The Marcus Daly is best known for the Tammany Bar and Lounge, where a likeness of the head of Daly's favorite race horse, Tammany, is inlaid in the barroom floor. This portrait is composed of 1,000 squares of hardwood "varying in tone to catch the fine sheen, shades and markings of the magnificent animal," and was executed by a New York artist named Newcomb for $3,000. Daly, whose racing colors were copper and Irish green, always walked around it.
Although, according to Jovanovich, there are but four active professional fighters in Montana—Roger, his brother Jimmy, who has a 3-and-1 record, and the Gross brothers from Missoula—Butte was a thriving fight town at the turn of the century. John L. Sullivan came there in 1894, offering $1,000 to anyone who could stay four rounds with him. He was taken up by one "Boy" Robinson, who weighed 155 pounds to Sullivan's 225. Robinson was knocked down 15 times before being counted out with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth. Robinson and his backers argued that they had got a short count. Said John L. Sullivan, "Mebbe so."
When Butte was a copper camp, fight cards were often held on consecutive days. For example, on July 3 and 4, 1903, Joe Walcott, the welterweight champion, and Joe Gans, the lightweight champion, won nontitle bouts against local fighters. However, up to now only one Montanan ever fought for a world championship. In 1904 Jack Munroe, a Butte miner, met James J. Jeffries for the heavyweight title in San Francisco; Munroe was knocked out in the second round.
Roger Rouse, who is called Babe by his family, is 32 years old, 6' tall (by way of comparison, Tiger is 5'8"), has faintly ascetic features and reddish hair that he carefully combs; he is of German-Irish ancestry. As he once told a Butte saloonkeeper, "I'm Irish and Dutch. I fight like a Dutchman and drink like an Irishman." Actually, there is fighting, and, doubtless, drinking blood on both sides. Rouse's maternal grandfather, Tom Solan, did a little boxing at $5 a fight, and always claimed he was a distant cousin of Gene Tunney. "Do you remember sorting spuds in the root cellar with Grandpa?" Roger's mother asked him the other day. "He'd always tell me about Tunney and Greb down there," Roger said. " 'That bluidy Greb was a dahrty foiter.' " Several of Roger's uncles fought amateur, and Uncle Moose, who has a ranch up in the Big Hole and must go 6'4", was once renowned as the roughest man in Montana.
"The Rouses are a rough outfit," a rancher named Bill Studdert told me while I was in Anaconda. "Roger's the mildest." Roger has two sisters—Emily, 36, and Patty, 18—and four brothers—Don, 34, Jimmy, 24, Dougie, 22, and Ralphie, 16, the only one who hasn't done any real fighting. Dougie, a light middleweight, was a semi-finalist in the 1967 All-Army championships. Don, who wears a beard he grew to go to Acapulco—but he never went—was runner-up in the 1961 national AAUs, in which he fought as a light heavyweight.
Don has perhaps more intellectual pretensions than the other Rouse brothers. He and his wife Dolores, who works for Sarah Coventry, Inc., the jewelry company, plan to retire at an early age and read the Great Books. Rather, Dolly intends to retire; Rouses aren't too interested in having jobs. "I don't like to be that tied down," Roger explains. "Suppose you want to go somewhere and do something." When I asked Don what Jimmy did for a living, he said: "He keeps his fingers crossed for Roger." Jimmy, who everyone says has a lovely singing voice, carries a .22 slug. "It went in my lung, diaphragm and liver and then ricocheted around and lodged in a muscle in my back," he says. Who shot him was someone he kind of ran across in a bar.
There are 37 bars within the city limits of Anaconda—possibly more per capita than in any other city in the U.S.—and Don, Roger and Jimmy are well known in many of them. When they were younger, Don used to promote bar fights for Roger. "Once Roger got into a fight with the baddest man in Butte," Don recalls. "Roger hooked him to the head and knocked him down with a body punch. He was on his knees. I told Roger to finish him off. 'I don't hit a man when he's down," Roger said. I finally got him to agree to shove him over on his face with his foot. We were punk kids. It was just a means of dissipating our aggression. Now Roger's drinking is incidental to getting women."
"Roger is an extremist," says Jovanovich, who sticks to Seven-Up. "Drink, fight, chase. As he once told me, 'If I wasn't the sonofabitch I am I wouldn't be a fighter.' If you tame him out of the ring, you tame him in." Jovanovich said this last without much conviction.
On another occasion, Chappie Hayashi, who deals cards in Salt Lake City when he isn't being Roger's trainer, told Roger, "You better straighten up for three years. After that you can live it up." Roger replied, "If I did that I wouldn't be worth a damn. I'd be just an average Joe. If I lived the way everybody wanted me to live, I wouldn't be a fighter."
"Before we start working out for a fight," says Jovanovich, "you've got to walk Roger past the gym three times. 'I know that's the gym,' he'll tell me. But at least you've got him down in that neck of the woods."