Punches that Shook Me Up (1936)
By Nel Tarleton
I have never been knocked out in my life. Luckily, I have not had my 'beauty' spoilt either. But it's not for want of the other fellows trying!
The worst 'tanking' I ever took was out in Australia, when I met Tod Morgan, who was junior lightweight champion of the world. The fight was at the famous Rushcutters' Bay, near Sydney. In an earlier fight I had beaten Jim Kelso, Australian lightweight champion, who had a victory over Al Foreman to his name.
So the huge crowd which turned up for my fight with Morgan expected something good from me. They saw me in trouble from the first round. Morgan was a converted southpaw. By that I mean he was naturally a wrong way round fighter, but he had been coached out of it, and usually fought as most others do.
But he had never forgotten his southpaw stance, and often enough he changed his feet and style in contests, much to the surprise of his opponents.
Well, Morgan shoved me on the ropes very early. Then he let fly a terrific punch which caught me in the tummy.
The pain was awful. The blow sunk almost to my spine! Morgan had changed his stance as I was on the ropes, and the punch came to me totally unexpectedly. I was groggy but not out.
It wasn't Morgan's fault, for he got me down four times in that first round! I recovered somewhat, but in the fifth and seventh rounds he worked his trick on me again. I took more pile-drivers which made me gasp. I may tell you that for days afterwards my stomach was sore as a boil.
I tumbled to Morgan's trick. He only performed it when he had his opponent on the ropes.
I took jolly good care in the later stages of the contest that I kept in the middle of the ring. I was equally as good a boxer as Morgan, and more than held my own in the finer points of the game. At the end of the 15 rounds the verdict was a draw. Bu I took something that day!
Nearest to KO
The nearest I have been to a knockout in England was in my recent bout with Johnny McGrory, who took my title from me.
It was about half-way through the contest. There was some in-fighting, and both Johnny and myself were squaring up to put across a telling blow. He got there first.
A left hook followed by a right cross had me on the verge of slumberland. There was not really a great deal of heavy punching in this bout, but this blow I took shows that McGrory can punch as well as anyone at his weight when he decides to put it over.
Left Hook Worst Blow
I may say here after all my years in the ring I think that the left hook is the worst of all blows to take. All the American boxers use it frequently.
On the other hand English boxers prefer the straight left, and only occasionally bring the left hook into play. It can be a telling punch.
The unorthodox boxer is probably the more dangerous boxer than the chap who conducts his fights according to the book. You never know what to expect from the former.
I remember once meeting the Frenchie, Aine Gyde, at Liverpool. Gyde was by no means a novice, but honestly I had him on toast. But Gyde had a habit of swinging punches from all angles. His favourite started from somewhere below the hips, and came up with terrific force.
Well, he caught me just once. But it was right on the point of the jaw that he did it. And did I see stars? I'll say! I won by a mile, but that punch might have easily put me out. Which shows that one can't be too wary.
My Jaw Broken
A punch I shan't forget was one I took from Al Ridgeway in a New York battle. He broke my jaw! That's all there was to it. He happened to connect and my jaw went bust. I was off for six months after that.
There was rather a queer sequel. My first fight after my lay-off was against Johnny Cuthbert for the featherweight title. I didn't do at all badly, got a draw, and never felt my jaw.
Two nights later I agreed to meet Dom Volante in an exhibition match. We used 14 oz. gloves. I received a light blow from Dom on the jaw - and it was put out again!
There was another time when I damaged my ribs in training. They seemed to get alright, and I took a fight against Nick Bensa at the Albert Hall. Bensa was featherweight champion of France at that time.
It was just about one of my worst fights. Nothing seemed to go right. Neither Bensa nor I put up our best form. But there was an excuse, for Nick caught me right on my sore ribs, and what with the pain and discomfort I was about as much use in a ring as a baby. I was two weeks in hospital after that.
Both through the Ropes
In my first fight with Freddie Miller I went through 14 rounds with the world champ without a scratch.
In the last round Freddie caught me a wallop on the eye. It came up instantly like a duck's egg. Maybe it was a good job it was the last round, for although Freddie only beat me narrowly I don't suppose I could have stood many blows on that egg.
In the second fight I had the world title in my grasp. I'm sure of that. But in the devil's round - the 13th -
I was on the ropes, and Freddie came in to put over a punch when we both fell through the ropes to the ground outside the ring. I was underneath and got all the worst of it.
I didn't show up quite so well in the last two rounds, and Freddie got the verdict. If it couldn't be called a punch, that incident certainly shook me up.