ring. But the bell saved him and he ran from me the rest of the fight. I couldn't catch him. I kept taunting him, 'Come on in and fight.' He just kept shaking his head and running like a scared rabbit." He was born Henry Jackson on December 12, 1912, in Columbus, Miss., the 11th of 15 children of an Irish-Negro father and a Negro-Cherokee Indian mother. He graduated from Vachon High School in St. Louis, during the Depression. His first job was working on the railroad for $1.50 a day. One day he read in the newspapers where a fighter named Kid Chocolate made $75,000 fighting at the Polo Grounds in New York. "I decided then and there to become a fighter," he said. "I told the boys I was gonna be champ, and they laughed at me. Seven years later, I was." Henry said he was accompanied westward by a friend named Harry Armstrong. Henry adopted Harry's last name when they got to California because they had been through thick and thin together. Harry became Henry's trainer. When Henry wasn't working out in the gym, he shined shoes on the corner of 7th and San Julian. To gain experience as an amateur, Henry fought as many as four fights in one night at various clubs. With the eyesight of a hovering hawk, the reflexes of a crouched lion, and the speed of a gazelle, he won almost all of his 60 amature fights. "I heard about a fight manager named Tom Cox," said Henry, "so I walked ten miles from the Midnight Mission to his house to persuade him to sign me to a contract. He gave me a $5 bill and told me to find a decent place to stay. That 20-mile walk was the beginning of my career as a professional fighter." His first major fight was against a tough featherweight named Baby Arizmendi on Aug. 4, 1936. Over 16,000 fans packed old Wrigley Field at 42nd and Avalon to see Armstrong win a 10-round decision. "I got $2,000," said Henry, "more money than I ever dreamed of having." Among those at Wrigley ringside that night was featherweight champion Petey Sarron. An enterprising reporter described the scene: "Petey Sarron, featherweight champion of the world, his face an ashen white, an empty ache in the pit of his stomach, squirmed in his seat and choked as he watched Henry A Armstrong, the chocolate lancer, hammer Baby Arizmendi into the most brutal, ruthless defeat of his brilliant 11-year stretch of ring warfare last night at Wrigley Field. "Paling perceptibly as he blinked with frightened eyes that saw Armstrong, the infernal machine, smoke the idol of Mexico out of the ring with burning, searing leather to take every one of the 10 rounds and with it recognition in California as the world's featherweight champion, Sarron aptly expressed the sentiments of the 16,000 hysterical, stunned spectators when he said: "I'm glad I'm not the one in there with Armstrong tonight." Shortly after that, Armstrong changed managers from Cox to Wirt Ross, who sold his contract to entertainers Al Jolson and George Raft for $10,000. A fight was quickly made between Armstrong and Sarron for Oct. 29, 1937, at New York's Madison Square Garden. Armstrong was behind on points when he knocked Sarron out in the sixth round. By 1938 Armstrong had earned $90,000. One of his most memorable fights was covered by Grantland Rice: "Barney Ross, game to the last drop of blood, fighting the last ten rounds on instinct and condition, went the limit of 15 rounds. He finished with his right eye completely closed -- with blood running from his nose and mouth in a steady stream -- with his face badly battered and his kidneys as raw and red as if Armstrong used a battle-ax. So Henry Armstrong jumped from the featherweight to the lightweight thrown, spotting his rival nine pounds as his flailing fists beat a merciless tattoo on head and body." Ray Arcel, who was in Ross's corner that night, later said "Henry Armstrong could be classified with the greatest fighters of all time. The fighters today, most of them he would chase right out of the ring." "I took 20% of the gate for that fight," Armstrong said. "I think it was $33,000." After he retired at age 31, Henry said he took to drinking. "I'd get drunk and drive my big car, roaring up and down the highways, and I didn't care about anything. I blacked out once. When I came to I was in the car heading north out of Malibu at 80 m.p.h. When I sobered up I lost my taste for whiskey and it's never came back." Willie Mae Armstrong divorced Henry in 1959 after 25 years of marriage. She said he left her home alone and never showed her any affection. By the mid-60s, Armstrong was dead broke. He had more attachments on him than a vacuum cleaner. He became a minister at Mt. Olive Baptist Church and married Velma. She died, leaving him with two girls. By 1988 Henry Armstrong was bedridden, legally blind, broke and dying. His third wife, Gussie Armstrong cared for him at their tiny, fly-trap dwelling on East 55th Street in South Central L.A. It was a section of town where