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Monday, August 26, 2013

Frank Menke on Gene Tunney

1921-12-31 Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL) (page 8)
Gene Tunney, Woman-Hater Avoids Bright Lights and Thinks Only of Fighting
(Copyright, 1921, by King Features Syndicate, Inc.)

Gene Tunney is a ring gladiator unique in the annals of the sport.

He's never had a "sweetie" in all of his 23 years; he never smokes, or drinks any of the stuff that might offend Volstead's sense of propriety; he never tells, nor will he listen to risqué stories; he jaunts into New York or the other big towns only when forced to do so by his warring schedule; he never deviates from a rigid diet, spends all his odd hours on a farm--and never, except on fight nights, is he up later than 9:30.

Tunney is a clean-cut, manly looking, handsome youngster, a trifle beyond 6 feet in height and bulking around 175--a true matinée idol type. Women admire him--but most of them from a distance. For the sex which is quite a bit deadlier than the male, has certain terrors for the youngster who is being pointed for Jack Dempsey's crown.

He avoids women whenever he can. But sometimes he is forced into contact with them. Whenever that happens, he checks the impulse to race along to some sylvan dell and hide away; because his rule book an etiquette tells him it isn't being done in these days of gallantry and such.

But Tunney knows no comfortable moments in the presence of womankind--even its most beautiful delegates. He fumbles his hat, shifts his feet, twirls his fingers nervously, remarks, "yes, mam" and "no, mam" and beads of perspiration break out on his forehead and his eyes search for the nearest exit. Tunney is one of those boys who never has grown up, as regards his school day panic in the presence of woman, oh, beautiful woman.

The Greenwich Village section of New York produced Tunney. His father was a foreman of some sort along the wharves of the mighty city. Gene used to spend parts of his Saturdays paling around with his head. His early love for athletics settled finally upon boxing. He had natural ability which was brought out in a kid gymnasium and developed when Gene wandered along toward his late teens by mixing it with some of the youngsters who made up part of his father's working crew.

Along in 1917 a fistic enthusiast in the village tipped off Frank ("Doc") Bagley, the demon impresario of Jersey, that there was quite a fighter running loose in the district of New York which is fabled in song and story. Bagley hunted up Tunney to see if what he had heard about him was true.

"And it was," relates Bagley, "Gene was only a welter at the time but it didn't take me long to decide that he would make good as a professional. So I grabbed him, ended his amateur days and sent him out after some pros. He bumped a goodly number of boys into sleep--and then along came the war which called Gene into service as one of the Marines.

"When the war ended and Gene came back as a light heavyweight, he resumed where he had left off--only with renewed vigor. He knocked out a dozen men in a row. His entire career, embracing about 34 fights, includes 30 knockouts. The four men who travelled the scheduled distance with him were mighty messy looking creatures at the finish.

"Tunney has everything that a champion needs--except tough hands. Therein is--or I might say was--his greatest handicap. When I first got hold of Gene his hands were white and soft and the bones were small. Despite that he kept knocking men out in a hurry. But in time the hands became a handicap. They weren't stout enough to stand up all the time under the impact which came about when his mighty shoulders propelled them against the bony jaw of an opponent. As a result Gene had to cancel a lot of matches and in some of his fights to protect his hands, he had to let men travel four, five and six rounds, who would have been hammered to sleep in a round if the hands had been all right.

"But it's different now. For several months I had Gene doing little else than woodchopping--the greatest form of exercise in the world for toughening the hands. Since then he's been spending hours a day on a farm in New Jersey building up the bones, structure and the muscles of his hands. They have developed wonderfully under this treatment and I feel that from now on Tunney isn't going to have any great trouble with his hands.

"Tunney is ready to mix it with any light heavyweight in the world. That goes for Tom Gibbons, Georges Carpentier, Harry Greb, Billy Shade, Martin Burke, Battling Levinsky or any other of the dozen conspicuous 175 pounders. If Gene had his way about it he'd fight every night in the week. If I had my way, I'd work him about twice a month.

"But the sad thing is that none of the light heavies seem anxious for any of his stuff. Gibbons looks the other way when a match is proposed; Greb figures he hasn't time to bother. I can't get a promoter interested just now in either a Shade or Burke match. So Gene must continue sitting a bit pretty just now and do some waiting--waiting for the day when he'll get heavy enough and experienced enough to coax Dempsey into the ring with him--and bump the champion cuckoo."

