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JACK LONDON ON THE FIGHT.
FAMOUS NOVELIST'S ACCOUNT.
GRAPHIC PICTURE: CHARACTERISTIC REFLECTIONS.
WRITTEN BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT, AND TELEGRAPHED FROM
(ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Jack London, author of "The Call of the Wild," "The Sea Wolf," and "The Game," recently reached Sydney, and was present at the Johnson-Burns fight. This is his description of it:—
Full credit for the big fight must be given to Mr McIntosh, who has done the unprecedented, and had the nerve to carry it through. But equal credit must be given to Australia, for without her splendid sport- loving men not a hundred McIntoshes could have pulled off the great contest of Satur- day.
The stadium is a magnificent arena and so was the crowd magnificent. It was man- aged by that happy aptitude which the English have for handling big crowds. The spirit of the stadium crowd inside and out with its fair-minded and sporting square- ness was a joy to behold. It was hard to realise that those fifty or sixty thousand men were descended from the generations that attended the old bare-knuckles fights in England, where partisan crowds swarmed the ringside, slugging each other, smashing the top hats of the gentlemen promoters and backers, and swattting away with clubs at the heads of the poor devils of fighters whenever they came near to the ropes.
Never in my life have I seen a finer, fairer, and more orderly ringside crowd, and in this connection it must be remem- bered that the majority were in favour of the man who was losing. That many thou- sands of men could sit quietly for forty minutes and watch their chosen champion hopelessly and remorselessly beaten down and not make the slightest demonstration is a remarkable display of inhibition. There is no use minimising Johnson's victory in order to soothe Burns's feelings. It is part of the game to take punishment in the ring, and it is just as much part of the game to take unbiassed criticism afterward in the columns of the press. Personally, I was with Burns all the way. He is a white man, and so am I. Naturally I wanted to see the white man win. Put the case to Johnson. Ask him if he were spectator to a fight between a white man and a black man which he would like to see win, and Johnson's black skin will dictate a desire parallel to the one dictated by my white
But now, to come back to the point. There is no foolish sentimental need to gloss over Burns's defeat. Because a white man wishes the white man to win should not prevent him from giving absolute credit to the best man who did win, even when that best man was black .
"ALL HAIL TO JOHNSON."
All hail to Johnson!' His victory was unqualified. It was his fight all through in spite of published accounts to the con- trary, one of which, out of the first six rounds gives two rounds to Burns, two to Johnson, and two with honours evenly divided. In spite of such mistaken parti- sanship it must be acknowledged by every man at the ringside that there was never a round that was Burns's, and never a round with even honours.
Burns was a little man against a big man, a clever man against a cleverer man, a quick man against a quicker man, and a gritty, gamey man all the way through. But all men are not born equal and neither are pugilists. If grit and gameness should win by the decree of natural law then Burns, I dare to say, would have won on Saturday and in a thousand additional fights with Johnson he would win. But unfortunately for Burns, what did win on Saturday was bigness, coolness, quickness, cleverness, and vast physical superiority.
From any standpoint the fight between Cripps and Griffith last Wednesday night was a far better contest. The men were evenly matched and the result was in doubt from round to round and from mo- ment to moment And this delicate balance was due to their being equally matched. Each man had opportunity to show the best that was in him. That opportunity was denied Burns.
Bear with me a moment. I often put on the gloves myself, and take my word for it, I am really delightfully clever when my opponent is a couple of stone lighter than I am, half a foot or so shorter than I am, and about half as strong. On such an occasion I can show what I've got in me, and I can smile all the time, scintillate with brilliant repartee and dazzling persi- flage, and in the clinches talk over the political situation and the Broken Hill trouble with the audience. But, Heavens! Suppose I were to don the gloves with Burns, I could no more show what I had in me than Burns showed against Johnson.
That is the whole fight in a nutshell. The men were so unevenly matched that Burns was hatred from showing anything he had in him — with the exception of pluck Tohn son wns foo big, loo strong, too clevci Burns never had a show He was hope less!) outclass«! md I am confident that, hud a utan from Mars been present at the ringside witnessing lus first tight he would have demanded lo I now wh) Burns was even in the ring it all
It s hind talk Tommy, but it is no hardoi than those wallops you received on S ilur dtv And it is just as true It is no ibs ltonoui to bo beaten in a fdir fight You did youl topmost best arid hete s ni) hand on it, and on all vour pluck and grit md endurance. And Tack Johnson, here s ni) hand, too I wanted to see tho other felloAV win, but you were the best man Shake
FIGHT WAS A GOLDEN SMILE.''
