Fight Money Talk Wearisom

Damon Runyon

Salt Lake Tribune/January 30, 1916

New York Could Bar Battle

In view of the turmoil caused by the proposed Willard-Moran match, it might be a grand little idea for the state boxing commission to now step in and bar the affair from this city, and from this state.

That will settle all the trouble in a few minutes, and confer a very, very great favor upon the newspaper readers of the community. The row stirred up by the proposed match is sufficient provocation for the commission to take immediate action, and it has ample precedent to guide it.

Jack Johnson was kept out of New York by a former boxing commission, and Bob Fitzsimmons was barred from the rings of the state. The reasons in each case differed materially, and are different from the reasons which provide an excuse for a bar in the Willard-Moran matter, perhaps, but they all go back to the general proposition of the good of the game.

There is no doubt that the commission is vested with considerable discretionary power in that respect, and there is no doubt that any action it might take to bar a match, or rather a proposed match, which stirred up discord, and threatened the well being of boxing, would be upheld by the highest authorities.

The squabbling that is now going on among the various promoters who want to stage the match, and which has now come down to charges of double-crossing, does boxing no good. The big-money talk that is being indulged in on both sides does boxing no good. It was that sort of talk which hurt baseball the past couple of years as much as anything. The sport was finally subordinated to the financial side, and the interest of the fan in the game itself waned. The fact that some ball player was getting about $2 per minute for his efforts was fed to the fan so often that he quit going to the ball yard just to escape a constant reminder of the futility of his own $2 per day.

Big Money Talk Hurts

Just so is the big money conversation that is going on about the Willard-Moran match calculated to hurt boxing. It is no particular appeal to a spectator to know that a couple of fighters are getting thousands of dollars for thirty minutes alleged work, especially if that work happens, as is not infrequently the case, to look like ”the work.”

The boxing commission could scarcely be expected to take cognizance of the big-money jabberer, of course, for that phase of the jam is entirely outside its jurisdiction, but it can take cognizance of the other features of the affair. Putting up the bars would be a simple solution, and work no hardship on any of the promoters concerned.

We are taking no sides in the jam, one way or the other. As we understand the matter, the match belongs to Mr. Tex Rickard and Mr. Sam McCracken for a March date, but that Mr. Willard will not box in March. He will box in April, and the April date belongs to Mr. Jack Curley, who is understood to be a member of the firm interested in Mr. Willard. It was Mr. Curley who fomented the Johnson-Willard match, and produced a new heavyweight champion.

Some Other Offers

Hovering in the far background is a Mr. James J. Johnston, manager of Madison Square Garden, who is uttering plaintive cries about one thing and another, but who seems to be taking no active part in the row. Mr. Johnston let it out in Chicago the other day that he will give Willard $90,000 for three fights in Madison Square Garden, but that was doubtless just Mr. Johnston’s Chicago line of conversation, unless he figures on himself being Mr. Willard’s opponent.

Philadelphia Jack O’Brien came to town the other day with an offer of $50,000 for a six-round fight between Willard and Moran in the silent city, but that proposition fell on deaf ears, and Mr. O’Brien respectfully backed away. If the boxing commission thinks it might be working an injustice on the fighters by putting up a bar, here is an offer that proves otherwise. They can get more money elsewhere for fighting four rounds less than they would have to fight in New York.

We confess we do not understand just why Mr. Willard could box Fred Fulton in New Orleans on March 4, but is unable to box Moran in New York on a later date the same month—but, then, that’s perhaps Mr. Willard’s own private affair. The Willard people were all worked up about the Fulton match, and seemed to have no doubt as to Jess’s ability to get in wonderful condition right away, but it does not seem to be too easy for him to condition for as opponent such as Frank Moran.

Could Go Away

Barring the Willard-Moran match from New York would not deprive either man of a livelihood. Willard’s handlers say he has $150,000 in sight for circus work, and Moran can get all the fighting he wants to do, even if he does not care to meet Willard outside of New York.

The logical thing, however, would be for the boys to go away from here—far, far away from here; to New Orleans, say—and engage in a twenty-round bout there. They would get almost as much money there, and Moran would get a much better crack at the title, which he says is his chief reason for mingling with Willard, than he would in a short bout in New York.

Of course the boys could go to New Orleans and do that twenty rounds after they had gone ten here, but meantime this community would be annoyed by a continuation of that row which is now in progress. The price is too great just to see Willard and Moran. Ten rounds will not prove anything between these gentlemen, and may serve to create great dissatisfaction in the bosoms of persons who are, at this writing, at peace with all the world.

Go away, you boys—go far, far away! Have it out somewhere else, and then come back and all will be forgiven. But in the meantime the boxing commission might ponder well this suggestion about making sure the boys go away by raising the bars on them—and on some of those promoters who keep shouting in the public ear, but never say much of anything.


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