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 Post subject: Jimmy McLarnin
PostPosted: 28 Oct 2006, 13:52 
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Joined: 16 Oct 2003
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Location: New Ferry, Wirral,England
Jimmy McLarnin

The following is taken from a series of articles published in 1934 by Andy Lytle.

One morning in April 1923 the sports room of the old province building at Vancouver was brightened by the appearance of a brown eyed boy. He was followed by a man in his early fifties whose large frame filled the doorway and who pulled at his forelock in a curious Cockney fashion as he shuffled Sheepishly into the room.

Scanning the noon edition I was in no mood to be disturbed but the winning smile of the kid was disarming.

“I’m Jimmy McLarnin Mr. little” he said “ and this is my manager Mr. Charlie Foster”.

They had come this strangely assorted pair, they said, to thank the newspapers for having given Jimmy the best of it the night before when he had lost an Amateur bout to Mickey Gill, then and for some months later Jimmy’s greatest rival.

Thus an acquaintance that ripened into friendship began between myself and a boy who was destined to grow into one of the worlds greatest fistic figures. The night before Jimmy had dropped the decision to Mickey Gill in a fight for the Amateur featherweight title of B.C. The referee George Paris, a colored man who was caught in Paris with Jack Johnson when war broke out in 1914, and who had been Trainer, boxer, handler of athletes all his life, had a sentimental interest in Gill.

The fight took place in a ring pitched in a ball park on a rainy night and had been close and fierce .McLarnin and Gill were deadly rivals, both were products of East – End clubs , slugged it out toe to toe.
I thought, and so did one of the judges, that Mclarnin had won by superior boxing. The Judges divided. The kids went an extra two minute round and at the end of which Paris elevated Gill’s hand.

I pulled some strings to get the kids rematched and because A.E. “Bert” Tennant, then a well known official in Canadian amateur athletics, felt that an injustice had Been done Gill and McLarnin met a week or two later and this time McLarnin’s surpassing boxing skill made him an easy winner. From then on the guileless youth and the tight lipped suspicious man who became his manager trod the path of life together In the dual roles of doting son and protective father.

To understand Jimmy McLarnin and the somewhat narrow lane, judged by modern standards at least, down which he had pursued his way as steadfastly as a second Gene Tunney, a glimpse at his background is necessary.

His parents, both Irish, migrated to the Canadian prairies. “We made a trip home” his father told me “ and Jimmy was draped in Dublin”. McLarnin fought as a professional In California before he was 16. he was a headliner in New York at least two years before he was 21.

Boxing leaders are seldom scrupulous .needs must when the dollar drives .McLarnin is not the first boy to have his age “lifted” to suit the rulers of the sport. But this leads to erroneous birth dates being accepted. The record books give Jimmy’s birth date as 1906 but he was born at least two years before that.

I doubt whether Jimmy or his parents really know the correct answer.His father told me Jimmy was born in August, jimmy says it was December, his mother is not sure but Jimmy knows.

Jimmy was a lad of two or three when the McLarnin family, large then and steadily growing, migrated from the Prairies to Vancouver. Sam McLarnin, the father, a typical Dublin Irishman, operated a second hand establishment in Vancouver’s East End and into these precincts Charlie “Pop” Foster often ambled for a smoke, a chat or the odd pick-me-up.

Jimmy was a prominent kid athlete in the Methodist mission flock of the Rev. A.E. Roberts. He was proficient in any game at which he engaged. He loved them all and judged by the little mission standards he was a three letter man at football, baseball and boxing. He excelled in the gym and was considered a model of propriety by the tired little Pastor of such an unruly flock.

One day Pop foster saw the lithe youngster going around an opponent in a street fight between newspaper boys. Flashing, bobbing , ducking, hitting hard and then getting away. Foster asked the boy’s name and immediately hot footed it In the direction of his crony Sam McLarnin.

To be continued…


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 Post subject: more
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2006, 19:27 
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Location: New Ferry, Wirral,England
Foster forecasts success

On his way to see McLarnin it is assumed that Pop Foster paid a visit or two, but anyway, in a dingy barn like room cluttered with the countless odds and ends of the second hand dealer and possibly over the stimulus of a glass or two, these Cronies, the Irishman struggling to raise a boisterous family of thirteen and the Englishman whose proud boast is that he once handled the great “Spike Robson” of England fixed the future for the smiling boy who was to become a worlds champion, a young man of wealth, a highly respected man of society and the hardest puncher of his weight in his generation

“ that boy Jimmy of yours “ I expected Foster opened the conviviality’s.

“I could somthin wid him if ed do as I tell im “…”I could make him a champion. E’s another Spike Robson Sam”


Sam McCLarnin laughed at the whimsies of his companion. Foster would have his little joke.

