Rickard Bleating for the Manassa Mauler

Damon Runyon

The Evening News/March 15, 1928

“Call for Mister Dempsey!”

“Call for Mr. Dempsey!”


’Tis the low-pitched, pleading voice of George (Tex) Rickard, the pugilistic entrepreneur, like unto the gentle mooning of a rhinoceros, calling to its mate.

I do not like to say I told you so, my friends, but did I not tell you so? Did I not tell you that Mr. Rickard would wind up, hat in hand, on the doorsteps of the old Manassa Man Mauler? I did. And there Mr. Rickard is.

His elimination tournaments have certainly accomplished their purpose. They have eliminated one and all. They have practically eliminated the elimination, which is eliminating to the Nth degree, as we say in the gymnasium.

And what have you got? You’ve got Magnolia?

After the soiree at Madison Square Garden the other night between the terrible Sharkey man, who was a little more terrible than somewhat, and the rousting, jousting Johnny Risko, Mr. Rickard went into a back room and began studying up some elocutionary phrase. He figures he can use ’em  when he meets the train that will bring Jack Dempsey to this city in about a week.

For Mr. Rickard is confronted by the task of persuading Jack Dempsey that those eyes are not as bad as the doctor says, and that he might as well risk one of them anyway in a third and probably final bout with Mr. Gene Tunney. I am inclined to think that what Mr. Rickard will show Jack Dempsey will be a cure for sore eyes.

It is an even money bet that Dempsey will grab that last gob of gravy. He has discovered that he can always use a little bit more. I think you will find that his apparent reluctance to battle again is founded largely on business motives. He is waiting to make Mr. Rickard jack that ante up.

And what a spot the old Manassa Man Mauler is in just now! He is the only man in the country bar one who can insure a better-than-a-million gate to Mr. Rickard in a bout with Mr. Tunney. The other man, as I have remarked before, is your little pal, Senor Paolino Oo-scary Umbray, the Beezark of the Basque.

Of course Dempsey is to be preferred as a drawing attraction with Mr. Tunney to the Beezark, but I put the latter very close to him for this particular bout. Against anyone else the Beezark isn’t a tremendous draw. Against Tunney, the pugilistic proletariat would allot him only an outside chance, but the clients would feel assured of a rip-snorting bout.

Mr. Rickard has tried to decry my Oo-scary theory, but he knows I am right. You see, Oo-scary ran out on Mr. Rickard’s elimination tournament, eliminating himself, so to speak, which was lese majeste, or something like that. Hence, Mr. Rickard stopped speaking to the Beezark’s  interpreters, because of course, he couldn’t speak to the Beezark if he wished. Moreover, Mr. Rickard pooh-poohed, and tush-tushed the Beezark, but Mr. Rickard is a showman and he knows what Mr. Tunney and the Beezark would draw.

However I wouldn’t call Mr. Rickard a showman if he tries to inveigle the Beezark back to battle Joe Doaks, or who-struck-John, or anyone else, because in that event he might only eliminate the Beezark all over again. The Beezark has been eliminated so often that it is no longer any novelty, and lacking Jack Dempsey, Mr. Rickard might just as well go ahead and sign Mr. Tunney and the Beezark.

And, if you ask me, I doubt that Mr. Tunney would care to mingle with the Beezark if he could get any of the others, beginning with Jack Dempsey. Mr. Tunney keeps sufficiently in touch with the boxing dodge to realize that the Beezark is a fellow with a style that would cause him plenty of trouble over a route.

I still insist that Mr. Rickard made his greatest error in sticking to that batch of heavyweights that he kept foisting on the clients time and again instead of giving some of the youngsters a chance. For instance, Knute Hansen can lick most of that bunch without half trying, but they tossed Knute around without giving him a chance at the alleged top notchers in the garden that he finally took plenty of air and went in for writing letters.

I believe Knute is now abroad, newly married, and I doubt if we will see his smiling pan in these parts again for some time to come. It is all a big laugh when as good a heavyweight as Hansen is out of work, and those cab drivers are getting big money in the Garden.

There was another heavyweight around here a few months ago that I guarantee could lick Mr. Rickard’s entire covey of eliminates, or whatever you call ’em, one after the other, fighting one a night every night for a week. His name is of no importance now. A white man and plenty healthy.

None of Mr. Rickard’s first line heavies would fight him. They all fairly shuddered at his name, Mr. Rickard did not assist his cause, and he, too, faded from view.

Had Mr. Rickard persevered with the youngsters and disregarded the fact that they might not draw in the beginning he might now have an Armand Emanuel or a Joe Sekrya or a Knute Hansen towering over the others as a potential contender. He has overlooked a mighty good bet in that Englishman, Phil Scott, and in Pierre Charles, the Belgian.

Now he will have to call upon the war-worn Dempsey or the old Beezark of the Basque if he hopes to have a heavyweight battle of any importance this year, and Dempsey, I can assure you, will probably cost him plenty.


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