24. Beau Seeks Welterweight Title

Beau took a ­three-month break to rest and collect himself after his devastating loss to Ike Williams. In the meantime, Beau lent his support to amateur boxing. Jack, along with Joe Louis and Ray Robinson, joined the newly formed amateur boxing club known as the Glovers Social Club as honorary members. Established by Bill Miller, Ben Wilson, Jack Corprew, and Wilbur Walcott, the club sought to acquire its own community center and initiate a fund to help injured amateur boxers. Beau also took some time to enjoy one of his favorite hobbies, fishing for tuna out of Sheepshead Bay.

During his layoff, Beau and his three children, along with 100,000 mourners, paid respect to Babe Ruth (1895–1948) at Yankee Stadium. Ruth died two days earlier on August 16. His bier was visited by more than 150,000 fans while it lay in rest at Yankee Stadium. One of the most celebrated athletes of his era, the “Great Bambino” started his professional baseball career as a ­left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. While there, he set the World Series record for consecutive scoreless innings. After joining the New York Yankees in 1920, Babe led the team to seven American League pennants and four World Series titles. He ended his ­22-year career with 714 home runs, 2,873 hits, 506 doubles, 2,174 runs, 2,213 RBI, a .342 batting average and a .690 slugging percentage. Ruth held the home run record until 1974 when it was broken by Hank Aaron. Babe Ruth was honored as a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Following his ­three-month hiatus, Jack was ready to enter the ring again. Beau decided to stay in the welterweight division in hopes of earning a shot at the welterweight title held by Sugar Ray Robinson. Losing weight to reach the ­135-pound weight limit for his title fight with Ike Williams physically weakened his fighting abilities.

On October 28, 1948, Jack entered the ring at Uline Arena in Washington, D.C., to face former English welterweight and lightweight champion Eric Boon (1919–1981). Boon, at ­28 years of age, had a professional record of 97–16–5, knocking out 61 opponents in 115 fights, but his talents had not been tested in the States.

Uline Arena, also referred to as the Washington Coliseum, was built in 1941 by Migiel Uline, entrepreneur and inventor of an ice ­cube-making machine. The arena quickly became Washington’s premier entertainment and sports venue. Uline Arena hosted the first concert by the Beatles in the United States on February 11, 1964. It was also the site of President Dwight Eisenhower’s first inaugural ball. The arena had seating for 6,000 when configured for hockey and 10,000 for entertainment events.

A minimal crowd of 1,994 gathered on a mild fall evening to witness the October 28 welterweight bout. Boon weighed in at 144 pounds and stood just 5'4" tall. Jack weighed in at 143½ pounds. In a close first round, Boon held his own and even staggered Beau with a right. As the second round began, Beau started applying considerable pressure. Beau “pounded his foe unmercifully, holding him at arm’s length with his left and bringing up one sizzling right bolo after another.”1 He bloodied the nose of the former British champion and swarmed in like a tiger taking its quarry down. He landed almost at will. At the start of the third round, Beau threw a massive bolo punch, flooring the Englishman. As Boon stood back up, Beau staggered him across the ring and into the ropes with a stiff right. Enough was enough. Referee Eddie LaFond called the fight one minute and 31 seconds into the ­third-round, awarding Jack the decision by technical knockout.

After the fight, Jack Solomons, an English fight promoter, offered Beau a rematch with Boon in London. Chick Wergeles, however, rejected the offer, stating that he was not accepting any bouts until Beau fought Chuck Taylor, scheduled for November 23. Of course, Jack had his sights on Sugar Ray Robinson.

In what was promoted as the “greatest all punching card ever staged in this city,” Convention Hall in Philadelphia was the venue for Beau’s next battle. He faced ­25-year-old Chuck Taylor (1922–1988) of Coalport, Pennsylvania. Taylor had a record of 25–11–1, a powerful left jab, and was eyeing a hopeful shot at the welterweight title himself. However, he had only won three of his last nine matches. A crowd of 4,530, mostly Taylor supporters, producing a gate of $13,671 were on hand for the ­10-round welterweight bout.

