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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Old vs. New

1918-10-26 The Rockford Republic (Rockford, IL) (page 7)
Jimmy Barry, Former Bantamweight Champion, Says Boxers in Training Camps Are a Revelation to Him.

Score one for the modern boxer! Make it a big one!

Jimmy Barry, former bantamweight champion of the world and one of the greatest fighting men among the midgets that the world ever saw, believes that the modern boxing star has it on the old timers of his day at least. Further, Jimmy is ablize with enthusiasm about the boxing man of today and says that the scribes, who are arguing that the fighter of today is nowhere near as good as the ones of a decade back, don't know what they are talking about.

There is some weight to Jimmy's words since he retired from the game practically unbeaten after whipping everything in his class as well as everything within ten pounds of his heft. Further Jim in his day was closely allied with some of the greatest fighting men of that time and knew them well. Hence, his opinion is well worth considering. Barry told me all about it the other day when he returned from Camp Gordon, Ga., where he had been with the army boxing instructors for a couple of weeks.

"Got It On Old Boys."

"What I saw at Camp Gordon was the biggest sort of a revelation to me," the ex-champ said. "I've got to admit it now though I never did before. They've got it on us, these boys who do the boxing today. They're so good that the old timers like myself must admit that we never at any time approached them in form or style or anything else excepting perhaps the hitting power. Of course that will ever remain the same for a punch is a punch the world over, today or fifty years back or fifty years hence.

"I shadow-boxed with Benny Leonard down there and what a wonder he is, to be sure! He had a broken hand, received in the second round of his recent fight with Ted Lewis, and couldn't put the gloves on. But he showed me enough to make me think, and think deeply. He boxes exactly the style we all used to use twenty years ago. He never takes a punch in order to land one. He gets away from all of them if he can, relying on his own speed and skill to get home his own blows. And he has the science of punching down better than any of the old timers I can remember--straight to the point, never wasting any in wild swings.

"It is of such past masters of boxing as Johnny Kilbane, Mike Gibbons and Packey McFarland I would speak particularly. Say, my boys, they've got a lot of stuff that I never heard of when I was fighting. Their stuff was never in any book. It is all their own.

Hit from All Angles.

"Here's the angle: We used to go straight, always in position with left leg and arm advanced, always hitting out straight and as true as possible. Now, these fellows not only do that, but suddenly they start hitting out from angles that we would have considered impossible. Gibbons can hit you no matter in what position his feet or hands are. So can Kilbane and so can Packey.

"I was simply amazed when I saw them going and couldn't believe it. Mike is a real master but Packey is different. He has a style all his own, like nobody's I ever saw, and it is effective. I saw him box, once with Willie Ritchie and once with Harry Brewer of Kansas City. It was the biggest treat I have had in years. Stuff? Why, it's unbelievable. You've seen fellows with stuff, haven't you, who couldn't use it? Well, these birds use it, believe me.

"Jack Twin Sullivan was there and dozens of other old timers. Jack is going great despite his years. He is a wonderful fellow to have around because he is such a great entertainer. The tests are tremendous and it takes a strong man to get by. I failed, but blame that on my poor health. I simply was not big or strong enough."

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