1898-08-26 Mysterious Billy Smith W-PTS25 Matty Matthews [Lenox Athletic Club, New York, NY, USA]

1898-08-27 New York Evening Journal (New York, NY) (page 8)
Matty Had a Nice Little Plan for Winning, but It Was Spoiled by Referee White.
When Billy Started to Fight He Had to Follow His Man in Every Round.
The fight which took place at the Lenox Athletic Club last night between "Mysterious" Billy Smith and Matty Mathews was really an interesting performance. It was divided into four acts. In the first Mathews tried to win by fighting, in the second his handlers did their best to have it awarded to him by making loud claims of foul, in the third Matty played the part of the man who had been badly hurt by being hit after the bell rang, and in the final round he just stayed in the ring, doing his little sprint the while, and taking a long chance that a draw might be his portion for being on earth for the final handshake. The plot of the piece was Charley White, the referee, and he was one hard working plot.

Wanted a Foul.

Had the original programme been carried out as planned, it is barely possible that Mathews might have fared better. The plan was not to allow White to officiate as referee. The reasons given were funny, and the one not given was clever. Smith, it has been said, is a foul fighter. In fact he has lost fights on fouls. He is as fast as a runner (sp?), as confusing as a dray load of fire works in action, and few referees have been able to follow him. White demonstrated that he could make Bill fight fair, therefore he was not the man to referee the fight. Mathews is either out of his senses or he must understand that he has no business to attempt winning from Smith by fighting for it. His chance was to win on a foul or get a draw, in consideration of what he had undergone in the way of alleged fouls. The plan was clever. A draw with the best welter on earth would be considerable, and to win on a foul nothing short of ideal. But White refereed in spite of the agreement made by the manager of the club, and in consequence the crowd saw a good fight, and Mathews had no odds in his favor.

The men were to fight in clinches until ordered to break, and no blows were to be struck after the word. The conditions looked bad for Smith, whose long suit is at close work, and there was also the chance of his disregarding the order and losing the decision in consequence. White, however, seemed to have him under control, and only on a few occasions did he offend, and then not seriously. The crowd applauded him again and again for his obedience to the order to break.

Mathews Outclassed.

Mathews seemed to get on fairly well until Smith started to fight; then it was a procession. Smith held the lead all the way, and was obliged to go to Mathews or not fight. In the eighth round Mathews's head struck Smith in a clinch, and Bill had a cut eye in consequence. In the fourteenth they were at short-arm work as the bell rang, and just on the tap Mathews got his right on Smith's head. Bill, regardless of the bell, jolted with his right, and Matty-wise Matty--immediately doubled up and hobbled to his corner as if suffering with colic. His second ran to White, but Charley was "on," and waved him away. In the meantime Matty was being patted and a beautiful pale blue sash he wore was united to ease the injured (?) spot. The bell rang suddenly, and the sash trailed yards behind as he rose. White waved Smith back, took the sash off Mathews, and said: "Oh, go fight!" That round was the best Mathews fought.

They began to slow up about five rounds before the finish and the audience began kidding them. White said nothing for a couple of rounds, and then dropped the flag and mentioned the fact that it looked like a fake. Twenty seconds later Mathews was taking nine seconds on the floor, but the bell rang before Smith could finish him.

Mathews did some clever foot work, took what came to him gracefully, and jollied Bill into taking it easy many a time, but he belongs elsewhere, not in the same class with the Mysterious William.

1898-08-27 New-York Tribune (New York, NY) (page 8)

"Matty" Matthews was beaten by "Mysterious Billy" Smith in twenty-five rounds at the Lenox Athletic Club last night. The men weighed in at 142 pounds. Smith was the favorite at 2 to 1 before the contest. The opening bout, between Joe Burk, of Brooklyn, and "Eddie" Morris, colored, of California, was to have been of ten rounds duration, but it was stopped at the end of the third round, Morris being disqualified for fouling.

1898-08-27 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY) (page 4)

Mysterious Billy Smith made Matty Matthews look like an amateur in their twenty-five round bout at the Lenox Athletic Club last night, Smith receiving the decision. The preliminary, between Joe Burke of Brooklyn and Ed Morris of California, was awarded to Burke on a foul in the third round.

1898-08-27 The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) (page 4)
Outfought and Outgeneraled Matty Matthews Before the Lenox Club.
New York, Aug. 26.--"Mysterious" Billy Smith met Matty Matthews before the Lenox A. C. to-night and outfought and outgeneraled his opponent 5 to 1. Both men were in good condition, although Matthews's left arm was bandaged from an injury which he received about six weeks ago. Smith was the aggressor throughout the fight and at the end of the fourteenth round Matthews seemed to have had enough.

Just as the gong sounded at the close of that round Matthews landed on Smith and the mysterious boxer sent his right hard on the wind in return. The referee gave Smith the benefit of the doubt, as he may not have heard the bell. Matthews wriggled in his seat as if he had been hit low, but the trick did not work.

From this time to the end of the contest Matthews adopted sprinting tactics in order to last the limit, which he succeeded in doing. At no time was the issue in doubt and, taken on the whole, the fight was pretty clean and free from foul work on either side.

