Name: Young Stribling
Career Record: click
Alias: King of the Canebrakes
Birth Name: William Lawrence Stribling Jr.
Nationality: US American
Birthplace: Bainbridge, GA, USA
Hometown: Macon, GA
Age at Death: 28
Height: 6′ 1″
Trainer: Ma Stribling
Manager: William L. (Pa) Stribling, Sr.
Elder brother of fellow boxer Herbert (Baby) Stribling
According to the Nov. 7, 1927 Spokane Spokesman Review newspaper, just prior to Stribling's visit to nearby Dishman, WA: This was not Stribling's first visit to the Spokane area. In 1911, he, Ma, Pa, and brother Graham had come to Spokane on the Sullivan and Considine Vaudeville Circuit with an acrobatic act called the "Four Novelty Grahams." They spent one week at the Empress Theater, then called the Washington Theater. As part of the show, the Stribling brothers boxed exhibitions.
Stribling was one of the best high school basketball players in the United States. He was known as a "dead shot" (a very accurate shooter). His team went to the national interscholastic tournament at Chicago, but he was ruled ineligible to play because of his professional boxing. He was also quite talented at golf, hunting, fishing, speedboat racing and tennis. Stribling was also an avid and accomplished aviator who loved to fly.
He died October 3, 1933, after a motorcycle/automobile accident when he was just 28. The accident occurred October 1 outside of Macon, Georgia. Traveling 35 miles per hour on a motorcycle, "Strib" was en route to a hospital to visit his convalescing wife and their brand-new baby (his third child), born two weeks previously. He waved a greeting to a friend passing in an automobile. But he failed to see another car behind that of his friend, Roy Barrow. The veteran of roughly 300 bouts, who never received a permanent scar due to his great defensive skills, attempted to dodge the second car but was too late. The fender of the car struck Stribling, crushing and virtually ripping off his left foot, and sending him to the pavement, fracturing his pelvis.
Stribling was taken to the hospital, where, coincidentally, his wife and baby were. His mother rushed to the hospital from the Stribling plantation in South Georgia; his father from Texas. At one point he awoke, saw his wife, and asked, "How's the baby?" Almost to the end he remained conscious, "carrying on in the same spirit that he showed when they picked him up from the roadside on Sunday," reported papers of the day. "Well, kid," he said to his friend (Barrow), who was the first to reach him as he lay beside his wrecked motorcycle with one foot dangling by a single tendon, "I guess this means more roadwork."
At first the doctors held out hope, after they had amputated his left foot. But his vitality began to wane. Physicians were amazed at his ability to cling to life when his temperature hit 107 1/2 degrees and his pulse 175. His wife was wheeled into his room. He recognized his wife.
"Sugar," was his barely audible reply.
"Hello, baby," were his last words to her, the papers reported. His father walked grimly from the room and tearfully said, "He's gone.
Death occurred at 6:00 Tuesday morning, October 3. The next day, his body was placed in the Municipal Auditorium of Macon, to lie in state from 10 in the morning until 6 that evening.
Jefferson City Post – Tribune
16 February 1929
Here is the first chapter of the story of Young Stribling's life, written exclusively for the Post-Tribune and NBA Service, Inc., by Milton K. Wallace of Macon, Ga., a life-long friend of the Striblings. This series on Stribling's colorful life brings out interesting chapters never before revealed. Daily chapters will follow in this newspaper until the completion of the series
BY MILTON K. WALLACE
Regardless of whether W. L. ''Young" Stribling defeats Jack Sharkey in their Miami Beach bout on Feb. 27, and then goes on to win the heavyweight championship of the world, the young southern fighter will go down in pugilistic history as "The Hardest Working Heavyweight.".
Few men have fought as often as Stribling. Two years ago, the sports writers said he was washed out too much work and not enough play. But. today he stands on the threshold of the heavyweight championship.
