The Boxing Biographies Newsletter
Volume 1- No 18 Part 2 4 December 2007
This edition is split into two parts and provides a detailed account of the life of one of the true legends of sport
Rickard Always Ready To Take A chance
“I always took a chance” Tex Rickard said one time in discussing his career. This was true not only in his boxing promotion but of all his business ventures as well. It was known by almost everyone along Broadway that Tex was a ”sucker” for get rich quick schemes, inventions and wild gambles.
After the Johnson – Jeffries fight Rickard was severely criticized for promoting a heavyweight championship between a whit man and a negro. Race riots broke out in many large cities and many lives lost. It is understood that Rickard took this to heart and vowed never again to promote a mixed bout for the heavyweight championship and he never broke his vow. Rickard’s stand on mixed heavyweight title bouts enabled Gene Tunney to get his chance at Jack Dempsey and win the championship. Rickard selected Philadelphia over New York as the site for the first Dempsey – Tunney bout rather than accede to the demands of the New York State Athletic Commission and match Harry Wills, the negro contender, as the challenger in place of Tunney.
About a year after the Johnson-Jeffries fight Rickard took another of his long shots. He signed a contract with a syndicate of French and English capitalists to go to South America as the general manager of the Paraguay land and Cattle Company. It ended with Rickard in the possession of a lot of land and no cash. Rickard acquired title to 327,000 acres of his own in this region and retained it until his death. He held on to it in the belief that some day it would be worth a fortune.
He returned to the United States in 1916, promoted his third fight and entered the boxing game for good. Jess Willard the Kansas cowboy had wrested he heavyweight championship from Jack Johnson at Havana in 1915 and New York was clamoring for a chance to see the white champion in action.
As in the case of his first two bouts Rickard again had to obtain financial backing to go through with a bout.The story was told that he went into a banker’s office without preparation and put up such a good front that the banker advanced him $25,000 on his word. Samuel McCracken also aided Rickard financially . Frank Moran was selected as the challenger and Rickard signed him first for a guarantee of $15,000. Willard signed for a guarantee of $30,000.
Rickard rented the old Madison Square garden and held the bout there. The match attracted a gate of $150,000, a new indoor record. Willard retained his title, but the bout was only significant in that it embarked Rickard upon his career as a promoter in New York city. It was probably the worst heavyweight title bout ever held. Rickard now made up his mind to remain in the fight game for better or for worse. Up until this time he could not be termed a bona fide boxing promoter. Trouble