After a sluggish start, Beau got his punches rolling and looked like the Beau Jack of old, zigzagging, dipping, and jitterbugging. He aggressively pushed Taylor the whole fight, which was not very long. Beau rushed in on Taylor in the second, throwing barrages of lefts and rights. In the third, Beau forced Taylor to the ropes, where he plastered him with a volley of lefts and rights to his head. Then, Beau connected a tremendous bolo punch to Taylor’s jaw, sending him to the canvas. Referee Charley Daggert called an end to the fight 2:43 into the third round. Commentators praised Beau’s performance, declaring that Beau appeared to be in his best form since being discharged from the Army.

Beau had two fights scheduled over the next three weeks. On December 3, he was expected to meet Vince Foster, but the bout was called off due to a hand injury Beau suffered in his contest with Chuck Taylor. Next, he was scheduled to face Johnny Greco for a fourth time at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, Michigan on December 17, but Greco hurt his foot before the fight. The following day, Leroy Willis agreed to substitute for Johnny Greco in the December 17 bout.

Olympia Stadium, 5920 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, in the 1960s (Library of Congress).

Opened in 1927, Olympia Stadium was often referred to as the “Old Red Barn.” When it opened it featured the largest indoor skating rink in the U.S. and soon become home to the Detroit Red Wings. Initially intended for hockey, the “Old Red Barn” became a multipurpose indoor arena for all kinds of events. It had a capacity for nearly 15,000 spectators and seating was steeply sloped so that it seemed like you were on top of the action.

Willis came into the fight with ­forty-eight professional matches and a record of 32–11–4. He was on fire, having won seven of his last nine contests. Hailing from Detroit, Willis had the advantage of the hometown crowd, but that was his only advantage. On December 17, 1948, 5,012 fistic fans paid $11,426.60 to witness the contest.

Beau gave the Detroit youngster a boxing lesson. Jack won almost every round over the Michigan lightweight champion by shuffling around and banging away at him. Beau tagged Willis under his left eye, producing blood in the second round. Willis landed some hard rights, but the ­broad-shouldered Jack absorbed them well. Willis did succeed in drawing blood in the eighth when he cut Beau in the corner of his left eye. Willis, using his defensive skills, weathered Beau’s onslaught and avoided a knockdown by fancy footwork and head bobbing to evade Beau’s nastiest punches. By the end of the contest, both fighters tasted blood. Although bloodied, Beau received an easy victory, winning nine of the ten rounds. The only stanza Willis won was the second, in which Beau was penalized for punching Willis while holding him at the same time.

Jack wanted to meet Frankie Fernandez in his next bout, hoping to achieve a little revenge on behalf of his stablemate, Tommy Bell, whom Fernandez knocked out a little over a month earlier. On January 12, 1949, Beau’s camp telegraphed an offer to Frankie Fernandez (19–1), Hawaii’s welterweight champion and the number three contender in the welterweight division. Fernandez, however, rejected the offer, because he didn’t feel like he could adequately train for the February 18 fight. Frankie had just married and only recently resumed training. It would be another year before Jack and Fernandez would square off.

Instead of Frankie Fernandez, Beau faced off against Jackie Weber of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Weber had a respectable record of 38–7–0, having won six of his last eight fights. The bout was scheduled for January 17, 1949, at the Boston Garden. Like the third version of Madison Square Garden, Tex Rickard built the Boston Garden. Located above North Station, the $10 million Boston Garden opened in 1928, with seating for more than 15,000 fans. It was demolished in 1998 after the FleetCenter, now referred to as TD Garden, opened in 1995.

Fighting before a crowd of 8,776 fans, Jack pounded Weber from the opening bell. Grinning at Weber, Jack limped around the ring, stalking him. When he got Weber in range, Beau battered him with imposing body punches and stunning looping rights and uppercuts. In the sixth round, he cut Weber beneath the left eye and bloodied his nose in the seventh. In the ninth, Jack dropped the New England lightweight champion to the canvas for a ­nine-count with a brutal uppercut. Despite still showing the effects of his lame knee, he easily defeated Willis by unanimous decision. The paid gate was $23,262.

It was more apparent than ever, since suffering a broken kneecap in the Janiro bout almost two years earlier, that something was dreadfully wrong with Beau’s left knee. No matter how hard he tried, he was forced to limp around the ring after his opponents. Notwithstanding, a lame leg was not going to hold Beau Jack down.