William Lawrence Stribling was born in the little south Georgia town of Bainbridge Dec. 20. 1904. Contrary to popular opinion, he was not brought up under the "big tops" of a circus. His early life was much the same as that of the average American boy. He had a good home, respectable parents, went to school and attended church services regularly. "Ma" Stribling saw that her boys, Billy and Herbert, kept good company, and she applied the hair brush vigorously whenever either of them got into mischief.
Before the boys were born, Pa and Ma were vaudeville entertainers, doing an acrobatic stunt. Traveling around the country with two babies were no easy job. so they settled down for a few years until the boys were large enough to accompany them on the road. When but a few months old. Young Stribling was doing handsprings and flips, balancing himself in his father's hands, and countless other things kids three times his age could not do.
Ma Raps Pa's Plans
"I'm going to make a heavyweight champion out of Billy," Pa said just after the youngster was born. Ma objected! She didn’t want her son to become a bruiser she versioned him a doctor or lawyer who would settle down in Bainbridge or some other Georgia town where he would command the respect of the community in which he resided.
Then Herbert came along two years later. He was a frail little chap, in no way resembling his larger brother, but he, too, learned to do stunts on the trapeze, turn flips and balance himself in his father's hands. Then it was that Pa Stribling decided to return to the stage. This time there were four Stribling’s and they organized the "Four Novelty Grahams" touring this country and eventually Japan.
The "Grahams" traveled a great deal, but always found time for the boys to spend a few months in school somewhere. Whenever the lads -were not in school, Ma tutored them.
The lure of the footlights is a hard thing to resist, actors tell, you, but Pa saw in Billy the making of a champion and knew that the hard life of the vaudeville trouper was not the proper one for a boxer. So the stage was deserted again after Ma had reluctantly Given her permission for Billy to take up boxing as a profession . Pa a good boxer, started in at once to instruct his progeny in the science of right crosses and uppercuts.
Pa Stribling saw in his son the fulfillment of his own cherished ambitions. Many years ago. He had dreamed of winning fame in the ring, but his short stature handicapped him.
When Stribling became 16, his father decided that his boy was old enough to enter the prize ring as a professional. He and his brother Herbert had done a boxing act together on the stage for several years and all this time Pa had been instructing them.
“My boy is going to be a world’s champion someday” Pa wrote a promoter in Atlanta, “but I am willing for him to fight for you on your card next Wednesday night for nothing. This is his first professional match and I am anxious to get him started. I want the chance”.
Of course the promoter took him up on his proposition. Even preliminary boys do not box for nothing, and the novel request resulted in Young Stribling's first real fight, a four-rounder. His opponent was Kid Domb, an Atlanta bantamweight, and Stribling won the decision. It is a coincidence that Tiger Flowers who without doubt was one of the Greatest colored fighters the world has ever knew, began his career in the same ring about three years previous to Stribling’s first battle.
The Atlants promoter, well pleased with the showing of Stribling in his first bout, offered Pa Stribling $10 for another four-round preliminary. Pa, anxious to get Billy before the public, and incidentally wanting him to have all the experience possible, agreed for his son to meet Kid Nappie, a very tough young man, who had been spreading terror among the prelim boys in Atlanta.
Nappie's chief weapon was a wild right swing that sent his opponents into dreamland whenever it lands and usually it landed. Stribling. however, knew too much for the bad boy and easily outpointed him.
After that his services were in demand all over the south, not as a preliminary boy, but as a star attraction. The records show that he fought 21 bouts during the year 1921, which year marked his advent into the boxing business. He won eight of these fights by knockouts and outpointed in the others.
William Lawrence Stribling entered Lanier High School, at Macon, Ga., after touring in vaudeville with his parents and took up the game of basketball. Ma put her foot down, though, when he suggested that he believed he had in him the makings of a great football player.
"Football is too rough," she said. "People get killed playing that game. You can box and play basketball, but you can’t play football.
'So that was that, and all of Stribling's efforts at persuasion were to no| avail. She had finally become reconciled to a career of boxing, but she would not think of permitting her little Willie to mingle with the rough boys on the gridiron.
