His father's experiences didn't sour Billy Jr. on boxing. He became a heavyweight fighter, although his decision to do so was determined more by circumstances than preferences. "My house had burned down, it was the Depression and I had no job," Billy Jr. recalls. "I fought 66 times between 1936 and 1943 and was good enough to get a fight with Lee Savold right after he'd knocked out Lou Nova and was contending for the title. [Savold knocked out Miske in the third round.] I was fairly good, not great like my dad who fought more than 400 times and met the best. Dad's knocking out of a giant like Fred Fulton with one punch in 1922, when Dad weighed only 185, was just fabulous."
Perhaps another parental quality rubbed off on his son. "Dad wanted Mother to be a singer," Billy Jr. says, "and become an opera star." Maybe Billy Sr.'s unfulfilled wish for Marie or the Christmas gift of the baby grand piano is the reason Billy Jr. directs a band and plays the trumpet and organ at his winter residence in McAllen, Texas. "I like to keep busy," he says. So did his father—almost to his dying day.