Two days later, it was announced that Beau would meet Canadian welterweight titleholder Johnny Greco for a fourth time on January 31 at the Montreal Forum. Initially scheduled for December 17, it had been postponed due to a foot injury suffered by Greco. However, on January 24, promoter Raoul Goddout indefinitely postponed the fight at the request of Beau’s camp, maintaining that Beau had injured his hand while training.

Because of Beau’s injury, the fight was rescheduled for March 14. Not long after that, the match was postponed for a second time at the request of Jack’s camp. The new date was March 21. Once again, the fight was delayed by Beau’s camp and rescheduled for March 28. In response, the NBA, in conjunction with the Montreal Boxing Commission, suspended Jack until he fulfilled his contract to fight Greco. NBA Commission Abe J. Greene stated the suspension was “not a punitive measure.” Instead, it was a protective measure. The Massachusetts Boxing Commission followed suit, announcing that they had also suspended Beau.

The fourth meeting between Beau Jack and the “Joltin’” Johnny Greco finally transpired on March 28. Beau had won two of their three previous meetings, while the other bout ended in a draw. A crowd of 10,394 filed into the Montreal Forum to cheer for the “Montreal Mauler,” producing a gate of $38,428. Greco had the hometown crowd and ­nine-pound weight advantage over the former champion, scaling 147 pounds to Jack’s 138 pounds. Greco had also won his last five bouts.

The furious battle began at the opening bell. Both men rushed out at each other, brawling feverishly. By the third round, it looked like Greco’s weight advantage had given him control of the bout. Crouching to avoid Beau’s jabs, “Jolting” Johnny cornered him against the ropes in the fourth, where he unleashed vicious blows to Jack’s body. During the last minute of the fifth stanza, Greco pounded Beau repeatedly without return. Beau looked finished. However, in the sixth, Beau rumbled back and placed Greco in distress, bombarding him with body punches. Greco retaliated in the next round, scoring the fight’s only knockdown when he landed a tremendous short right on Beau’s jaw for a mandatory eight count.

Beau, favoring his injured knee on which he wore an elastic support, suffered a ruthless beating in the late rounds. In the ninth, Johnny bloodied Beau’s mouth and then sent him reeling into the ropes with another right to the chin. Only by grabbing the ropes, did Beau avoid the canvas. Greco fervently tried to finish Beau off, but Jack refused to go down. The ninth was all Greco. He again drove Jack to the ropes again where he belted him for 90 seconds with fierce lefts and rights. Beau endured with some crafty counterpunching, but much to the crowd’s liking, Greco won a unanimous decision, consistently scoring points when he had Beau corned on the ropes. Judges Johnny Gow and Rene Ouimet gave Greco six rounds, Jack three and one even. The third judge, Dr. L.O. Geoffrion, gave Greco five rounds, Jack three and two even.

Greco finally attained vengeance, winning the fourth and final meeting with Jack. Unfortunately, Johnny Greco soon met an untimely death at age ­thirty-one. While driving in the Westmont neighborhood of Montreal, he lost control of his car. It jumped a sidewalk and slammed into a tree. The impact broke Greco’s neck. Johnny was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame with an overall record of 78–18–5.

Beau would not fight again until July 13th, three and a half months later. Meanwhile, Beau parted ways with his longtime trainer, Sid Bell. Bell’s assistant trainer, Ted Williams, took over the reins as head trainer.

In his third fight of 1949, ­twenty-eight-year-old Jack met Eddie Giosa on Wednesday, July 13th, marking his fifth appearance at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. He had never lost a contest at the venue. Armando Eddie Giosa (­1924-2007) grew up in South Philly along with his nine siblings, the child of Italian immigrants. He was undefeated as an amateur, winning the Philadelphia Golden Gloves tournament as a featherweight and as a lightweight before turning pro. Not a powerful puncher, Eddie preferred to outbox his opponents, often dazzling them with double and triple left hooks. Ranked as the number eight welterweight by the NBA, Philadelphia’s Giosa boasted a 57–18–6 record and was seeking his sixth straight victory. Both men came in at 139½ pounds. Beau was a slight favorite.

As in Beau’s last two bouts at Griffith Stadium, a wet evening was forecast for fight night. Washington had already received over two inches of rain, flooding numerous streets and snarling traffic. Continuing rain and threatening storms kept the crowd down to 3,000 weather wearied fans. The gate was $6,752.23.