“Young Jimmy, that artful imp. …a champion ? ..Charlie would be the death of him yet with his queer notions , Jimmy another Spike Robson ?..” Ooo the ell was Spike Robson, he’d like to know”

Ten years later Sam McLarnin was to sit in the sumptuous Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, within a soft whisper of the celebrated Coconut Grove ball room where the youth and beauty of Hollywood and California gravitate nightly and listen with a twisted smile on his worn face while a world applauded and fawned over his son as it acclaimed him the worlds welterweight champion.

Took charge of career

As they clinked their glasses together again this surely was a night to remember, I can hear Foster Saying “I told ye the boy would be a champion Sam, didn’t I say he was another Spike Robson that
afternoon in the old store at Vancouver”.

And Sam McLarnin sitting amidst the luxury of surroundings, the beauty of which his eyes had never before seen, pressed his crony of the bygone poverty stricken days and told himself again and again, that he always knew Jimmy would do it.Wasn’t he after all a McLarnin.

Before the precious pair were through that afternoon in Vancouver however, the father had agreed That Charlie Foster, boxer,trainer, soldier in the world war and a rousterbout longshoreman on the
Vancouver docks, was to guide the fistic destinies of his son James archibal McLarnin. They signed up right there.

I doubt if there are six people in the world who have glimpsed the document by which Jimmy wasapprenticed to the rough, un cultured man who has since earned the respect of every big promoter of sports on this continent, the envy of many fight promoters, the dislike of chiseling sports writers and a comfortable fortune from the fighting fists of a boy whose respect and admiration he has held throughout the years of their joint friendship.

Turns Pro

Shortly after Foster took Jimmy under his direction the boy turned professional. There was no hesitancy about it. Both were frankly in the game for what they could reap in monetary reward.

“what good is a medal” Jimmy asked as a kid of thirteen. Scornfully Foster spat and agreed they were not edible.

Jim Tracey, a big Australian who had flopped in New York and was on his way home again, paused For a time in Vancouver and promoted shows in a dingy upstairs club on Hastings Street. There McLarnin and Mickey Gill re-fought their earlier six round routes and tops for the winner, as Foster and Jimmy have bitterly recalled, was $25. “I fought this nonaimo “( no name oh) Jimmy said years later. Was hard a bout as I ever had and received $2.50 for my end what did Vancouver or Canada for that matter ever do for us”. We had to go to the United States to make our money. We owe Vancouver nothing”

After his second campaign in California when he was barely sixteen Jimmy came home in the autumn and jack Allan matched him against Gill as the major ten round attraction on his fight card at the old Arena.

Poor Gate

It didn’t draw more than $3000 and it was a poor show although McLarnin won on points. A year later efforts were made by Allan and others to match Jimmy with Vic Foley. Foster did consider Promoting a match for McLarnin in Vancouver, he dickered for a site in New Westminster.

Allan was assisted in his promotions by George Paris, whom Foster never forgave for that decision against Jimmy in the rain swept ball park and ultimately Foster turned a negative ear to all opportunities to let Jimmy show again in Vancouver. McLarnin has not fought on British soil since.

He has never appeared publicly in a Canadian city. Offers came to them from time to time but the size of the purse was never sizable to interest Foster for a moment.

Late in march 1924 the smiling kid and the sour old man decided the golden hills of California were calling. Back in 1924 it was a whole lot harder to convince promoters that the baby faced lad with the pink
cheeks and soft brown eyes packed a wallop in each fist like the kick of a mule. In those days “Pop” Foster had to wear himself out trying to land fights for his unknown protégé , know he lets the big fellows hunt him down and doesn’t sign on the dotted line until the terms suit him.

Greener than the grass their crazy chariot groaned over on its way south they lived by their faith and the Few dollars in their possession.somehow they reached Oakland across the bay from San Francisco early In May which indeed seems Jimmys month of destiny. A letter or two of introductions to sports Writers was the only entry they had to their goal and one morning they shuffled into the offices of Tommy Simpson who operated a fight club.

“What you doing, towing that kid around” Simpson barked “I’m not running a kindergarten, send the child back to school or better still go buy him a a kiddie car and let him play”.

The next few weeks were the bitterest of their careers .everywhere the hard face boxing men laughed At the shuffling old figure with the cherubic youngster wonder eyed at his heels. Some grew angry at the persistence of the pair, others pitied them. One or two offered money which was proudly spurned.

“We’ll fight and earn our money” Foster would say. ”All we need is a chance to show the boy is a real card. Just give him a fight, you’ll be bidding for him after that”.

Jimmy Proved Sensation

Promoters laughed and shook their heads. Foster’s experience along the water fronts and of ports In many lands stood them in good stead.They lived in a shack on the bay shore.Foster got hold of a boat and while Jimmy rowed the boat up and down the old man fished for crabs and other sea foods with which these waters abound.

Always they persisted in their efforts to get Jimmy started. Finally Simpson relented and matched Jimmy with a tough little slugger about his own insignificant weight. The speed and boxing skill of the kid they Had ignored for weeks stampeded the house. Next morning “Baby Face” McLarnin was blazoned in the newspapers and the last great obstacle in the fistic path of McLarnin and his manager had been successfully hurdled.