Although Stribling bears an outward appearance of being any easygoing fellow who never takes anything seriously, he is quite a determined young man whenever there is something that must be accomplished. He took basketball seriously made the team and developed into one of the greatest cagesters ever to represent Lanier. He was a dead shot with the basket and played a jam-up floor game in every respect
His last year in high school, Lanier won the right to represent the south in the national basketball tournament which is held annually in Chicago, and his team went into the semi-finals.
Was Kicked Off Squad
One of the greatest disappointments in his entire career was when the school board of Lanier High School ruled that he would be ineligible to play longer at the institution because he had engaged in professional fights. This disappointment hurt. him far worse than his defeats at the hands of Berlenbach and Loughran which came a few years later.
During his last year in high school, Stribling fell in love with one of his classmates, Clara Virginia Kinney, the only daughter of W. O. Kinney, wealthy Macon cotton broker. Miss Kinney's family for several generations, has played an active part in the historical and social life of the south. The romance ultimately developed into a marriage which met with the approval of both families, and they were married in the early part of 1926. Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Stribling II now have two bouncing youngsters, W. L. Stribling Ill, who is two years old, and Mary Virginia Stribling, who was born about three months ago.
Young Billy Stribling III has been taught all the tricks his acrobatic father did when only a few months old, and friends of the family are often given a jolt by seeing the youngster hanging by one hand from the chandelier. He is a chip off the old block, but Mrs. W. L. Stribling II says her son will never be a prize fighter. And it is doubtful if Stribling would want his son to follow in his footsteps.
Wife Sees Few Fights
Mrs. Stribling, while always interested in the outcome of her husband's battles, sees but few of them. She would rather be at home with her babies, listening over the radio to the result of her husband's battles.
The Stribling’s, ever since their marriage, have occupied a pretty little home in North Highlands, one of the most fashionable sections of Macon. Young Stribling and his father own a country home at Ochlocknee, near Thomasville, Ga. where he trains for many of his most important bouts.
Machinery always has been Stribling's chief hobby. When in high school the mechanical course received most of his attention and today he can intelligently discuss the intricacies of mechanics with an expert. He owns several planes, a speedy automobile, a motorboat and a motorcycle.
For a long while the Stribling’s traveled through the country by automobile to fulfill boxing engagements. They now travel mostly by air. Stribling loves speed and there are few people in his home town who care to ride with the young pugilist. He seldom travels less than 60 miles an hour and thinks nothing of dashing around a street car on two wheels or brushing a traffic officer's coat tail.
He Can Get Angry—and How!
Stribling is really a big, good natured kid, full of practical jokes and always playing them on his friends. He seldom loses his temper when the fun is directed at him. The Stribling’s motored to Augusta,Ga., recently, for a fight and carried along a Georgia newspaperman who happens to be a bad actor when under the influence of liquor. Sober, he is a nice chap, but this trip didn't see him in his sober moments.
After the fight was over, he met Stribling in front of the hotel and challenged him. "Put up your dukes," the inebriated man said. "Come on, let's get going to Macon," Stribling told him. He doesn't tolerate drunkenness in any one, but realized the fellow was his guest. Bang! It was the writer's fist in Stribling's stomach. "Look out, you're hurting me," said Stribling, but that only brought fourth more smacks at him. He continued challenging Stribling, until there wasn't but one thing to do—and Stribling did it !
The fellow caused no more trouble.
Young Stribling, who at the age of 24, has held the southern championship of every division from the bantamweight class upward, has fought 240 battles since beginning his career in 1921, winning 114 of them by knockouts. In this number he has been defeated by only seven opponents.
The year 1923 found Stribling engaging in one of the most active periods of his ring career. He met and defeated such men as George Shade, Young Marullo, Harry Krohn, Johnny Klesch, Jimmy Darcy, Vic McLaughlin and Happy Howard, besides a score of lesser known fighters.
One of the hardest bouts of his career came at this time when he lost a close decision to Frankie Carbone, veteran middleweight. Carbone, a tough battler of the old school, had many years of experience behind him, while Stribling had been in the fight game for a little more than two years.
