WOLGAST-NELSON: A FORTY-ROUND WAR (Portland Oregonian, January 31, 1937) By Tom Jones (as told to Will R. Hamilton) There was something of interest that I omitted in the narrative of Ad Wolgast's training for his 40-round fight with Bat Nelson, and I want to relate it, before going into a description of the fight itself, in order to give my readers a peek into the intimate goings-on at a fighter's training camp. Living in the camp with the fighter in training are his sparring partners, his trainer, who usually is an expert on rubbing and physical conditioning, his manager, sometimes a brother or intimate friend of the fighter, a housekeeper, a cook, and one or two men of all jobs around the quarters. One of the sparring partners usually is a wise old fighter who knows the strong and weak points of the fighter's opponent and helps to direct the fighter's boxing along lines best calculated to offset the opponent's strong points and take advantage of his weak ones. These men have no weight-making to do, they work largely in the open and they develop avaricious appetites. Needless to say, then, the meal hour is quite an occasion. Visitors of note and newspaper men sometimes are acceptable, or even welcome, as guests, but this depends a great deal upon the character and disposition of the fighter. A fighter in training is not always a very agreeable host or companion. He often becomes very sullen, or very irritable, under the great strain of training and of thinking about the battle to come. Those who want to talk about the task at hand all the time are not so welcome, for it becomes a manager's business to distract his fighter's mind from his occupation. A little levity at meal times and just before bedtime is nearly always desirable. Some fighters frequently have around them a character or two who can serve as the king's fool. Such a man, who has a good sense of humor and therefore is not too much of a fool, is quite valuable. Aware of the big betting that was taking place, and of the possible incentive of crookedness, I was more alert, while Wolgast was training for Nelson, than at any other stage of his career. I had a trusted chef to prepare our meals, but I didn't relax in my own personal vigilance at meal times simply because the cook could be trusted. I constituted myself personal taster for Wolgast in this manner: I had the waiter fill all plates and place them and then leave the dining room. When he did this I swapped plates with Wolgast, so that if there had been anything in the food that didn't belong there it would be my stomach, and not his, that would get the pump. It was a long time before Wolgast got on to this, and sometimes, when he knew about it, he objected strenuously, for he was a good eater and often good things were prepared for him that the others were not supposed to get, so in the exchange of plates I occasionally got the better of the bargain, to Wolgast's great chagrin. But that was my system and I stuck to it. I ate the food that was put before Wolgast and he ate the good that was prepared for me. It was a dismal, rainy day that February 22, 1910, at Port Richmond, Cal. Not very good weather for a 40-round fight in an open arena. The sports had to plough through mud more than ankle deep to get there and, when they got there, they had to sit under umbrellas, or use newspapers for covering for the brief time that newspapers would last in the slow drizzle. Nelson thought he saw a chance to get the little Dutchman's goat, so after Wolgast and I reached the ring the Dane waited thirty minutes before he put in his appearance. Little did he care about the restlessness of the crowd. Wolgast was the least impatient of any in the arena. He sat under an umbrella, occasionally giving expression to one or two of his favorite cuss words, but taking the wait, on the whole, in good spirit. He knew Nelson's game and he was determined that he wouldn't fall for it. Finally Nelson was brought into the ring on the shoulder of Abdul the Turk, one of his seconds. As the Turk seated Nelson on his stool Wolgast went over to his corner and said to him: "Listen, Dane, that's the very way they're going to take you of here, too." Then they weighed in. Wolgast, with his fighting togs consisting of shoes and trunks, weighed 129 1/2. "Well, he is a little fellow, ain't he?" said Nelson, in a half sneer. "You'll find I am big enough today," retorted Wolgast. In Nelson's corner was Abdul the Turk and Jack Robinson, the Dane's manager. I had with me, in Wolgast's corner, Hobo Dougherty and Gig Rooney, who later managed Jackie Fields, the welterweight champion. When Referee Eddie Smith called them to the center of the ring for instructions Wolgast said to Smith: "Now, Mr. Smith, let him get as rough as he pleases. I will take care of him myself. No fouls in this fight, understand?" "That goes for me, too," said Nelson, who at that moment was considered the toughest customer in the prize ring. It was very apparent in the early rounds that these two well-matched lightweights were in for a long and terrific struggle. Each had respect for the other, but neither was afraid of the other. Both expected a long fight and both had prepared for it. Wolgast's remark to Smith had a salutary effect on Nelson, for he was unusually clean in his fighting and there was no really rough stuff until the 19th round. In this round Nelson resorted to his old butting tactics, but as soon as he did so, Wolgast grabbed him by both shoulders and, with face down, gave a terrific lunge, the top of his head striking Nelson in the face. That was outbutting the butter. Nelson turned to Referee Smith with the first complaint of the fight. Smith's only reply was: "Bat, you know the agreement." With that, Nelson went back to fighting and he did no more butting. There was no more excitement until the 22nd round. In a terrific mixup, Nelson let fly his best punch of the fight. I didn't know where he hit Wolgast, but I was dumbfounded to see Ad go down. I thought he was hurt, and motioned him to sit down and take a count, but he jumped right up. I then hollered to him frantically to "smother up; stay in close." He did, but when he came to the corner at the finish of the round he laughed and said to me: "What's the matter, old man?" "That Dane put you down, didn't he?" I said. "Yes, but he didn't hurt me, and he can't hurt me." "Well, go on and fight your fight," said I, and fron then on Nelson took a beating such as no other man ever took and stayed on his feet. Wolgast hit him with everything he had, and talked to him all the while. "You're a champion, are you?" he kept saying. "Well, you're one champion that'll be sweeping the streets pretty soon." (ED. NOTE -- Wolgast won the fight, and the lightweight championship, via a knockout decision rendered by Referee Smith in the 40th round. Wolgast held the belt for 2 1/2 years before losing on a foul to Willie Ritchie in the 16th round of a title defense at Daly City, Calif., on November 28, 1912.
