Tunney shook his head in admiration. "When Fingey got a man like that, the poor fellow toppled face forward. Well, I showed this maneuver to Ernesto.
" 'Try it again,' he asked me.
"I was merely demonstrating, of course, but when I went in with my left hand, Hemingway shot his right elbow into my mouth. If I hadn't had strong teeth, he would have knocked them out. As it was, he cut my mouth."
At this point Tunney went into action in his chair, shifting his shoulders, moving his hands before him. "I shoved Ernesto back against the wall—quickly—and threw a short left which I pulled at the last fraction of a second and laid against his chin. Then I did the same with my right. Bang! Bang! Hemingway went white. It was the only time I ever saw the man flustered."
"They say only a sucker tries to beat a man at his own game," his visitor said.
"That's right," Gene chuckled. "I certainly wouldn't have attempted to beat Ernesto at writing."
Nevertheless, Tunney has said his piece on any number of matters outside boxing. He has been especially eloquent on the subject of smoking. During the reign of Joe Louis as heavyweight champion, Gene was invited to speak at a boxing writers' dinner. He devoted his time to a discussion of tobacco.
Among other things, he claimed that if Louis were to smoke two packs of cigarettes each day for a month, he, Gene Tunney, would come out of retirement and beat him. Louis sat next to the microphone when Tunney spoke. As Joe left the building, he met Toots Shor, the saloonkeeper.
"You didn't have a cigarette in your kisser while Gene was making that speech, did you?" Toots asked him.
A sly look came over Louis' face, and he shook his head. "No, sir," he said. "I afraid Mr. Tooney he hit me."