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The Fight: The Rules of the Ring on SBS TV (29/7/08 to 19/8/08)
After watching the first part of the television series entitled The Fight: The Rules of the Ring on SBS TV (Tuesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. beginning 29 July 2008) I wrote the following prose-poem to try and capture the personal relevance of the boxing story in that one hour program. I trust readers at this site will enjoy this personalized account, even if they do not share all my personal values and beliefs.
-Ron Price, Tasmania, Australia.
KNOCKING THEM OUT
Jack Dempsey(1895-1983) was an American boxer who was boxing history’s 9th world heavyweight champion. He held the title from 1919 to 1926. Dempsey's aggressive style and punching power made him one of the most popular in boxing history. On his way to the title Dempsey won nine straight fights in 1917 and 21 out of 22 in 1918, 11 of these by first-round knockouts. In 1919 he won five bouts in a row by knockouts in the first round on the way to fight for the title on 4 July 1919 against Jess Willard.
Few gave Dempsey a chance against Willard, a big man 50 lbs. heaver and six inches taller. Many called the fight a modern David and Goliath story. Minutes before the fight Dempsey’s fight manager, Jack Kearns, informed Dempsey that he had wagered Dempsey's share of the purse. He had bet his share of the purse on Dempsey winning with a first round knockout. As a result, the first round of the fight was one of the most brutal in boxing history. Dempsey dealt Willard a terrible beating and knocked him down seven times in the first round. Willard had a broken cheekbone, broken jaw, several teeth knocked out, partial hearing loss in one ear and broken ribs.
Some of the most intense minutes in boxing history are found in the fights of Jack Dempsey from 1919 to 1926. On September 23, 1926, at Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the largest crowd ever, 120,757, saw the 31-year-old Jack Dempsey lose his title to Gene Tunney in a 10 round decision on points. Explaining his battered face to his wife Estelle, Dempsey said--in one of boxing’s most famous lines: "honey, I forgot to duck."
I have taken a special interest in these seven years of boxing history for three reasons. Firstly, I have always had an interest in boxing since my father and I watched fights on TV from 1954 to 1962. In March 1962 Kid Peret was killed in the ring by Emile Griffith and my dad and I watched no more fights. Our shared interest in boxing perhaps began with Rocky Marciano’s sixth-round knockout of Rex Layne at Madison Square Garden on 12 July 1951 or with the September 29th 1952 fight between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott the then heavyweight boxing champion. This fight was what boxing experts have considered to be Marciano's defining moment. But my father and I had to wait until 1954 to watch our first boxing match since those first two famous fights in my young life were not televised. The first fights we watched took place over 50 years ago and my memory of them is naturally somewhat rusty. From about 1954 until 1962, when Kid Peret died from his fight with Griffith and on the eve of my pioneering life for the Canadian Baha’i community, my dad and I watched the big championship fights and many Friday night fights on TV sponsored by the Gillett Company.
The second reason that I took a special interest in boxing was that just last night1 my interest was reawakened. I saw the first part of a four part television series on the history of the greatest fighters in boxing. The series was entitled 1The Fight: The Rules of the Ring1 and was being televised on SBS TV on four consecutive Tuesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. beginning 29 July 2008. Thirdly, I found an interesting correlation between the history of the religion I have been associated with for 55 years(1953-2008) and boxing history during those seven years(1919-1926).2 This prose-poem explores that correlation, its comparisons and contrasts. -Ron Price with appreciation to Loni Bramson-Lerche, “Development of Baha’i Administration,” in Studies in Babi & Baha’i History: Volume 1, editor Moojan Momen, Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, 1982, pp.255-300.
While Dempsey was knocking them out
and heading for the title, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
was knocking out His Tablets, getting
them ready for their great unveiling in
1919 just before Dempsey got the title.
They both kept knocking them out1 in
the ring and on paper--slowly--not so
slowly. While Dempsey defended his
title this movement connected loosely
became fully organized building blocks
of a future world government at local
and national levels, united in doctrinal
matters and focussed on teaching as its
main aim in all that it did and tried to do.
The fight was on and a national
consciousness was emerging for
the war with those right and left
wings of the hosts of the world
and a carrying of the attack to
the very centre of the powers
of the earth by God’s Hosts.2
1 Some 100 tablets were revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha for the American Baha’is. See H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha: The Centre of the Covenant, George Ronald, Oxford, 1971, p. 434.
2 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, Wilmette, 1977(1919), p. 48.
