Mr. T. Jones

Damon Runyon

New York American/February 15, 1917

The Mornin’s Mornin

Tom Jones speaking.

Ornate is Thomas beyond compare. On his finger there riots in gleaming splendor a four-carat stone. On his tie bristles a white gem weighing some proportion of a pound. His apparel—but why kalsomine a lily? Tom Jones speaking. Attend:

“You will recall that a few weeks ago when I was in New York City I displayed to you in the grill room at Shanley’s, and also in confidence, certain contracts for 1917 offered Jess Willard by divers and sundry circus outfits?”

Thus Mr. Jones.

We yes-ed him with a grave nod.

“It was a great deal of money that Mr. Willard was offered, was it not?” queried Mr. Jones.

We admitted that it was.

“More for the circus season, as you may remember,” continued Mr. Jones, “than Mr. Willard could secure from several fights, granting that he secured as much from each as he received for dabbing at Frank Moran.”

“Shoot!” we said.

“Well,” said Mr. Jones, solemnly, “we—meaning Jess Willard & Co., Limited—are willing to meet this bird Fred Fulton, of whom we have been hearing rumors for some time, in fistic conflict next month. You know me. You know Jess. You know Jacques Curley, the unsilent member of the Willard corporation.

“You know that we know that we’ve got a good thing in this heavyweight title. You know that we know it ought to yield more money in 1917, through exhibitions alone, than ever before, and it has already yielded enough to give Willard $300,000, and still leave plenty of gravy for Jacques and I.”

The Answer Follows

Mr. Jones paused his effusion of words while he nibbled the end off a sinister looking cigar.

We waited apprehensively. The thing was growing most complicated.

“Now, then,” said Mr. Jones, finally, “willing to meet Fulton before the circus season opens, as I say, we demand credit for a little common sense. Does anybody believe that Messrs. Willard, Jones and Curley—especially Mr. Jones—would permit Jess to meet Fulton if we did not think that Jess can beat Fulton?”

It sounded reasonable enough.

“I’ve seen this Fulton fight a couple of times now,” Mr. Jones went on. “I saw him beat Cowler, and I saw him beat Weinert. I think I am a pretty fair judge of a fighter. I had two champions before I got Willard—Billy Papke and Ad Wolgast—and I took Willard when he was regarded as a big bum by all fistiana, just because I thought he was a fellow who would come on.

“Well, then, on my knowledge of Willard as he is today, and on my observation of Fulton, I am still willing to make the match. Moreover, you can break me if you think Fulton can beat the champ. I am delighted that a lot of people think it will be a cinch for Fulton. Opinion of that sort is water on our wheel. It serves to work up interest without artificial aid. We won’t have to use the pulmotor to put life in the match.”

How They Change

A singular thing is the fistic game; a singular thing, indeed.

One year ago they were saying Jess Willard was invincible. They were saying the heavyweight championship would never change hands until Willard died of old age.

“Too big,” they said, “and too powerful. No man in all the world has a chance against him.”

About that same period it was announced that Willard was matched to meet a fellow named Fred Fulton, from Rochester, Minn., in a twenty-round bout at New Orleans. The sporting world said pish, and tush, and likewise pooh-pooh.

In short, it gave the proposed match the dear old “raz,” to such effect that the New Orleans promoters called it off. Fulton, people said, was just a big soft dub exhumed in Minnesota by Messrs. T. Jones, et al., as a set-up for Willard.

Since last Monday night every other man you meet is saying that Fred Fulton is sure to beat Willard if they fight; is sure to knock out the Kansas Giant, who was supposed to be invincible.

A singular thing is the fistic game; a singular thing, indeed.

Fulton knocks out two men who were both knocked out by little 165-pound Jack Dillon, and overnight he is hailed as one of the greatest fighters the game has known!

Is Not Unanimous

The sentiment in Fred’s favor is not unanimous, however.

“I’d like to see him hit once, anyway,” is the way the cautious ones put it. “Fast he is, and workmanlike, with a wonderful punishing left hand, but—I’d like to see him hit!”

By that they mean they would like to see how Fulton stands up under punishment. Al Palzer, now a trainer in Fulton’s camp, and a pugilistic has-been, if he ever was, hit him once and down went Fredward’s apple cart.

That was quite a spell after Palzer had passed the top or whatever form he may have attained around New York, too. Carl Morris beat Fred. Fulton’s record claims a defeat on a foul in that fight. Others say Fred went down without really being hit; Morris himself naturally alleges a clean victory.

“He bounced that left off me many a time,” commented the Sapulpa Sapling, who saw the Fulton-Weinert fight here Monday night, “but I didn’t let it bother me as Weinert did. I kept walking into Mr. Fulton, and by and by he got quite discouraged.

“If he is so good, why doesn’t he take me on for another trial? I might give him a good workout. I’m as big as he is, and just as powerful, and I hold a decision over him. That ought to count for something. I’ll guarantee he won’t have me punch-drunk with a few stabs of that left.”

And then there is Frank Moran. Always there is Frank Moran. Maybe Moran might satisfy the curiosity of those who say of Fulton: “I’d like to see him hit!”

(Source: New York American microfilm archive)

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