Jimmy was at last in great demand and although he boxed mostly in preliminaries his record of wins was impressive. Keen as a racing thoroughbred and knowing the need for money at home Jimmy would have boxed on every card except for the canniness of his manager.

“there’s plenty of time to make the money Jimmy”he would say in his drawling speech”We’re doing all right, we’ll just go along easy”.

That fall when they came North the first of many changes had begun. Jimmy wore flashy rainment , cheap and somewhat gaudy, Foster a suit of hand-me-downs and a new cap, his hair was neatly trimmed.

Early spring found them headed again for California.this time promoters werer bidding for their services.Oakland had grown Too small for Jimmy, San Fransisco wasn’t too hot.they went to Los Angeles where Jimmy knocked out Jackie Fields in two rounds and the newspapermen hailed him as the “Californian Sensation” and the “Belfast Spider”.

We Want Big Gate

This irked Vancouver people who protested that Jimmy was theirs and a thorough Canadian. Embittered by his years of indifferent occupation there Foster scoffed at these overtures and was deliberate and calculative in heightening the Californian impression.

“ It makes Jimmy a better drawing card” he said.”what did Vancouver ever do for the boy”

in New York three years later when Jimmy was making his first bid for the title against Sammy Mandell Foster took me aside at Jimmy’s camp out in the Jersey hills and asked me not to bring up Vancouver in conversation with sports writers regarding the challenge.

“It does the boy no good” he said “ It helps if they think he’s a Californian”. We want the big gate”.

That is the alpha and th omega of the McLarnin-Foster creed .Jimmy soon saw that his flaming fists Were the quick road to the wealth he craved. Foster, starved and beaten by the wings of a cruel earlier fate, was equally determined to wring the last pound of his juicy flesh in all of their fight contracts.

Two highlights of Jimmy’s meteoric career barely approaching it’s zenith in 1925 occurred that year. After knocking out Fields, a recent Olympiad sensation and the pride of California native sons, Jimmy beat Fidel La Barba another Californian ace in ten rounds and three or four other well rated boys.

Frank Churchill, then a big fistic figure who dealt mainy with Filipinos who he brought over from the islands through extensive connections he had there, had just completed a triumphal tour of the east with Little Pancho Villa. Matching Pancho with McLarnin was a natural, it packed the big stadium to capacity.Villa took the match at short notice and never a clean liver he was probably much nearer to burned out than even his handlers knew.

In that super heated arena before thousands of maddened fans Mclarnin and the swarthy,broad shouldered little Pancho slugged it out for ten rounds.McLarnin took the decision handily.Two days later Villa was dead.Stories of the cause of his death conflicted.it was given out that the little brown man died from infected teeth but many Californians still hold it was the unmerciful punishment handed out to him that brought early death to one of the rings mightiest atoms.

Hands were Smashed

Early in august that year considerably ahead of the usual time for holidaying, McLarnin came marching home, his pockets bulging with gold. His first act was to purchase a home for his people in a better residential district.he spent $8000 for the property and furnished it throughout.

He had a gym fixed up in the woodshed and to this day much of his training is done in those quite reaches with the boys of the old Methodist days, now grown men, still looking with admiring eyes at the Bright figure who once led them in their games and street fights.


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 Post subject: more of the story
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2006, 16:10 
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Joined: 16 Oct 2003
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Location: New Ferry, Wirral,England
Hands were Smashed

About this time Foster having developed him from a boxer into a dynamite hitter .Jimmy had trouble with his hands. This was serious as the hands are the stock in trade of The ring mercenary. Jimmy, to be truthful, is not anything else. Both hands were smashed, the right so badly that a lump the size of an egg had formed across the back of the knuckles, the left was also going. This called they decided for drastic measures. Foster and Jimmy went north into the island dotted waters of the gulf of Georgia and in those placid waters Jimmy rowed a boat while Foster fished or talked and at night the recious hands were pickled in brine, especially prepared by Foster who dug back into his own and Spike Dobson’s fight memories for his recipes.

The hands tightened up and jimmy returned to Vancouver where he boxed Gill. he then went south for two fights with the reigning featherweight of his times Bud Taylor The hard hitting “Terror of Terre Haute” as he became known after The fight with Frankie Jerome that ended in the the latters death.

Lost to Bud Taylor

Here was a setup to delight the fight lovers. Two killers of the ring attacking one another. The first fight drew capacity, Taylor lost it on a foul in the second round. Up to then the fighting was fierce and desperate. They were quickly re matched and at the end of ten rounds Tayor was declared the winner, Jimmy had dropped his first decision. Smarting from the sting of his first ring reverse McLarnin went home this time driving his own little sports car.he wanted another fight with Taylor. Meantime however his hands again gave him trouble. Foster again mixed up another mess of his potent brew. Jimmy was now a noted figure, his world had broadened and his people were comfortably settled.