Beau and Eddie went to work at the opening bell, both throwing flurries of punches. The first round, however, would last longer than expected. Early in the round, Beau smashed a hard right below Giosa’s belt. Giosa was in so much pain he had to be carried to his corner. Referee Marty Gallagher halted the round for five minutes so that Eddie could regain his composure. In the meantime, a fight almost broke out between the two boxers’ managers in the middle of the ring arguing over the call. Chick Wergeles and Giosa’s manager, Gary Barrett, almost came to blows before officials were able to calm them down.

After the contest resumed, Beau floored Giosa in the second round for a no count. The outcome was inevitable by the third round. Beau was in ­control and punishing Giosa. Giosa barely survived the round. Beau started the fourth by pounding Giosa with rapid lefts and right hooks. He then landed three quick lefts to Giosa’s body and a smashing right to his jaw, sending Giosa to the canvas. Only the closing bell saved Giosa. The rest of the fight featured Beau swarming over Giosa. In the remaining rounds, Beau connected with a barrage of painful roundhouse punches in virtually every round.

Giosa was beaten up by the fight’s end, tasting the canvas in the second, third and ninth rounds. The only rounds awarded to Giosa were due to penalties assessed Beau for low blows—the first, fifth, and seventh. The crowd roared with a thunderous ovation as Referee Marty Gallagher raised Beau’s hand in victory. The unanimous decision over Giosa gave Beau his fifth victory at Griffith Stadium. Eddie finished his career with a record of 67–30–9 and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame.

As a result of the ruckus between the managers, Chick Wergeles was handed a ­thirty-day suspension by the NBA for “loud coaching and demonstrations” during the bout. Giosa’s manager, Gary Barrett, was suspended for sixty days for “obscene and abusive” language.

Beau was soon making his first trip to California, where Chick had two fights lined up for him against young undefeated opponents. Upon his arrival on August 24, Beau was honored by more than 50 Oakland civic leaders and dignitaries at a dinner sponsored by promoter Jimmy Murray. Afterward, Beau was ringside at the Oakland Auditorium to watch local welterweight sensation, ­eighteen-year-old Maurice Harper, battle Earl Turner in his fifth professional fight. Harper had recently won the National Amateur Welter­weight title in Boston, Massachusetts. Harper destroyed Turner in their ­tenround battle.

Upsetting news came out in Oakland while Beau was finishing his fight preparations. Following an interview with Chick Wergeles, Allen Ward, sportswriter for the Oakland Tribune wrote a heartbreaking news story. Ward questioned Wergeles about Beau’s financial status. Chick embarrassingly acknowledged that although Beau had made over $250,000, he was virtually penniless and was fighting for money. Chick explained that after the first Janiro fight, Beau found out that he only had $500 in the bank. “If only he had been as careful with his money before the knee accident,” Chick said, “he’d be up to his chin in chips today.”2 Commenting on the situation, Wergeles stated, “He gave most of it away…. Softest touch you ever saw. At least, he used to be. Everybody was his friend or relative—but now instead of handing out $20 bills he gives autographs.”3 On a positive note, Chick said that Beau had earned more than $80,000 so far on his comeback tour and had banked half of it. Beau needed to fight. He needed the money.

The first opponent of Jack’s California tour was ­18-year-old Johnny Gonsalves (1930–2007) of Oakland. Managed by U.S. Olympic team coach Curley Mendonca, Gonsalves, the former national amateur champion, entered the bout on August 31 with an undefeated professional record of 14–0 in less than a year of professional boxing.

Prior to the fight, Beau trained at Harry Fine’s gym on 11th Street and Newman’s in San Francisco. Jack worked out at 1:30 p.m., whereas Gonsalves worked out in the same ring a half hour earlier. When questioned about the fight between the veteran former world champion and the novice, Wergeles apprehensively responded, “We’re regarding this fight as being as hard as any Beau has had. We’re not underestimating your boy.”4

The next day, Chick Wergeles and Harry Fine almost got into a fight themselves. Someone tipped Chick off that the sparring partner Fine obtained for Beau was actually a stablemate of Johnny Gonsalves. “The sparring mate, Eddie Johnson, was in full gymnasium regalia and ready to step in the ring with Jack when Wergeles was informed of the spy in his camp,” wrote Alan Ward. “Wergeles held up the workout, called Fine to the center of the gym and screamed his indignation. A large crowd of spectators were vastly entertained.”5 Afterward, Fine retreated to his office and substituted two of his own fighters as sparring partners for Beau.

