Name: Johnny Risko
Alias: Cleveland Rubber Man
Birth Name: Mesto Bohunico
Nationality: US American
Hometown: Cleveland, OH, USA
Age at Death: 50
Height: 5′ 11″
Manager: Danny Dunn
The Charlestown Daily Mail
28 June 1928
Johnny Risko Spoils Hopes Of George Godfrey For Boxing Fame, Fast Finish Made
By Cleveland Pug
Thrilling rally In Last Two Rounds Believed To Have Decided
Profit Made In Tilt
One Of The Few Fiancial Successes Of Summer’s Outdoor Ring Season
Once more that pudgy Clevelander, spoiler of heavyweight favorites, doughy Johnny Risko, has battered out of the limelight a man generally picked to defeat him.
This time the victim was George Godfrey, successor to Harry Wills as the current "Black Menace" and the man generally avoided by all heavyweights who seek advancement in their profession. To Risko was awarded the victory after 10 rounds of vicious, bruising mauling last night in the ball park of the Brooklyn Nationals, Ebbets field.
Critics Don't Agree
Although the verdict of the judges met with only luke warm approval from 25,000 fans several sport writers gave Risko a margin of five rounds with four for Godfrey and one even. The Associated Press score sheet gave the Negro giant five rounds, with three for Risko and two even.
Risko apparently caught the judge's eyes with a thrilling rally in the last two rounds that had the 235-pound Negro giant glad to hold and back away from the stress of left hooks Johnny threw at his head and body. There was no semblance of a knockdown and neither bore marks of the battle at the close.
The warfare for the most part was at close range, with a premium on clouts to the ribs that rarely bothered either battler. Risko absorbed Godfrey's right hand smashes and came back smiling for more while the best shots of Cleveland boy hardly dented the man mountain opposite him.
In the early rounds Godfrey toyed with the rushing youngster who spoiled Jack Sharkey, Jack Delaney and others as drawing cards in Tex Rickard's elimination tournament last winter. But the great bulk of his frame wrested heavily on the Negro's slender legs in the last five rounds and Johnny, plugging steadily forward left hand a winging ahead to take the verdict.
The match was one of the few financial successes of the rainy summer season of many postponements. Receipts were $51.684.
ROUND - BY – ROUND
Godfrey, a smiling giant compared with the squat and pugly Risko, hammered a left and right on the Cleveland boy's body. Risko bounced his famous left hook off the negro's body and shot two overhand rights to the head- Risko stepped rather easily around the slow moving, ponderous giant, landing easily with his left, but there was danger always in the smashing right Godfrey used steadily as a counter.
Risko bounced forward into a flood of left hooks to the head, that the Negro growing vicious, smashed accurately to their marks. Under the storm of blows as Godfrey threw everything into the attack, Risko wilted and the giant Negro nearly wrestled him to the floor. Risko held a. moment to gain his wind, then flailed Into the huge negro with overhand rights 'that had Godfrey holding at the bell.
Risko tugged and hauled at Big George, almost pulling himself from his feet as he tried to cut the huge black down to his own size with body punches. George took to holding and countering with his right as Johnny stormed into him, throwing caution to the winds. Risko, a pigmy besides Godfrey's massive bulk, still had the courage to carry the fight to his foe. Godfrey smashed two left hooks to the chin, and a numbing right to the heart as Risko missed a wild left hook just before the bell.
Godfrey, a full head taller than his rival, bored in with all his heft to plant left and right on Risko's body Risko pecked with his left and backed away, hurt by Godfrey's tremendous body punches. A storm of lefts and rights to Risko's body almost knocked the white man from his feet. There was tremendous power behind Godfrey's enormous swings. But the Cleveland rubber man, game as a pebble, shot his right to the head and kept everlastingly trying -right up to the bell.
As Risko danced in, more cautious now, Godfrey smashed his body with lefts and 'rights and drew grunts heard back in the two dollar seats.
Johnny made little impression of the man mountain with his very best blows and Godfrey's long arms easily reached Johnny's body- Godfrey belted the white boy all around the ring with an awful body barrage. Johnny was game, but mighty tired at the gong.
Godfrey laid back, content to let Risko carry the burden of attack and hold when Johnny got dangerous Risko smashed a left hook full on Godfrey's chin but Big George only smiled. Like a terrier worrying a mastiff, Johnny pounded in and ran smack into a series of short rights to the head that bounced him backward. Johnny beamed to allay the fears of his admirers and came back to his corner smiling at the bell.
Godfrey nearly floored Risko with a hammering left and right to the chin. Johnny backed clear to- the ropes arms wound about his head, body crouched in protection. Godfrey let him go and shot his right to the heart as they came back to the center of the ring. Risko flinched under a left hook to the body but valiantly hooked his left back at Godfrey’s bald head.
They wrestled and mauled about the ring up to the bell with Godfrey’s huge arms giving him a tremendous advantage.
