A Slip of the Pen

Damon Runyon

The Morning Post/April 26, 1928

A typographical error provides me with a peg on which to hang a discussion of the middleweight division, which seems to be suddenly arousing from a mild torpor.

 Speaking casually of one Jack Pry of St. Bonaventure yesterday, the jolly linotype had me remarking that Pry is “NOT’’ a very good middleweight, that little old three-letter word “NOT’’ creeping in quietly, and all unsuspected, and landing me at the very opposite pole of my thought and intent.

I mean to say the NOT was not of my doing. I have carefully excluded it from my utterances, but it sneaked in somehow. Many an editor has had a tough time explaining to infuriated clients how NOTS got into his publication when NOT was not intended. Still, it was a good break for me, at that, as it gives me this opening to mumble of the middles in general.

What I meant to say, and here say, is that Jack Pry, of St, Bonaventure, is a very good middleweight, one of the best in my opinion in the country today. He is one of the many real good fighters who have not been seen in New York, due to the short-sightedness of the matchmakers.

He is a youngster not long out of the up-state school that is the alma mater of John J. McGraw and the late Hughey Jennings, but he has been fighting long enough to learn how. He met Jimmy Slattery twice when they were both starting out, in short bouts, and held his own against the Buffalo marvel. Since then Pry has greatly improved.

I rate him among the first seven middleweights in the land below Mickey Walker, the world’s champion. I place Phil Knockout Kaplan, Georgie Courtney, Jack McVey, Rene de Vos, Dave Shade and Jack Pry among the contenders for Walker’s title.

I saw Jack Pry box the crafty sepia-toned Allentown Joe Gans in Philadelphia not long ago, and Pry almost bowled Joseph over in the first few rounds. I thought Pry was clearly entitled to the decision that want to Gans.

After the third round when Pry went back to this corner, he said to his handlers: ‘’I see two or three of that fellow.’’

They thought he was dizzy from a punch, but when the fight was over he complained of his eyes, and a medical examination developed that he was suffering from what the doctors call double vision. Gans had stuck a thumb in Pry’s orb, causing the trouble.

Pry proved his gameness to me that night. He also showed that he can punch. He has a beautiful style of boxing, and as the boys say, he can “take it.” One of these nights Pry will get a chance to show in New York, and then the clients will be mumbling, wonderingly: “Where’s that guy been all this time?’’

Pry is a legitimate middleweight, 160 pounds being catchweights for him. Most of the middleweights around nowadays are near-light heavies, but Pry can do as low as 156 without difficulty. He is rough and tough when the milling heats up, and if the next year does not find him battling with the top notchers of the divisions, I shall be greatly surprised.

Philip Knockout Kaplan has been going great over around Philadelphia, knocking the boys over with such apparent ease that the clients there thought even as good a fighter as Babe McCorgary would be nothing more than a set-up for Phil recently.

However, Babe demonstrated that if there is anything he isn’t, it is a set-up. Babe  is also going very well just now. Rene de Vos got a Philadelphia decision over Georgie Courtney not long  ago, which puts the Belgian well up in the list of contenders. Courtney is a high class fighter who somehow never seems to get quite as much of limelight as he deserves.

Dave Shade, the long-chinned Californian, goes bob-bob-bobbing along out in the Middle West.  At his particular style Shade is a great artist. I have heard little of late of Jack McVey, who was supposed to be the black menace of the middles, but they tell me he is still winning. McVey has a lazy, don’t-care manner in the ring that is reminiscent of old John Arthur Johnson.

In fact, McVey in appearance is a miniature Johnson, and neither looks nor boxes like the man from which he took his name—Sam McVey. Jack is a good boxer, and a fair hitter, and he seems to have the other boys very nervous when he is around.

Mickey Walker is defending his title against Ace Hudkins in Chicago on June 21. It strikes me that Hudkins is made to order for Walker. He has nothing that can hurt the middleweight champ, and he tears in at his opponents in a manner that ought to give Mickey a sure knockout over him.

I have always thought Walker one of the greatest fighters of the past twenty years, if only for the reason that he invariably gives the clients some kind of a show for their money. He is a gambler with his right hand, talking desperate changes with it against the toughest punchers. You rarely see a champion doing that.

A fair line on Walker’s form as a middleweight is presented by his swift knockout of the aged Michael McTigue. Only Monday night Michael went ten rounds with Armand Emanuel, the young heavyweight who has been showing astonishing form on the west coast. Walker was practically matched with Emanuel’s father against the match, indicating that the ex-heavyweight champion still retains his judgment about fighters.

While Walker and Hudkins are making ready for their bout in Chicago, it seems to me it would be a good idea for a New York matchmaker to start one those tournaments among the other middleweights. He would have plenty of material with Courtney, McVey, Pry, Shade de Vos, Kaplan and some of the others.


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