View Full Version : HW Greats from 1920 to 1950


Dude
01-06-2006, 08:09 AM
I'm in the 13th grade of a German Gymnasium. We have to write a so-called "Facharbeit" before we are allowed to the final tests, called "Abitur". We had one year time and the deadline is the 27th of January 2006. Now I chose to write my "Facharbeit" in english and about boxing. Mainly I'll focus on the change of HW boxing between 1920 and 1950 and follow the careers and private lives of Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling and Joe Louis. These four All-Time Greats are the main focus of my "Facharbeit". I still need more material and I'd really appreciate it if anyone could advise me some books or has some rare footage. I'll reward any real help with points if you like.

So if you know or have anything special about either Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling and Joe Louis or boxing at that time in general please share it with me. It'll be highly appreciated. :)

Dempsey1238
01-06-2006, 01:04 PM
The biggest change from 1920-1950's in my view is the netrual Corner rule.

Jack Dempsey has writting a autobio before he died, Also Khan's Jack Dempsey book is a good read.

Schmling has also writting his autobi on his life. I think in retirement,

Marciano has 2 books on him, Good reads

Russell Sullivan"The Rock of his times".

Have not seen any mayjor books on Tunney, but he does have a web site. With rare Tunney bio comics. and other stuff.

Gavilan1
01-06-2006, 08:06 PM
I could tell you some things about Joe Louis if you wish. I have studied his boxing ability, and his persona outside the ring for quite a while.

Dude
01-25-2006, 12:45 PM
This is the first page of the introduction. Maybe anyone wants to correct it? :)

Earliest evidence suggests that fighting with fists was a sport about 6,000 years ago in an area equivalent to the modern Ethiopia. It eventually spread to ancient Egypt and finally throughout the Mediterranean. The ancient Crete also knew a boxing-like sport, which probably developed independently. Around 9,000 B.C. a Greek ruler named Thesus would be entertained by two contestants sitting on stones in front of each other and beat on another with their fists until one of them was killed. When boxing was accepted as an Olympic sport (then know as Pygme or Pygmachia) in 688 B.C. the fighters wore leather straps to protect their hands and wrists.

In ancient Rome boxing was not so much a sport as a bloody amusement for spectators which was quite similar to the gladiatorial contests. The fighters were usually slaves or criminals who fought to gain fame and freedom. However, as fist fighting became more and more popular free man and even aristocrats started fighting as well. When the sport was banned by Theodoric the Great around 500 A.D. the Romans had added another contribution to the sport: They invented the ring, originally a simple marked circle.

With the spread of Christianity records of boxing activity disappeared. The sport resurfaced in England during the late 17th century. The “London Protestant Mercury” referred to a bare-knuckle fight in 1681 and the Royal Theatre in London was the site of regularly scheduled matches in 1698. Most of these fights were brutal brawls as there were no written rules and therefore no referees to possibly enforce them. Neither were there weight division or round limits. This began to change in 1743 when Jack Broughton introduced the first basic rules to prevent the back then common deaths in the ring. Broughton also invented the first gloves to protect the hands and the face from blows. They were used in practice only, however.

Later on in 1867 the famous Marquess of Queensberry rules were published to sound the bell for the modern era of boxing. These rules are still universally recognized today and present the foundation for the different interpretation by the sanctioning bodies. (* a manifold of the Marquess of Queensberry rules is enclosed to the attachment)

Dude
01-25-2006, 06:39 PM
Second page of the introduction. Pls correct any typos or wrong facts. :)

Boxing was most probably introduced to America from England via sons of wealthy southern families. First records report from fights between slaves in the southern colonies whose masters bet huge sums on the outcome. The first fighter who won statewide fame and last but not least his freedom was Tom Molineaux. In 1809 Molineaux went to England where he fought and lost to the English champion Tom Crib twice. While these fights were major news in England America paid little attention.

In the mid 19th century New Orleans, St. Louis and other cities in the western territories became centers of boxing due to the enforcing laws against prize fighting in the eastern cities.
It was not until after the Civil War however that boxing really got started in America. The Marquess of Queensberry rules had a huge impact and a fighter named John Lawrence. Sullivan (nicknamed: “The Boston Strong Boy”) burst into the scene. Sullivan is widley recognized as boxing’s first modern heavyweight champion. In 1880 with just a handful of fights to his credit he challenged everyone in America to fight him for 500 Dollars. Between 1883 and 1884 Sullivan toured with a circus offering 500 Dollars to anyone who could last one round with him. These fights made him very popular.