The opening bout between Joe Burk, of Brooklyn, and Eddie Morris (colored), of California, was to have been of ten rounds' duration, but was stopped at the end of the third round. The men met at 142 pounds. In the first round each scored a knock-down. It was anybody's fight up to the end of the third round, when Morris hit his opponent a very hard blow very low on the body. Referee White stopped the fight and disqualified Morris for fouling. Burk was declared the winner and he was cheered as he left the ring.

1898-08-27 The New York Herald (New York, NY) (page 10)
Hits "Matty" Mathews When and Where He Pleases in Their Bout at the Lenox A. C.
Fast fighting marked the battle between "Mysterious Billy" Smith, of Boston, and "Matty" Mathews, of New York, in the arena of the Lenox Athletic Club last night. The men fought at the welter-weight limit, 142 pounds. They were scheduled to battle twenty-five rounds. For seven rounds Smith clearly showed his superiority, using both hands effectively. His right frequently found a resting place over Mathews's heart. Smith's blows evidently hurt the New Yorker, for the latter clinched repeatedly to avoid punishment.

The work of the Bostonian was open to criticism at times, and he was cautioned by the referee to be careful in regard to the tactics he employed. Mathews slipped to the boards several times in avoiding Smith's rushes.

Smith was the favorite, at odds of 2 to 1 on. Many bets were registered at that price, and several wagers were made at even money that the fight would or would not last the limit. Smith's attendants were "Johnny" Gorman, "Billy" Needham, Harry Tuttle and "Jimmy" Gorman. Smith was in splendid condition. He said he felt just as well as he looked and was confident of winning. Mathews also stripped well, but his left forearm was injured some time ago. Matthews' seconds were "Gus" Ruhlin, "Jack" Doherty, "Billy" Hamilton and "Jim" Burrows.


In the eighth round Mathews made a really good showing. A well directed right hander cut a deep gash over Smith's right eye, and the blood flowed freely, making his vision indistinct. Mathews took advantage of his opponent's condition and landed many telling blows. Honors in the eighth and ninth rounds were easy.

In the eleventh round Smith hit Mathews when and where he pleased. Mathews was very weary and appeared to want to stop. He was considerably bruised about the face and his mouth was bleeding. In the fourteenth round Smith struck Mathews lightly on the body. Mathews pretended he was hurt, and the crowd laughed. He decided his bluff did not work and answered the bell on the fifteenth round.

In the sixteenth round Smith scored a knockdown with a left and right hander on the jaw. The New Yorker arose just as nine seconds were counted. Smith continued on the aggressive to the end and scored almost when and where he pleased. Mathews clinched or sprinted out of range all the while. In the twenty-third round Smith again scored a knockdown. Mathews struggled to his feet just before the time limit expired.


In the twenty-fourth round Smith pleaded with Mathews to stop, but the New Yorker refused. Mathews was so weak and severely bruised that he could scarcely defend himself. He said to Smith, "Don't knock me out." The twenty-fifth and last round was all in favor of Smith.

"Charley" White, the referee, declared the Boston man the winner.

The opening bout, between "Joe" Burke, of Brooklyn, and "Eddie" Morris (colored), of California, was to have been of ten rounds' duration, but it was stopped at the end of the third round. The men met at 142 pounds, and banged each other during the first two rounds like the unscientific sluggers that they are. Each scored a knockdown, but it was anybody's fight up to the end of the third round, when Morris hit his opponent a hard blow very low on the body just as the gong sounded. Referee White stopped the fight there and then and disqualified Morris for fouling. Burke was declared the winner, and he was cheered as he left the ring.

1898-08-27 The New York Times (New York, NY) (page 3)
Matthews Is Defeated in a 25-Round Bout at Lenox Athletic Club.

"Mysterious" Billy Smith and Matty Matthews met in a twenty-five-round bout at the Lenox Athletic Club last night, and Smith was awarded the decision at the end of the fight. From beginning to end Smith had the better of Matthews, but could not put him out. The fighting at times was foul on the winner's part, and rough tactics were often adopted by both men.

Smith knocked Matthews down in the seventeenth round, but the latter got on his feet before Charles White, the referee, could count the prescribed ten seconds. Smith repeated the dose in the twenty-third round, and in the twenty-fourth tried his best to put Matthews out, but was unsuccessful.

The attendance was large and the decision was popular, although Smith's foul fighting at times brought forth hisses and groans.

1898-08-27 The Sun (New York, NY) (page 9)
For Fifteen Rounds the Fighting Is Fast, and Then It Is One-Sided to the Finish--Smith Appeals to Matty and His Seconds to Stop--Burke Downs Morrison on a Foul.

