Ring of Solace: Introduction

By Ted Spoon on September 20, 2014
Ring of Solace: Introduction
Tonight Leonard’s fighting someone good and after two rounds the writing is on the wall.

Jimmy McLarnin, the man responsible for abusing old Benny, soon dropped into the mix like a secret ingredient. The results were considerable…

The Garden…

Plodding around the canvas is a once great fighter. Balding, fleshy, shot reflexes; age has gotten to work quicker than usual. Enough remains to puzzle journeymen. Tonight he’s fighting someone good and after two rounds the writing is on the wall. Fans can only hope he takes it easy, to let compassion steer his performance; helping an old dog go the distance is not relegated to the big screen. Tears are shed later, sometimes.

The younger man has other ideas. He is full of venom, eager to perform like he knows he can. Hard punches are driven into that soft looking body. Shots to the chin ripple down each leg. It’s sad to see the King of the Lightweights on the floor, but the real kicker is when a haymaker leaves him with the coordination of a toddler. Referee Arthur Donovan steps in.

The great Benny Leonard is kaput. 

Even beside the Great Depression this defeat stood out. Many left with a grudge. A few months prior the heavyweight title was decided on a bogus decision. Customers began to feel their loyalty wane.

The following summer Barney Ross and Tony Canzoneri did battle. Jimmy McLarnin, the man responsible for abusing old Benny, soon dropped into the mix like a secret ingredient. The results were considerable. Seven distance fights, 90 grueling rounds and hundreds of thousands in gate receipts during an era when bread was dessert. Apparently the desire to see the world’s best helped make ends meet. Youngsters probably snuck in. The ring was a whirlpool of talent. For the ethnic minorities of New York, this was more than just entertainment.

As Jews, Irish and Italians squeezed every last nickel out of work, they could always look towards the bright lights of the ring, where the big fights kept delivering. Boxing’s relationship with the public wasn’t a sometime friend like today, more like family, and it was guaranteed relief for tough lives. The men in question were idolized. Past newspapers are littered with their rugged caricatures, beaming for battle. The expressions promise action, but there’s something else to them, a kind of gratefulness.

Several big names dabbled in the hurt game; men like Victor McLaglen, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin copped a few before doing what would seal their legend. Boxing wasn’t the drastic career path some view it as but the chance to see if there was something heroic in you.

The portraits that gaze back are as content as they are intense. 

But these warriors did more than punch out a good yarn.

They taught admirers to do the same.

Ring of Solace: Introduction
Ring of Solace, Part 1: Jimmy & Pop 
Ring of Solace, Part 2: Born to Fight
Ring of Solace, Part 3: Faith in Violence 
Ring of Solace, Part 4: Collision 
Ring of Solace, Part 5: Sparkling Debris

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KOTV Benny Leonard v J Mclarnin,

Jimmy McLarnin vs Tony Canzoneri I (Highlights)

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  1. Matt McGrain 11:24am, 09/20/2014

    Can’t wait for this.

  2. beaujack 05:46am, 09/20/2014

    Ted fine article on Jimmy McLarnin stopping the once greatest lightweight ever Benny Leonard who had no business coming out of retirement at the age of 36,and tackling one of the true great welterweights ever in Jimmy McLarnin. Leonard lost all his money in the 1926 stock market crash and was forced to return to fighting again.
    Looking at this film of that bout, you can see glimpses of what made Benny Leonard an immortal in his prime…

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