The venue for the bout was the Oakland Auditorium. Built in 1914, the Beaux Arts style building, was the center for entertainment in Oakland for years. It was renamed the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in 1984 after a $15 million renovation.

A rowdy ­near-capacity crowd of 6,000 fans, wanting to witness the former lightweight champion and their local boy in action, packed the auditorium, producing a $13,981 gate. Gonsalves entered the ring with a 3½ pound weight advantage and stood 4½" taller than Jack.

The noisy crowd was deafening, cheering as the fight began and continuing until the end. As expected, the younger Gonsalves started strong, winning the first two rounds. Beau, however, took over in the third round and began to dominate the contest. Beau relentlessly charged into the taller Gonsalves, throwing brutal body punches, dazing Gonsalves in the fifth round. Later in the stanza, Referee Eddie James warned Beau for punching to the kidney, which brought a loud protest from Beau’s second cornerman. An argument ensued, and Chick Wergles couldn’t help but interject, resulting in Referee Eddie James ejecting him from the ring. In the following rounds, Beau continued to score with sharp body punches and occasional ­right-hand bolo punches to Gonsalves’ jaw.

At the end of ten rounds, the decision went to the scorecards. Referee Eddie James scored the bout in favor of Gonsalves, but the two judges, John Lotsey and Richard Burke, scored the fight in favor of Beau, giving Jack a split decision victory. Gonsalves suffered his first loss in fifteen professional fights, but that was not all. During the battle, Johnny suffered a cut to his eye. It was the first cut he had received as a professional. Because of the cut and his injured optic, he had to cancel his next two matches and sit out for over six weeks.

Next up on Beau’s California tour was Tote Martinez, an undefeated ­23-year-old from Stockton, California with a record of 27–0. Jack changed that. A light puncher, Tote only had five knockouts and was largely untested as a boxer.

The September 6, 1949 fight was scheduled at Olympic Auditorium. The concrete slab auditorium, with capacity for a little over 7,000 spectators, was built for the 1932 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles between July 30 and August 14. During the Olympics, U.S. boxers Edward Flynn (welterweight) and Carmen Barth (middleweight) won gold. Frederick Feary (heavyweight), Louis Salica (flyweight), and Nathan Bor (lightweight) won bronze medals.

Close to 4,300 fans showed up in the sweltering heat for the ­ten-round affair, producing a gate of $8,136. Beau hurt Martinez early with stiff body shots. Throwing his looping bolo punch effectively throughout the fight, Jack looked like his old self. The second was an amusing round in which Jack scarcely landed a glove on the dancing Latino, bringing cheers and laughter from the fans. The ­light-punching Martinez countered Beau’s attack with glitzy defense, repeatedly causing Jack to miss his target. Altering his strategy, Jack overcame Martinez’s defense by moving in close to him and pounding him repeatedly with both fists.

Midway through the bout, Martinez used his jab and connected with a straight right to Beau’s left eye, producing an ugly lump that continued to enlarge until it was almost swollen shut by the end of the fight. The fans cheered with laughter again in the eighth round after Jack swung a punch so hard and wild that when it missed Martinez, Beau ended up on the canvas. Irrespective, Beau the aggressor throughout, earned an easy unanimous decision over the ­23-year-old Martinez. Referee Frankie Van gave Beau a ­nine-point advantage, while Judges Tommy Herman and Frank Holborow respectively gave him a ­ten-point and ­six-point advantage.

Within a week on the west coast, Beau ruined the perfect records of two up and coming fighters, earning him a new moniker of “the spoiler.” Following his California trip, Beau headed for Chicago to train for his next two bouts slated for Chicago Stadium.

Beau’s next bout at Chicago Stadium was promoted by the newly formed International Boxing Club (“IBC”). Organized by the former heavyweight champion, Joe Louis, and his associates Arthur H. Wirtz and James B. Morris on March 1, 1949, it was described as “a newly formed association organized for the betterment of boxing.”6 IBC offices were opened in Chicago and New York. Years later it would be ascertained that the IBC had connections with Frank Carbo and the mafia.

