A Stitch in Time

Damon Runyon

New York American/February 17, 1917

It might be a good idea for the State Boxing Commission to formally notify all and sundry that a Willard-Fulton match will not be permitted in New York State

No promoter has as yet put up a nickel toward the match, so this action taken now would work no injustice upon anyone. If the commission, before acting, waits until the preliminary steps have been taken, the promoters will have the argument that it is a hardship upon them

The Willard-Fulton match should be banned because already there is too much whispering about the affair. Rumors are floating around that the Willard interests and the Fulton interests are to be combined. There is gossip to the effect that the match is planned as a final fistic clean-up on New York before the repeal of the Frawley law.

All this, and more—and it is too much.

Maybe the whispers are a grave injustice to the men concerned; certainly they are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but the germs of a potential scandal, once planted, are hard to eradicate and the best thing that can be done under the circumstances is to remove the possibility of trouble.

Some of the promoters argue that even if the Frawley law is repealed the repeal will not operate for six months and so a match cannot be prevented.

They forget that under the law as it exists right now prize fighting is illegal. Boxing exhibitions are permitted but surely they could not pretend they were staging a mere boxing exhibition, as followers of boxing understand the meaning of the term, between Willard and Fulton.

Put It Away!

Not much! If it is presented at all it will be presented as a real fight, with the heavyweight championship of the world involved.

Of course, if they should desire to offer it in the form of an exhibition no one could object; but they could not offer it in that way and expect a purse of around $75,000 and charge all the way up to $50 per seat.

You can see Willard in exhibitions any day during the summer for the price of a circus ticket. Fulton would probably be willing to give a round of exhibitions for even less, if he thought he could draw any money.

The question of whether Fulton has a chance against the champion does not enter into the matter. Undoubtedly the Rochester Giant has a better right than any other heavyweight to call himself a championship contender just now. It might be a great battle, but under present conditions all thought of attempting to pull it off here should be abandoned.

A hint from the boxing commissioners to the various promoters should be all that is necessary. We have always contended that part of the functions of the commission should be the careful scrutiny of every match undertaken by the different clubs, and that where a match is obviously one-sided or bears the ear-marks of a brother act or where it threatens to react against the game it should be barred.

Such a Business!

Speaking of the boxing commission, and the like, it is strange that no claim was made on the services of Al McCoy for a Brooklyn engagement, when it was first announced that the middleweight champ had signed to meet James Lester Darcy, of lammister fame.

We well recall that a Dillon-McCoy match was promulgated long before McCoy was hooked up with the Australian, and that subsequently it was postponed, but we ghouth it had been forgotten, or totally erased from the boards.

Now at this late day comes John Weismantle, and asserts a lien on the services of Albertus. John is well within his rights, of course, if he holds a contract with McCoy as he says, but one wonders why John lingered so long in the background before declaring his lien.

He must have known that McCoy had been matched with Darcy, because a great deal of noise was made about the matter, yet he waited until Darcy had gone into training for the affair

Were we this party Grant Hugh Browne, who arranged the Darcy-McCoy thing for Madison Square Garden, we would rise and call John Weismantle blessed for horning into the proceedings. Browne is said to have guaranteed Darcy $30,000 for his end, and McCoy $10,000. His expenses will be at least $10,000 more. No one, with the possible exception of Mr. Browne himself, believes the match will draw $30,000, let alone the size of the purse to the fighters.

McCoy is no drawing card, and the hurrah over Darcy has died out to such an extent that he is going to have to fight himself into the toplines. He cannot do that with McCoy.

A Grand Muddle

James Lester Darcy finds  his affairs in a terrible snarl just now, and it appears to be largely James Lester’s own fault. Had he elected to battle the best man America could offer in his class immediately upon his arrival here, he might be riding the surface of pugilistic events as conspicuously as a war boat, and moreover he might have a good many thousands of dollars in his pocket.

He landed here ‘mid publicity sufficient to float a dozen wildcat mining propositions, two comic operas, one serious drama, and at least a dozen championship battles. Give a Walter Kingsley, or a Bill Sill, or a Hamish McLaurin that much free advertising to play with, and they would guarantee you an enormous attendance at a temperance lecture in a brewery.

Yet Darcy profited little or nothing from the ballyhoo! It is enough to make any self-respecting press agent weep. He must have been very headstrong or very, very badly advised.

Now he has broken with his manager, and he has no match in sight that is not surrounded by a dense fog of misunderstanding. He will get little sympathy from the followers of the game, because he has manifested such an aversion to performing the function of a fighter, which, as we have said before, is to fight.

It is all very sad indeed, but we judge that James Lester will have to do all the weeping himself, if there is any to be done.

(Source: New York American microfilm archive)

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