Pugilism Falls Upon Evil Days, According to Brand New Critic

Westbrook Pegler

Salt Lake Tribune/November 5, 1925

 

Westbrook Pegler Slings Mean Pen to Tell World Fighters Are the Bunk, Promoters Have Chilblains and Game’s On Rocks Generally

NEW YORK. Nov. 4.–The prize fight profession, after an era of huge prosperity, has now come upon evil days and nights, and it frequents the sport columns wearing a bleak and hungry and somewhat hang-dog look.

Fight managers here who once went in for fawn spats and even went so far as to speak of the ethics of their profession are now dabbing their ankles with shoe polish in lieu of socks, and the air is rife with the snap of the rubber check. When the snap of the rubber check is heard in the land, you may take it for granted that the boys are down to the fundamental ethics of the fight business which reads: “Get the dough—by honest means if necessary—but get the dough.”

The situation is especially melancholy at this season of nippy cold evenings, because the Putnam building on Broadway, that rickety chancellory where the diplomats hatched so many quaint professional strategems and warmed themselves by the radiator for many winters, has lately been knocked tumbling into the dust of its own basement and the fight profession in New York is dispossessed. The Putnam was fondly known in its day as the Cauliflower Board of Trade and also as the Cave of the Winds, which latter title referred to the informal conversaziones of Dumb Dan Morgan, Lew Raymond and Eddie Mead, the balloon-type managers, raconteurs of great persistence and boundless imagination.

Rickard is Farsighted

Tex Rickard, the stick-toting promoter, who baa fomented more fist fights than a village gossip, has reared himself a new cathedral of the art, but he foresaw the present decline and wisely equipped this temple with facilities for ice skating, dancing and that fascinating western exercise known as the rodeo, in which a cast of gents in hirsute pants make sport by falling from the ridge poles of a herd of horses. Mr. Rickard realized that there are not enough matches available in the entire roster of the prize fight profession to fill his new Madison Square Garden more than half a dozen times this winter and he will not depend on pugilism for his mortgage payments.

The new garden will operate on a schedule of one fight a week and after the novelty of the plant has been tarnished by the first attendance, Rickard will have to depend on the sheer drawing power of his matches for his gate receipts. He has enlisted Paul Berlenbach, one of two fighting champions in the rough royalty of the ring, for his house-warming entertainment, but the other champions are either reticent or overpriced, which amounts to the same thing. So are most of the runners up.

Berlenbach has agreed to fight Jack Delaney, the fellow who one caught him with a straight right hand drive to the bridgework and knocked him cold. Paul, the light-heavyweight champion, and Harry Greb, the middleweight champion, are the only two members of their uppity caste who believe in their own ability to whip any man of their respective pounds and then some.

Greb’s Prices Advance

Greb fights frequently for small purses, but lately he marked up his price to Rickard for a return match with Mickey Walker, on whom he inflicted severe contusions and abrasions last summer, and Rickard refused to invest. Greb also asked the same terms for a match with Dave Shade, who likewise abused Walker a few weeks ago.

However, Greb is less to be censured than Jack Dempsey, Harry Wills, Gene Tunney, Louis Kid Kaplan, the featherweight champion, or Charlie Phil Rosenberg, the lightweight who holds the bantamweight championship. Greb did fight a lot of bouts on reasonable terms, and his elevation of the antes is belated and probably temporary.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/542354715/?terms=Westbrook%2BPegler)

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