It was rather an easy task for "Mysterious" Billy Smith of Boston to get a decision over Matty Matthews of New York in a twenty-five round battle at the Lenox A. C. last night. Smith forced the fighting from the start and so clearly outclassed his antagonist that the crowd found amusement solely in the local man's efforts to stay the limit. The contest was fast for fifteen rounds, but after that its one-sidedness was too apparent to hold the attention of the crowd. They were scheduled to meet at 142 pounds.

Joe Burke of Brooklyn faced Ed Morris, colored, of California, in the first bout of ten rounds at 142 pounds. In the second round Burke scored a clean knockdown with a right-hander on the jaw. Burke made the colored man's nose bleed in the third round and also had him in queer street. Morris continued to aim with wild swings at his opponent after the bell had been rung, whereupon the referee promptly awarded the bout to Burke on a foul.

In the principal bout the betting was 2 to 1 in favor of Smith. The latter's seconds were Johnny Gorman, Harry Tuthill and Billy Needham. Matthews was handled by "Doc" Dougherty, Billy Hamilton and Jim Burroughs. Referee White instructed the men that they could box with one hand free until ordered to break out of clinches. Smith was the aggressor from the first tap of the bell. He had the better of the mix-up, Matthews doing some roughing, for which the crowd hissed. Matthews slipped down in the second round, and the spectators believing that he had been back heeled, hissed. Smith did some more free-hand work on the body in the third round, and incidentally caught Matthews on the jaw with a hard right. After being ordered to break Smith continued fighting in a clinch, and as the round ended the referee warned him.

Matthews, although on the defensive in the fourth round, landed a couple of heavy left counters on the jaw that made Smith hanker for toothache drops. The "mysterious" boxer was still on the offensive in the fifth round and kept up his free-hand work with untiring persistency. Matthews took no chances and merely countered every time the Boston man rushed in. Smith had two to one the better of the sixth round, Matthews being slow in both attack and defence. Matthews was holding his man hard as the bell rang and the referee warned him. Smith was faster, more aggressive and the harder hitter in every round up to this point. Matthews landed one good left in the seventh round. The crowd hissed Smith, however, for supposed foul work, when in reality he adhered strictly to the rules.

As the eighth round started Matthews landed a heavy right swing on Smith's left eye and cut it open. Smith then bored in like wildfire, only to find his opponent strong and full of heavy smashes. Both fell in a clinch when the ninth round began. Then Matthews set the pace, with the result that the round belonged to him on points. Smith's best blow in the tenth round was a lefthand body punch that almost doubled Matthews up. The latter dropped twice in the eleventh round to avoid Smith's fierce onslaught, which was rapidly beating Matty into submission. In the twelfth round Matthews tried to land a heavy right on the jaw, as that appeared to be his only chance. Smith, however, blocked off his blows and also continued his assaults on the head and body. Matthews delivered less than half a dozen blows in the thirteenth round, as he was constantly taking good care to keep out of Smith's way.

Just as the bell clashed in the fourteenth round Smith landed a light body punch. Matthews doubled up as he sat down, and his seconds cried "foul." It looked like a bluff, or rather a case of quitting. When the next round began Matthews's seconds were still shouting, but the referee ordered the fight to proceed. Matthews's seconds then ripped off his blue silk sash and the battle went on. Smith immediately cut loose and fought his opponent all around the ring. Matthews was apparently unwilling to take a chance, although he was just as strong as the "Mysterious" pugilist. Smith tried hard to swing a knock-out blow in the sixteenth round, but Matthews guarded himself carefully and kept well out of harm's way. Smith opened the seventeenth round with a knock-down, the result of left and right on the jaw. Matthews took nine seconds before getting up. Then he stayed the round with leg work, and went to his corner tired.

The eighteenth round was all in Smith's favor, as he did all the work. Matthews continued his retreat around the edges of the ring. Smith mixed things up so earnestly in the nineteenth round that Matthews was busy guarding his jaw and breaking ground. It was quite apparent that he was trying to stay the limit. Matthews got out of a dangerous predicament in the twentieth round by good ducking. Smith had staggered him, and was bent upon finishing the job then and there. In the twenty-first round Matthews showed that he had no steam left to drive his punches in, while his rival kept on forcing matters with no let up. The twenty-second round was tame, for the reason that Matthews kept well out of the way. Smith redoubled his efforts in the twenty-third round, and with a right cleanly landed on the jaw he sent Matthews to the floor. The latter was groggy when he got up inside of the limit, but Smith could not finish him before the bell sounded. When Matthews came up for the twenty-fourth round Smith said to him:

"Why don't you quit? I don't want to hurt you." Then he turned to Matthews's seconds and remarked: "It's a shame to keep this man in the ring."

Then Smith made a punching bag of Matthews, the latter falling to the floor twice. Matthews asked Smith not to knock him out as the twenty-fifth round began. Smith scored another knock-down before time was up, and got the decision with ease.