Depending on which authorities are consulted, Sullivan became world heavyweight champion in 1888 when he defeated Charley Mitchell in France, or the following year when he knocked out Jake Kilrain. By this time John Lawrence Sullivan had become America’s first great sport hero. Sullivan once was quoted in a newspaper, “I will fight any man breathing”. This was not quite true as he would not fight a black contender throughout his career. When he suffered his first loss to the hands of James John Corbett alias “Gentleman Jim” in 1892 he had made boxing popular throughout America.

From there on the title “Heavyweight Champion of the World” grew in prestige and made the titleholder instantly a famous man and the pride of his hometown respectivly his race. James John Corbett would eventually lose his title to Bob Fitzsimmons who lost the title in his first defense against James Jackson Jeffries. When Jeffries retired undefeated in 1905 the title became vacant. At that time the common public opinion in America was that prize fighting involved a criminal element. This was one of the main reasons why it was hard to generate money from the title and the title-defenses.

Yogi
01-25-2006, 07:16 PM
[i]Depending on which authorities are consulted, Sullivan became world heavyweight champion in 1888 when he defeated Charley Mitchell in France, or the following year when he knocked out Jake Kilrain.

I've never seen this thread before and I must say your last two posts have been top quality stuff, Dude...But I just want to point out that there are quite a few sources claiming Sullivan won the World title a few years earlier than what you've indicated here;

""Sullivan won the bare-knuckle version of the world heavyweight title in 1882 when he battered Tipperary's Paddy Ryaninto submission in nine rounds in Mississippi City." - HOF writer, Reg Gutteridge

"A succession of prize-fights followed, and as the colourful youngster acquired a large backing amongst the Irish-Americans of East Coast America, so the clamour grew for him to face Tipperary-born Paddy Ryan for the bare-knuckle championship of the world." - HOF writer, Harry Mullan

There's other sources to be found that agree with those statements, but both quickly found quotes indicate that the fight was for a "world" title. There's also sources that claim that Sullivan's fight and win over Dominick McCaffrey was for the vacant Queensberry Rules world title, including the IBHOF, BoxRec, Gutteridge, etc. Here's a quote from Gutteridge;

"Sullivan was crowned Queensberry world champion when he beat Dominick McCaffrey over six rounds in Cincinnati on 29 August 1885."

I also have newspaper reports from the Sullivan/McCaffrey fight, as well as the pre-fight and from memory it seems to back the claim that it was a world championship fight (the first with gloves, of course)...I'll check it out again to be 100% sure, though.

Dude
01-25-2006, 08:20 PM
Third page

Things got interessting again when Tommy Burns agreed to a championship bout against a black fighter in person of Jack “the Galveston Giant” Johnson in 1908. Burns desperatly needed money and was promised the unprecedented sum of 35,000 Dollars to fight Jackson. The match was held in Sydney, Australia which, unlike most American cities, welcomed prize fighting. In front of 25,000 spectators Johnson won a glorious victory and became the first black heavyweight champion. America was shocked as according to the racial persuasion of this time a black man was not supposed to beat a white man, let alone be the heavyweight champion of the world. Through his colour of skin and lifestyle Johnson soon became one of the most abhored man in his own country.

After the Burns-Johnson fight, Jack London, a popular novelist who was covering the event for a New York newspaper, wrote, “The battle was between a colossus and a pygmy. Burns was a toy in his hands. Jim Jeffries must emerge form his alfalfa farm and remove the golden smile from Johnson’s face”. The battle between black and white, in the racist media portrayed as a battle between good and evil, captured peoples attention and made Johnson’s fights very lucrative, both for him and for the promoters. After the “Galveston Giant” had succesfully defended his title for four times Tex Rickard, one of the best and most powerfull promoters of his time, set up the mega fight between Jack Johnson and the undefeated former champion James Jackson Jeffries.