The newspapers of the south were alarmed and said Pa was fighting W. L. too much. The eastern and northern fight fans had not yet heard of the Macon flash. "You are burning him out," the scribes said, but Pa's reply was that he knew his son's condition better than anyone else and that although he appreciated their advice, he would continue to allow him to fight just as often as he saw fit. The senior Stribling has often been criticized for "picking set-ups" for his son.
"Boxing is a business just like the legal profession," he said in reply to this charge. "We are not in it for glory alone. Everybody wants to make money and we are not exceptions to the rule. You never hear a lawyer criticized because he takes an easy case once in a while, nor a doctor criticized because he will take cases other than fatal diseases. Look back through the records of all the world champions of the past, and you'll find a lot of unfamiliar names. "
Public opinion has never bothered Pa to any great extent. He has become callous to the squawkings of the press, and particularly the criticism heaped on him by eastern sport writers. He has his own ideas about how a fighter should train, and consequently has carried his boy to the top of his profession.
There was possibly one mistake that Pa made in training. Young Stribling — a mistake that was never mentioned by the press. In two of the most important battles Stribling ever had, the fights with Paul Berlenbach and Tommy Loughran, which he lost, Stribling was over-trained. Pa was really "burning out" his son by training him too severely, but not by permitting him to fight often, as it had been charged.
Overwork was largely responsible for both of these defeats, although there were other factors that contributed their part to the failure.
Pa thinks now that he has solved the training problem. He prescribes but very little work in the gymnasium, a mile or two jaunt in the open air and plenty of fights with second-raters to keep Young Stribling in practice- and the Stribling coffers well supplied with currency. Stribling's fame was a long while spreading beyond the confines of his own state. After he had grown into the middleweight class, Pa believed his son was ready to tackle the best, and through promoters at Columbus, Ga., a defi was hurled at Johnny Wilson, who then occupied the middleweight throne. Wilson, always a cautious individual, had heard rumors concerning this southern novice and decided that caution was the better part of valor.
The "Macon schoolboy boxer" fought many times during his brief stay in the middleweight division. Sport writers all over the south continued their cry that Pa was ruining the boy's chances by allowing him to fight so often, but the rotund ex-vaudeville actor turned deaf ears to the criticism. The money was pouring in and bigger purses were promised in the future. It took experience to make a fighter, he said, and he was going to see that Billy had lots of it.
Young Stribling's stay in the middleweight class was a brief one. He was growing steadily, his arms were becoming larger, his shoulders were getting broader and his muscles were becoming tough and wiry sinews that rippled over his body. There had been some doubt in the senior Stribling's mind whether or not Bill would ever grow in to a full-fledged heavyweight, but with this almost phenomenal development in the course of five brief years, Pa's hopes grew stronger
Stribling’s Famous Three Decision McTigue Fight
Undaunted by his defeat by Frankie Carbone, Young Stribling was bowling over middleweights and light heavyweights in rapid style when Mike McTigue, who had just won the light heavyweight title from Battling Siki, decided to tour the south and pick up some extra change.
Major John Paul Jones, Columbus, Ga., promoter, succeeded in getting McTigue's signature for a defense of his title against Young Stribling. McTigue and his manager, Joe Jacobs, arrived at Columbus several days before the fight, .They had not been there long before it was realized that the champion had underestimated the ability of his southern opponent.
Trains .brought crowds of rabid Stribling fans to Columbus. All roads brought fans by automobile. The entire state turned out, and many came from surrounding states, to see the Georgia fighter beat McTigue. They fully expected it.
On the morning of the fight, McTigue announced he had injured the metacarpal bone of his right hand. He said the injury was so serious he wouldn't be able to fight. The announcement caused a sensation in the Georgia city Everyone thought Mike was hedging, and posters were pasted on show windows announcing that McTigue had "run out" of his fight with Young Stribling. Promoter Jones engaged one of the best known surgeons in Columbus to examine McTigue. The doctor's verdict was that, so far as he could see, the hand was in splendid condition.
"There is an old injury there," the doctor said, "but the break has healed completely. If anything, it is stronger than his other thumb.".