Jimmy was in love with a boyhood sweetheart, he was beginning to live and appreciate luxuries.Foster went south that winter with jimmy’s request in his ears “Get me another match with Taylor”. Waiting around the home that winter Jimmy , awaiting word from Pop Foster that another match with Taylor had been arranged, filled out and moved into the featherweight division. By spring he was almost a lightweight, but the change in weight had been gradual and calculated ”He’ll finish his ring career a middleweight” Pop Foster said.

Everything that Foster and McLarnin did, all their movements south and east, were planned in advance. Through all the years their prime objective knew no alteration. They would wrest the maximum from the tight racket come what may. In this they have yet to falter, except in the fight with Young Corbett in California., the story of which you shall hear later in this chronicle of an ambitious boy who reached his goal and of a single minded and narrow eyed individual who knew the “Value of the boy” as a drawing card and how to play it as well as Tex Rickard did across the board.

Boxing experts divided about his time in Jimmy’s career, some Californian’s declaring Foster had ruined a clever boxer by changing him into a slugger. Having seen him lose to Taylor they said he was no longer the superlatively clever, weaving, dodging, stabbing wraith .because he had failed to stop Taylor, one of the greatest defensive Fighters of his time.They intimated Jimmy had lost caste and was just another mercenary of the prize ring with a manager who was surly and impossible from a social or any other standpoint.

Others insisted he had lost science and grace.Foster, they said, because of his greed for gold had hurried the boy and burned him out. his hands,they said, had gone. He was washed up…and this boy was not yet seventeen. In the ring at that time Jimmy had a trick of weaving from the hip and rolling with the punch “.Slipping “ Foster called it as he taught the boy this highly valuable ring asset. How true these predictions were you will see as the story unfolds and McLarnin continues to grow in grace, in speed and in hitting strength . There may have been boxers who possessed finer technique but at no time has the ring produced a fighting machine more admirably equipped to mix, to take it and to hand it out.

The cup of success which McLarnin and Foster were just beginning to taste was suddenly dashed away when Jimmy ran into tough little Bud Taylor and suffered his first defeat. The triumph of his first homecoming when the youthful scrapper invested his wealth in the home and comforts thart his family had never been able to afford was somewhat obscured by the threat of failure and the trouble his hands were giving him.

Jimmy McLarnin was as carefully nursed to his fistic destiny as the finest thoroughbreds are pointed for the Derby at Epsom. Moreover, what Foster lacked in knowledge of building up physical tissues, Jimmy taught himself by intensive and protracted study of recognized dietitians. In fact, diet ultimately became a hobby with him, probably the only one he enjoys thoroughly. And it forms a subject on which he will talk animatedly and with a. concise dogmatism for hours when he can find a sympathetic listener.

Two or McLarnin’s chief ring attributes are his judgment of distance and his fine sense of timing. In the ring he often looks bad. Distresses his friends. Then, like a bolt from, the blue, he strikes. Straight and true, so fast that the eye cannot follow his fist thuds home to a vulnerable spot, and the fear of his friends Is forgotten In the wild hilarity of another smashing knockout. So, in his discontent at the triumph of Bud Taylor, McLarnin passed the winter and was in California again to start his fourth, campaign in 1926. He defeated Joe Glick in 10 rounds; he lost again to Bud Taylor, and was beaten by Johnny Farr, just a fair, boy, and by Doc Snell,. a product of Seattle rings and a lethal puncher when he could land his roundhouse swings.


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 Post subject: the story
PostPosted: 27 Jan 2007, 12:06 
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From A far Off

He landed frequently on Jimmy as Taylor had done in their re match and the anvil choiresters of California made the ring and ring again they sounded "taps" for the "Belfast Spider" and suddenly discovered that we was really from a city in Canada and they made that sound as though Vancouver was somewhere off in the ice floes above Ketchikan, Alaska, U.S.A. The campaign of 1927 was better, .but still the hammer throwers were after Jimmy and Foster. When Jimmy drew in ten with Tommy Cello his wins over Tenario Pelky, Johnny La. Mar and Tommy Cello in a second engagement were forgotten.

So much for expert opinion. McLarnin continued onward and upward and the others are the forgotten men. That season of 1926 Jimmy had what he has repeatedly assured his friends was his hardest ring battle. He boxed Louis "Kid" Kaplan and knocked him out in the eighth round.

McLarnin smashed both hands on Kaplan and twisted a thumb badly. "I felt my hands going like you'd snap bits of chalk. I knocked him out with a right hand into which I Put everything. The pain was awful. If that blow didn't do the trick I was beaten," he said long afterward. At Foster's urging, Jimmy perfected a hand spring and back flip which he made a practice, and still does, of performing after each ring triumph.

That night he did his circus stunt and came erect again gasping from the excruciating agony in his hands. It had been a profitable season however, and home went the adventurers with their bank accounts fattened.