even Dracula wouldn't want to be caught after dark. All of the champ's boxing trophies and championship belts had been hocked or sold so they could pay the rent, or eat. This is where Hammering Hank fought his last battle, in a dingy room with rubbish stacked along the wall and curtains drawn to make the room look as dim as Mike Tyson's future. When Ike Williams and I went to visit him in 1988 Gussie said she was afraid to put him in a nursing home because she would lose their only income -- a monthly $800 Social Security check. "We need something to live on," she said gloomily. The old warrior was admitted six times that year to Century City Hospital and treated for infections, malnutrition, pneumonia, anemia, dehydration, and poor vision attributed to cataracts and glaucoma. Most of his problems were irreversible, principally dementia, the loss of intellectual ability. He was fed through a tube in his stomach after he refused to eat, He dropped to 95 pounds. On October 23, 1988, the only man to ever hold championship belts in three weight divisions simultaneously was carried by paramedics from his dingy bungalow in South Central Los Angeles to the California Medical Center. He never came back. He was 75.
TEX RICKARD, THE GAMBLING FIGHT PROMOTER by Bill Kelly Partners "Tex" Rickard and Will Slack, were among the first ramblers to rush to the Klondike when gold was discovered. They reached Alaska during winter-mad November, 1895, some two years before the gold-rush reached its peak. Their intention was not to relieve the earth of its golden burden through grunt labor. They had a better plan how to make their money multiply. It would be easier to relieve the relievers of their wealth - make their strike without enduring the hardships of the prospectors and miners. One might say it was equivalent to going through a revolving door on someone else's push. They were no different than others who used the sparkle of the word "gambling" as bait to acquire millions during the boom-and bust period of the twentieth century. Others who shared his passion for gambling were: Lucky Baldwin, Soapy Smith, Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, Wilson Mizner, Jack London, Key Pittman and Klondike Kate. While awaiting the winter thaw, Tex and Will traveled to Juneau and passed away idol hours playing poker. The town was lined with honky-tonks and gambling establishments of all stripes. There was no shortage of suckers with leather pouches full of fine gold dust. Half-breeds and rugged characters were ripe for dandified, professional gamblers who would put the screws on them faster than an undertaker. In April the two partners pushed on to the Chilkoot Pass, weighted down by grub, clothing, accouterments and a mix-max of things a prospector might need. Tex later described their journey as the coldest and most difficult task of his entire life. Slak turned back to Juneau, but Tex was determined to make it to Circle City. He knew the town boasted of 29 saloons, gambling halls and brothels. The very thought ping-ponged his innards. But there was something else that Tex didn't bargain for. As spring approached, the town turned to bog, festooned with moss and burning smudge pots that darkened the skies because the mosquitoes were immense and as thick as fog. Mosquito hazards took may lives. Oxen, mules and horses had to have their nostrils cleaned to keep them from strangling on the pesky bugs. Mud was knee-deep. Circle City was a standing death certificate. But Tex didn't plan on staying outdoors very long because soil rhymes with toil. Flatter than a flounder, he landed a job as a dealer in a gambling house owned by Sam Bonnifield. Sam was the Yukon's greatest and most famous poker player. Tex learned from Sam. He watched him like a father protecting his daughter's virtue. One day Sam was handling the faro bank and Lou Golden had $5,000 in dust riding on the queen. Tex took a special interest in this game. Sam turned the soda, the first card, a king. Then the second card, a queen - a winner! Sam left the faro box, throwing over his shoulder, "Tex, pay Lou nineteen and a half pounds of gold dust!" Lou had a lucky streak going and he didn't want to quit. He took his $5,000 in $100 chips and before dawn he had lost $22,000. In the months to follow, Sam had won enough gold dust playing poker to buy the finest casino on Circle City. "Here, Tex," he said, "She's all yours." God had harkened to his prayers. With Sam Bonnified as his bellwether, Tex had become a wealthy man. Confident that he had learned enough from Sam to take on the best professional gamblers that passed through Circle City, Tex played the best for the highest stakes. Quicker than abracadabra, he lost his entire gambling layout. He sauntered down the street to Sam's new casino and asked his old boss for a job. Sam hired him on as a bartender. Tex humbly settled into his new profession as he