There was a large
empty garage across the alley behind our house where the boys had
made a makeshift boxing ring. Somehow I got matched up with Buddy
Jones, the tailors son. The event was pretty well organized;
we had oversize boxing gloves (so we could not hurt each other too
much) and there was a referee. Each one of us had a second
and there were a fair number of spectatorsneighborhood boys
who stuck around for these fights. The Joe Louis fights had rounds
of three-minute duration with rest periods of one minute. Our fight
was just the reverse, one-minute rounds and three-minute rest periods.
Plus, our match was scheduled for only three rounds. It sounds easy
but I dont know how I got so tired in three short rounds of
boxing. Of course, I had never boxed before and hadnt worked
out. It seems that the weight of those gloves was just too much for
me, but if I didnt hold them up high Buddy Jones really popped
Anyway, we definitely mixed it up for those three short rounds, which
left the spectators wanting more. The referee called it a draw,
but then he and the corners had a little pow-wow in the
center of the ring. My corner came over to me and asked
if I wanted to go one more round. I said Not really, I cant
hold my arms up. He said, No matter; youre doing
great. Another round and youre sure to be the winner.
So we went for one more round. Sure enough, I couldnt get my
arms up. Buddy Jones got in some good punches. The referee made his
decision: I lost the fight. I always felt that my corner
had betrayed me.
Of course I always remembered Daddys famous Army fight, as related
earlier. Daddy loved telling his story; it was such a good story that
I didnt mind hearing it over and over again. Fights were always
excitingthis was the epoch of Joe Louis, a world champion if
there ever was one. I remember his return match with Max Schmelling.
It was 15 years before the advent of television, but we had a radio
which, with a lot of tuning, could pick up the short-wave station
that carried a blow-by-blow account of the fight. It was exciting
when this black American finished off the German super race in the
first minutes of the first round.