The fight. The word is a misnomer. There was no fight. No Armenian massacre would compare with the hopeless slaughter that took place in the Stadium. It was not a case of too much Johnson, but of all Johnson. A golden smile tells the story, and the golden smile was Johnson's. The fight, if fight it can be called, was like unto that between a colossus and a toy automa- ton; it had all the seeming of a playful ethiopian at loggerheads with a small and futile white man, of a grown man cuffing a naughty child; of a monologue by one Johnson, who made a noise with his fists like a lullaby, tucking one Burns into his little crib in sleepy hollow; of a funeral, with Burns for the late deceased and Johnson for the undertaker, grave-digger,
Twcnt) thousand men were at the ring side, and twice twenty thousand lingered outside Johnson, fitst at the ring, showed in magnificent condition When ho smiled a dazzling flash of gold filled the vi ide tpet
lui e between his open lips And he smiled all the time, He had not a tiouble in the vvoild When usked whnt he wns going to do aftei the light, he said he was going lo tho races It was a happ) prophect He was immedtatelv folloAved into the ung b) Bums, who bad no simio vvlintevcl He looked p ile and salloAV, as if he had not slept all night, or as if he had just pulled through a bout with fe er He received a heartier greeting than Johnson, and was the
fnvouiite with the crowd
It pionnscd lo be a btltei fight i bete was no eiuvali) not gooilvvill in it and Johnson despite his care-ficc po«c, liad un cao lo the instinl need of things Ile sent his seconds insistently into Burns s coiner to watch the putting on of the gloves for fear a cttsual horseshoe might stru) in He examined personally Burns s belt, and ni nonnced flatly thit he vionld no1 fight if Burns (hd not icmove life tape from his
si inncd elbow«
Nolhin dom lill he takes eui off
quoth Johnson i he crowd hooted but Johnson smiled his happy golden, ríanle, and dreamed with othtopian stohdity in his semor. Burna took og the ofEendmg tap«,
and iv ib applauded uproariously Tohnson stood up and was hooted He merely smiled Hut is the fight epitomised .Millson s smile 4
'I lie gong sounded, and Hie light ind the monologue began ' All light lahmj," said
lohnbon, with exaggerated Unghsh accent, I
and thereafter he talked tluoughout the light when lie was not smiling Scarcely lind thej mixed, when he cinght his ¡in (agonist with n fierce uppercut, turning lum completely over in the an, and landing lum on hib back
lhere is no use giving details There was no doubt fiom Hie moment of the opening of the hist lound-the affuii wns too one bided There was novel so onesided n woild'h chimptonship fight in the hibtoij of Hie ung It vi is not i usi of a man being put out bv a i lever or lnckv punch in the hist or second lound It was i eise of a pluckj.. determined figlitci, who had no chance foi a look in at any single instant of the fight
lhere wits no friction of a second in all the fourteen lounds that could be culled Bmns's-so fin as damage is conceined But ns novel landed a blow He nev cr dared the black man li was not Bums s faull, hoinvei He tiled everj moment thiough out the light, except when he was gioggy It was hopeless, piipostcious heroic lie was i glutton foi punishment, and lie boicd in all the time
MUCH «MOUIH-riGHriM! "
But a devvdiop in Shcol hid mole chame than did ho with the giant Ethiopian In all justice, it must be tuged that Bums had no opportunity to show what he lud in linn Johnson was too big, too able, too elevei, too mipcib He was impugnable His long anns ins height, hu, cool seeing eyes his timing mid dibtnncing, his foot yyoik, Ins blocl ing and locking, and his splendid out spill ung, and equallj splendid infighting kept Binns in tumble ill the time U no stage of the fight was citliei
man ivci extended
I ihnson vins just as inaccessible as Alont Blum and against such a mountain what possible chance had Binns lo extend lum self ile was smothered all the time As foi Johnson, he did not have to extend He cuffed and smiled and smiled and cuflcd And ni the clinches he wini led his opponent mound so as to be able to assume bcilific and ungilii facial expicsbions foi the bene iii of Hie cinematograph nn<Innis
Binns ney ci struck i hodj bloyy thal would lonipiui willi lohnson s not icios. noi i straight 1101 au upptliut while iib foi 1 ldinj blows Johnson s most frivolous mid pmsive taps weie like lliundeibolls as meusuicd ac,unst Binns s butterfly itultet lugs in thal punful locality .
