Matches were held in the Harris front yard almost every night. Sometimes, to liven things up, Big Henry would bring home toughs and drunks from nearby honky-tonks and put them in the ring against his boys. "We fought all kinds of drunks," Tobe recalls.
Cut 'N Shoot received its first national publicity nine years ago when Tobe and Roy entered the Golden Gloves regional matches at Lufkin. Glen Buffalo, a football coach at Con-roe Junior High School, persuaded them that it would be good publicity to let their hair grow long and enter the ring wearing cut-off overalls. There was no need to persuade them to go barefoot. They preferred to fight that way anyway. Big Henry and Brother Bob grew beards and donned coonskin caps and seconded the boys. Papers all over the country carried stories about the two rubes from Cut 'N Shoot who had never had a store-bought'n haircut and who fought with a John L. Sullivan stance. Tobe and Roy flush even today when the stories are mentioned.
Roy lost only ten of his 83 amateur fights and won the Texas Golden Gloves middleweight championship in 1952 and after that the state light-heavyweight title for three years straight.
EDUCATION VIA THE RING
Roy confesses he never had any intention of turning pro, and never would have unless he had needed the money to go through Sam Houston State Teachers College where he graduated with a B.S. in agriculture. Even so, his earnings for the first couple of years were slim and never ran over $250 a fight. Tobe, who turned pro first, did even worse—he once collected only $16 for a main-event bout in Houston. Tobe's career as a pro ended after 27 bouts when he was thrown by a horse and suffered a shoulder injury.
Despite the fact he always won, Roy looked so awkward in the ring that his first manager, Benny King, a Houston druggist, had trouble lining up fights. Besides, some flashy heavyweights around avoided him. Once, in desperation to get a bout, King offered to allow Harris to fight Buddy Turman, a reigning state heavyweight, behind a barn for a token 50¢ purse.
Things began looking up after boxing's shrewd fat man, Lou Viscusi, proprietor of Lightweight Champion Joe Brown and Former Featherweight Champ Willie Pep, began taking a public interest in Roy's career. After he beat Willie Pastrano, Roy terminated his relationship with King and went into Viscusi's stable. His explanation is simple: "Ah wasn't altogether satisfied with Benny, and Ah thought Lou could do me more good."
Roy leads an exemplary personal life. Nobody has ever heard him curse, he doesn't smoke and has never even tasted beer. He had never even tasted tea until he married. He bought a 1951 Cadillac last year, but it was the nearest thing to an extravagance anyone has ever seen him commit. Dinny McMahon, veteran trainer and Connecticut Boxing Commissioner who has been assisting ring-wise Bill Gore in his training, said, "The only trouble we have is keeping him from working too hard. He takes instructions eagerly and he never says a word back."
He doesn't have a mean streak and has been known to ease up when an opponent is taking heavy punishment. This worries his supporters considerably, particularly since most of his friends feel he doesn't like fighting anyway. Roy doesn't answer this allegation hotly. Instead he smiles and says thoughtfully: "Ah don't dislike it. Fighting has done a lot for me. It helped me go through college and Ah hope one day it will buy me the boys' camp Ah want. Fighting's been good to me really." He chuckled and shook his head slowly. "It's a funny business, though, isn't it—hitting people in the head."