Bill Kenny on: Henry Armstrong & Tex Rickard


                                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.