lohnson ft iv oiled with Bunts thioiighoiit the figlit Ho lcftibcd to tale Bums sellout,!} ind with crecutiblc Instilóme abilitj he pin] ed tin part of a gindi schoohniistu ndministeuiii, benevolent cn is tiscment to a tilde and fractious melun
Hie mouth fighting on the put of both men must have seemed binaire to the Aus trail m audience Nevertheless mouth fighting as a ung tactic has won inoie than one battle But Situidaj it netthei won noi lost an j thing Bums s remarks failed lo mille ins opponents complícenle in the
slightest willie thctc was no need foi John I son s my vol bul irritations for Burns w is us mgij us could be from the stiol e of the gong And though Johnson pioved a plsI tniistcr in the nit of mouth fighting even his pic eminent nbtlitv in that direction fallid lo make Bums angrici bj one jot oi little
lune was however one result from the wold sparring-an unfortunate'result to Burns He was fighting despcntelj and ins hist hope 1 iv in miking the big negro lose Ins head Instead lie nearly lost his own bj having it punched oft Not tint In irritated lohnson in the least bj what he saul tut f i otu ti lohnson nover ceased smiling when the uncomplimentary reuní 1 s weie addrcssid to lum Not did he cease smiling na lie proceeded to wallop the naught} bo} foi ins impertinence
But w lllop linn ho did in ho smiling ind summary i f isluon nj to take the steam out of Burna s verb ii punches In fict after two distinct advinturcs of this sort Burns concluded that the tactic was too disistrous und ubindoncd it
j\ot Burns bul Johnbon did the m tight tug In ftct, the mujoi portion of the punishment he delivered was in the clinches At times he would hold up Ins inns to shoyy that he was no party to the climb Again, hi would delibLrutelj, and by up pucntlj no exertion of stiengtb, thrust Burns iway and clc u of lum And yet again hi would tluust Bums pirti,illy ilcir with one hand and uppci eut lum on tho face with the other And when Bums in blanllj fell foi »aid into anothei clinch, thrust him partially cleai ind îepeat the uppei cut
Once ho did this five times in succession is fist is i man eould count eieh uppci cut connecting and connecting sivagcij But prinupill} in the clinches Tohnson rested and smiled and dreamed lins dimming explosion wis fiscinuting li seemed almost i trance 11 wa» coi t utily deeep tive for suddenly the lines of tin face would harden the ejes glint vicious]}, mil Burns would be flight full j hooked swung und uppci cut for a bad hilf minute Then the snnli and the dream} tiance would return as Bums effected another clinch
At tunis, too, whin both men wire set, Johnson would deliberately assume the iicrce, vicious, intuit expression, only, ap parentlj, for the purpose of suddenly re laving, ind letting ins teeth ilush forth like thi rise of i huvest moon while his face beamed with ill tlie happy care fno mno icncc of i little child
Johnson pit} acted all the time His part was the clown, and he plajcd with Burns from the gong of the opening lound to the linish of the fight Bums was a toy ni his hands 1 or Johnson it was a kindct
tuten lomp Hit hue, luhmj hi would saj, exposing tin light bidi of his unpiotectcd stomach And when Bums struck, Johnson would ncithci winci noi covet up Inste id, he would receive the blow with a liappj, iiieleas- smile, ducclcd at the audience. Lui n Hie left side of ins unpiotected stom nh and say Now here, lulim} ' and while Binns hit as dticcted Johnson would continue to gun ind chuckle, and smile his golden smile
One ciitiiism mil only one cm be passed upon Johnson lu the thirteenth lound he malle the mistake of his life He should have put Bin ns out He could have put linn out It would have been child s pla} Instead of winch hi smiled, mid delibtt ttil¿, let Burns hvi until the gong
\ ntl in the opening of Hie fourteenth lound the police stopped Hu fight mel Johnson lost tin eicdit of i" noikout
But one thing lemains Jeffries must ininti from his alfalfa faun und lemove that smile from Johnson s fun Jell', it s up lo jon And, M lntosh, li s up lo you to gil Hie fight for Australia Both you and Austnlu certainly deserve it
(For a full account of the fight by our special re- porter see page 7 )