Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Flashback: A look at the April, 1937 issue of THE RING

Fighters Network

For the period ended February 11, 1937
Heavyweight: Jim Braddock
Light Heavyweight: John Henry Lewis
Middleweight: Marcel Thil
Welterweight: Barney Ross
Lightweight: Lou Ambers
Featherweight: Petey Sarron
Bantamweight: Sixto Escobar
Flyweight: Benny Lynch

With a compelling bout between 115-pound titleholder Vic Darchinyan and challenger Jorge Arce set for Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., we look back at a lengendary tiny fighter: Benny Lynch.

Lynch, the greatest boxer Scotland ever produced and a much-beloved figure, won a share of the flyweight title in 1936, unified it in 1937 and forfeited it in 1938 because he couldn’t make weight for a title fight.

Lynch (81-12-15, 34 knockouts) died in 1946 from the ravages of alcoholism and malnutrition. He was 33.

A look at the April, 1937 issue of THE RING:

COVER STORY: “Benny Lynch, The Fighting Scot: New World Flyweight Champion” by A. Frank Tinsley (billed as “a special sportswriter for Reuters”) is a colorful if somewhat off-kilter account of Lynch’s 15-round decision over Small Montana to win the vacant flyweight championship in London.

Tinsley led with five paragraphs about Filipino Montana, who he referred to as an “American.” He also admitted to “wagering a little something on Montana” and scoring six of the 15 rounds even.

Although his brief description of the fight was well written, Tinsley took up far more space comparing the venue (Wembley Empire Pool and Sports Arena) with Madison Square Garden, and went to considerable length to contrast the press accommodations.

There was an additional mention of the flyweight title bout in “Nat Fleischer Says,” where the editor praised the British fans for their “amazing” support of the lighter weight classes: “Considering that a flyweight or even bantam championship mill in this country could scarcely hope to draw a gate of more than $20,000, the $75,000 house these boys drew is an eye-opener.”

“Pastor Showed Up Louis’ Faults” is Fleischer’s critique of Joe Louis 10-round decision over Bob Pastor in front of a capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. Although Fleischer had no problem with the verdict, he repeatedly ripped Louis for failing to knock out Pastor. The most telling part of Fleischer’s account, however, was what he wrote about the crowd’s reaction.

“The fans who paid $111,570 to see a thrilling contest saw a running match instead, but they liked it because the white man had fooled the black man, had somewhat humiliated him by remaining on his feet for 10 rounds when according to all signs, had he fought, the battle would have ended in a few rounds. Bob must be given some credit for that, at least.”

It is worth noting that two fights later Louis knocked out Jim Braddock to win the heavyweight championship, and that when the “Brown Bomber” gave Pastor a title shot in 1939, Pastor was knocked out in the 11th round.

“The K. O. And Its Mental Reactions” is a theme piece, credited to “The Ring Editor,” that recounted some of the peculiar reactions fighters have to being concussed.

One of the tales involved a bout between Jack Sharkey and Tommy Loughran in which a blow to the temple totally discombobulated Loughran, who “walked along the side of the ring toward his corner, where he attempted to sit on a stool that was not there.”

There was also a yarn about Young Corbett II getting decked in his bout with Eddie Hanlon: “I thought the canvas was a rising moon,” said Corbett. “It became bigger and bigger, and I thought, ‘Isn’t that a beauty?’ Finally, it seemed to explode and I heard the referee counting. I got up just in time to beat 10.”

Perhaps the strangest story came from Bat Munro, who claimed to remember nothing after being knocked out by Sam Langford except a dream he had while unconscious. In his punch-induced fantasy, Munro won $2-million in a craps game, bought a team of white horses and drove his best girl to a picnic.

“Who Is Gunnar Barlund?” by Ed Van Every profiles Finland’s heavyweight hopeful, who had launched an American campaign in 1936 and tallied four wins on U.S. soil.

“Observers who watched Max Schmeling’s early fights say that Barlund at this stage is a better rounded fighter than was Schmeling in his early career, and that is an excellent compliment,” wrote Van Every. “The Gunnar is remorseless in his attack. He never lets up.”

Shortly afterward, Barlund lost three in a row, which typifies his rollercoaster career from then on. He fought on until 1948, but never got a title shot and retired with an overall record of 55-30-1 (27 knockouts).

“In Sunny California” by Gene Vinassa features a sarcastic update on heavyweight Hank Hankinson.

“For several years Hank Hankinson has had difficulty getting himself in shape because he liked to drink almost anything up to, but not including water,” wrote Vinassa. “Now Big Hank has turned over a new leaf. He has been training religiously since the first of the year. His liquid diet consists solely of milk, coffee and that delicious new drink – aqua pura. And he’s quit smoking and made up his mind to live up to his potentialities in the ring this year.”

Alas, Hankinson’s new regime didn’t help. He went 3-4 in 1937 and retired the next year, following a one-round KO loss to Max Baer.

“Ring News From South Africa” by Bert Cohen highlights a non-title fight between featherweight champion Petey Sarron and local hero Laurie Stevens in front of 15,000 fans at Johannesburg’s Wanders’ Stadium.

“After 11 rounds of furious fighting, Sarron smashed home a right to Stevens’ unguarded jaw with sufficient force to fell a middleweight. Thus ended Stevens’ unbeaten record after four years as a professional fighter,” wrote Cohen. “Sarron gave a magnificent display of savage fighting and carried the American colors adorning his corner to glorious distinction.”