This was all Major Jones wanted! He called a conference with the champion, his manager , the doctor and several prominent citizens. "This fight must go on," he told McTigue in their presence.. "We've advertised it for weeks and the crowd is here. You've signed a contract to fight Stribling and there is no excuse for you not fulfilling it. There was something in the cool drawl of the southern ex service man that sounded very business like to McTigue. He agreed to fight.
Harry Ertle, who refereed the Dempsey Carpentier fight for the Heavyweight championship was the referee. He will always be remembered for the decision in this Georgia bout.
Stribling carried the fight all the way. If the champions right hand was troubling him, he did not show it. He swung his right time after time at the dodging, weaving youth McTigue missed often. After the bell had sounded ending the tenth and last round, Ertle glanced nervously about him and pointed to both corners, signifying a draw, as he later said.
This was a new wrinkle in the refereeing business for Georgians, who were accustomed to seeing the hand of each raised in the center of the ring when the bout was a draw. Many of them did not realize that Ertle had given a decision, and crowded around the ring yelling for him to tell them who had won.
Evidently Ertle thought he was in danger of being mobbed He pale and trembling from head to foot. Captain Jones crawled between the ropes, accompanied by a half dozen or more newspaper men, and asked, "Well, Ertle, what is your decision? You've got to tell them something!"
"My God! was Ertle's reply, "give me time to think. After a few seconds more, the referee waved a limp hand toward Stribing's corner and the crowd in the ring let out a shout. the Georgia schoolboy, had won the world's title from McTigue.
But the crown remained on the Georgian's head for something less than an hour. When Ertle reached the hotel at which he was stopping he announced again to newspapermen that his first decision stood. The bout was a draw. Stribling was rematched with McTigue in 1924, in New Jersey The bout was a no-decision affair Stribling knocked down the veteran Irish boxer, but Mike's craftiness , saved the .day for him, although he, took a real lacing from the Georgia youngster.
Possessing the inherent ability of the showman Pa Stribling has always used This quality in promoting the destinies of his offspring. Young Stribling.
Ballyhoo was nothing new to him when he entered the boxer manager business, his many years in vaudeville having equipped him well in the art of attracting the attention of the public. His devices have always been unique, if sometimes ineffective.
In fact it is this same showmanship that has several times brought criticism upon the house of Stribling. After the Macon youngster had begun to attract national attention Pa hit on The idea of making a grand tour of the country, meeting all comers. For the journey he purchased a huge bus, had it equipped with bunks, baths, a kitchen and all modern conveniences that could possibly be crowded into such a vehicle.
With a retinue of sparring partners, a cook and mechanic, the Stribling’s set out to conquer the world. A press agent went ahead to book matches in the hedges and byways, as well as in the larger cities of the country.
The Good Ship Stribling went up the Atlantic seaboard to New York over into Canada, across to Oregon. And down the west coast to Mexico, back through the southern part of the United States and home. Besides swelling the family coffers, Stribling found upon his return that he held decisions over Jimmy Delaney, Joe Lohman, Johnny Risko, Billy Freas, George Cook, and many other lesser notables.
Pa was never happier than when he was putting on a vaudeville act, and this tour reminded him a lot of the good old clays. Whenever an opponent was not available, and the town looked good to the advance man, an exhibition was arranged between Stribling and one of his sparring mates. This tour did more to make Young Stribling popular than any of his victories has ever done.
A near tragedy was narrowly a near tragedy was narrowly averted while on the tour—a tragedy that would have thrown despair into a home had that never known the sting of unhappiness. While out motoring in Tucson, Arizona, a roadster near the automobile turned over and Ma Stribling was injured, but not seriously. Only a miracle saved her from being killed, it is said.
Herbert Stribling, Bill's younger brother, who is known as "Baby" Stribling, accompanied his family on the long jaunt over the country. Baby, two years the junior of Bill has the honor, if such it may be called, of giving his brother the only "cauliflower car" he possesses. It happened shortly after Bill entered the professional gloves, but in wrestling.
