Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 45
Date: 99-01-26 14:46:50 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
Edited by J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 45
Wednesday, January 27, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: KETCHEL VS. JOHNSON AND, TRAGICALLY, KETCHEL VS. WALTER A.
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KETCHEL DIDN'T EXPECT TO MAKE 30
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 25, 1925)
By Hype Igoe
NEW YORK -- Stanley Ketchel, the immortal "Steve," passed on just 15 years ago
this month. Never comes the anniversary of his untimely death but there is a
little meeting of some sort among his chums, to talk over the feats of this
amazing boy, his emotions, his kindly deeds at home and in any town in which
he happened to be.
Stanley Ketchel was a strange character and most astonishing, he foretold a
sudden, tragic end for himself.
"John," he used to say to this writer, using a favorite nickname, "I won't
live to be 30. I'm going and I'm going sudden-like. I can't just see my end
but it will be sudden. I won't live to be 30, I tell you."
He didn't live to be 24. An assassin's bulet ploughed through his splendid
back and though he fought death with more than his usual savagery, he went
finally, like a little child, his last words being: "I'm so tired -- take me
home to mother."
I don't suppose they'll ever forget him, especially those who saw him in the
ring. Handsome, gallant, fair, absolutely fearless, he was a picture in the
ring with his flaring red silk rigging, flying mane, beautifully moulded body.
There'll never be another just like him. There couldn't be.
Ketchel had a peculiar longing to see his victims on the day following a
fight. He made it a rule to hunt out the unhappy loser, that he might console
and offer part of his purse. He seldom failed to share his winnings with the
man who only the night before was trying to knock his magnificent head from
his shoulders. Ketchel worked hard for a fight, worked hard in it and the
first thing to pass his lips after a battle was a great bowl of bread and
The small boy now, when an hour before he had the big men of the country doing
their best to keep their hearts from popping right out of their mouths.
Ketchel said the bread and milk drowned the fires that had been burning within
him during a fight. It didn't make any difference where or what the reception
was after an important bout, he sat at the head of the table with his great
bowl of bread and milk before him.
'I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT FIGHT...'
(Ring Magazine, January 1960)
By Jack Root, Oldest Living Former World Champion
October 16, 1909, is a day I shall never forget. It was the day on which a
miracle occurred when Stanley Ketchel, world middleweight champion, dropped
burly, cocky Jack Johnson on the seat of his pants in the twelfth round only
to be knocked cold with the next punch landed by the Galveston Giant. It was a
battle in which the world heavyweight crown was at stake, and in which
Ketchel, scaling only 170 pounds, gave 35 pounds away to the champion.
When I celebrated my 83rd birthday on May 26, I visited The Ring office on my
way for my annual trip to Europe and a photograph I saw on the wall of The
Ring editor's office brought back fond memories. It was a picture of Ketchel
stretched on the ring floor with Johnson standing over him and it recalled
vividly the encounter as I witnessed it. It is appropriate at this time, on
the fiftieth anniversary of the fight, to give my impressions of what I regard
as one of the highlights of my sixty years' association with boxing. So here's
the story of that thrilling engagement:
Sitting with Jim Jeffries, Jack Curley and Jim Coffroth in the sunswept arena
at Colma, California, we were awaiting the gong that would send Ketchel
against Johnson in what was billed as a twenty-round fight for the world's
heavyweight title. It was ten months after the Galveston Giant had returned
from Australia where he had clinched the crown by stopping Tommy Burns.
He needed money badly and when the proposition was put to him to give the
middleweight champion a crack at his title, Johnson quickly agreed since
Ketchel was a hot favorite on the Pacific Coast and an excellent drawing card.
Ketchel feared no man and acted his part when he entered the ring and went to
There are many things that make this title bout stand out so clearly. I can
see myself sitting at the ringside, tense, watching every move of the rivals
as they fought up through the eleventh round and then as out of a clear sky,
we were treated to one of the most amazing episodes I've witnessed either as a
boxer or a spectator. An explosion -- yes -- just that.
That thrilling twelfth round takes its place among ring classics.
For eleven rounds, the middleweight king had waged a real war against the
foremost heavyweight in the world, a man whose cleverness and marvelous
defense, among other assets of a great fighter, had enabled him to reach the
top rung of the ladder. He had speed and hitting power to back up his skill
and, most of all, he was a tremendously powerful man.
But Ketchel paid little atttention to that. He possessed fists of iron, had a
fighting heart and his self-confidence was unmatched. Only once had he been
beaten and he had entered into this engagement with his mind set not to be
defeated again. But Fate willed otherwise.
The eleventh round had been completed. Things looked bright for the
middleweight king. He had given Johnson as much as he had received in that
session and now he came out for the twelfth.
The bell clanged. Up from his stool leaped Stanley like a lean and hungry wolf
out to tear its prey apart.
He shifted, quickly turned to one side and whipped a powerful left to
Johnson's jaw. Jack let go that sturdy right of his that could snap a man's
head off his neck and Ketchel couldn't stop it, but Stanley still kept coming
This was one time Johnson's defense was insufficient to ward off the Ketchel
attack and for several seconds it was a jab by Jack and a hook by Ketchel. One
of those hooks landed with a thud against the heavyweight king's jaw. It
carried every ounce of Ketchel's powerful muscles behind it and Jack's feet
went from under him.