had always done during his existence in the Yukon and Alaskan horn of plenty. Born to bone-poor parents on January 2, 1871, in Clay County, Missouri, George Lewis "Tex"Rickard learned early how to get someone to fight for him rather than to do battle himself - as was proven with his million dollar gates in New York's boxing arenas. Tex was only 8 but he could remember bullets flying wild and thunderous hoofbeats echoing in the thereabouts as hard-riding posses chased the James-Younger Gang. The following year the Rickard's moved to Cambridge, Texas, where Tex earned money shinning cowboy boots and listening to trailhands tell stories about cattle stampedes and gun fights. Tex quit school in the third grade to help his mother and numerous children out after his father died. His first job was on a ranch near Henrietta for $10 a month. Tex grew u up in the saddle, always looking for a way to make easier money. But it was tough going from wrangler to drag and full fledged trail driver. His role model, and he always had one, was Sheriff Cooper Wright, a lawdog who went about his job with the dispassionate, w workmanlike brutality of the professional law-enforcer, not for money, but for the thrill of it all. Tex wanted to be like him. In 1894 Tex was elected city marshal of Henrietta. He married Leona, and settled down in a cottage on the outskirts of town. Tex used his glib tongue rather then a fast gun to settle matters. He became a successful lawman. His wife died in childbirth a year after they were married. Alaska was mushrooming with gold discoveries. Reports were coming in constantly of new strikes. Tex saddled up and headed for this flourishing country with dreams of becoming a millionaire. When news of a strike on the Klondike River echoed across Circle City, prices of houses dropped from $500 to $25 and the price of sled dogs rose from $25 to $1500 each. Overnight, Circle City became a ghost town; Tex and Harry Ash were among the first to pull up stakes and file claims along Bonanza Creek. They hadn't planned on manual labor. They sold their claim for a profitable $60,000. Tex and a man named Tom Turner went to the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers where the tent city of Dawson was already mushrooming. They opened up the Northern saloon. Within six months the two man had garnered a profit of $155,000. But Tex's luck at the poker tables once again turned sour and he lost every cent they had, plus the Northern. All during the following year he worked as a poker dealer and bartender at the Monte Carlo, owned by Swiftwater Bill Gates, one of the slyest gamblers of his day. With the desperation of a pulp fiction writer scrounging for material, Tex tried to make more out of his $20-a-shift payday. He avoided sleazy professional card sharks and con artists that passed though town. He gambled honestly, but not successfully. Tex lost all he had, but he said the magnitude of it all produced a feeling of excitement that was irresistible. If ever news of a uproarious gold strike shook America the Dawson gold rush took all the honors. It was sheer, utter tragedy for most of the mad-rushers. They perished from hunger, from accident, from gunfights, from cold and privation. Therefore, it is astonishing that Dawson's population doubled, then tripled by 1898. One of those sturdy enough to survive insurmountable hazards was Wilson Mizner, a gambler who worked alongside Tex Rickard at the Monte Carlo. Lifelong friends, their meeting was like that of Robinson Crusoe and Friday. Mizner was smarter than a beekeeper. Tex was a patient learner. It was Mizner who first opened Tex's eyes about the possibilities of making money by promoting prize fights. Although they lost money on their first promotional venture, Tex , a dedicated rainbow chaser, was absorbed by the excitement that fists of iron and granite jaws brought. He especially enjoyed beating the publicity drum. He dusted insignificant puglists with gold. and consequently the sparkle never left them. The gold rush magnetized men like Frank Slavin, tagged the Sydney Cornstalk. He got loaded in the Monte Carlo and was knocked silly by Dawson's most notorious bully, Biff Hoffman. Mizner and Tex broke the fight up, and convinced the two men to stage a prize fight where everyone could see who the best man was. It was the first "Tough Man" contest ever staged. Tex and Mizner erected seats in the town dance hall and sold tickets at their casino for $15 general admission, $25 ringside. The first punch did the trick, Hoffman was disposed of with the only blow delivered. Tex sold out to Minzer and moved to Rampart, where the Yukon hugs the Artic Circle. From Dawson on, he learned to work with Other People's Money. Tex, Rex Beach the novelist, and a few others spent a dismal winter chopping wood for river streamers. Then Tex heard of a new gold strike in Nome. Tex and Jim White pooled their earnings