Baby, too, gained a lot of knowledge about fisticuffs in general on the journey and for a while it seemed as if his fame would rival that of his brother's. He is a clever boxer, crafty, fast and courageous, but has not grown beyond the junior welterweight class and he does not seem to possess a love for the game.
"Bill got what he went after — experience," Pa said when he had returned to Macon. "He's now ready to fight anybody and we won't be satisfied until we've won the light heavyweight championship of the world."
But that was one wish of Pa Stribling's that never came true.
In the latter part of 1924, a few months previous to his tour of the country. Stribling had met Paul Berlenbach, holding him to a six round draw. The Georgian had not yet reached the age of maturity and the New Jersey boxing law would not permit him to fight more than six rounds in that state. Although the official verdict had been a draw several eastern sport writers hinted that Stribling had received a bad decision.
Anxious for a return match with the Astoria Assassin, Pa Stribling conferred with a number of matchmakers in an effort to get his boy rematched with Berlenbach. This bout, one of the turning points in the career of Young Stribling, will be commented on in one of the articles to follow.
With the scalps of Mike McTigue and a score of lesser luminaries attached securely to his belt, Young Stribling set about looking for bigger and better cauliflowers. Gene Tunney, who was then being mentioned prominently as a contender for the crown that had been perched upon the head of Jack Dempsey or more than six years, was signed to meet Stribling in Miami, Fla.
Stribling and his followers were confident that the Macon pugilistic idol would outpoint the big ex-marine, and, after he arrived in the Florida resort city, Tunney himself seems to have become a bit leery – that is, considering his actions.
Work went along on the arena and the early advance sale of tickets was good. Financial difficulties later beset the promoters, however, and all sorts of rumors were current on the streets of Miami, finally reaching the newspapers of the country. Stories were broadcast that the fight would not go on because of insufficient funds to complete the giant arena that was under construction, and these stories, of course, did nothing to stimulate the ticket sale. Although
the promoters denied the reports concerning their lack of finances and declared the bout would come off as scheduled, the fans held a tight grip on their purse strings. afraid that the rumors were true.
Stribling was in great condition. Accustomed to the semi-tropical sun, he was in his own atmosphere, and with the moral influence of the southern fight fans behind him, he was a picture of confidence. Tunney, realizing that he had a crack at the heavyweight title well within his reach, was undecided what to do. Tunney had never seen Stribling in action and had gained little knowledge of the Georgia Peach from his advisers, so the whispered rumors of the Macon youth's prowess were disconcerting, to say the least.
One afternoon, a few days before the fight was scheduled to go on, Stribling was busily engaged in socking some big palooka on the chin in a sparring exhibition, when someone came to Pa
Stribling at the ringside. "Gene Tunney is sitting in the back row," he whispered. "He's got a cap pulled down over his eyes and is wearing smoked glasses. "You must be mistaken," said Pa, but he eased back to the rear row and found Tunney viewing the work out from afar. "Hello, Mr. Tunney!" Pa greeted him. "You can't see from here, come on down to the ringside where you can get a better view." Tunney, apparently embarrassed, removed his cap and smoked glasses, took Pa's extended hand and mumbled that he was in a great hurry. He had just dropped in for a minute, and really must wander on, he said.
"Now wouldn't that get you?" Pa asked. "I wanted him to come on down and get an eye full of Bill. I know if he sees him work, he'll be beaten before he ever crawls into the ring."
A couple of days later Tunney decided that the financial reward would not be sufficient to warrant is going on with the match, and it was cancelled. That was seven months before he defeated Jack Dempsey at Philadelphia, winning the world's heavyweight championship.
This, of course, proved a great disappointment to the Stribling’s, but they were not to be found long grieving over this bit of hard luck .The services of Young Stribling became more and more in demand all the while, and particularly after Tunney had suddenly decided to pack up his belongings and hurry back to New York. Stribling was advertised by promoters everywhere
he fought as the young man who had made Tunney leave town.
