BOOK REVIEWTracy Callis ACE HUDKINS Boxing With The Nebraska Wildcat By Kristine Sader
This book is an informative account of the career of the old-time fighter, Asa "Ace" Hudkins. It is written by his great-niece, Kristine Sader, and contains many details about the Nebraskan fighter. In her research, Ms. Sader probed newspaper articles, fight reports, magazines, etc. She also had access to the fighter's personal scrapbook. There are descriptions of many of Ace's fights as well as various events and conditions associated with those bouts. Also, there is an abundance of old, rare photographs that enhance the story of "Ace."
Coming from a time long past, the "Golden Age of Sports," many fans of boxing may not know much about Ace. But, he was an outstanding fighter who deserves much more credit for his fighting ability than he receives today. During his ring career, Ace boxed men from the lighter weight classes up to the heavier weight classes and fought men like Mickey Walker, Maxie Rosenbloom, King Levinsky, "Sergeant" Sammy Baker, Ruby Goldstein, Lew Tendler, and Mushy Callahan. He even won the heavyweight championship of California, fighting against Dynamite Jackson. His career lasted from 1922 to 1932 and he was never knocked out (but, was "stopped" one time). He was a very popular fighter during his heyday, the "Roaring Twenties," and knew such people as Charles Lindbergh and Rudolph Valentino. He actually sparred with Valentino.
A nice set of information is provided about Ace's early life and family (father, mother, brothers, and sister). Also mentioned are some incidents in Ace's life after his ring career (instances of drunken driving, injuring a man in a street fight, and a shooting in which Ace was the victim). Also, after his career had ended, Ace, along with Clyde and Art, owned a number of horses, many of which were used in the movies.
Feeling slowed-down in his ring progress early in his career, Ace switched from the man who handled his affairs at the time, Pat Boyle, to his brother Clyde, who became his manager. Art, another of Ace's brothers, then acted as his trainer. In the ring, with a scowl on his face, Ace attacked ferociously and never let up. He would fight under any rules that his foe preferred. Personally, Ace was a showman and loved the spotlight. He was outspoken and often brash in his comments but he was also friendly, likeable and generous. He loved kids, dogs, and big cigars. However, according to him, he never inhaled the cigar smoke.
Ms. Sader tells the Ace Hudkins story primarily through the use of numerous newspaper articles and the comments and opinions of boxing people and sports writers. There are numerous tidbits of interesting information that appear in the various articles and quotes such as Robert Ripley, "There has never been a fighter more aptly named than Ace 'Wildcat' Hudkins," Grantland Rice, "... on the back of Hudkins' fighting toga was WILDCAT and the Nebraskan seemed to be well acquainted with that animal's mode of warfare," fighter Joe Benjamin, "He started off shooting for my body and every time he landed I thought he was using a crowbar," The Oakland (Ca) Tribune, "No gamer fighter has ever stepped into anybody's ring," and Damon Runyon, "Ace fought as a lightweight, welterweight and middleweight and, though never a champion, he would lick 99 percent of the guys who thought they were champions."
The book is loaded with reports, comments, and observations regarding many of Ace's contests. Ms. Sader has a few words to say about Ace's three confrontations with "Sergeant" Sammy Baker. The first bout took place on June 15, 1927, and was won by Baker on a stoppage in seven rounds. The second contest was held on July 25, a month later, and was won by Ace. It has been called "the bloodiest fight ever seen." It was a corker. The third encounter occurred on February 17, 1928 and was also won by Hudkins.
Lengthy coverage is provided for the "scheduled" Ace Hudkins welterweight title fight against Joe Dundee, holder of the title. The bout was promoted By Dick Donald, to be held in Los Angeles. But, it did not take place. Dundee declined to fight, presumably because Donald had not come up with the guaranteed amount of money. Donald, Dundee, and Max Waxman, manager of Dundee, were arrested and later released. Hudkins made a claim for the title but nothing came of it.
Much coverage is given to Ace's middleweight title fight against Mickey Walker in 1928. Many newspapers reported that Mickey won a close decision. That was the official verdict. But, Ms. Sader points out that Homer Gruenther, a sports columnist for a Nebraska newspaper, wrote that on the day following the fight, 24 of 36 sports writers gathered for lunch thought Ace won the bout. She also states Gruenther also wrote that referee Eddie Purdy gave five rounds to Ace and three to Walker. The other rounds were seen as even.
According to writer Charles Dunkley, "Some of the experts at the ringside in their tabulation of rounds credited Walker with winning only two and giving Hudkins the shade in five." However, Damon Runyon saw Walker as the winner, "Walker was too strong for Hudkins, a great welterweight, but not yet a great middleweight."
The author also has some words about the second fight with Walker. Mickey was in fine shape and performed well. Ace simply did not have it that contest, perhaps over-trained in his eagerness to defeat Walker. Whatever the reason(s), Ace offered no excuses for his loss.
Kristine Sader resides in Boulder City, Nevada. Her personal website can be seen at https://www.kristinesaderwriter.com (just click on the link; don't go away; it sometimes takes a little while to link)
A copy of this fine book can be ordered directly from Amazon.com
Kristine can be contacted by emailing her at email@example.com
Paperback: 290 pages, numerous photo images, Ace Hudkins' ring career record, $25.00
Publisher: Kristine Sader
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
Boxing With The Nebraska Wildcat
Callis description --
Ace Hudkins was an aggressive fighter who came to fight; He tore into an opponent, non-stop, with arms firing wicked punches from all angles; He was a tremendous fighter in-close and a quick, elusive fighter from a distance; Rarely, did he throw one punch at a time, but usually let go with stinging multi-punch barrages
Ace started boxing in the lighter weight classes and worked his way up through the heavier classes, fighting primarily as a welterweight, then middleweight. During his career, he often tangled with men who engaged in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.
Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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