The Walker Law, which returned decision bouts to New York State in 1920, after no legal boxing for three years and no-decision bouts for the previous 20 years, saw Tex Rickard begin the final stage of his remarkable promotional career. As president of the Madison Square Garden Sporting Club, Rickard oversaw 24 boxing programs in the "old" Garden (Madison Square), 23 which were his own and another for which the Garden was leased, free of charge, by a French war relief charity.
Over the winter season, there appeared seven members of today's International Boxing Hall of Fame (Jack Dempsey, Jack Britton, Kid Lewis, Johnny Dundee, Frankie Genaro, Benny Leonard and Peter Herman). Plus another 30 or so who were top-notchers in their day (such as Johnny Buff, Rocky Kansas, Joe Lynch, Pinky Mitchell and Georgie Ward).
Every card comprised four bouts, with the opener usually a six-rounder. There were never less than 22 rounds of actual boxing, and the 24 cards averaged in excess of 36 actual rounds -- something any promoter would relish amid the paucity of boxing talent today.
Of course, there were oodles of stand-up fighters living in New York 78 years ago. When they weren't working at a dozen or so New York City-area clubs, the better ones were in demand for main events across the land. They fought often and, for the most part, they fought well. Seldom were their bouts anything less than entertaining.
Almost all of the fighters of the time competed in six weight divisions (lightheavies and flyweights were few and far between, and their respective titles hadn't received anything approaching universal acclaim). Rickard, in that first Walker Law season at MSG, put on five world title bouts (missing only the featherweight division). The French relief show featured Benny Leonard in yet another lightweight title defense, his second of the winter at the Garden.
Rickard had invested some $18,000 into refurbishing the old palace, which then had been around more than 30 years. By late October, he had in place the innovation of elevated ringside seats (gently sloping risers being used for the first time). He said the capacity was 12,000, but several of the shows exceeded that total by a thousand or two customers.
Even allowing for the customary hyperbole of newspapermen eager to dramatize the shows, attendance probably averaged right around 10,000 for the 24 shows, stretching from September 17 to May 2. Fully six weeks of the season were lost, as would always be the case, to the annual spring invasion of the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey circus.
Rickard's top ticket was the $25 charged for ringside at Jack Dempsey's first New York title defense (against journeyman Bill Brennan, and for which Dempsey received lukewarm notices). The regular, "popular prices" ranged from $1 general admission to a $5 ringside top.
The Dempsey-Brennan bout lured some $150,000 into the coffers, leaving Rickard with an approximate, $15,000 net profit (Dempsey's manager, Jack Kearns, took a $100,000 guarantee off the top).
__________________________ Walker Law boxing -- Madison Square Garden Promoter -- George L. (Tex) Rickard, Madison Square Garden Sporting Club __________________________ Friday, Sept. 17, 1920 -- 12,000 Sammy Nable W6 Bobby Hansen, bantams Andy Chaney W10 Tommy Noble, feathers Joe Benjamin W10 Pete Hartley, lights Joe Welling W15 Johnny Dundee, lights ______________________ Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1920 -- 12,000 Chuck Preevy D6 Louis Herman Buddy Dempsey W6 Eddie Fletcher Abe Attell Goldstein W15 Patsy Wallace, bantams Joe Lynch D15 Jack Sharkey, bantams ________________________ Friday, Oct. 8, 1920 -- 6,000 Johnny Clinton D6 Dave Medar, lights Danny Frush W10 Artie O'Leary Panama Joe Gans W12 George Robinson, middles Tommy Noble W15 Johnny Murray, feathers __________________________ Friday, Oct. 15, 1920 -- 8,000 Frankie Genaro W3 (dq) Joe Colletti, flys Freddie Reese W2 (dq) Johnny Reisler, lights Joe Lynch D15 Jabez White, bantams Jack Sharkey W15 Charley Ledoux, bantams _________________________ Friday, Oct. 22, 1920 -- 8,000 Johnny Summers W10 Steve Latzo, welters Paul Doyle D10 Jack Perry, welters George Ward W10 Willis (KO) Loughlin, welters Louis Bogash W10 Marty Cross, welters ____________________________ Friday, Oct. 29, 1920 -- 10,000 Dave Astey W6 Eddie Anderson, bantams Dan Lynch W10 Buddy Sprague, middles Billy DeFoe