My Boxing Match with Buddy Jones

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 tailor’s 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 spectators—neighborhood 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 don’t know how I got so tired in three short rounds of boxing. Of course, I had never boxed before and hadn’t worked out. It seems that the weight of those gloves was just too much for me, but if I didn’t hold them up high Buddy Jones really popped me.

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 can’t hold my arms up.” He said, “No matter; you’re doing great. Another round and you’re sure to be the winner.”

So we went for one more round. Sure enough, I couldn’t 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 Daddy’s famous Army fight, as related earlier. Daddy loved telling his story; it was such a good story that I didn’t mind hearing it over and over again. Fights were always exciting—this 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.

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