DEMPSEY SEEKS RICKARD'S THRONE (Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1929) MIAMI BEACH, Fla., March 3. -- (Special) -- Tex Rickard was the czar of fistiania and today Jack Dempsey, the crown prince, revealed his plans for succession to the throne. If plans already formed work out, Dempsey, in five years, will be the controlling factor not only of boxing but of greyhound racing, and will have an appreciable influence in horse racing. Sitting on the sands in front of his hotel today, clad in a sketchily cut swimming suit of dark blue, Jack unfolded his story, telling for the first time his arrangement with the late Tex Rickard to promote the various rackets of this American Monte Carlo. "I was to get $50,000 cash from Tex the day I arrived here," he said. "Tex was sick and the payment was postponed. I was to receive a cut in the greyhound track -- and it's a swell track, the most luxurious plant in the country. I was also to get a slice of the automobile agency, the Deauville Casino and two other propositions Rickard controlled here. "I paid over $200,000 for shares in these and when Tex died I carried out his orders lining up heavyweights. "When (George) Godfrey was due to fight in Havana with (Jack) Renault, I was the one who got him to call it off. In the future I intend to keep my contracts with all these men, and promote. This country is ripe for a lot of outdoor shows in the spring, summer, autumn and winter. I intend to stage them." Dempsey told of the hours he spent closeted with Rickard; how Tex told him the fellows who were "right" and the fellows who were "not right" to do business with. They built up big paper profits that were to accrue from their casino concessions, their greyhound track, their jai alai frontons and their $1,000,000 amusement pier. Miami is booming this season. All the rackets in which Dempsey and the Rickard estate are interested here are making money. "I can remember Tex reaching over and patting me on the knee," Dempsey went on. "He said: 'Jack, we'll make a fortune -- you and me. We'll tie up all the heavyweights. We'll build dog tracks in every big city. And we'll bring spenders down here. Jack: fellows who like roulette, ringside seat tickets, and crap tables."" Dempsey says he does not want to be known as another Tex Rickard. "I just want to be Jack Dempsey," he declared. Dempsey is going to take an interest in horse racing at Detroit, if present plans go through. He means to retain all his interests at Miami and in his own words, "if the Garden corporation does not come to my terms before I leave here Tuesday, I am going to promote independently. "I think I know how to deal with boxers," he continued. "They are temperamental. The hard boiled stuff doesn't go with them. Rickard had everything tied up because he knew the inside on everything. He turned all that knowledge over to me. "In the shows I intend to promote I am going to give Negro boxers -- George Godfrey, for instance -- a chance. "I had a good start here with this fight (Jack Sharkey vs. Young Stribling). The Garden wanted to back out on me twice. I, alone, plugged it through. I've got the confidence of the boxers and the fans. Give me five years at this and, though I may not be the champion fighter, I'll bet I'll be the champion of all the promoters."
