Don’t Get Excited Over Talk Of Mixed Match, Says Menke

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer – January 15, 1923
By Frank G. Menke

NEW YORK — Do not become unduly exercised over the “scheduled” mixed match involving Jack Dempsey and Strangler Lewis.

Chances are that it’s merely a bit of hokum designed to get a little publicity for Dempsey, Lewis and the town of Wichita, Kan.

In the first place, Wichita seems hardly able to finance any such affair. And, secondly, Jack Kearns is entirely too smart in fistic affairs to permit a world’s boxing champion to monkey around with a wrestler.

One little slip, one little misstep, an extra savage jolt, a sudden twist of the arm or the leg – and Dempsey, the “million-dollar asset,” might be ruined forever as a fighter.

If Dempsey ever elected to mix it with a heavyweight wrestler the odds would be tremendously against him – provided he would have to wear boxing gloves while his rival operated in bare-handed fashion. For Dempsey’s only definite chance would hinge upon whether he could send home a sleep-producing punch before he was grabbed.

Inasmuch as Dempsey never has finished a truly trained athlete with one blow, how could he hope to win?

It’s true Dempsey wrestled somewhat in his younger days.

That was when on tour among the mining camps of the West, during which time he met all comers either at fighting or wrestling. And Dempsey knows quite a few grappling tricks.

But what good would all the wrestling knowledge of which he has availed himself be if he were in the ring grappling with gloved hands?

Dempsey is powerful – and he’s chain lightning in action for a heavyweight. He can stand up under terrific ring punishment. But his muscles are of the kind which merely make it possible for him to withstanding punching.

A wrestler and a boxer call into action entirely different sets of muscles. A wrestler couldn’t hit a straight hand punch if he were paid the ransom price of a thousand kings. His arm and shoulder muscles are heavy, ponderous; developed to push, haul and lift – but not to snap forward in a straight line with terrific speed and power.

The boxer, on the other hand, has no real lifting, pulling or hauling strength in his arms or shoulders. The legs of a boxer are built for speed – and little else. Those of a wrestler pack the power to crush, the power to stand up under a heavy human load. And also the ability to withstand crunches, twists and spins.

A fighter doesn’t pay much attention to the development of the neck muscles. But almost before he develops anything else, a wrestler must develop a powerful, unbreakable neck. If he doesn’t, his grappling career will be of the briefest.

Let’s suppose Dempsey goes on against a wrestler.

It’s 25 to 1 that Dempsey, even if he does land a punch with everything that’s in him upon the jaw of a fighter, won’t finish his man. He may stagger him – but what then?

The wrestler clinches. There’s no referee to part them. The wrestler continues to clinch until his brain clears. Then he gets busy. He tries for a crotch or a wristlock, a hammer-lock, a headlock, a half-Nelson, a full-Nelson.

It’s 10 to 1 that whatever he tries he’ll get because Dempsey, wearing gloves, won’t be able to pull away the clutching hands. And because Dempsey will be gloved, he cannot get an effective hold upon his rival.

What’s the answer?

Can it be other than that Dempsey will be flopped upon the canvas, where with muscles untrained to meet a wrestling emergency, he will be pinned at the will of the wrestler?

In years gone by, wrestlers have taken on boxers, each using their own style of warfare. Most of the affairs were won by the wrestlers. There are a few isolated instances where the boxer won. But it is well established that in those duels the boxer was a champion or a near-champion, whereas the wrestler he met was a dub.

It might be well for Dempsey or anyone else who thinks he can put the skillibuss under a grappler to recall what happened to Sam McVey some years ago when the late dusky heavy was in Australia and at the height of his career.

They tossed Samuel into a ring with a diminutive Jap, known as Shima. Time was called. Samuel wandered out in calm and dignified fashion. Shima hurled himself forward, and as he got within grabbing distance, he grabbed the negro. A fraction of a second later, the huge form of Sam McVey sailed up into the air, twisted, turned, landed on the ropes – and then fell outside the ring.

They picked up Sam and dusted him off. Sam looked around and couldn’t quite figure out what had happened and where he was. He inquired – and was given all the facts in the case.

“Now you get back into the ring for the second round,” Sam was told.

“No, sah; no, sah, not me!” howled Sam. “Dis ain’t mah game!”

Sam went to his dressing room and never came back.

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3 responses to “Don’t Get Excited Over Talk Of Mixed Match, Says Menke

  1. “That was when on tour among the mining camps of the West, during which time he met all comers either at fighting or wrestling.”

    Dempsey was a carny-style shooter back then?

    • Classic Wrestling Articles

      Weren’t they all? 😉

      • I was ignorant of that. I’ve read about the guys who were “on the circuit” traveling to little towns and meeting the area tough guys but had no idea Dempsey started out that way. That’s why I love reading these old articles. Still plenty learning to do.

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