29 July 2008
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Statesville, NC
Rep Power: 0
Total Points: 19,946,911,952,922.65
Thanks for your encouragement, JAB5239. Here is a piece I wrote today. I've submitted is already at this site, but I post it again here for your private delectation.-Ron in
JOE LOUIS AND THE BAHÁ'Í TEACHING PLAN
Joe Louis(1914-1981) was ranked as the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight champion of the world in 1935 and that year he won the Associated Press' "Athlete of the Year" award. What was considered to be a final tune-up bout before an eventual title shot for Louis was scheduled for 19 June 1936 against former world heavyweight champion Max Schmeling. By exploiting Louis's habit of dropping his left hand low after a jab, Schmeling handed Louis his first professional loss. He knocked Louis out in Round 12 at Yankee Stadium on 19 June 1936. Two months later, on 18 August 1936, Louis knocked out former champion Jack Sharkey. In that summer of 1936 the North American Baha’is had just begun to make their first efforts to implement ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan in their first systematic teaching program. His Plan has been implemented in a series of organized campaigns which I have been associated with for nearly sixty years.
On 22 June 1937, more than one year into the implementation of that Plan, Louis defeated James Braddock by knockout in Round 8. Louis's ascent to the world heavyweight title was complete. Louis's victory was a seminal moment in African American history. Thousands of African Americans stayed up all night across the country to watch the fight. Louis inflicted constant punishment on Braddock. Noted author, and member of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, celebrating the event described Louis's effect in these terms:
“Each time Joe Louis won a fight in those depression years, even before he became champion, thousands of coloured Americans on relief and poor would throng out into the streets all across the land to march and cheer and yell and cry because of Joe's one-man triumphs. No one else in the United States has ever had such an effect on Negro emotions – or on mine. I marched and cheered and yelled and cried, too.”(1)
On 30 August 1937 Louis and British Empire Champion Tommy Farr touched gloves at New York's Yankee Stadium before a crowd of approximately 32,000. Louis fought one of the hardest battles of his life. The bout was closely contested and went the entire 15 rounds with Louis being unable to knock Farr down. Louis won a controversial unanimous decision. Time Magazine described the scene thus: “After collecting the judges' votes, referee Arthur Donovan announced that Louis had won the fight on points.”
The rematch between Louis and Schmeling is one of the most famous boxing matches of all time, and is remembered as one of the major sports events of the 20th century. Following his defeat of Louis in 1936, Schmeling became a national hero in Germany. Schmeling's victory over an African American was touted by Nazi officials as proof of their doctrine of Aryan superiority. When the rematch was scheduled, Louis retreated to his boxing camp in New Jersey and trained incessantly for the fight. A few weeks before the bout, Louis visited the White House, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt told him, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany." Louis later admitted: "I knew I had to get Schmeling good. I had my own personal reasons and the whole damned country was depending on me."
When Schmeling arrived in New York in June 1938 for the rematch he was accompanied by a Nazi party publicist who issued statements that a black man could not defeat Schmeling. The publicist also said that, when Schmeling won, the prize money would be used to build tanks in Germany.
On the night of June 22, 1938, Louis and Schmeling met for the second time in the boxing ring. The fight was held in Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 70,043. It was broadcast by radio to millions of listeners throughout the world, with radio announcers reporting on the fight in English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The fight lasted two minutes and four seconds. Louis battered Schmeling with a series of swift attacks, forcing Schmeling against the ropes and giving him a paralyzing body blow. Schmeling was knocked down three times and only managed to throw two punches in the entire bout.(2)
My father, who loved boxing and with whom I watched boxing matches back in the 1950s and 1960s before he died and had a Bahá'í funeral, was 48 years old in 1938 and had 27 years of his own life’s battles yet to go. He was just about to meet my mother whom he married in 1943. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Wikipedia and (2) “The Fight: Part 2,” 10:00-11:00 p.m., SBS2 TV, 25 February 2010.
All of this boxing history took place
in the years surrounding the beginning
of the relationship between my father
and mother and the opening of that
Bahá'í teaching Plan in 1937 which
was a fight of immense proportions,
requiring a force, a gigantic task, and
a concentration of resources that
summoned to its aid all the faith,
the determination and the energies
of North American Bahá’ís in an
effort of single-mindedness to attain
still greater heights of mighty exertions
for the Cause of Faith and Bahá'u'lláh.(1)
(1) Shoghi Effendi, “Letter 30 May 1936,” Messages to America: 1932-1946, Bahá'í Publishing Committee, Wilmette, 1947, p.7.
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