Godfrey dueled lefts successfully with Risko, mauling and tugging at close quarters , often separated by the referee. Both slugged to the body. Risko hooked his left clean to the head twice but they were wrestling again at the bell.
Risko never stopped trying, piling into the negro with left and right swings to the head despite Godfrey's smashes to the body. Johnny slugged big George freely about the head, drove him into a corner for a steady pasting, and the crowd roared as they battled like a pair of dock workers. Johnny belabored Godfrey with both hands, slugging without defense, and absorbed half a dozen right counters without a quiver at the gong.
Risko swarmed all over the big Negro, driving him to the ropes under a cloud of swings that came from all directions. Risko buried his left deep in Godfrey's body and George wilted. Godfrey rallied swinging Risko about the ring with his massive arms and shooting his punches short to the body. Johnny never stopped trying, swinging both lefts and rights to the negro’s head. Very tired they leaned heads together and ponded each others ribs while the crowd bellowed encouragement at Risko. They were hauling and tugging at the final gong.
The Coshocton Tribune
2 Feb 1929
Max Schmelling, German Dempsey, Decisively Defeats
NEW YORK, Feb. 2
It takes a great man to beat a very good man and Johnny Risko, with the heart of a lion and the Jaw of a gorilla, was as good as ever he was last night when, reeling and punch poisoned he was called out on, his feet after a minute and five seconds of the ninth round by a humane referee. Yes, John was good, very good, but Max Schmeling, the German, was so much better that he actually was greatness itself as he punched Risko until he was silly, leaving nothing Referee Arthur Donovan to do but award the Dempsey of the Deutschland’s what is said to be the first legitimate knockout ever scored at Risko's expense.
Four times he had Risko on the axminster and not another man in the ring today would have arisen from the second and third knockdowns which were perfect bull’s-eyes, but Risko has the chin of all chins and so he got up and fought back heroically. He still was striking out blindly at his tormentor with the fighting instinct of the true fighting man, although barely able to keep his feet, when the referee wisely decided that too much was a great plenty. He saved this amazingly brave man from an actual knockout since it was inevitable that even this glove swallower never was destined to see the tenth and final round.
The fight was nothing less than a ring masterpiece, a 'saga of glorious courage that filled the eye and gladdened the heart. Risko furnished much of this with his last game stand against the inevitable but it must be admitted that it was the great fighter and not the very good one who turned in the performance that sent the witnesses gibbering out into the night.
He did things in this fight that left not the slightest doubt of his greatness. No other kind of a fighter could have taken the mauling Risko gave him thru the third fourth, fifth and sixth rounds and then, with a single punch in the seventh, practically ruin a man like John for the remainder of the evening.
No other kind of a fighter, not even the old Dempsey, could have put a faster and neater finish to a man than Schmeling did in the ninth and last round. This was master workmanship, no less. The witnesses rushed the ringside when it was all over to babble incoherently about "the next champion of the world" and frankly, there was nothing that could be vouchsafed against it.
Incidentally, the young man knows something about keeping the old potato protected, as Risko discovered after casting five hundred rights and lefts at it thru the first seven rounds. John wasn't casting anything after that except possibly a weary eye at his corner. It was an epic sight to see this remarkable punch catcher being beaten down and even unbiased newspapermen were so carried out of their customary lethargy as to wave frantically at him to quit before he was badly hurt.
But there never was any quit in Johnny Risko and he didn't mean to begin last night. No less thrillingwas the picture of the cool, yet venomous Schmeling as he calculatingly made his "kill" businesslike He cut Risko down more rapidly than the writer ever has seen a fighter finished, except by a one punch knockout. And nobody scores that kind against Johnny Risko
Each of Schmeling s four knockdowns was scored with a different punch, proving that the man has both snap and variety to his hitting: John was more than holding his own in the eighth when the third knockdown came It came from aleft hook and a right cross to the chin, as beautifully timed as a swiss movement. They hung John in the air and then let him drop forward on his face. A glimpse of his face on the way down showed that he was out. But he didn't stay out. Shaking his head to clear it, he finally made the grade at nine and lasted to the belL I don't have to think about any other heavyweight getting up from this. I know he wouldn't.
Risko staggered on his way to the corner but came out fairly fresh for the ninth. In the first minute, however, he was clipped with a right hand that spun him around and left him groping dazedly with his back half turned to the enemy. He was in perfect position for a left hook and this smart German, never more impressive than now, began pumping lefts to the target with a rapidity and an accuracy that was amazing. John was forced to bend blindly under the storm and then Schmeling looped a right behind hisear and dropped him ,for another nine count. He lurched to his feet and weaved drunkenly to the other side of the ring. There he essayed to make his last desperate stand and was lashing out gamely toward an unseen foe when he reeled and all but fell from his own weakness That was enough for both fighter and referee.
If there was any fault to be found with Schmeling last night, it was his seeming inability to,handle a fighter that persisted in staying on top of him. It was thru this system that John carried the fourth, fifth and sixth and was well out in front when the lightning struck.
But that's one thing about lightning and punches. They will strike.