Disappointed but not at all discouraged, Stribling set to work again, still having in view the light heavyweight championship. He reversed the decision that Jimmy Slattery had won over him a few months before, met and defeated Tommy Loughran twice, handed lickings to Maxie Rosenbloom, Clayton”Big Boy Peterson, Art Weigand, Romero Rojas, Eddie Huffman, Jimmy Delaney two more times, and added another drubbing to Johnny Risko, the Cleveland rubber man.
Rojas, who had come into sudden prominence in 1924 — by virtue of his quick knockout of Jack Sharkey, was disposed of in four rounds by the Georgia Cracker.
Stribling Gets Severe Setback
From Berlenbach and Loughran
After much dickering with various promoters, Paul Berlenbach and Young Stribling were matched for a second fight on May 30, 1926, at the Yankee Stadium. .The first bout was only six rounds but this one was to be of 15 rounds duration, the longest fight in which Stribling had ever participated.
The Georgian had just been married three or four months before, and took his bride to New York with him. Mrs. Stribling became ill two days before the fight, and Bill worried himself sick. This is not given as an alibi for the Georgian's defeat, as Berlenbach was then, at the height of his career and had, through his long string of successive knockout victories, established himself
as one of the greatest punchers of all time.
A doctor visited Stribling at the hotel and told him that he was in no fit condition to go on with the fight. The thermometer showed that he had fever an hour before he went into the ring, but Berlenbach had seemed easy those several months before, and here was the chance he had been clamoring for so long.
That fight will go down in the annals of pugilism for at least one reason. Few fighters in the history of the game ever withstood 15 rounds of punishment as Berlenbach gave Stribling that night. An easy prey for the powerful Paul, he was beaten unmercifully, but only once did Berlenbach floor him. This was the only real beating Stribling had ever taken in his life. The little condolence Pa had was that he learned his boy did not have a glassy jaw.
After the Berlenbach defeat, sports writers over the country said Bill was through and advised him to give up the fight racket for good. But Pa was no quitter.
The late Walk Walker, who managed a stable of southern boxers, including the late Tiger Flowers, made Pa an offer of $100,000 for Stribing's contract for one year. It was eventually accepted. Walker and Pa had not been on friendly terms for several years, the two having disagreed over a purse for one of Bill's Atlanta fights. But with the destiny of a white hope hanging in the balance, Pa would not let his personal differences interfere with his son's opportunity to re-establish himself in the public's graces.
Walker found that he had a far more difficult job than he had anticipated. Naturally, there was not the same kindred feeling between him and Stribling as existed between father and son, and although Bill and Walk got along amicably Stribling did not seem to work for Walk with the same zest as he did for his father.
After several battles with second raters. Young Stribling again cast covetous glances in the direction of the light-heavyweight crown. He started a comeback that eventually earned him the right to meet Tommy Loughran, leading contender for the title.
Old Lady Hard Luck again overtook the Georgian almost on the eve of the battle, and while working with a sparring mate, he suffered a minor fracture of a vertebrae in his neck. Betting odds changed overnight from even money to Loughran's favor, 8 to 5.
A well-known New York physician was summoned, an X-ray photo taken of the injured neck, and Stribling was advised against going into the match with Loughran. "I've licked him twice before," Bill told Pa, "and I can do it this time. A stiff neck won't keep me from winning this fight." Stribling said he went into the match confident of victory, but after the third round he knew that he could not win. The injured vertebrae caused sharp, knifelike pains to shoot through his neck and he was in agony throughout the entire contest
Loughran earned the decision over Stribling. A defeat is a defeat, no matter how close the fight, and it really seemed this time that Stribling was through. Walker, believing Stribling was through, made no effort to renew the contract when it expired. He had lost money on the venture and was anxious to let the matter drop. The Stribling’s were not so easily discouraged however. Forgetting the Berlenbach and Loughran defeats, Billy Stribling set to work again. Since losing to Loughran, Stribling has defeated all of his opponents, more than 90 per cent of them by knockouts. Among his most noteworthy feats were the two knockouts administered to Martin Burke and his quick knockout of Johnny Squires, South African heavyweight champion, who had only a few weeks before given Johnny Risko a great battle. It was this latter fight that placed him back again in the good graces of eastern fight fans, and earned him the right to meet Jack Sharkey.
