Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 64
Date: 99-03-07 13:27:04 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
Edited by J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 64
Saturday, March 6, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: TRIBUTE TO THE CYBER BOXING ZONE AND ALL ITS RING WONDERS
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Readers are welcome to submit interesting and otherwise noteworthy articles
concerning professional boxing's long and storied past. The emphasis,
generally, should be on the foremost fighters, managers, trainers and
promoters, and events that otherwise were of some moment in the sport's
history. Either transmit the articles via e-mail or mail them to the editor at
the following addresses:
J Michael Kenyon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
4739 University Way N.E., Suite 1150
Seattle, Washington 98105 (temporary)
THE INCREDIBLE CYBERBOXINGZONE
BOOKMARK THE ABOVE URL!!!!
(ED. NOTE -- Not since the halcyon years of Ring magazine, circa 1922-1941,
has there been any one place where a boxing fan could go to read all that's
worthwhile about the past, present and future of the game. We've said it
before and we'll say it again: The Cyber Boxing Zone is a superb web site. The
March issue of the Cyber Boxing Journal brings more good news, too. Pete
Ehrmann, eminent boxing writer and historian introduces himself to CBJ readers
-- “Pete Ehrmann wanted to be a priest & the first American Pope until the day
his father introduced him to former heavyweight champion James J. Braddock.
Then he wanted to be heavyweight champion himself until he had his first
Golden Gloves bout in 1967. Then he incurred so much brain damage that he
decided to become a boxing writer, which he has been ever since. He wrote his
first column for “The Ring” magazine at age 14 & is still a regular
contributor of articles to newspapers around the country. Cyberspace is as big
a mystery to him as the ratings of the alphabet groups...” To tickle your
fancy, a couple of nice historical pieces from the Cyber Boxing Journal
'I CAN LICK ANY MAN IN THE HOUSE'
By Tracy Callis
John L. Sullivan was one of America’s first sports idols. He was a flag-waving
patriot who reflected the spirit of a vibrant, young nation. Confident,
strong, aggressive, and outspoken, Sullivan was a natural showman.
Shirtless, adorned in knee-breeches and stockings, wearing fighting boots
(shoes with spikes), the great John L. fought using either bare-knuckles,
skin-tight gloves, or padded gloves. He battled under both -- the London Prize
Ring Rules and the Marquis of Queensberry Rules. McCallum (1974 p. 3) calls
him "the true link between the bare-knuckle and glove eras."
At the call of "time," Sullivan with black mustache, high cheekbones and
sunken cheeks charged out -- glaring, scowling, snorting, and swinging --
trying to land the "Boston Special", his powerful right hand punch. He was
surprisingly fast for a 195-pounder. He used a straight up stance, employed
feints, and threw the "One-Two." In addition, he threw powerful left and right
John could also take a good punch. In his prime, he quickly disposed of power
hitters and, because of his endurance, was able to catch and defeat his
greatest problem as a fighter -- the "hit-and-run" tactician. But, over the
years, his drinking and riotous living habits did him in. He even drank and
smoked cigars during training.
His knockout ability has been challenged in recent years but he most certainly
belongs in a special class of power punchers like "Sailor" Tom Sharkey of the
1890s, Rocky Marciano of the 1950s, and Mike Tyson of today. He fought in a
day when a man received credit for a knockout only if he scored a knockout.
There were no technical knockouts. If a fight was stopped by a referee because
of an injury such as a broken arm or by the police to prevent a brutal beating
-- there was no knockout. If an opponent quit fighting or ran from the ring --
there was no knockout. The verdict was a "win."
There are many such bouts on Sullivan’s record which would be called knockouts
by today’s rules but were simply recorded as wins in his day -- Joe Goss,
Johnny "Cocky" Woods, Dan Dwyer, Steve Taylor, John Flood, Tug Collins,
Charlie Mitchell, John Laflin, Alf Greenfield, Paddy Ryan (1885), and Frank
There were many "No Decision" bouts on his record and, doubtless, if the
details of these matches were known, he would have many more knockouts. Durant
(1976 p. 24) writes that Sullivan is estimated to have knocked out some 200
men during his career while fighting all types of men -- lumberjacks,
blacksmiths, local strong boys, and professional fighters.