Rickard advertised this bout as the “fight of the century” and offered the United States president Taft to referee the contest. It was reportedly the first time a venue was constructed specifically for one boxing show. A sell-out crowd of 16,528 spectators saw the fight. Amongst them the former Heavyweight Champions John Lawrence Sullivan, James John Corbett, Robert Fitzsimmons and Tommy Burns. Both fighters received around 115,000 Dollars. The fight itself was a onesided beatdown as Johnson dominated Jeffries throughout the fight and finally knocked him down three times in the 15th round until Jeffries corner would stop the bout and concede. Johnson’s victory sparked race riots. Some states banned the filming of Johnson’s victories over white fighters.

Johnson would go on to defend his title three more times until he lost, out of shape and 37 years old, to Jess “the Pottawatomie Giant” Willard.

Dude
01-25-2006, 08:24 PM
I've never seen this thread before and I must say your last two posts have been top quality stuff, Dude...But I just want to point out that there are quite a few sources claiming Sullivan won the World title a few years earlier than what you've indicated here;

""Sullivan won the bare-knuckle version of the world heavyweight title in 1882 when he battered Tipperary's Paddy Ryaninto submission in nine rounds in Mississippi City." - HOF writer, Reg Gutteridge

"A succession of prize-fights followed, and as the colourful youngster acquired a large backing amongst the Irish-Americans of East Coast America, so the clamour grew for him to face Tipperary-born Paddy Ryan for the bare-knuckle championship of the world." - HOF writer, Harry Mullan

There's other sources to be found that agree with those statements, but both quickly found quotes indicate that the fight was for a "world" title. There's also sources that claim that Sullivan's fight and win over Dominick McCaffrey was for the vacant Queensberry Rules world title, including the IBHOF, BoxRec, Gutteridge, etc. Here's a quote from Gutteridge;

"Sullivan was crowned Queensberry world champion when he beat Dominick McCaffrey over six rounds in Cincinnati on 29 August 1885."

I also have newspaper reports from the Sullivan/McCaffrey fight, as well as the pre-fight and from memory it seems to back the claim that it was a world championship fight (the first with gloves, of course)...I'll check it out again to be 100% sure, though.

Thanks man. You make a valid point there and I'll research it again.

I'm thankfull for every input as I'm currently writing and have to hand in the "Facharbeit" in about two days. So it's quite important for me and my future to write sth. usefull.

Yogi
01-25-2006, 11:55 PM
Thanks man. You make a valid point there and I'll research it again.

I'm thankfull for every input as I'm currently writing and have to hand in the "Facharbeit" in about two days. So it's quite important for me and my future to write sth. usefull.

Dude, I was just looking over the newspaper reports from Sullivan/McCaffrey and there are a few references to it being a championship fight, including the fight report's heading of, "Sullivan Champion Yet". But no differential is made in either the pre-fight or fight reports using the wording of "world championship", so...but it was a Queensberry Rules championship fight.

Dude
01-25-2006, 11:57 PM
Part 1 on Jack Dempsey

William Harrison Dempsey was born as the 9th of 11 children on the 24th of June 1895 in Manassa, Colorado. Born to a dirt-poor farming family, young Dempsey took up boxing with his older brothers. One of his brothers would get stabbed later on while another brother killed himself and his wife in a fit of depression. It is quite an understatement to describe Dempsey’s early childhood as unfortunate. Inevitably he ran away from home when he was 15 years old.

Hopping on trains and sleeping in the open air William Harrison learnt to fight his way through life but never lost his positive attitude. He was just 16 years old when he fought his first professional fight for a reported wage of 5 dollars. Under the pseudonym “Kid Blackie” Dempsey would go into saloons or dance halls and challenge for fights. “I can’t sing and I can’t dance but I can lick any man in the house”, is handed down as his usual catchphrase. In most of these countless fights Dempsey faced a height and weight disadvantage.

In his early years Dempsey didn’t have a trainer and was a complete boxing autodidact. He simply learnt from his mistakes though this method of learning usually involved a lot of pain. When Dempsey fought Johnny Sudenberg over 10 rounds in Goldfield, Nevada he was knocked down nine times in the first round. His opponent surpassed him in height, weight and experience and took full advantage. Dempsey’s manager Jack Gillfeather had arranged the bout mainly because he was as broke as his protégé Dempsey, who stated years later in a interview that he “suffered the worst beating of my life” during this fight. After combating the last four rounds subconsious Dempsey was put in a wheel chair and shuffled to the shanty where he lived. The legend tells that he then slept for 24 hours and when he woke up his manager and his fee were gone.

