Tip the British Amateur Fighters May Upset Yanks

Damon Runyon

Reading Times/July 2, 1935

WE have a tip right from the old resin box that the British amateurs are apt to knock our golden glovers from under their crew haircuts at the Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.

This tip is somewhat disquieting to one who has long labored under the impression that when it comes to boxing, our lads can always be depended upon to give any invaders plenty of hail Columbia.

But the info that comes to us is that these Britishers are not mere boxers, but fighters, some of whom have belted the daylights out of the best boxers in their class In Europe. Seagoing Americans, who arrived on the same boat that brought over the British team, saw the invaders work out during the voyage, and report the young gladiators the best they have ever seen among amateurs.

There will be eighteen bouts tomorrow night, and eleven of these bouts will figure in a point score to determine the winning team, with victory emblematic of international supremacy. The American golden glovers have been training at Loch Sheldrake, N. Y., where Braddock got ready for his battle with Baer, and while the defending team had not been officially announced as this is written, the American handlers say they have developed a crew of boxers far above the average.

THEY have two heavyweights with the Britishers, H. P. Floyd and V. A. Stuart, and a light heavyweight named T. J. Griffin, and these big fellows will be watched with great interest by the Americans. It has been so long since England developed a good heavyweight fighter that the rumored prowess of these amateurs has aroused considerable curiosity.

The team has two flyweights, one bantam, three feathers, one lightweight, two welters, and two middles, besides those mentioned above. The little fellows are said to be corkers.

WITH the British team as trainers and Instructor is a man who made considerable ring history on his own account some thirty years ago. His name will be remembered by the old time American ringworms. It is Jem Bowker.

He was once bantamweight champion of the world, and a great little fighter. He is now fifty-two years old, but still quite active.

Bowker stood five feet, two and a half inches, and weighed 118 pounds in his fighting prime. He began fighting around 1901. In 1904 he beat the great Owen Moran, one of the best little fighters in English ring history, in twenty rounds.

We had a great bantamweight champion over here in those days in Frankie Neil, of California. It is a pity there are no bantams like Neil around nowadays. That division would be very much alive.

THE mighty Terry McGovern had quit the bantamweight title which he claimed in 1899 when Jimmy Barry, of Chicago, retired, undefeated. As the bantamweight claimant, Terry flattened the Englishman Pedlar Palmer in one round at Tuckahoe, N. Y.

Harry Forbes, of Chicago, claimed the title when McGovern went up among the feathers, and in 1903, Frankie Neil belted Forbes out in two rounds and was recognized as the world champion. He went to London in 1904 and fought Bowker, who jolted him into the featherweight division by a twenty-round victory.

Digger Stanley was Bowker’s great English rival. Jimmy Walsh, of Euston, who was claiming the American title, went over to England and fought Stanley three times, each winning a battle, the third being declared a draw. In 1910, Stanley knocked Bowker out, but in the meantime, Johnny Coulon had come up in this country, and was generally recognized as world champion until Kid Williams knocked him over.

THERE was one fellow in England Bowker couldn’t lick. The fellow was the featherweight Jem Driscoll, who whipped Bowker in fifteen rounds and again in seventeen. Driscoll came to this country and fought Abe Attel, one of the greatest American fighters that ever lived.

It was a no-decision bout and the old timers argue it to this day. Bowker was here after he had commenced to slip and was knocked out by Tommy O’Toole in two heats. None the less, Bowker went on boxing for years afterwards. At his peak, he licked old “Pop” Foster’s favorite fighter, Spike Robson, in twenty rounds, and “Pop” was probably with Spike at the time.

Bowker is accounted an excellent trainer and instructor. He is quite familiar with the American style of boxing, and is said to have schooled his charges more on that order than anything else. The British amateurs are said to go in for out-and-out battling more than for the finer points of boxing.

The last British amateur we can recall in this country, outside of those at the Olympics, appeared in a celebrated show that was an adjunct to a vast dinner given by the short lived but very swell international sporting club, an appearance that was made historic by the crack one British made when he got a good dab in the stomach from an American:

He said, in a voice that was audible all over the dining hall where the bouts were held:

“Oh—O! That does it!”

Then he calmly walked to his corner and removed his gloves.

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