Jimmy, that fall, secured himself a heavy insurance policy, subscribed delicately to several charities and became a Rotarian as well as a student of his sister's cult, she. a deeply religious girl, who professed abhorrence of Jimmy's lucrative trade.

Foster Held A loof

The tear 1928 was a memorable one for McLarnin. Early in the year he made his first fight in Madison Square Garden and. khocked out the sensational young Hebrew, Sid Terris, pride of the Ghetto, in the first round. Again McLarnin was heralded as the boy with the devastating punch. His fight with Terris had drawn close to capacity. Tex Rickard was now interested in him.

He found Pop Foster hard to do business with. Pop suspected every Broadwayite on sight, His mail came to him in care of Rickard at the Garden. The boys tried to put the lug on Foster. If he was "regular," they told him, nothing was impossible. Jimmy could have lucrative matches. Money would roll In. Foster sniffed, grabbed his mail and walked swingingly away. "They'll come to me." he would say to his cronies: "they can't do without the boy.' 'E packs them in. They'll get no piece of us!"

And nobody ever has. Meantime Jimmy had gone, home aarain .as be did after all of his big matches. McLarnin became the "Irish Harp" and the "Hammering Hibernian" in New York papers. One or two of them panned him mercilessly.

"Cos we wouldn't give 'em money," Pop would snarl.

Eddie Kane was handling Sammy Mandell, the lightweight champion Rickard secured Kane's consent to a match with.. McLarnin and went after Foster. Jimmy agreed to a weight limit of 135 pounds and the match was made as an outdoor attraction at the Polo grounds on a date fairly late in May. Mandel went to Gus Wilson’s training camp at Orangeburg and Foster picked out quarters for McLarnin at Pompton lakes, about 30 miles south of Wilson's, but farther back in the beautiful New Jersey hills.

In the Camp

Jimmy’s elder brother, Sammy, I looked upon as a promising welterweight and who had spent Some months with him in the east, was to be chief sparring partner. Three weeks before the date of the fight Sammy went mysteriously home. Several sparring partners were engaged for McLarnin. They didn't like The going, the surroundings or the terrific punching of Jimmy. At any rate the sparring mates petered down to one about a week before the original fight date. Jimmy could belt this fellow at will and actually made a chopping block of him when the crowds came from New York to see the challenger at work.

I arrived at Jimmy's camp one Sunday In early afternoon. The fight was four days distant. In a dingy room off the training camp I found Pop Foster. The old man seemed confused. Told him he was waiting for Baron somebody , or other from. New York," and that I'd find "the boy" up at the house. 'Jimmy welcomed me with a boyish bound that brought him out of bed and almost into my arms. "I thought dad was coming down with you," he said. "I guess he didn't feel like making such a long trip. I'm disappointed."

"Wanted him here to see you win your first title, eh?"

"That's what I hope. Gee, I'm sorry dad didn't make it."

That afternoon I met the "Baron of Broadway," a portly man with Highly Inflamed visage, who was the confidential crony, it seemed, of Jimmy's manager. Pop had sort of gone high hat. Had engaged, an old
Welshman of nearly 70, whom he had known across the sea, named Dia Dolling, to train Jimmy, and had also engaged Larry McGrath, a little known San Franciscan, to be Jimmy's chief. second.

I thought this strange and mentioned the matter to McLarnin. "Foster," he quickly flashed, "is all right. "somehow you've never liked him. I'm sorry about that. But don't make any mistake about Pop. He's 100 per cent." Pop and the rubicund baron disappeared before Jimmy's afternoon show began. I asked Dolling who this baron with the heavy Jowls, the imposing front and the massive gold and silver headed cane was. "He's a millionaire or a bootlegger," said the old trainer sagely. "Leastways he must be. Look at the palace on wheels he rolls upin."

Foster's New Role.

Later I saw Foster in a .brand new role. He acted as master of, ceremonies and Introduced McLarnin as the "Fighting Irish Champion to be" amid a ring of stilted applause from the crowd of one hundred or more.

Foster's voice is very high-pitched and smacks decidedly of the Londoner born. Pop was enjoying every moment of his speech making and I thought I discerned the cause when he and the baron Immediately
disappeared after Fosters opening speech which was, in its way, a wow, with the strange old man already twisted by rheumatic pains hanging to the ring rope with one hand, waving his hat eloquently toward his subject as lie spoke. And swaying lightly as he invariably did when under excitement or when filled with spirituous pride as he permitted his eyes to fall on the sleek, perfect body of his young protégé.

The ballyhoo for this fight was terrific. It was turned on as only Rickard knew how to inspire it. McLarnin was rated the killing Puncher , Mandell the master boxer. Odds were quoted favoring McLarnin at 7.to 5. The Irish cops 'of New York were with McLarnin to a man. The Latins swung solidly behind Mandell.