Further, during the early years, records were often in error (for various
reasons). Even topnotch fighters were apt to let many victories over minor
opponents slip away unrecorded.
There is no question that John L. could hit. Langley (1973 pp. 27-29) writes
"As a knockout specialist John’s record remains unbeaten. No other fighter in
history has left such a trail of broken and aching jaws behind him."
Tim Scannell, 200-pound competitor, was lifted up and out of the ring by a
Sullivan punch. Charlie Mitchell and John Donaldson were also knocked out of
He knocked many men "cold" and battered numerous others into helpless
submission. John Flood, Paddy Ryan, Jake Kilrain, John Laflin, and Frank
Herald were among those who had to be carried from the ring.
He broke jaws and bashed in faces with abandon. Johnny "Cocky" Woods, Kilrain,
Scannell, Laflin, and Ryan were numbered among those who carried distorted
features in the years following their pounding by the "Great John L."
Paddy Ryan said "When Sullivan hit me, I thought a telegraph pole had been
shoved against me endways" (see Durant and Bettman 1952 p. 79; Durant 1976 p.
Professor Mike Donovan commented on Sullivan’s style "It wasn’t boxing. It was
like being hit by a runaway horse." The Professor called John L. the strongest
man he ever fought and add, "He used his right as a blacksmith would use a
sledge hammer …" (see Durant and Rice 1946 and McCallum 1974 p. 10).
Charlie Harvey, old time manager, described Sullivan as a "rushing, tearing-
in, two-fisted fighter with a power punch" and called him "… big, fast, and
courageous" (see Fleischer 1972 p. 207).
Diamond (1954 p. 10) writes about Sullivan -- "He was quick on his feet -- as
quick as any modern heavyweight. And what a punch he had! A knockout in each
hand! He was not a scientific boxer but a slugger, depending mainly on a
vicious right swing to the jaw."
Durant and Rice (1946) state "He was superbly fast with his hands and he moved
always forward, growling as he advanced."
Grombach (1977 p. 43) describes Sullivan in this way "According to the writers
of his time, he was a great burly, slugging fighter with bull-like tactics,
mighty fists, and little science. He was good-natured, generous, conceited,
blustering, and extremely popular."
Durant and Bettman (1952 p. 79) state that "…he was more than merely strong.
He was amazingly fast for a big man and had a knock-em-dead punch in either
hand. Ring science was not for John L. He never bothered much with defense. He
brushed aside blows and kept moving forward, always punching. His was a
McCallum (1974 pp 10-11) describes him "He was far from being muscle-bound. He
was a 'natural' puncher. His punches were perfectly timed, seldom wild, and
fast. In the ring, he was extraordinarily fast. His hands were large. His
shoulders enormous, his chest was remarkably deep …."
Lardner (1972 p. 43) writes that Sullivan was a bully, a boozer, and a
braggart and later adds that he looked like a conqueror with his florid face,
black brow, black hair, mustache, and aggressive fighter’s jaw. Burrill (1974
p. 181) says he was "notorious for drinking and tavern brawls." Tom Langley
(1973 p. 31) says that "Sullivan implicitly believed in his invincibility and
wasted no time in passing on this information to the world."
Billy Roche, famous referee, rated Sullivan as the greatest of all
heavyweights and said that John L. had the best "One-Two" punch that he
(Roche) ever saw (see McCallum 1974 p. 4).
Gilbert Odd, boxing historian, once wrote that John L. in most of his early
years only had to hit a man one time. If he did not knock the man out of the
fight, he knocked the fight out of the man.
Jim Jeffries called Sullivan the greatest fighter in ring history (see
Fullerton 1929 p. VIII). Cooper (1978 p. 103) calls "… John L., the Champion
of Champions to everybody who saw him fight …."
Grombach (1977 p. 46) writes: "…if the strength, speed, hitting power,
fighting instinct, and ring ferocity of Sullivan had been developed in the
school of modern boxing, and were he around today, he would be a dangerous
challenger to any champion."