Dude
01-26-2006, 01:57 AM
More on Dempsey. Pls correct if wrong.


Dempsey would fight Sudenberg twice again and eventually return the pleasure and knock him out.

One month before his first encounter with Sudenberg Dempsey had fought Emmanuel Campell in Reno, Nevada. The Reno Evening Gazette wrote about that match, “Emmanuel Campbell, a big colored fighter, took an awful beating from Jack Dempsey and finally quit cold after running to avoid punishment. He fell to the floor in the fourth round after turning his back and running half-way around the ring. After taking the count of eight he got off his knees and when Dempsey made another rush at him dropped back to the floor. Referee Moore promptly declared Dempsey the winner. Dempsey showed great cleverness and aggressiveness and has a punch with either hand that makes him a dangerous opponent.”

Another episode of Dempsey’s early fighting career was his bout with John Lester Johnson on the 14th of July in 1916. The match was held at the Harlem Sporting Club in New York and had been arranged by promoter John Reisler (nicknamed “John the Barber” because he possessed a barber store). During the fight John Lester Johnson would hit Dempsey’s body so hard the he suffered three broken ribs. Dempsey managed to go the distance of 10 rounds with his last ounce of strength. Before the fight Dempsey was promised to received 25 percent of the receipt of 500 dollars. As he only got 35 dollars he took John Reisler to task about the missing 90 dollars. When Reisler claimed that he payed off old debts Dempsey professedly had with a former promoter of his Dempsey was both, speechless and helpless.

By that time William Harisson Dempsey had abandoned his old nickname “Kid Blackie” and adopted the name of “Jack Dempsey” who was a famous middleweight of Irish ancestry and fought between 1883 and 1895. Dempsey himself had Irish ancestors. Soon he dedicated his whole life to the sport he loved and fed from. Through watching other fighters and growing experience the autodidact Dempsey invented a new fighting style. His common fighting stance became famous as the “Dempsey-Crouch”. He would march forward crouched and present as small as possible space to be hit. Out of this defensive shell he would unleash his furious punches, mostly in combinations.

Dempsey did not drink or smoke. He chew self-collected pine nuts because he thought that the grinding work of his teeth would strengthen his jaw and therefore help him to withstand more punishment in the ring. In addition he dipped his hands into salt water because an old fighter told him that this procedure would strenghten the skin.

Dude
01-26-2006, 11:06 AM
In contrast to his steeled body Dempsey had a very high, nearly feminine voice.

When the United States entered the first World War in 1917, Dempsey continued to box while working in a shipyard. After the war he was accused of being a draft dodger and it wasn’t until 1920 that he could clear his name on that account, when evidence was shown that the U.S. Army turned him down.

Meanwhile Dempsey was handed his first and only defeat by way of knockout when fought the experienced “Fireman” Jim Flynn on the 13th of Februar in 1917. According to the newspaper report Dempsey was down 10 seconds into the bout and remained on his back for 20 seconds. The Sandusky Star Journal described the knockout punch as following, “Flynn pushed down Dempsey’s guard with his right and swung his left to the jaw for a knockout.”

Around that time Dempsey first met with one of the most famous promoters of all time in “Doc” Kearns. Kearns would always take an incredible 50 percent of the revenues of his boxers as his salary. Everything Dempsey earned, being a landlord or an actor, would go halves between him and Kearns. Kearns would go on to lead Dempsey to his fame and eventually to the world title. Years later when Dempsey had bought a house for his old mother and Kearns would sell it behind Dempsey’s back the duo infernale would finally split. Dempsey wrote about Kearns in his biography, “Meine jahrelange Großmut hat er als Dummheit eingeschätzt und ausgenutzt. Er war ein Spieler, der das Geld noch viel schneller hinsauswarf als ich. Aber er war ein überragender Fachmann. Ich habe nie einen anderen Menschen kennen gelernt, der einen Boxer so perfekt analysieren könnte wie Kearns, der in kurzer Zeit alle Stärken und Schwächen eines Boxers erkannte und seinen Fighter entsprechend beriet und steuerte. Das bleibt ihm unbenommen, auch wenn er mich finanziell jahrelang um Million betrogen hat.”

