Welsh’s Home Region Breeds Scrappers

Westbrook Pegler

Santa Cruz Evening News/October 11, 1916

LONDON, Sept. 22 (By Mail) The scrappingest, swattingest part in the world; that is the boast of the Rhondda Valley in the coal fields of Wales.

The world is quite a chunk of territory but the Valley is ready to back up the boast with grimy, toil-hardened fists.

Saturday night in the public bars the matches are made and all Rhondda Valley’s male population turns out in the dawn of Sunday to battle or watch in the hills that cup the Valley. Every weekend from New Year’s to Christmas and on through the holidays the program goes on.

This is about how it happens: Bill Williams ambles down to the pub for his Saturday evening’s evening after a hard week’s work and a pretty good supper at home. He is at peace with the world and inclined to keep it, but only on certain terms.

Down the bar is Floyd Jenkins. He is a lot like Bill; has worked hard all week, just tucked in a satisfactory supper and is peaceable on the same conditions.

Bill surrounds a covey of flowing bowls and gives voice to some radical opinions on conscription or politics.

Floyd is a radical, too, but just the other way. Of course he can’t stand by and hear his firmest convictions run into the ground, so he wallops Bill on the nose.

Friends intervene and the belligerents draw on liberal night-caps before winding their way home.

The same incident has been repeated in perhaps a score of places.

Bill doesn’t hate Floyd; he pities him in his wrong convictions and so they are going to battle for a principle.

Sunday morning they meet and fight to a knockout out in the open, whatever the weather, with no ropes, no gloves and only the grass for their mat.

If Bill wins he is undoubtedly right about conscription or whatever it was he was expounding.

The other logicians settle their controversies in the same way.

Jimmy Wilde, the knockout flyweight champion, came from the Rhondda Valley and learned his fighting up in the hills. The miners are proud of Jimmy and back him to the limit. He, in turn, has done his part by slumberizing a lot of good fighters from flyweights to feathers.

Yes, Freddie Welsh comes from Rhondda, too, but the miners only mumble the fact when they mention it at all.

Freddie is popular in his old hometown with the inverse popularity of a German butcher.

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