Burrill, B. 1974. Who’s Who In Boxing: New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House
Cooper, H. 1978. The Great Heavyweights. Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell
Diamond, W. 1954. Kings of the Ring. London: The World’s Work (1913) Ltd.
Durant, J. and Bettman, O. 1952. Pictorial History of American Sports.
Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Co.
Durant, J. and Rice, E. 1946. Come Out Fighting. Cincinnati: Zebra Picture
Durant, J. 1976. The Heavyweight Champions. New York: Hastings House Pub.
Fleischer, N. 1972. Jack Dempsey. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House.
Fullerton, H. 1929. Two-Fisted Jeff. Chicago: Consolidated Book Publishers,
Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of Sock.London : Thomas Yoseloff Ltd.; Cranbury,
New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc.
Langley, T. 1973. The Life of John L. Sullivan. Leicester, England: Vance
Lardner, R. 1972. The Legendary Champions. New York: American Heritage Press.
McCallum, J. 1974. The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Radnor, Pa.:
Chilton Book Company.
LEW JENKINS REMEMBERED
By Matt Tegen
"People who knew Greb say he was a junior compared to me."--Jenkins describing
"You're nuts, I wasn't knocked out! Uh, where am I?"--Jenkins after getting
kayoed by Henry Armstrong
Lew Jenkins ranks with Benny Lynch, Mike Tyson, and Tony Ayala Jr. as one of
the most self-destructive fighters who ever lived. Unlike Lynch and Tyson,
Jenkins though never achieved any sort of lasting greatness. Blessed with
arguably the best right hand in the history of the Lightweight division,
Jenkins literally either knocked your ass out, or lost. For a short span of
about 18 months in 1940 and 1941 Jenkins was one of the most dangerous
fighters in the business, but for the rest of his career he was a 50-50
proposition to win.
Jenkins rarely ever trained for a fight his entire career. Jenkins usual
running regiment was to wake up at nine, run for a half mile, smoke a
cigarette, and then walk a little bit more. Jenkins also lived the nocturnal
lifestyle getting drunk and sleeping with every willing woman in New York that
he could find. To top that off Lew loved anything that would go fast, he was
probably in as many car wrecks and motorcycle accidents as Angel Manfredy,
unfortunately for Lew it would take him a lot longer to straighten out his
life than it took Manfredy.
Lew Jenkins was born on December 4, 1916 in Milburn or Sweetwater, Texas.
Whatever the case may be Jenkins was born dirt poor. Jenkins like everyone
else in his family worked in the fields picking cotton from sunrise to sunset.
Tired of working for less than a dollar a day, Jenkins left the cotton fields
and rode the rails for awhile, while doing this he found the carnivals and
took up fighting.
In those days in Texas the carnivals featured boxers and wrestlers. Jenkins
found out quickly that along with the good pay, that he could fight, and he
began touring around the state with the carnival. After doing this for awhile
Jenkins joined the army where he continued to box.
With the Army paying very little Jenkins turned pro in around 1936 in Texas,
he had six recorded bouts in 1936 and 1937 though he probably had many more
than that, as many of his bouts were unrecorded like many Southern fighters of
the day. By 1938 Jenkins was now taking furloughs from the Army on a regular
basis fighting no less than 26 times with a mediocre record of 17-7-2, with a
pair of losses coming to contenders Wesley Ramey and Lew Feldman.
Jenkins continued his mediocre run for the early part of 1938 failing to beat
contender Willie Joyce in three tries and getting stopped by Pete Lello. After
getting stopped by Lello though Jenkins began a sudden and dramatic change.
All of a sudden Jenkins began to win fights he used to lose, and finished the
year with eleven straight wins (7 by kayo) most notable of which were kayoes
over former Featherweight title claimant Mike Belloise and another kayo of
The 23 year old Jenkins had now emerged from club fighter status to become a
top contender. He began 1940 with back-to-back first round knockouts over
Future Jr. Welterweight champ Tippy Larkin and Chino Alvarez. Jenkins had now
positioned himself for a title shot with Lightweight champ Lou Ambers.