Scheduled for September 30, Beau was matched against Cuban fighter Kid Gavilan in what was billed as a “not to miss” fight. Regrettably, while driving his new ­gold-colored car through Harlem several weeks before the fight, three men attacked Gavilan when he was stopped behind a taxi. One of the men yanked his door handle off and pulled him out of the car. Another man drew a knife, stabbing Gavilan in his neck right before gunfire from a private detective dispersed the men. The gash in Gavilan’s neck required five stitches. Talking to reporters afterward, Gavilan said, “I’m all right. I’ll be able to go through with the Beau Jack fight.”7 His manager Angel Lopez disagreed.

On September 16, the IBC announced that Johnny Bratton would take Gavilan’s place. Bratton had knocked out his last five opponents, including a spectacular knockout of Chuck Taylor. Bratton also wanted revenge. Beau had broken his jaw on his way to victory in their first bout a year and a half ago.

A sense of hysteria broke out after the announcement. Howard Frazier, Bratton’s manager, told the Illinois State Athletic Commission that the lives of Johnny Bratton and himself had by threatened by frustrated gamblers. Bratton, on the other hand, contested Frazier’s claim, instead asserting that Frazier had gambled away his purse of $2,300 from an October 6, 1947, fight with Gene Burton. IBC secretary, attorney Truman Gibson, exclaimed that it was he who had received a “live or die” ultimatum from Howard Frazier. As a result, “[t]wo detectives guarded Johnny Bratton and Illinois officials opened an extensive investigation into reported death threats against boxers and managers, alleged gambling and fixed fights.”8 Subsequently, Frazier denied that he and Bratton had been threatened and admitted that he had bet on nearly all of Bratton’s fights. As a result, Frazier’s license was revoked by the Illinois State Athletic Commission.

Ultimately, Bratton was removed four days before the fight at the suggestion of New York Boxing Managers Guild when IBC representatives were unable to come to terms with Bratton’s managers. The Guild claimed that the IBC did not have the rights to promote Bratton. Meanwhile, Bratton himself was trying to break his contract with his managers, Howard Frazier and Danny Spunt, alleging that they had embezzled his money.

Four days before the fight, the IBC announced that ­twenty-three-year-old Livio Minelli (1926–2012), the European welterweight champion, would be Beau’s opponent. The curly ­black-haired Italian, boasting a record of 43–6–6, was known for his speed and left jab and had only lost one out of his last ten bouts. Coincidentally, Minelli’s manager, Charley Johnston, also directed the New York Boxing Managers Guild.

Perhaps because of the continual substitutes, the crowd on fight night was disappointedly less than expected. Only 2,360 fans turned out at Chicago Stadium on September 30 to witness the IBC’s first boxing show in Chicago. The gross gate was only $8,290, producing a net gate of $6,377.37.

As the opening bell sounded, Jack rushed out in his typical style and forced the fight all night, lunging forward, throwing left and rights. Minelli held his own. In the second stanza, he landed his left jab on Beau’s jaw and connected left hooks to the body. In the fifth, Minelli fell a hard right to Beau’s left eye socket, causing it to swell until Beau only had a slit to see through. Virtually the same thing happened a couple of weeks earlier when Tote Martinez landed a hard right to Beau’s left eye. Livo also opened a cut over Beau’s right eye when the two clashed heads. Minelli took the eighth round, again pounding Beau with left hooks to the body.

After ten rounds, the decision went to the scorecards. Losing two rounds on low blows made the scoring closer than it would have been for Beau. When the scorecards were tallied, Referee Tommy Gilmore scored the fight for Minelli, 52–48, while the two judges, William O’Connell and Ed Hintz, awarded the fight to Beau 52 to 48. In a close match, Beau was awarded a split decision. A reprise of boos from the disappointed crowd greeted the decision.

Kid Gavilan on the cover of El Grafico magazine, 1953 (Wikidata.org).

Jack’s bout with Kid Gavilan (1926–2003), the “Cuban Hawk,” was rescheduled for Friday night, October 14, 1949, at Chicago Stadium. Gav­ilan, whose birth name was Gerardo Gonzalez, grew up in Cuba. At the age of ten, he dropped out of school to box. His manager Yamil Chade bestowed him with the name “Kid Gavilan” after a nightclub that he owned in Cuba called the “El Gavilan,” which means “the hawk.” Like Beau, Gavilan was a fan favorite and featured a signature windup bolo punch that he developed while cutting sugar canes in the field.