With Kearns as his manager Dempseys career started to take off. In 1918 he revenged his loss to “Firemann” Jym Flynn by knocking him out in the first round. In his next match he would fight the esteemned Bill Brennan on the 25th of February in the Auditorium of
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Milwaukee. The Warren Evening Times reported from the fight, “Just one man, Fred Fulton, stands today between Jack Dempsey, the shiftiest two-fisted fighter since Bob Fitzsimmons, and Jess Willard, the heavyweight champion of the world. When Dempsey fights as he fought against Bill Brennan here last night, no lesser man can stand against him. Dempsey knocked Brennan out in the sixth round, and it was a masterly piece of work. Very few fighters have taken a better licking or taken their licking better than Brennan did last night. In sixty-seven fights Brennan had not been knocked off his feet, and his record includes about forty knockouts. Dempsey had him down four times in the second round and twice in the sixth. That ought to be answer enough to the question, can Dempsey hit? Just once did Brennan's robust wallop net Dempsey for a punch that stung. Dempsey took that punch and came back fighting like a tiger. Brennan's vaunted defense crumpled like paper before Dempsey's attack and his deadly left hand could not find its mark. Dempsey punished the big Chicagoan in every round but one.”

In 1918 alone Dempsey fought at least 23 fights of which he managed to win 21 with 1 loss and 1 draw. It did not take long until he was in the public eye. Dempsey himself was a product of the “roaring twenties”. “Doc” Kearns managed to present him as a superhero who would break a lions neck with bare fists and strangle dragons. For the majority of his fans he represented everything that they yearned for in their own lifes. He was succesfull and many believed him to be the strongest man of the world. It was at that time when Dempsey’s nickname “the Manassa Mauler” became more and more acquainted.

From 20th January of 1919 till the 2nd April Dempsey fought five opponents and knocked them all out in the first round. These fights were more like pubilicty stunts as “Doc” Kearns would try all sorts of things to get Dempsey in the ring with Jess Willard, who won the World Heavyweight Title from Jack Johnson and had defended it only once since, against Frank Moran in the Madison Square Garden in New York. Willard had been inactive for nearly three years and lived of the extent of his fame as champion of the world. As the public continued to demand a fight between the two Willard finally signed the contract.



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Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard were to fight on the 4th of July in 1919. The winner should be declared as Heavyweight Champion of the World. The Bay View Arena in Toledo, where the bout was held, was newly constructed. 20,000 viewers payed more than 500,000 dollars to witness this highly anticipated fight.

Dude
01-26-2006, 12:48 PM
Tex Rickard, the famous promoter, would organize most of the spectacle.

Jess Willard was the betting favourite as most experts believed that Willard was too big and strong for Dempsey. A rumor has it that Jack Dempsey and “Doc” Kearns bet 10,000 dollars at ten to one odds that Jack would knock out Willard in the first round. Supposedly that was all the money that had. Many called this fight a modern David and Goliath. However, Dempsey was fearless and very self-confident.

When the fight finally started it soon became obvious that, despite all the buzz in the buil-up of the bout, it would be a very one-sided affair. Dempsey came out bobbing and weaving and almost immediately knocked Willard down. In one of the most brutal first rounds in boxing history Jack “the Manassa Mauler” Dempsey would continue to knock down Willard for six more times. The champion looked helpless through times as he found no way to stop Dempsey, whose fists broke three of his ribs, ruptured his jaw, rived his lips and closed his eyes. The count from the last knockdown in the first round reached ten soon after the round bell rung. Most people believed that the fight was over and were leaving the arena. Dempsey thought he had won and celebrated before leaving the ring. It was total mayhem when the referee Ollie Pecord called him back. After some delay, the fight continued. The second round saw Willard connecting with his only meaningful punch of the fight, a good uppercut. Other than that the contender dominated and hit Willard at will. During the third round Willard lost several teeth and suffered a broken cheek-bone. Despite his immense bravery Willard had to quit on his stool before the 4th round was started. Jack Dempsey was the new Heavyweight Champion of the World. (** a video-recording of the fight is enclosed to the attachment)




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Dempsey preluded the golden age of boxing. Although many people still opposed prize-fighting, a majority clamored for its legalization. On the 14th of January in 1920 James J. Walker introduced his boxing bill in the Albany senate which would eventually be signed into law by Governor Smith. After boxing had been primarily a western sport for the past generation this step secured boxing a place in the spotlight of America’s top sports once and for all. Two months after the legalization of boxing in New York, Tex Rickard became the proprietor of Madison Square Garden. New York became the mecca of the pugilistic world.

