The Boxing Biographies Newsletter
Volume 7 No 9 – 13th Sept , 2011
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Heroes Win Our Love.
In All Ages Men Have Worshiped Their
Fellow-Men — Some Traits of Humanity
Reverence for heroes is natural. In all ages of the world respect for great men has distinguished the masses. Our old ancestors made kings of their muscular heroes and placed men of great physical powers on tripods supposed to raise them nearer to heaven.In the legends of every race tradition tells marvelous stories of the endurance of heroes. They were often clothed with the attributes of deity, and demi-gods were as common in ancient times as idols and wooden images are to-day in darkest Africa, or among the benighted Mongolians of China.
The age of steam and electricity has its gods too, its demi-gods to whom civilized races pay the tribute of their loyal praise. Literature and the churches cannot stay that irresistible impulse which makes men take off their hats to other men who have added to the usual attributes of man a longer reach of arm, a quicker eye, a more skillful delivery, Marquis of Queensberry Rules.
And so it comes that James Corbett is now our god, tarrying on the earth under the soubriquet of " Champion Jim." The world, which is a fickle jade, had tired of John L. Sullivan. It longed for a new name, for another god. Humanity likes heroes but it does not like to believe that one man is so great that none greater can ever appear. We all like to believe that what man has done man can do, therefore Corbett's victory in playing with Sullivan as a cat tosses a mouse, teaches us to believe in the possibilities of man.
And so Corbett may one day meet his better. May he be able to stand prosperity," and to bear himself as he has hitherto done, like a gentleman, forgetting none of the obligations to friends and wife and family. If he shall live like an honorable man the world will gladly see him wear his honors thick upon him for many years to come.
A San Francisco Boy.
Some Racy Anecdotes of the Champion's Early
Years—"Rushing the Growler"—A Love Episode and a Champagne Bath For a Lady.
The hero of the day, whose greatness and fame readily outrank the glories of all the presidents from Washington down; whose name is to-day on the tongues of brave men and beautiful women to the exclusion of politics, social news, cholera news and religion, is a native of San Francisco.Corbett was born on September 1st, 1866, at San Francisco, and he grew tall and brawny beneath Californian skies and beastly San Francisco fogs. His friends say that he lived there long enough to get plenty of wind, for the raw breezes from old ocean's gray and melancholy waste swoop down upon denizens of that bleak and forbidding city as if Providence had a special grievance against the people.
In early life young Corbett used to run away from home to buy pitchers of beer for a handsome young widow who lived near the Corbett homestead. Falling into the vernacular readily like all children, who pick up slang rapidly, Jim called this pastime " rushing the growler."One day he remained away an unusually long time and on his return his father asked him where he had been. " Oh," said he, " Iv'e just rushed three growlers for Mrs.- —." Jim's father always remembered the odd expression, for it was the first time he ever heard it.
When the news of victory over " the Big One" reached the new Champion's father, the incident of his boy's childhood naturally sprang to his mind.
"What news?" asked Corbett's mother of her husband. " Well," said he, " do you remember that time that the lad said he had rushed three growlers?" " Yes, indeed well." " Praise God, your boy has just rushed the fourth growler to a finish in 21 rounds." " Thank God for that! I knew he would win," said Mrs. Corbett.
Corbett's father has always been very shy of reporters. He despises their dapper, cunning ways. Once, just before the Corbett-Jackson fight, the elder Corbett got interviewed "as easy as falling off from a log."He was in Judge Rix's Police Court chatting with Clerk Kenny. A reporter sat by Kenny engaged in writing so that the old gentleman thought he was a deputy clerk.Feeling secure he made a neat speech, foretelling Jim's victory. He was beside himself when he saw the interview in an afternoon paper the next day, and he accused Kenny of 'putting up a job on him. To square himself Kenny begged the reporter to sign a statement exonerating him from any blame and setting forth the true origin of the interview.
"By the gods, then", said Mr.Corbett, " I'll never shoot off my bazoo around your office again."
Since that episode the proud father of the world's champion has not broken the silence save in monosyllables and in a most guarded way. He believes in Jim, though, and is proud of him as may be seen by the gleam that darts from his clear eyes as he strokes his beard and listens to others discuss the boy's powers. As a boy Jim Corbett was a handsome, chivalrous fellow of proud spirit, and quite a favorite among the girls. He had no more fights than the average boy and no more striking ventures than are usual.
He was always a good angler and from earlier youth he loved the water. His memory does not go back to a time when he could not row a boat. He learned to swim in the Russian river country quite late in youth. A girl some years older than himself, a girl, too, of great beauty, once caught him and kissed him as he was passing along a crowded street. He blushed and almost cried. His companions say that he felt so cut up about it that he would not pass the street of the occurrence for months.