I enjoyed your erudite Froissart of Fistiana, Mr. Liebling, in his scholarly essay on Stillman's Academy (SI, Dec. 5) but must take exception to a time honored but purely fabulous "canard" covering that bout between Jack Johnson and Sam Langford, the Boston Tar Baby, in Chelsea, some 50 years ago under the shadow of Bunker Hill.... I had a ringside seat and all that happened was that somewhere in the early part of the fight Jack knocked Sam cold, but...Sam was given an interminable count. "One—what's your mammy goin' ter say when you comes home. Two—think of that chicken your sister is cookin' etc. etc."...
After this "knock-oot d'estime" (if Prof. Liebling can lead with a succ�s d'estim? I'll counter with this), which didn't count as no one counted according to Hoyle or Queensberry...nothing happened and Jack won easily....
I knew Jack in Madrid in 1918 and asked him about this story, which Sam by hypnotic repetition may have come to believe. Jack concurred with my reporting from ringside and shrugged it off without malice as one of those "occupational hazards."...
There was a whole pleiad of fine Negro heavyweights in Paris around the 20s, Jack Johnson, Jim Johnson, Sam Langford, Sam McVey, Joe Jeannette, etc. McVey, a magnificent looking man like a Zulu chief was on a boat coming from Australia which was intercepted by the Emden. He went below and into the coal bunkers where he disguised himself as half a ton of anthracite, or so they say, and got by....
Perhaps in his next installment Prof. Liebling will produce another debatable conte de f�e (he seems to like these imported touches)—that someone opened a window in Stillman's. Another "impossible" barrier broken, like the four-minute mile and the 60-foot shotput....
?Waldo Peirce, revered as the last of the Bohemians and one of America's great painters, has done some of his liveliest sketching on envelopes addressed to friends. SI is happy to be counted one of them (see cut). Mr. Peirce's ringside recollections of the Johnson-Langford battle differ from other observers, who saw Johnson, and not Langford, dropped to the canvas. The fight took place in 1906, a year notable in Mr. Peirce's strenuous life for his suspension from Harvard for "inattendance and general sloppiness," to quote more Peirce recollections.—ED.
I KNOW THE MAN
...What Mr. Liebling has written is an excellent picture story of authenticity. Few know the locality about which the article is centered or the boxing beat better than he.
I enjoyed the material, particularly so because of my knowledge of the man—Stillman—and the environment.
Editor, The Ring
THE WONDER OF THE SPORT WORLD
...To me New York means Stillman's Gym and Radio City Music Hall. I felt quite at home reading Liebling's story as I know Jack Curley, Lou Stillman, Freddie Brown, Whitey Bimstein and the rest.
When I had my YMCA boxing team en route to West Point to box the Army plebes, Stillman's Gym was a must stop. Jack Curley introduced the boys to the champions who were training there at the time. Stillman's Gym is one of the wonders of the sport world.