Rain caused two postponements. The afternoon of the fight, when the hands gathered in the boxing commission offices to weigh in, Jimmy nudged the beam at 135 exactly. Mandel couldn't lift It. He was obliged to go out and run for half an hour, then barely made it. Lou Magnolia was the third man In the ring and when Joe Humphries "the voice of the peepul", spun characteristically on his heels and announced the principals, the big enclosure was slightly better than three-quarters filled. McLarnin was still 7 to 5 in the odds, fictitious, as always.

A few of the usual celebrities, past and present, were Introduced. At least one challenged the winner and had his little moment In the ring shaking hands with two utterly indifferent men.

Jimmy McLarnin, five years away from the nights when as a beardless boy he fought for $2.50, was on the threshold of realizing his most cherished dream, seeking the championship he had always insisted he
some day bring back to his people.

The bell ran: They were to come out fighting.

Mandcll Beat Jimmy Badly.

I looked for Pop Foster in Jimmy's corner, but. there was no sign of him. I located the old boy well back, in a ringside seat, stolid and cool. McGrath and Dolling stood on either. side of the challenger's stool on. which Jimmy, sat with a grave look on his face , staring across the ring at the sleek, black-haired Mandell, as handsome a boy as ever defended his laurels in any company.

There was a concerted roar as the pair .advanced, Jimmy white bodied, muscular, lips curled, back in , the McLarnin snarl; Mandel swarthy, lean as whipcord, blackbrowed, smiling. In fifteen rounds Mandell never lost that smile, In fact, from the thirteenth on he frequently laughed at his puzzled, antagonist.

Both boxed with singular caution in the opening rounds, McLarnin Ineffectually trying to draw the champion to him, Mandell stabbing at Jimmy's face with a long rapier left and darting, him off-balance
whenever Jimmy tried to get set. It ' is a not worthy commentary upon sportorial accuracy, if I may so term it, that in each of these rounds, innumerable blows were described that somehow your reporter
was unable to see and that, too, seemed to have escaped the motion picture cameras.

After all, the typewriter, in the hands of an Imaginative key pounder, has only the limits of the thumper's vocabulary to exercise any measure of productive restraint. The hand, indeed, may be quicker than the eye at a boxing match, but the hand of the reporter on the typewriter is an uncertainty that we accept as a part, of the human equation that is uncontrollable.

That first bid of McLarnin's for a title was a pitiful exhibition. Mandell did not lose a single round of the fifteen. He was not, at any a time, in distress. He hit Jimmy at will, and once or twice rocked him to his heels. Jimmy fought doggedly, flatfooted and with less and less certainty as the one-sided battle progressed. He never changed his losing style of battle.

Jimmy and Foster had rooms .near Colunibus Circle to which they had moved several days before the fight: There, In cramped quarters, they prepared their simple fare and there it was I found Jimmy a few hours after the fight. Mandell had a big suite downstairs.

'What shall I say to the folks back home about your, battle for the title?" I asked, perhaps cruelly. Jimmy sat on a chair In the corner of the dimly-lit, badly ventilated room. "I just couldn't get at him, Mr Lytle," he said, tears of chagrin filling his usually laughing eyes. "He was too smart for me, wasn't he?"

Foster shoved me gruffly, away, probably to conceal his own feelings of disquiet. "Leave the boy be," said he. "The fight's over. The boy fought well. It was close." "Close, hell!" 'I exploded. "Why weren't you in his corner? It's the first time you've, missed. What's the Idea?".

Foster practically glared me but. I have no wish to Impute motive. The fight is history. Jimmy met Mandell twice not long afterwards and each time beat him decisively. The last meeting .he cut Sammy to ribbons.

Fought Way Back

Pop foster has never missed seconding Jimmy since that fateful night in the grim shadows Of Coogan's Bluffs up beyond the reek of Harlem. I wonder why he kept out of it when "the boy" made his first title bid.

My own share in the encounter was memorable: Sent east by my paper to cover the fight and to expert the training activities, I first sold myself confidently, and in turn, sold Jimmy's home city that McLarnin would take Mandell like the stock market took, the boys barely nine months later.

Quite a number of my friends accepted these expert findings and went down the line with the boy before Mandell smacked Jimmy as expertly as a schoolmarm addicted to the use of the switch as a morning corrective. It took me five years and another night in May five years later to live that down.

Jimmy's comeback was much quicker. Later in 1928 McLarnin knocked out. Phil McGraw in the Garden in one round;. Stanislaus Loayaza, the rugged .Chilean, in four And than, ran into another disaster when he fought Ray Miller in: Chicago and was stopped for the first and only time in his long career.

That went Into the records, as a Technical kayo for Miller. McLarnin did not take a count. Miller opened a cutover one eye and it bled so profusely as the young Hebrew thudded home his blows that it half blinded Jimmy and Foster heaved In the towel shortly after the seventh round began.

McLarnin was well beaten but took a decision from Miller next year in New York with no great damage being done by either boy. Jimmy doesn't admit it openly, but I fancy Miller was as hard a fistic-nut as he ever attempted to crack, possibly excepting Bud Taylor.