The fight with Ambers was held on May 10, 1940 at Madison Square Garden,
Ambers entered the bout a sound 4-to-1 favorite over the young Jenkins. Ambers
had recently defeated the great Henry Armstrong and it was figured that he had
enough skills to outclass his hard-hitting challenger. Jenkins got into the
best shape of his career, which wasn't saying much and put on the best
performance of his career.
A minute into the fight Jenkins blasted Ambers with his patented overhand
right and dropped Ambers to the canvas. Ambers was as tough as they come
though, and he got up and began to outwork Jenkins till the end of the second
when Jenkins floored him with a left hook. Jenkins sensed that his man was
doomed, and he tore into Ambers in the third dropping him two more times
before referee Billy Cavanaugh called a halt to the slaughter at 1:29 of the
Coming off his big performance against Ambers, he was offered a chance to
fight Welterweight champion Henry Armstrong who was the best pound-for-pound
fighter in boxing at the time, in a non-title bout. Jenkins was considered
having a reasonable chance of beating Armstrong based mostly on him having
crushed Lou Ambers who had taken a 15 round decision from Armstrong the prior
year. Jenkins hardly trained at all for the fight instead spending his energy
on his usual diet of beer, women, and cigarettes.
The fight came off on July 17, 1940 at the Polo Grounds. Jenkins came out
blasting away at a cautious Armstrong in the first round. Jenkins continued
fighting like a champ until midway through the second when Armstrong blasted
Jenkins with a left to the body. To say Lew didn't recover from that punch
would be an understatement, the truth is he fell apart. Seconds later Jenkins
fell to the canvas, without a punch landing on him. Jenkins would go down six
more times (2 were embarrassing slips caused by body punches). Finally after
going down three times in the sixth Jenkins handlers tried to drag him to his
stool, after he missed the first time he finally found the stool. But referee
Arthur Donovan came over and stopped the fight anyway before the start of the
seventh round, as he saw Jenkins groaning in obvious pain from the beating
Armstrong had inflicted.
Next up for Jenkins was a non-title fight with a young Lightweight from
Philadelphia named Bob Montgomery. Montgomery introduced himself to Jenkins
early on when he caught Jenkins with a right hand that sent him down for a
nine count. Montgomery then tried to do what Henry Armstrong had succeeded in
doing against Jenkins by going to the body. Fortunately for Lew, Montgomery
was a bit raw and went after him wildly. This allowed Jenkins to land his
patented right over and over again and do just enough to win a narrow 10 round
After defending his Lightweight crown against Pete Lello, Lew was ready for
his 4th Future Hall of Famer of the Year: Fritzie Zivic. Jenkins tore into
Zivic in the first three rounds trying to knockout the hard-headed Croat.
Jenkins in the process wore himself out and was forced to clinch. That was a
big mistake as Zivic one of the dozen or so dirtiest fighters who ever lived
went to work over Lew lacing his eyes enough to open two big cuts over both
eyes, to top things off he split Lew's nose down the middle with a left hook.
Jenkins rallied in the tenth though to salvage a split draw.
Lew's next bout was a rematch against Lou Ambers. Jenkins came out blazing
again, sending Ambers staggering towards the ropes with a right hand. Ambers
righted himself though and took control of the fight. It looked like Ambers
was going to win until Lew landed his right again sending Ambers down. Lew
finished up the next round to score a 7th round TKO.
After defeating Cleo McNeil in September 1941, Jenkins hard-living lifestyle
finally caught up with him. Riding on his motorcycle a drunk Jenkins was going
90 miles per hour when he had an accident that sent him flying 60 feet in the
air. When he landed he had three broken vertebrae in his neck. Jenkins would
never be the same fighter again.
Instead of taking time off to heal, Jenkins was back in the ring less than
month after the accident taking on woeful Welterweight champ Freddie Cochrane.
Cochrane took the decision. Three months later Jenkins defended his title for
the last time against NBA Lightweight champ Sammy Angott. Angott and Jenkins
put on one of the most boring fights of all time. Jenkins at this point had
nothing left, while Angott fittingly nicknamed "The Clutch" fought cautiously
trying to avoid Jenkins big right that would never show up. Angott won every
round of the fight, Jenkins had a chance to win a round in the ninth after
Angott caught him him with a low blow, but Lew was at such a low point now
that he fittingly answered with a low blow giving the round back to Angott.
