Sporting Mayor at Boxing Bouts

Toronto Star Weekly/March 13, 1920

T.L. Church, after impressive entrance, registers bows right and left, waves to his pals; sits in a ringside seat, shaking hands, and never sees the fights.

Mayor Church is a keen lover of all sporting contests. He is an enthusiast over boxing, hockey and all the manly sports. Any sporting event that attracts voters as spectators numbers His Worship as one of the patrons. If marbles, leapfrog, and tit-tat-toe contests were viewed by citizens of voting age, the mayor would be enthusiastically present. Due to the youth of the competitors the mayor reluctantly refrains from attending all of the above sports.

The other night the mayor and I attended the boxing bouts at Massey Hall. No; we didn’t go together, but we were both there.

The mayor’s entrance was impressive. He remained standing for some time bowing to his friends and people who knew him.

“Who is that?” asked the man next to me.

“That’s the mayor,” I replied.

“Down in front!” called out the man next to me.

The mayor enjoyed the first bout hugely. During it he shook hands with everyone around him. He did not seem to know when the bout stopped, as he was still shaking hands when the bell rang for the end of the last round.

Between the rounds, the mayor stood up and looked over the crowd.

“What is he doing—counting the house?” asked the man next to me.

“No. He is letting the sport-loving people look at their sport-loving mayor,” I said.

“Down in front!” shouted the man next to me in a rude voice.

During the next two bouts the mayor recognized a number of acquaintances in the crowd. He waved to all of them. He also shook hands with all the soldiers in uniform present, shaking hands with some of them two or three times to make sure.

Scotty Lisner was taking a bad beating in the next bout. The mayor’s eyes never strayed to the ring, but he applauded vociferously—whenever the crowd did.

He turned to his right-hand neighbor.

“Lisner is beating him, isn’t he?” said the mayor.

His neighbor looked at him piteously.

“I thought Lisner was the better fighter,” said the mayor, satisfied, looking eagerly around for someone to shake hands with.

At the end of the fight the referee consulted with the three judges and hoisted a hand of Lisner’s opponent as a sign of victory. The mayor stood up.

“I’m glad Lisner won!” he remarked enthusiastically.

“Is that really the mayor?” asked the man next to me.

“That is His Worship, the Sporting Mayor,” I replied.

“Down in front!” yelled the man next to me, in a rough voice.

It looked as though the mayor enjoyed the last bout best of all. Of course, he didn’t see it, but he discovered several people he had not shaken hands with, and also there was a great deal of booing and cheering. Sometimes the mayor would absent-mindedly boo when the crowd cheered but he always righted himself instinctively at once. He seemed able to shift a boo into a cheer with the same ease and grace of shoving a Ford into low gear.

At the close of the fights the Mayor absent-mindedly said, “Meeting’s dismissed,” and dashed for his motorcar, thinking he was at a City Council meeting.

The mayor is just as interested in hockey as he is in boxing. If cootie fighting or Swedish pinochle or Australian boomerang hurling are ever taken up by the voters, count on the mayor to be there in a ringside seat. For the mayor loves all sport.

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)