Mr. Woodman Speaks

Damon Runyon

Harrisburg Evening News/April 5, 1927

The dark-browed, dour looking Joseph Woodman, of the pugilistic corporation of Woodman & Lawrence, had one heavyweight in his lifetime who rather warped Mr. Woodman’s view of all subsequent heavyweights—who made Mr. Woodman most pessimistic about all other heavyweights in fact.

I refer to one Sam Langford, the Devasticatin’ Bear Cat from Boston. Mr. Woodman managed Sam for many years, and Sam’s prowess is a matter of pugilistic record. He was a convenient heavyweight to manage. If Mr. Woodman chanced to be otherwise engaged on the night of one of Sam’s fights, all Mr. Woodman had to do was to dispatch Sam to the arena with a memorandum as to how long Sam was to permit the encounter to go.

Mr. Woodman required no assistant seconds and towel swingers for Sam, and never had to worry about the referee, for Sam carried his own referee into the ring with him concealed in his right fist. He seldom remained in the ring long enough to need any attention in his corner. A handy man was Sam Langford, but he practically ruined Mr. Woodman’s judgment of heavyweights.

YOU SEE, AFTER LANGFORD, Mr. Woodman felt, and perhaps rightly, that the race of heavies had become extinct. When he gazed upon the aspirants to recognition in the large division during the past ten years and thought of Langford, Mr. Woodman became ill. Frequently he had to take to his bed, and at times he became quite violent. The mere question “What would Sam have done to these boys?” has been known to send Mr. Woodman into an attack of the mumbles.

Thus I am somewhat astonished to receive from Mr. Woodman a note expressing admiration and hope for a young white heavyweight who has just come under the pugilistic protectorate of Woodman & Lawrence, Inc. They have had many other young heavyweights in the past, including Knute Hansen, the melancholy Dane, but Mr. Woodman has been content to let his accomplice, George Lawrence, do the muttering about them while he remained in the background scowling darkly and thinking of Sam Langford.

Mr. Lawrence is the optimistic member of the confederation. Mr. Lawrence thinks well of all young heavyweights, not having been acquainted with Sam Langford. Mr. Lawrence attributes his partner’s hallucinations concerning Sam to liver complaint, or possibly the changes in the weather. Mr. Lawrence goes along cheerfully digging up the young heavyweights, but it is said he keeps some of them hidden from Mr. Woodman’s view for fear Mr. Woodman will get to comparing them to Langford and wish to kill them.

THIS TOM SAYERS that Mr. Woodman mentions in his note to me must have some merit to attract Mr. Woodman’s notice unless Mr. Lawrence wrote the note to me and forged Mr. Woodman’s signature.

I judge this Tom Sayers is not the same Tom Sayers who was champion of England many years ago, though Woodman & Lawrence, Inc., will doubtless discover that their Tom Is a descendant of that Tom. The English Tom has been dead a long time, and while I have known Woodman & Lawrence, Inc., to dig ’em up out of the pugilistic graveyard, I doubt that they would go that far back.

Anyway, Mr. Woodman advises me that the new Tom Sayers is from Detroit, which gave Jack McAuliffe II, to the union, a circumstance that is cited here not to the disparagement of Detroit, but as a bit of pugilistic history. The new Tom is 21 years old, six feet 1 inch tall, and weighs 195. He has had thirty bouts and won twenty-three by the old K. O.

If you sometimes marvel who these young heavyweights with the impressive K. O. records really K. O., I might mention that the new Tom K. O.’d Jack Phillips, Matt Brookel, Frank Wheeler, Marine Tolliver and Bill Archer among others, and you may make what you please of that.

I find no mention of Bill Schade in Mr. Woodman’s note, although Bill Schade is obviously the property of Woodman & Lawrence, Inc. But Mr. Woodman prates only of Tom Sayers, so I must infer that Mr. Lawrence has not yet ventured to speak to him about Bill Schade.

I do not blame Mr. Lawrence. I myself would be careful about mentioning any new heavyweights to a man who managed old Sam Langford over a long period of years.



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