of $100 and headed for Nome. Here, they set up the town's first gambling layout on Front Street. Rex Beach followed later. It was a shoe-string operation. A lumberman was talked out of supplying planks for a wooden floor. A whiskey salesman was soft-soaped into supplying liquor on a promise-to-pay basis. Cigar salesmen, and even workers were talked into going along with the operation. Tex and Jim were in business -- with other people's money. They were netting a cool $1,000 a day. Tex gained a reputation as being the best and most honest poker player in town, so he was intrusted with being the town banker. He put aside money and accumulated pokes for people who trusted him. Some of them were killed in accidents, died of fever, or killed in street brawls. So the money went unclaimed. Though thousands of gold dust lay in pokes behind the bar, and although Nome knew no law, the saloon/casino was never robbed. When law finally arrived in Nome the town was worse off than ever. Judge Noyes and Alex McKenzie worked underhandedly to fleece the unschooled miner. In mining litigation, the judge appointed McKenie as court receiver while the claim was argued in court. While Judge Noyes was setting legal blockades to stall the trial, McKenzie would be working the disputed claim and the miners were eventually robbed of whatever holdings they sought. Ultimately, both McKenzie and Noyes were sent to prison, but miners had lost millions. Rex Beach based his greatest book, The Spoliers, ( made into motion pictures five times) on this matter. Tex continued to stage fights and pay the contestants by passing the hat among spectators. He used the fights as a draw to his gambling casino and made money from booze and gambling which followed such events. It was Tex who pioneered the way for fight promoters who follow his example today. Tex was a gambling man and a true gambler never quits. While gambling in a competitor's casino one night he called a large opening bet more on a hunch than anything. He noticed the other player was nervous and peeling his top card off, then sliding it to the bottom. Tex could spot the corner pip of each card. So he read the hand, then after calling made a raise. He was raised back and Tex raised again. The bets were called and the nervous player stood pat. Tex drew cards to a pair of kings, then fired back a big raise. He made the opener lay his hand down, simply because he had read the hand and knew he had his man beat. "Keep your hands still and your fingers across the backs," Tex's old bellwether, Sam Bonnified, advised him. "Gamblers take every edge." Seven years was enough in the Northern deep freeze for Tex. He sold his establishment for $50,000 and took another $15,000 he had put aside from gambling and headed for southwestern Nevada in 1904. A friend, Kid Highley, tagged along. The Kid told Tex that the Goldfield strike was expected to be even richer than the one that had smoldered on the Comstock Loade at Virginia City. Tonopah was already booming and prospectors from that area had left for newer pickings in Goldfield, some 25 miles to the south. In Goldfield, Tex, Kid Highley and Jim Morrison pooled their money to open the Northern. Grand Opening was on February 15, 1905. Goldfield had never seen the likes of the Northern. There were fourteen gambling tables of various sorts. One of the pit bosses hired to oversee the operation was Wyatt Earp. Six barrels of whiskey were sold over the 60-foot, mahogany bar every day. Three shifts of 12 bartenders were kept busy round the clock. The gambling tables were surrounded by an awe-inspiring attendance that fully magnetized the excitement. Tex again assumed the role of "town banker," keeping gold for drunken miners behind the bar. The operation became so big that he hired a bookkeeper named Billy Murray whose job it was to add cash taken in or deduct cash paid out to each person. The balance was carefully recorded. Murray later recalled that he handled some $10,000 a day for two years or a gross of about $7 million. The shaping of Tex Rickard as a premier fight promoter of the Sweet Science began in Goldfield when newspapers across the nation ballyhooed a world title fight between Joe Gans and Battling Nelson for the lightweight championship. He realized that such a fight would draw thousands of fight fans who would want to drink and gamble. He hoped the fight itself would make money. Working fast, Tex wired important fight officials, suggesting the match, then rendezvoused with Goldfield's most prominent officials to lay the plan before them. A $30,000 gold purse was raised, with Tex contributing $10,000 himself. The members of the Goldfield Athletic Club raised an additional $100,000 for promotional purposes. Now that all the details had been ironed out, Tex got acceptance from the two fighters. The announcement appeared in the Goldfield Sun: THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY Battling Nelson and Joe Gans will engage in a fist fight in Goldfield on Labor Day. Billy Nolan, for the Dane, named the preliminary conditions..." Reno residents tried to steal the fight, but The Sun triumphantly reported: "Like a conquering hero or governor just before election day, Joe Gans sailed into Goldfield last night and was met at the station by prominent citizens who escorted the fighter downtown to remain for half hour the cynosure of hundreds of eager eyes....L.M. Sullivan met him at the train and took him in his auto ..." Meanwhile, Tex fed a constant stream of publicity into any media that was interested: GANS LAUGHS AT DELAYS AND IS SURE OF AGREEMENT BILLY NOLAN HAS A FEW WORDS TO ENCOURAGE FIGHT FANS NOLAN SAYS NOTHING BUT AN ACT OF GOD CAN STOP FIGHT CALENDAR OF EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE FIGHT It was duly reported that Rickard put up $30,000 for Battling Nelson and Joe Gans to split. Nelson was guaranteed $20,000 and $2,000 for signing and $500 for expenses. The $34,000 total purse was the largest ever offered for a lightweight championship fight up to that time. Newspapers printed detailed dossiers of both fighters. Battling Nelson, "the Durable Dane" was born in Copenghagen, Denmark, on June 5, 1882. In 132 fights, from 1896 to 1923, he won 37 of 57 by knockouts, drew in 19, lost 15 and was kayoed twice. Joe Gans, "the Old Master," was born November 25, 1874, in Philadelphia. He had 156 fights from 1891 to 1909 and won 54 of 114 by knockouts. He won five on fouls, drew 10, 18 were no-decision, lost three, and was kayoed five times. Tex was able to convince newspaper editors that this was the biggest sports news of the century and sports writers began arriving in Goldfield from as far away as San Francisco and New York. Miners left their diggings in the hills to get their bets down one way or the other on the fight. George Siler was chosen to referee the slugfest. The Sun reported the excitement: "The street of Goldfield were literally jammed last night with a holiday crowd of persons from all walks of life. Trains rolled in at intervals all night, the last arriving at 5 A. M. Drilling contests (a favorite in all boom camps) proceeded the fight. Waters and Hill of Tonopah drilled 37 inches in 15 minutes. Burro and foot races followed..." It was probably the greatest day in the brief history of the great gold camp called Goldfield. The fight took place on September 3, 1906. Gans outclassed Nelson during the scrap. In the 42nd round Gans crumbled to the canvas from a low blow and Nelson was disqualified. The fight was profitable to Rickard to the point of $13,000. Their rematch took place on July 4, 1908, in San Francisco. Nelson dropped Gans five times and knocked him out in the 17th round to become lightweight king. In 1908 Tex sold out his interest in the Northern an followed the stampede 150 miles across the wastelands to Rawhide. Within two weeks he had erected a new Northern gambling hall and saloon. He cleared $25,000 on his opening night. When a blazing fire destroyed the Northern, Tex, broke again, moved on to Ely, Nevada. Tex raised a hundred thousand dollars to promote the fight between Jack Johnson and Jim Jefferies which was held before a record breaking crowd in Reno, July 4, 1910. The once-mighty Jefferies was no match for Johnson's rapier-like jabs and superb defense. Battered, exhausted and bleeding profusely, he was stooped in the 15th round. Tex's first big gate was $270, 775. He was now ready for the million dollar gates. His career reached its peak when he promoted the fight between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier at Jersey City. His second Dempsey-Tunney title fight at Chicago in 1927, drew an astounding two million six hundred thousand dollars. After Tunney's retirement, Young Stribling, Johnny Risko, Jack Sharkey and Max Schmeling were slated to fight an elimination tournament for his vacated throne. Tex Rickard went to Miami, Florida with the intention of matching Stribling with Sharkey. While he was there, Tex died following a gangrenous appendix operation on January 6, 1929, leaving behind him as a monument, a wonderfully new Madison Square Garden, since obsolete and replaced. Mike Jacobs became his successor and beneficiary of the Joe Louis era. Successful promoters must have a flair for gambling. They are involved in a precarious profession. A lucky punch and his title holder is yesterday's headline. All his plans and hopes are smashed by one hard, lethal timely blow. Rickard could not have flourished without backers with lots of money. He once boasted he had been perfumed by the smell of 600 millionaires willing to gamble. He also had credit with powerful bankers who had the utmost respect for the onetime saddle-pounder, gold- rusher, Alaskan boomer and gambling proprietor who became the greatest boxing promoter the world has ever known.