Down he went! The air was rent with the shrieks of the Ketchel supporters. We
all leaped to our feet, shouting.
The surprise of a lifetime had come to us! The unexpected had happened! And
Do you wonder why I shall never forget that fight?
Ketchel stepped back a pace while the crowd shrieked with delight. A bitter
smile wreathed his lips.
What his thoughts were could only be guessed at, but undoubtedly he must have
been thinking of the double title he would soon possess.
But another surprise!
In a jiffy, Johnson was on his feet after Referee Welch tolled off a few
seconds. He showed his white teeth, he set himself for Ketchel's rush.
He wasn't hurt but his pride had been injured by that knockdown. His golden
smile had temporarily vanished.
Ketchel rushed forth, his face distorted. He was somewhat astonished at the
ease with which his rival had recovered from the knockdown and he was out to
repeat the dose.
What he had accomplished once, he figured he could do again. But he now took
the chances of a novice. The experience he had gained in his tough battles of
the past should have made him act with caution before setting out on a new
attack. But no. He rushed forth unguarded.
Before Stanley could cut loose with one blow, Jack stepped back, then came in
like a flash. Up went his right in a short arc.
I've never known a boxer with a better right hand uppercut than Johnson's and
it exploded with a crash against Stanley Ketchel's chin. It landed with such
force and speed, with all of the Galveston Giant's 206 pounds of muscle behind
it, that Jack couldn't stop himself as he connected.
Ketchel's feet flew out from under him and he hit the floor with a resounding
crash. His head struck the canvas-covered floor and he straightened out, full
length, dead to the world, with Li'l Arthur almost on top of him. There
Ketchel lay, eyes closed, blood flowing from his mouth.
One minute Ketchel was the new heavyweight champion of the world. The next
minute he was just a great little man who once again had proved that when a
fine big man has a 35-pound bulge in the weights, the result is inevitable.
THE LEGACY OF A WORLD CHAMPION
(excerpt, 'Gladiators of the Glittering Gulches')
By Frank Bell
. . . In a succession of fights the next year, Stanley again met Sam Langford
at 165 pounds, winning a decision over the black fighter in six rounds at
Philadelphia. Porky Flynn, a Boston heavyweight, fell victim to another
victory by knockout in the third of a scheduled twelve-round bout in that
city. Stanley won again at New York's National Sporting Club, knocking out Jem
Smith in the fifth round. Smith outweighed him by eight pounds. It was
destined to be Ketch's last fight.
Early in September, 1910, Stanley went to his farm near Grand Rapids for a
prolonged rest. He had not been the same since his defeat at the hands of Jack
Johnson. It was said the defeat caused the untimely death of his manager,
Willie Britt. Further, Ketch admitted that, "dallying with the splendors of
the Great White Way" had impaired his powers somewhat. "A short rest and the
outdoor life will make a new man of me." He wanted to get back in shape, take
on weight and meet Jack Johnson in the ring again on more even terms. After a
few weeks he accepted an invitation to stay at the ranch of a friend, R.P.
Dickerson, near Conway, Missouri.
The boxing world was greatly shocked and Butte's sporting fraternity deeply
grieved when news flashed over the wires on October 16, 1910, that Stanley
Ketchel had died from a rifle bullet fired by a farm hand.
Seated at the breakfast table, the champion's back was to the door when he
rose and turned with a smile on the command to throw up his hands. Walter
Dipley, hired the previous week as Walter A. Hurtz, pulled the trigger.
Ketchel fell to the floor. Dipley first ran out into the year, then returned
and removed a revolver from the boxer's belt, struck the fallen man over the
head with it and fled into the countryside. A sum of $500 was later found to
be missing from Stanley's person.
"Ketchel can't tell me how to run my business," Dipley shouted as he ran past
the ranch foreman. The trouble had apparently started the previous day when
Stanley reprimanded Dipley for beating a horse. Upon interrogation, Mrs.
Goldie Smith, a kitchen employee, complained to county officers that she had
been insulted by the fighter and had informed the ranch hand who became angry.
Dipley lived with her, unmarried. She later told the officers of a pre-
arranged meeting place in Springfield. However, an armed posse aided by a pack
of bloodhounds apprehended the slayer at the ranch of Tom Haggard where he had
requested food and shelter after running through the nearby woods in an effort
to escape. he was found to be a Navy deserter and native to the farm area.
The wounded champion was transported to Conway where a special train ahd been
chartered by Dickerson. The ranch owner had placed a price of $5,000 on the
dead body of Dipley, alias Walter A. Hurtz. Three physicians were on the
special. They attempted to locate the slug, which had entered the boxer's body
below the right shoulder, coursed upward and entered the lung.
Stanley was in bad shape when the train arrived in Springfield after a two-
hour journey, added to the trip from the ranch to Conway. Before he lost
consciousness, he had said that Dipley had shot him. He died in the
Springfield Hospital at 7:05 p.m. Dickeron accompanied the body to Grand
Rapids, Michigan, for burial.
Stanislaus Kiecel (the pugilist's real name) was born in Grand Rapids
September 14, 1887. His career ended a little past the age of twenty-three.
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