Kid Gavilan was a tenacious fighter and entered the bout as a 4–1 favorite. Fighting out of Havana, Cuba, Gavilan sported a record of 54–7–2, including two victories over Ike Williams. Three months earlier, he lost his first title bout in a close match with the welterweight champ, Sugar Ray Robinson. The ­23-year-old youngster was five years younger than Beau and weighed eight pounds heavier; 148 pounds to 140 pounds. Moreover, he stood 5'10½" tall, five inches taller than Beau.

The fighters arrived in Chicago on Sunday, October 9 to complete training for the fight. Both men conducted final preparations at the Midwest Athletic Club. The stakes were high for Gavilan. He needed a win to remain a top contender for succeeding Sugar Ray Robinson’s ­147-pound belt, which he was expected to vacate. Pursuant to agreement, both fighters received 27½ percent of the gate and $500 from radio and television proceeds. Jack also received $300 for travel expenses.

A crowd of 5,189 fistic fans gathered on the windy night of Friday, ­October 14 to witness the battle. They had already seen Edward Smith put Jerry Dwain on the canvas in the first round of the opening bout and they were eager for action. The gross gate was $22,429.60, with a net gate of $17,253.54.

It was a blistering ­ten-round fight. Beau started the first round well, hurling a succession of lefts and hooks to Gavilan’s head. Connecting with a deluge of rights when Gavilan fought at close quarters, Beau kept his momentum going in the second round. Gavilan responded by tying Beau up and retaliating with his own punches. In the third round, however, Gavilan took control of the fight, backing Beau up on the ropes and pounding him with shuddering blows to his head and body. In the fourth, Gavilan’s onslaught continued. Gavilan landed a hard right into Jack’s left eye socket, causing immediate swelling around his left eye, marking the third consecutive fight in which Beau’s left eye socket had been pounded with punches. With his left eye virtually shut, Beau fought gallantly through the last five rounds. Every time Beau rushed in, Gavilan met him with shuddering left hooks to the head and body and sharp right crosses. Gavilan was simply bigger, heavier and sturdier than Beau.

The winner was not in doubt. After ten rounds, Gavilan was awarded a unanimous decision by the Referee Frank Sikora and Judges Harold Marovitz and J. Franklin Chiles. Given Beau’s performance, he was virtually eliminated from any hope at the welterweight title. Gavilan, on the other hand, would proceed to earn the welterweight world title. With a career record of 108–30–5, Gavilan was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1966.

Another heartbreaking story about the “Georgia Shoe Shine Boy” appeared later in the month. According to what Wendell Smith printed in his Sports Beat column, Beau’s winnings had disappeared. “I had me $100,000 salted away,” Beau told us the other day, “but when I checked up I found out it was all gone.”9 According to Smith, whomever was handling Beau’s money lost it on betting on horses at the racetrack. Beau, however, spoke no malice and had no plans to take any action against the culprit. “Despite the financial loss, Beau holds no malice,” wrote Smith. “The guy who bet up his money is still around. Under ordinary circumstances he would probably be one of the permanent tenants in somebody’s jail…. But Beau refused to press charges. He’s a deeply religious man.”10

1. “Beau Jack Scores 3rd Round TKO in Bout with Briton,” Arizona Daily Star, October 29, 1948, 30.

2. Alan Ward, “On Second Thought,” Oakland Tribune, August 28, 1949, 26.

3. Ibid.

4. “Jack Drills for Go Here,” Oakland Tribune, August 27, 1949, 12.

5. Alan Ward, “On Second Thought,” Oakland Tribune, August 29, 1949, 20.

6. “World Champion Becomes Promoter of Title Bout,” Press and ­Sun-Bulletin, March 1, 1949, 1.

7. “Kid Gavilan Not to Delay Battle with Beau Jack,” ­Wilkes-Barre Record, September 12, 1949, 22.

8. “Detectives Guard Chicago Fighter,” New Castle News, September 20, 1949, 19.

9. Wendell Smith, “Sports Beat: Beau Jack’s Fighting for Another Pile,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 22, 1949, 22.

10. Ibid.

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