Young Stribling has displayed anger but a few times either in or out of the ring. On one of these occasions it was not good for one Martin Burke and Mr. Burke was not to blame. Gene Tunney was the cause of it all. Stribling had never held very high esteem for Tunney since the Miami episode in 1925, and particularly did not care for the champion's efforts to be highbrow.
The Georgia Peach was matched with Martin Burke several months ago down in Miami. Gene Tunney, Tex Rickard and a goodly number of other sporting notables were at the ringside, and Tunney, whose dislike for the Georgian was mutual, had freely predicted thst Burke would beat Stribling. This same New Orleans heavy had fought Tunney on two separate occasions forcing him to go the limit in order to earn the decision.
Before the bout Tunney was introduced and walked over to Burke's corner where he chatted with the speckled Louisiana battler for several moments. He then turned and, with one foot out of the ropes, merely touched Stribling's glove and said: "How are you, Stribling”.
This insult was too much for the Macon youngster. He glowered savagely at the champion without replying, and when the bell sounded he tore into Tunney’s friend and smashed him with a vicious right that knocked Burke cold.
Bill hurriedly left the ring and made his way to Tunney, who occupied a seat in the first ringside row. "How did you like that?" he demanded.
Stribling never brags about anything, and whether or not he told Tunney '"I'll do you the same if I ever get you in the ring," probably never be known. But that is what one of Stribling's close
friends who was in his corner that night, said the Macon boy told the heavyweight king.
Several weeks before the Stribling – Squires bout the Georgia Cracker was matched with a local favorite at Greensboro, N. C. And Warren, the collegiate heavy, about whom much has been written during the past year, lives in North Carolina and Carolinians think Warren will be the next champion. When Stribling was introduced from the ring as "the next heavyweight champion of the world”, he was met with boos and hissing. The place where the bout was held was packed and jammed.
“Listen how they’re booing us” Pa whispered to him.”These people don’t want to see a fight. Give him the works from the start”. The bell rang, Stribling bolted from his corner and brought his crashing fists on his opponents jaw. “Boo yourself” said Stribling to the crowd. Ten minutes later his opponent was sufficiently aroused to wonder if he had been struck by a freight train.
It seems that Stribling has been jinxed by something nearly every important battle he has ever engaged in. Old Lady Hard Luck seems to have singled him out as her special child of misfortune. When nothing is at stake the Georgia Cracker looks like a champion, but when the big chance comes along something nearly always happens.
Although it has never been published before, Stribling was a sick man when he fought Mike McTigue at Columbus, Ga. He was ill when he fought Berlenbach the last time; he had a fractured vertebrae in his neck when he fought Loughran and lost; and although he recently defeated Johnny Squires, the South African heavyweight in New York, he sprained a ligament in his arm three days before the fight.
Stribling has developed a punch in the last two years. He always had a fair wallop with either hand, but his ideas about the grand old game of give and take have undergone radical changes. Once he thought the fans liked clever, scientific boxing, and he developed into one of the best boxers in the game. He was good enough to outbox the master, Mike McTigue, on two occasions, and that is something few others in Mike’s class have done.
Dr. Carl Studer, a chiropractor from Texas, was interested in the Macon battler, and assured Pa that he could teach his son to hit. Although Doc, Studer's system didn't exactly make a hit with the Stribling’s, he did teach Young Stribling to sock, and the highly touted "newly discovered punch" dates back to the time when the stocky red-faced German superintended Stribling’s workouts in the gym and told him how to get his body behind his punches.
The Georgian is not the boxer he was two years ago but he carries a wallop that will sting the toughest of them. He is powerfully fast for a big man, can assimilate punishment, and is still good enough to out box most of the heavies. This is a dangerous combination that may yet result in the hopes of Pa Stribling being fulfilled for his boy Bill to be a real world’s champion.