Valuable Friend

In New York that year. Jimmy gained a valuable newspaper friend .In Ed. Frayne, former San Franciscan, and then, as now, attached to the Hearst papers in a sports writing capacity. Frayne knew Jimmy, as a kid
phenomenon of. the west coast, and stories of. Jimmy, since going to York have always been tempered With fine understanding of the Single purpose of Jimmy's fighting life."

Frayne also seemed to grasp the inner significance of the strong, bond uniting McLarnin with his crotchety but intensely loyal, though at times vituperative manager. Jimmy was astonished at the reception given him in Vancouver on his return that autumn when again he had shown that he was vulnerable if the bidder could spot his weaknesses.

He filled out more that winter and When he and Foster headed for New York and the lucrative wars again in 1929 he was no longer a legitimate lightweight. His frame had filled out. His shoulders bulged slightly
despite expensively, tailored material of quiet patterns that he now preferred.

Jimmy McLarnin, wealthy almost beyond his hopes, and still titular head of the family he had brought up with him .through the slums, was assuming man's estate physically, where before, as a boy, he was carrying the paternal burden silently yet. with no small degree of efficiency with which he had been able to bring to his fighting for five fruitful years. The battle between Jimmy McLarnin, at last the fighting idol of the fistic world, and Benny Leonard, the past master of the boxing art who had arisen from. Retirement to force himself into the public gaze will be told In tomorrow's installment of this true life story of the present welterweight champion


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PostPosted: 02 Feb 2007, 08:36 
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When Jimmy McLarnin reached New York to begin his 1929 campaign he couldn’t of scaled below 140 pounds if so enjoined by a supreme court decree.he was strong as a bull at that weight and he was a corking drawing card at the Garden. Foster was still persona non grata, which is phrasing It mildly indeed, with most of. the sports writers. He was cordially blasphemed by the Broadway boys.

But they couldn't get past the upflung guard of Foster and few of them indeed ever exchanged half a dozen words with McLarnin unless Foster was sitting in, ears cocked and eyes alert to everything. I expect Foster is the only manager of his type in the racket. Certainly he is the only one who openly and candidly resented the advances of the racketeers. "Leave us be," he would invariably wind up; '"the boy' is mine. We can take care of ourselves. If we don't get what we want there'll be no fight."

Consent for newspaper men to see or to talk to Jimmy came grudgingly. I think the old man deliberately assumed the role of a curmudgeon and a boor at these times. At any rate it 'proved fairly -effective at shielding Jimmy and it assuredly brought Foster no encomiums not that the absence of praise would outwardly worry that rugged old warrior. Quite the reverse. About this time Jimmy made the Acquaintance of a brisk young manof the world named Ralph Rogers.

Met Right People

RALPH possesses more crust than a slumbering crater and more polish than .a king's courtier. Moreover he loves celebrities and I firmly believe he could smilingly crash any gate and talk himself right into a ringside pew and have the help and the promoter apologizing to him for the delay by the time he was seated. The affection of Rogers for Jimmy, however, was genuine and wholehearted. Ralph took him to his mother's home in New Jersey and introduced him to people that counted; people, indeed, whom Jimmy, attached to his morose and embittered manager and in the racket he was, could not possibly have met without such outside assistance.

They were a strangely assorted trio; Foster,, glum and taciturn; Jimmy, quiet, yet fairly bubbling with health and vigor; Ralph, the chattering finely mannered bon vlvant suave man about town, the faultless dresser, incessantly active and knowing the entree to practically everyone of note and everything worth seeing.A great natural press agent was lost in Rogers when he went in for more entrancing ventures. But he loved Jimmy and ignoring Foster's repeated rebuffs he won his way to Jimmy's- side and this association Ripened Jimmy Into a condition of mind where he acquired poise and a degree of suavity.

Rogers swept the strange pair out of themselves. Foster brushed up his appearance. stains disappeared from his "weskit." He wore better clothes, shirts. His headgear Improved. Jimmy out-pointed tough Joe.Glick ten rounds that spring and when Glick clamored for a re-match he got it and; was knocked out in the second round.

Sergeant Sammy Baker, a very tough - atom at the time, saluted Jimmy at the Gardens and was sunk by the first volley. McLarnin outpointed Miller and defeated Sammy Mandell in their first meeting since, that memorable title fight. The second affray with Mandell was as one-sided as the first, with the roles reversed. Mandell was helped from the ring that night. Jimmy had smashed, the memory of that tantalizing smile at the Polo Grounds away forever.

Sport writers set up a new cry regarding McLarnin They said he had gone right hard crazy. He had forgotten how to box everything of ring craft he had known except to stand flat-footed and sock. This made the build-up for a match between Ruby Goldstein, the latest Jew of speed and cleverness to arise on the New York horizon, as natural as a baby taking milk.

Got Record Crowd

JIMMY, it was also pointed out, had been dynamiting the Jewish stars, flicking them, it was true practically blotto. - Goldstein, it was advanced could revenge these insults and make himself some nice money in the doing.

