For more than 15 years I have been fighting in rings throughout the world. In 19231 won my first title, becoming amateur champion of Panama. In 1938 I regained the title of world champion which had been taken from me in Valencia. For 15 years I have had to lead a life that agrees neither with my temperament nor with my tastes.
My dear Jean Cocteau, you are a true friend. You are right. I must leave the ring. I have no desire to follow the example of the old champions who hang on to their titles. How many times have I read in sporting journals, "Make way for the young. We must bring new life into the ranks." Well, I want to follow this advice.
I have given everything to boxing, and boxing has given me everything. We are quits. I am now an old boxer, but I am still a young man. I want to leave the memory of a world champion who knew how to choose his own moment for retirement, who knew how to get out leaving an unspoiled name to the sporting world.
On the evening of April 13 I shall leave the ring, I shall salute the public and I shall vault the ropes for the last time.
My second life will begin.
The whole of Paris seemed to be at the Palais des Sports on the night of April 13, not only to see the promised last fight of Al Brown, but to look for evidence of the struggle that was widely believed to be on between Jean Cocteau and the promoter, Jeff Dickson. There were, in fact, absolutely no grounds for this belief. Certain newspapers were declaring that Cocteau had given Brown advice which was, to say the least, premature, when he urged the fighter to quit. What no one knew was that it was Al Brown himself who had asked Cocteau to address the now famous and hotly discussed open letter to him. The truth was that Brown no longer liked boxing. His heart was no longer in it. He was still a champion, but no longer a fighter.
His attitude showed the night he battled Angelmann for seven long—and almost even—rounds. But under the smoldering embers of the fight, Brown was guarding a last spark. Between the seventh and eighth rounds Al asked his second to give him a drink of champagne. [ Cocteau said later that he had recommended this as a trick. It was not champagne in the bottle.] Brown drank out of the bottle, wiped away the soft, white foam from his lips and was on his feet before the gong sounded. "Now I'll knock him out," he said. Seconds later, as Angelmann was hurling himself into the attack, Brown shot out a right-hand counterpunch. The single short blow dropped Angelmann to his knees, and the fight was over.
The punch should have been the signature at the end of Al Brown's boxing life. Paris thought it was. G�o London, who did an account of the fight for Le Journal, had observed both Brown and his poet-manager.
" Al Brown fought with an almost unearthly vitality," wrote London, "a fight which could have been a sad one, since it came under the heading 'Burial of a Boxer.' The mourning was led, without tears, by M. Jean Cocteau.
"We know with what happy audacity the poet was able to say to Al Brown, broken and hopeless after his cruel defeat in Valencia, 'Boxer, take up the gloves again and give us some fights.' Thanks to this, Al Brown, like the phoenix rising up out of his ashes, has experienced a short-lived revival of his glory—short-lived but certain.