The Fate of Johnny Dundee

Damon Runyon

New York American/January 17, 1917

It would scarcely be fair to young Master Willie Jackson, of the Bronx, to suggest that his sudden knockout of Johnny Dundee, the Fighting Wop, over in Philadelphia Monday night was an accident, until we see more of William.

It may have been truer to form that most ring followers are willing to believe just at present. Anyway, he knocked Johnny out, you can’t get away from that—and it is more than any other fighter in the land has been able to do to John.

A fast flying durable, game little fellow this Dundee, who has taken the punches of all the best men in his division right on the jaw without slowing up, and Willie certainly must have “had something” on that lick that laid Johnny so very low.

Only a couple years ago Al McCoy, of Brooklyn, hit George Chip, recognized middle weight champion, right on the chin, and George was unable to arise from a recumbent position to do any more fighting that evening. The middleweight title changed hands.

Most people said it was an accident; a fluke. None the less, Chip and all the other middleweights have had their several cracks at Albertus since then, and Albert still clings to the crown.

When Young Corbett came out of the West and floored Terry McGovern in two rounds, everybody said that was an accident. Corbett proved otherwise later on, of course, but it was a long time before the fistic followers thought his victory anything but a lucky break for him.

Remember Young Corbett

Most of the overlooked the fact that before he landed in Hartford, Corbett had fought some corking good battles, beating such as Joe Bernstein, Eddie Santry, Oscar Gardiner and Kid Broad. And yet it was not so long before he commenced showing the form which led up to the McGovern fight, that Corett was licked by Benny Yanger and knocked out in two rounds by a venerable fourth-rater named Dempsey.

Remember Corbett when thinking of Willie Jackson. Maybe it was all an accident, and then again maybe William is a real one. He will certainly get many an opportunity to display his ability, because his victory over Dundee is sure to bring him all kinds of offers.

The fate which befell Dundee is not at all uncommon to the prize ring. The supposedly sure thing has often been knocked cold by the alleged sucker soon after the opening bell.

Marvin Hart, later Jim Jeffries’s hand-picked successor, once turned his head to exchange a word with a friend at the ringside in the opening round of a squabble with Wild Bill Hanrahan, and—WHAM!

Down went Marve!

Kid McCoy once got to fiddling around with Jack McCormick in the initial stanza of a quarrel, and—BLOWIE!

Taps for K. McCoy!

The case of Jack Dempsey, who was beaten by La Blanche, the Marine, and his ppivot punch, is always cited as an instance when the sure thing went askew, but that occurred in the thirty-second round.

No Title Involved

Dundee held no title, of course, but he is one of the few real lightweights in America and could call himself lightweight champion of this country with as much right as any of the others.

Dundee is able to make 133 pounds ringside with no effort at all, and 133 pounds ringside is supposed to be the American notch for lightweights. In England it is 135 pounds, the mark maintained by Freddy Welsh, the English champion.

Many have long believed that Dundee could beat Welsh in a forty-round fight, but that, of course, is pure conjecture. Welsh has reached a stage of his career where forty-round fights are erased from his curriculum, save for one man—Mr. Chas. White, of Chicago.

It is likely that Welsh would take on Chas. for any distance; furthermore, it is likely that Welsh would beat him. Dundee is another story. Dundee cannot hit very hard, because he is always flopping around the ring, adrift from any anchorage for a punch, but he is as tough as a piece of India rubber.

He will probably have numerous alibis for his defeat at the hands of William Jackson, for such is the method of the modern-day fighter in the hour of reverse. Yet the fact remains that William knocked Johnny quite out. You can’t get away from that. He knocked him out.

William ought to be quite a personage around the Bronx, for the next few days at least.

Need New Lightweights

Business seems to be reviving in all the various divisions of fistiana of late, and the lightweight division, once the most popular of them all, can stand a lot of activity.

If William Jackson does not turn out to be what the gem experts call a “kluck,” he will be a welcome addition. While Freddy Welsh goes along champing in his own peculiar fashion, some pretty good boys are being developed here and there.

Joe Welling seems to be improving constantly. He is a real lightweight. Ritchie Mitchell is coming along. Benny Leonard does not seem to be overworking himself, but he is a good lad. Patsy Cline, if he can make the lightweight notch, is another.

The scant prospect of a title fight has undeniably caused a falling off of interest ini the lightweights. The appearance of Benny Leonard with what seemed to be a real knockout punch resulted in a chirking up for a spell, and now Benjamin appears to have paused, or at least is hesitating slightly at the very top of his drive.

Some say Benny cannot do the lightweight poundage, but Benny has not been called upon to do it lately. He seemed in easy striking distance of it the last time we saw him. If he is a welterweight, he ought to be able to make all the boys in that division step quite lively.

(Source: New York American microfilm collection, University of Wisconsin libraries)