They met in the Garden before the largest crowd, that. ever watched two little men brawling. The gate receipts were $106,000. They carried Ruby, white-faced and silent,, back to his corner for revival proceedings before the second round had ended! Incidentally, while on the subject of the killer of Jewish boxers, when the Irishman finishes them they stay that way. What became of Terris, Sangor, Singer and Goldstein after they met McLarnin? They went into the record books along with the semi forgotten
men of Cauliflorida.

Al Singer was erected for McLarnin In 1930. He stayed nearly three rounds before Jimmy stiffened him. That year Jimmy beat Mandell again —Sammy didn't fight much afterward— and he beat Young Jack Thompson at catchs weights and then lost when Billy Petrolle, the Fargo express, turned on all of his steam. That was a fairly quiet year for McLarnin. So was 1932. He won over Petrolle. twice, however, and Billy wasn't notably effective afterward. McLarnln is a murderous puncher.

The depression was on. But Benny Leonard had started his comeback to salvage what he could from the stock market collapse and afterward. There was talk of a Leonard-McLarnln bout that, winter.

A Double Stand-Out

THERE were two angles to a McLarnin-Leonard fight that made it a box office stand-out, as the boys say in the back rooms.The claim had repeatedly been made that McLarnin had become great by beating, lighter boys. A number of them were. Jewish. Leonard, a Jew, the greatest lightweight of his time, was now a slightly pudgy middleweight.

He had started his comeback in 1931 He had beaten all comers ( including many setups ). His win record was formidable. So for months Went the fight talk.by spring it was getting warm and by mid summer, after Jimmy dropped a decision to lou Brouillard ,became red hot. McLarnin returned to Vancouver and the usual bargaining began, with, Foster on one side and-.Leonard and the New York Gardens management on the other. Pop Foster, by this time in possession of all.of the money he could ever need, had shifted headquarters to California.; where the climate was kinder to his rheumatism.

Jimmy practically commuted between Vancouver and Los Angeles when not ring active. Always he made stops at Berkeley—and at a beautiful home there where he had made some desirable social contacts and where he could admire and he admired in surroundings that he loved.

Inspired Songs

Leonard , as old-timers know, I had dramatically nailed his gloves to the wall in a gesture of piety that probably Inspired several mammy - songs in Tin –Pan Alley. Benny went into speculative stocks and about the time .Jimmy was laying Benny's boy friends low in the resin, the stock market was Inflicting similar punishment on leonards fortune.

So Benny went back to the most lucrative trade he knew and was doing surprisingly well at it. By late summer of 1932 he had belted out a lot of boys who did not mean much and a few indeed that could be carelessly rated as cauliflower if preferred.

Finally in September Foster went east and a few days after his arrival Leonard and McLarnin were matched. The patriarch, as it were of the Judean traders, was out to avenge the previous Insults to his race by the flailing fists of a gentile and an "Irisher" at that. The background was perfect for a build-up. Leonard went nearly eight rounds before succumbing. The wiliest boxer of his day, Benny retained most of his ring craft and he Talked himself out of numerous tight corners as the young Irishman belted him and before his gas ran out.

"That was a pretty stiff .punch, Jimmy," he'd say as they fell, into a clinch. "What's the idea? You wouldn't;, knock a bald-headed old man out, would you?"

"At first," Jimmy- said, "he had been going. I did feel sorry for him. Then he'd twist me around after; talking and he'd slam me hard with both hands as we broke apart. I couldn't monkey with that fellow. He'd have talked and socked me out of the decision, no kidding."

I expect Leonard was satisfied. He made a good showing and picked up all of the marbles the traffic would stand. I do not think he has laced a glove on since. He pointed himself at a certain goal and at least he attained the money objective.

Reverence for Vanquished

“Was it a hard fight?" I asked Jimmy some weeks after the Leonard bout. Jimmy ids usually hesitant .he does not speak disparagingly of anyone.

“Leonard was old” he said.He used a tone of reverence one employs for the dear departed.

On December 16, 1932 McLarnin knocked out Sammy Fuller in New York, reached home for Christmas with another full stocking for the family and did not enter the ring again until that night in May 1933 whe he fought Young Corbett III. for the welterweight title. There had been much talk in fight circles and in the newspapers of a fight between McLarnin and either Jack Thompson, the negro, or Jackie Fields who were playing shuttle-cook with-the title.

It appeared that the managements of these boys were closely allied. Foster fought shy of Jack Kearns, however, and there was no business being done so far. As McLarnin was concerned. Kearns arid Foster doing business? : No promoter could go for that and expect to retain his shirt. Fields wrested the title he bad lost to Thompson, who had meantime been beaten in the non-title fight by Young Corbett and then lost It to Corbett by decision.

Fields feared blindness. He was under the care of eye specialists then and for months afterward. The title meant nothing to Mr. Finklestein with that on his mind. At any rate Corbett got it and almost at once was matched with McLarnin.


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