Wolgast Very Sick

Damon Runyon

The New York American/February 3, 1917

Th’ Mornin’s Mornin’

According to a Chicago sporting man who is in the city, Ad Wolgast, former lightweight champion of the world, is in a hospital out West, quite sick, and his fighting days are undoubtedly over

For his own good, Wolgast should have retired several years ago, but he has persistently kept at it. He fought a dozen times, or more, last year, appearing in many different parts of the country.

Although is now only about twenty-nine years old, no man, with the possible exception of Battling Nelson, ever showed the wear and tear of the fighting game as much as Wolgast. His style of milling was the cause. Winning or losing, the little fellow always accumulated quite a pounding.

It is said that Wolgast is one of the richest men who ever followed the ring. He is believed to be worth at least $200,000, and he could have retired several years ago in very comfortable circumstances. He kept on going, however, even while jeopardizing his physical welfare.

Just about the time the information was received as to Wolgast’s illness, a letter reached here from Owen Moran, one of Ad’s old opponents, who is now in England, but who has quit the ring. Moran boxed Wolgast a six-round no-decision affair in New York in 1908, and in 1911 the Englishman was knocked out by Ad in thirteen rounds at San Francisco.

A Record of Fouls

Here is a curious thing in connection with the careers of Moran and Wolgast. After losing to Wolgast, Owen dropped three fights on fouls in the next two years. He fouled Charley White at Syracuse in 1912, being disqualified in the ninth round, and in his very next fight, he fouled Charley’s brother, Jack. That was in Los Angeles. The disqualification came in the ninth round.

Moran returned to England, and won a twenty founder from Johnny Condon, and drew with Jem Driscoll in twenty rounds. He drifted over to Australia and lost to Matt Wells in twenty, and then he returned to America. He was disqualified for fouling Joe Azevedo in the sixth round at Oakland.

Coming to New York, Moran boxed Young Hoe Shugrue at Madison Square Garden in January, 1914, and quit in the seventh round, claiming an injury to his hand. That was about the last of the once great Owen in this country. Up to the time he found Charley White there was no record of a foul in Moran’s career.

Up to the time he lost his title to Willie Ritchie on a foul in November, 1912, at Daly City, Cal., in the sixteenth round, there was but one foul in Wolgast’s long record and that was in his favor. After losing the title Ad was disqualified for fouls five different times.

In 1915, at Shreveport, La., he lost to Bobby Waugh in six rounds; at St. Louis, in 1916, he lost to Frankie Russell in four rounds. He was disqualified in his next two fights, once in three rounds with Stewart Donnelly, at Richmond, and then in the eleventh round of his fight with Freddy Walsh, at Denver.

It was in this last fight that Wolgast had Walsh down and out on the floor. The champion claimed a foul which the referee says he did  not see. Doctors were summoned from the audience to examine Walsh, and after a considerable wait the fight was resumed, Wolgast being disqualified later.

Where Walcott Is

Not long ago a story went the rounds that Joe Walcott, once holder of the welterweight championship, and one of the greatest fighters of all time, was serving as a coal passer aboard a tramp ship.

Tom O’Rourke, who handled Joe when the Barbados wonder was at his best, declared the yarn is untrue. O’Rourke says he has information that the one great black is confined in an institution hard by Boston—Deer Island, to be exact, and that a straitjacket is occasionally necessary to restrict Joe’s activities.

Walcott is now nearly forty-five years old. He put in about twenty-two years in the ring from the time little George Dixon discovered him boxing in Boston as an amateur and called O’Rourke’s attention to him. The high tide of his wonderful ring career was reached some fifteen or sixteen years ago, although he continued fighting several years after that with more or less success.

O’Rourke believes that Joe would be a good man today had he not knocked off part of his hand while fooling with a revolver. That accident practically finished the Barbados demon as a fighter. Old timers agree that it is doubtful if any of the present generation of welters, or middleweights either, would have much chance against Walcott when he was at the top of his form.

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