Dude
01-26-2006, 02:47 PM
In his first defense Dempsey stepped into the ring to face Billy Miske on the 6th September of 1920 . Miske took a count of three in the second round, said to be the first knockdown of his career. In the third round Miske was down for nine before takeing the full count. Years after the fight, it became public that Miske accepted the fight while suffering a terminal disease and needed the money to secure his family after death. Miske died two years after faceing Dempsey, who always expressed regret about that fight and declared he would have given Miske the money he needed if he had only known about the circumstances.

After succesfully defending his title against Bill Brennan, whom he knocked out with a two punch combination to the body in the 12th round, Dempsey was set to face the European Heavyweight and World Light Heavyweight Champion George “The Orchid Man” Carpentier on the 2nd of July in 1921. Carpentier was not only a champion but a decorated veteran of the French Army who had served in the first World War. Ironically, Dempsey's promoter used this angle to promote the fight, since many Americans still regarded Dempsey as a slacker during the war. It was good versus evil again and Carpentier, an elegant and well educated man, was the ideal fan favourite. Tex Rickard once again advertised this bout as “the fight of the century”. The match was held in a farm that had to be rented to accommodate all the public in New Jersey. 80,183 viewers payed a record 1,789,238 Dollars to see the action live. This was boxing’s first “million dollar gate”.




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Dempsey weighed in 16 pounds heavier than Carpentier and knew all the physical advantages on his side. This was the first championship bout to be broadcasted live on radio. Though Carpentier landed some solid punches Dempsey was always in control and never in serious danger of losing his title. When Carpentier broke his right thumb during the 2nd round the fight was virtually decided. It was only a matter of time until Dempsey would eventually knock down Carpentier. He did so in the 4th round and after Carpentier got up at the count of nine Jack quickly followed up with the final punch of the fight. Carpentier had fought heroically but was overwhelmed. At the end he was badly gashed and bleeding while Dempsey was unmarked. (*** a video-recording of the fight is enclosed to the attachment)

After this fight, Dempsey's fame reached unexpected heights, becoming one of the top five sports stars in the United States, along with baseball’s Babe Ruth, American football’s Red Grange, golf’s Bobby Jones and tennis’ Bill Tilden. They were know as “the big five of sports”. All the bad press in the build-up to Dempsey’s bout with Carpentier was suddenly forgotten.

The good-looking Dempsey with his simple charm had always been a womanizer. He met his first wife way back when he was still fighting in saloons and dancing halls, where she would sing and prostitute herself. He married the 15-year older woman in 1916. Dempsey describes in his biography how she would solace him when got beaten badly, for exmaple when he suffered the horrible beating to the hands of John Lester Johnson. However, they got divorced in 1920 and though she would cause him some problems in the progress, Dempsey would later describe her in his biography as “a fine women”. After their marriage his former wife became a prostitue again.

Tiger Flowers
05-07-2006, 09:10 AM
Here's some VERY brief statements about the fighters in question.

Dempsey won the title by beating the hell out of Jess Willard. Broken ribs, nose jaw and eye socket is what Dempsey did to Willard. This is one of the top three heavyweight championship massacres with the other two being Louis Schmelling II and Tyson Spinks.

Gene Tunney was ahead of his time in regards to boxing style. His stick and move style proved way to much for an over the hill yet still effective Jack Dempsey. Forget about the long count. In my opinion it wouldn't have mattered as Tunney got up and proceeded to stay out of Dempsey's reach for the rest of the fight and even put Jack down once in the fight.

Max Schmelling was a hard hitter and the first man to defeat Joe Louis. He also beat guys like Young Stribling and a blwon up Mickey Walker (middewieght). Won the title on a foul against Jack Sharkey.p light heavy Billy Conn but came on late, in typical Louis fashion, was able to stop Conn with a vicious combination.

Tiger Flowers

sookyjumps
05-08-2006, 11:39 PM
its nice to read about something other than ali thanx guys