QUICK BLOW ENDS VICIOUS BATTLE (Spokane Spokesman-Review, Jan. 11, 1936) By Charles R. Stark Jr. John Henry Lewis knocked Tiger Jack Fox colder than a mackerel in the third round of their 10-round nontitle fight last night at the Armory. Walter Wall tolled the count of "10" over Fox and could have gone with 10 times 10 for the Spokane negro was out for minutes, not seconds. John Henry is the light-heavyweight champion of the wolrd, and the Phoenix boy looked every inch a champion as he fought his way to the dramatic finish. He bloodied Fox's nose in the first round, knocked him to the floor for a seven-count in the second and ended the battle in the third. It was a stunning blow for the Spokane fight fans, those who have stuck along with Fox through thick and thin claming that he was the greatest fighter of his day. They could not believe their eyes and crowded up to the ring to make certain that the dark-skinned fighter standing nonchalantly at one said was Lewis, not the equally dark-skinned Fox. A near-record crowd was on hand for the scrap. It probably would have been a record-breaker if it had not been for the rain. Over 4,800 people were in the Armory, about the only vacant seats being those at the two ends and some of the farthest back ringside seats. Al Morse reported afterward a gate of about $5,800, the second largest since he has been promoting fights in Spokane. The record was set at Gonzaga when $6,250 was paid in. The whole card was good from start to finish almost without exception. Sonny Buxton and Ben Shave were unfortunate in the spot they occupied on the card for they followed a pair of featherweights and looked fearfully slow as a result. In the main event, which was the one thing the fans were waiting for, Lewis took his champion's prerogative and kept Fox waiting several minutes in the ring. He kept him waiting until he was ready to come out. It made no difference to the Spokane negro. He sat on his stool in the corner, the most unconcerned man in the house. When Lewis finally came he was received with cheers, but they were as nothing to the shout that went up when Fox was introduced. That shout seemed to lift the roof from the big drill shed. As the fighters answered the bell in the first round Fox made a quick rush to close with Lewis. This has been his method in almost all the fights he has fought here and usually resulted in his opponent sheering away. Lewis didn't give ground, however, and Fox swung a haymaker or two and landed. The rest of the round was an even exchange, with little of comment except that Lewis drew blood from Fox's nose near the end. Then came the fateful second. Fox again tried his rushing tactics and also indulged in his favorite stunt of making horrible faces at the other fighter. This fell flat, for Lewis refused to be frightened and suddenly pinned Fox on the east side of the ring and dropped him to the carpet. The blow that felled him was a short, sharp one. In fact it was so short that many in the audience thought Fox was trying to deceive the champion, make him overconfident and take him in the next round. Whatever happened, Fox stayed down until Walter Wall, the referee, had counted seven, then he was on his feet. The champion was wary and the bell soon ended hostilities. It was this blow that really counted in the end. Both came out fighting in the third and a brief flurry of blows brought the crowd to its feet in excitement. This ended and cash customers were just settling back when Lewis again backed Fox toward the ropes to the east. A feint with the left and Fox made a rush, only to meet a short right flush to the jaw. He went down like a felled ox and lay on his back as Wall tooled the count. By the time the referee reached "seven" Lewis' handlers were getting the stool ready for their fighter, for it was apparent that the battle was over. It was a matter of minutes before Fox was restored to consciousness enough to leave the ring. Bill Buxton and Jack Cudahy, who put on the special event, stole the show as far as the preliminary fights were concerned. Bill is a younger brother of Sonny, who fought in the semi-final. He is a nice-looking kid from Victoria, B.C., and looked like a schoolboy as he faced the older, more experienced battler from Fargo, N.D. Buxton weighed 126 and Cudahy 125. The Victoria boy went right after the other and floored him in the first for a seven count. In the second he downed him for nine and then knocked him out in 2 minutes 30 seconds of the third. Cudahy tried hard but could not withstand the youthful rush. Kid Young defeated Billy Helsinger on a technical knockout at the end of the first round in the opener. Helsinger suffered a bad cut over one eye and Walter Wall stopped the fight. Al Penna had all the best of the fight with Billy Ring of Seattle in the second preliminary, but could not down the tough indian, try as hard as he could. He had to be content with a decision. Frank Lackey of Seattle and Billy Sullivan of Butte battled four hard rounds. They were so close the score cards around the ring had varying results. My card showed the first for Lackey, the second for Sullivan and the others a draw. The man next to me gave Sullivan the first, Lackey the second. It was a good fight. Sonny Buxton and Ben Shave fought six slow rounds to a draw. Both fighters tried hard and at times it looked as if one would knock the other out and, a minute later, the advantage would be reversed. This fight looked slower than it really was for it followed the swift action of Billy Buxton and Cudahy. It ended in a draw.
GARDEN O.K.'S PACT FOR MIAMI BOUTS (Chicago Tribune, March 7, 1929) NEW YORK, March 6. -- (Special) -- The meeting of the executive committee of the Madison Square Garden corporation, at which such propositions as the naming of Tex Rickard's successor and the status of William Harrison Dempsey in so far as it may concern the corporation were reported to be discussed, was held on schedule today, and produced these developments: The matter of boring underground passages from the new 8th Avenue subway to the main entrance to the Garden was seriously considered. The agreement negotiated by William F. Carey for five winter fights in Miami, Fla., in the next five years was approved. The members of the committee consumed at least forty of the fifty minutes they were in session studying the stock ticker. If Carey is to be named as Rickard's successor, and the betting now is 100 to 1 that he will be, such action will not come earlier than the next meeting of the board of directors on March 19. The executive committee has no say in the matter, and for the same reason Dempsey's demands cannot be acted upon until that time, either. The meeting did not even hear what were the profits acruing from the Sharkey-Stribling affair. Carey announced not even he can answer that one yet. Dempsey, who was working on a 25 per cent profits arrangement, has already received a check for $10,000, but Carey declared that sum merely represents what the Garden thinks is a safe estimate of what will be coming to him when the final figures are available. Dempsey is due in town tomorrow with his wife, the former Estelle Taylor, and members of the Garden squad who remained behind to help him wind up the business that always follows in the wake of big fights.