W10 Ralph Brady, lights Willie Jackson TKO10 Eddie Fitzsimmons, lights ___________________________ Friday, Nov. 5, 1920 -- Billy Stearns W6 Johnny O'Gatty George Chaney KO1 Georgie Brown George Ward W10 Phil Bloom, welters Joe Lynch KO11 Abe Attell Goldstein, bantams ___________________________ Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1920 -- 10,000 Tony Caponi W6 Lew Snyder, lights Billy Murphy W10 Eddie McKenna, feathers Eddie O'Hara W10 Len Rowlands, middles Mike O'Dowd W15 Jeff Smith, middles ___________________________ Friday, Nov. 26, 1920 -- 12,000 Harvey Bright W6 Johnny Powers Jack McGuire W10 Jeff Duffy, middles Panama Joe Gans KO3 George Christian, middles WORLD TITLE BOUT Benny Leonard TKO4 Joe Welling, lights ___________________________ Thursday, Dec. 2, 1920 -- 12,000 Frankie Olson D6 Willie Herman, welters Jimmy Burns W10 Sammy Nable, bantams Midget Smith KO1 Phil Franchini, bantams Joe Lynch KO15 Jack Sharkey, bantams ____________________________ Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1920 -- 15,000 Marty Farrell W6 Frank McGuire, middles Charlie Weinert W10 Bartley Madden, heavies Kid Norfolk W10 Bill Tate, heavies WORLD TITLE BOUT Jack Dempsey KO12 Bill Brennan, heavies ______________________________ Wednesday, Dec. 22, 1920 -- 15,000 Georgie Thompson W6 Willie Spencer, bantams Roy Moore KO1 Jimmy Martin, bantams Johnny Buff W10 Midget Smith, bantams WORLD TITLE BOUT Joe Lynch W15 Pete Herman, bantams (won title) ___________________________ Wednesday, Dec. 29, 1920 -- 9,000 Dick Atkins D6 Packey O'Gatty, bantams Charles Pilkington W10 Tommy Elm, lights Panama Joe Gans W10 Sailor Darden, middles Roy Moore TKO11 Jack Sharkey, bantams _________________________ Friday, Jan. 7, 1921 -- Johnny (Red) Allen KO3 George Sharkey, bantams Pete Hartley W10 Ned Fitzgerald, lights Sammy Sieger KO2 Johnny Murray, feathers Willie Jackson D15 Pinky Mitchell, lights _________________________ Friday, Jan. 14, 1921 -- 12,000 Jack McClelland W6 Jack Stone Bobby Michaels NC6 John Reisler, feathers Johnny Curtin D10 Billy Marlowe WORLD TITLE BOUT Benny Leonard TKO6 Richie Mitchell, lights __________________________ Monday, Jan. 17, 1921 -- 10,000 Tim Kelly D6 Franklin Fleming, middles Earl Baird W10 Joe Mooney, feathers Johnny Gill W10 Tillie (Kid) Herman, lights Andy Chaney W15 Charley Beecher, feathers ____________________________ Wednesday, Jan. 26, 1921 -- 8,000 Frankie Conifrey W6 Sammy Mossberg, lights Paul Doyle W10 Barney Adair, welters Roy McCormick W15 Johnny Howard, lightheavies Pal Moore W15 Young Montreal _____________________________ Monday, Feb. 7, 1921 -- 10,000 Farmer Sullivan W6 Eddie Nugent, middles Midget Smith TKO2 Dick Atkins, bantams Pete Hartley W12 Ned Fitzgerald, feathers WORLD TITLE BOUT Jack Britton W15 Ted (Kid) Lewis, welters _______________________________ Tuesday, Feb. 15, 1921 -- ("filled to overflowing') Tony Caponi W6 Sammy Greenspan, lights Abe Attell Goldstein W10 Frankie Daly, bantams Earl Baird D10 Frankie Daly, feathers Sammy Seiger D15 Billy DeFoe, feathers _______________________________ Friday, Feb. 18, 1921 -- 9,000 Whitey Allen KO1 Bob Sweeney, heavies Homer Smith KO4 (Wild) Bill Reid Kid Norfolk W2 (dq) Pinkey Lewis, heavies Bill Brennan W15 "Fighting" Bob Martin, heavies _________________________________ Friday, Feb. 25, 1921 -- ("packed to the rafters") Eddie James W8 Billy Murphy, feathers Sailor Darden KO3 Soldier Jummy Wright, middles Hugh Hutchinson W10, Kid Dube Willie Jackson W15 Johnny Dundee, lights _______________________________ Thursday, Mar. 17, 1921 -- 12,000 Jimmy Tomasulo D6 George Kitson, bantams Joe Gorman D10 Earl Baird, feathers Vincent (Pepper) Martin W10 George (Young) Erne, lights WORLD TITLE BOUT Johnny Wilson W15 Mike O'Dowd, middles _______________________________ Monday, Mar. 21, 1921 -- 13,000 Sammy Sieger W10 Artie Root, feathers Kid Norfolk KO3 Jack Ward, heavies Midget Smith D10 Jack Sharkey, bantams Rocky Kansas W12 Willie Jackson, lights _______________________________ Monday, May 2, 1921 -- 13,000 Eddie O'Hare W12 Johnny Howard, lightheavies Andy Chaney W12 Sammy Sieger, feathers U.S. TITLE BOUT Johnny Buff W12 Eddie O'Dowd, flys Jack Sharkey W12 Midget Smith, bantams ________________________For information on how to receive Phocian publications on a regular basis, via e-mail, send query to email@example.com
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