Most of the crowd was either gone or booing by the time Angott was given the
unanimous decision and the Undisputed Lightweight Title.
After losing to Angott, Jenkins forgot how to win. He lost 11 out of 12
completing the worst collapse ever by a champion outside of Bud Smith. Jenkins
career was now absolutely dead and he enlisted in the Coast Guard and was
shipped off to Europe. Jenkins would fight during D-Day at Normandy. After
serving his country Jenkins tried going to bricklaying school in Philadelphia
that quickly failed, and Jenkins was quickly back in the ring in 1946.
Jenkins return proved to only be slightly more successful than his efforts
before leaving. He was kayoed in 4 by Jimmy Doyle in his first fight back. He
fought on till 1950 winning some and losing some including a pair of losses in
his last two fights to Carmen Basilio and Beau Jack.
Jenkins was now at rock-bottom, he had no money, was divorced, and still was
out partying all the time. Lew then decided that he'd reenlist in the army.
Lew was then sent over to Korea to fight in the war. While fighting over there
Lew's outfit was ambushed by the Koreans, there Lew found himself as a hero
when he saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers who were being
ambushed. Upon return to the states Jenkins was awarded the Silver Star for
After nearly facing death in Korea, Jenkins had finally realized that he had
been living wrong for all these years, he got remarried and patched things up
with his estranged son. After the war Jenkins made the Army a career, retiring
in 1963 as a First Sergeant. After retiring from the Army Lew drove a delivery
truck in the Bay Area for several years.
Lew Jenkins died on October 30, 1981, he had lived one hell of a life.
ALL-TIME BOXING TOURNAMENTS
(ED. NOTE -- One more note about the Cyber Boxing Journals, some three dozen
of which are archived at the CBZ web site: Thomas Gerbasi, with the aid of a
computer program, conducted all-time tournaments in the eight weight divisions
between April 1998 and January 1999. We won't give away the winners, but you
can tell from looking at the semifinalists -- and, especially, who didn't get
that far -- how these accounts are liable to stimulate a few arguments.
Imagine, for instance, Jack Johnson being so poorly seeded that he had to meet
Muhammad Ali in the quarterfinals! And you'll be sick when you see what
happened to Terry McGovern in the featherweight tourney. At least Gerbasi had
the good sense to put the fly, bantam and feather tournaments all in one
issue; as discerning readers know, the editorial board of BAWLI is firm in its
belief that there should only be SIX weight classifications, beginning with
the 126-pounders -- after all, who REALLY wants to see 108-pound men flail
away at one another? They're supposed to be riding race horses, or be trying
to make wrestling fans forget Sky Low Low. Gerbasi's preface is next, followed
by the eight sets of semifinalists. Get thee to the Cyber Boxing Zone site to
read about ALL the tournament matchups.)
Throughout boxing's storied history, fight fans have compared fighters from
different eras with the express purpose of trying to determine who was the
mythical greatest of all-time. While we can never know who was the greatest in
each division, modern technology has provided us with the means to settle
these differences on our home computers. Using Title Fight Pro Boxing for
Windows, which is sold by Comp-U-Sports (http://www.boxmag.com), and which was
developed by Jim Trunzo, I've set up tournaments in each of the major
divisions to determine an All-Time champion. Hopefully these fights will spark
not only your imagination, but some spirited debates on who the best really
Flyweights -- Jimmy Wilde, Phinchit Sithbang, Pascual Perez, Michael Carbajal;
Bantamweights -- Panama Joe Brown, Ruben Olivares, Eder Jofre, Carlos Zarate;
Featherweights -- Wilfredo Gomez, Eusebio Pedroza, Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler;
Lightweights -- Roberto Duran, Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Henry Armstrong;
Welterweights -- Jose Napoles, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry
Middleweights -- Harry Greb, Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., Carlos Monzon;
Lightheavyweights -- Tommy Loughran, Jack Dillon, Harry Greb, Georges
Heavyweights -- George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis.
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