BONUS: Australian Chronicle, 1908. The Big Fight … it was the stoush of the century!

JACK JOHNSON STANDS AND WAITS FOR TOMMY BURNS TO LEAD THE ATTACK IN THE TITLE FIGHT AT SYDNEY STADIUM IN 1908. POLICE STOPPED THE FIGHT IN THE 14TH ROUND.  

THIS TITLE FIGHT PUTS SYDNEY STADIUM ON A SCALE NEVER PREVIOUSLY ATTEMPTED. THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BETWEEN JACK JOHNSON, AMERICA’S PREMIER COLOURED FIGHTER AND TOMMY BURNS, IN THE STRUGGLE FOR WHITE SUPREMACY. THE FIGHT WAS ALSO THE CLASH OF THE TITANS.

FRANK MORRIS

Before the stadium became one of the world’s largest outdoor boxing arenas, it was the site of a Chinese vegetable garden at Rushcutters Bay.

Hugh McIntosh surprised everyone when he proposed to promote the world championship fight on a scale never before attempted. On Boxing Day, 1908, more than 60,000 spectators converged on the Sydney Stadium.

Reports of the day claim “there were 20,000 men at ringside and twice twenty thousand lingered outside the stadium.

STOPPED BY POLICE

“A record crowd paid 26 thousand pounds to see the fight in such a venue” reported the Australasian Star, one the papers American author, Jack London, was hired by to cover the fight.

Burns was badly outpointed and horrifically mismatched by Johnson and the police stopped the fight in the 14th round.

“It was not case of too much Johnson, but all of Johnson. Burns never had a show,” reported the newspaper.
Burns was hopelessly outclassed.

“I never had any doubt. I knew I was too good for him,” said Johnson to the newspaper.

Below:  Police charged into the ring and stopped the fight in the 14th round.


BONUS: The clash of the titans boxed as they fought for racial supremacy!

THE PUGILISTS WERE READY FOR THE FIGHT OF THEIR LIVES.

FRANK MORRIS

“How many people in Australia realise that within a very short time an event is to occur on this southern continent that will make history”, penned the correspondent for Australasian Star, “history that will be very interesting, vitally interesting to the Caucasian race – the now dominant people of the world.”

On Boxing Day two men, heavyweights Tommy Burns and Jack Johnson, over 25 rounds, will face each other at the Stadium at Rushcutters Bay, and get ready for the fight of their life!

The correspondent continued: “One of these men is the perfect specimen of the negro race, as physically-attuned as he could be – intelligent, alert, and game.

“He was born and reared in the United States, as many of his ancestors were, yet in him has been preserved the pure racial blood.

GREAT BATTLE

“The other is a most remarkable man in many ways. Acute and superior mentally, and a physical phenomenon; he has indomitable will and a fierce courage – the conqueror of conquerors in ‘fustian’.

“This battle may in the future be looked back upon as the first great battle of an inevitable race war.

“There will be several ranks of dark-hued mortals that will be gazing across the seas toward the land of the Southern Cross on Boxing Day, anxiously awaiting the result.

“A great racial problem may be solved. There is more in this fight to be considered than the mere title of a pugilistic champion of the world.”

[This was a not ‘title’ fight; it never was sanctioned by the North American boxing council. Australasia Star, December 27, l908.]


BONUS: What they said about the “big fight” will amaze you?

JOHNSON: WHEN THE FIGHT WAS FINISHED, I FELT LIKE GOING AGAIN!

FRANK MORRIS

Round 1 – Johnson reached Burns’ head with a flurry of punches

When the gong had sounded the men were at it in a second. Johnson coming up to his man, saying, “All right Tommy.” Johnson suddenly lunged forward and reached his opponent’s body, but the blow was only light … Both men brought their hands to the body; and Johnson reaching Burns for a sharp uppercut; Burns toppled over. The champion was down for eight seconds … he signalled that everything was all right … Though there was a flurry of punches from both fighters … The men were locked together … Burns was finding the body with the left hook, while Johnson brought his right hand down to Burns’ kidneys … Johnson brought a beautifully timed right to the head, staggering Burns temporarily. Up to this time, Johnson was getting decidedly the better of the fight … Johnson worked his man over to the side of the ring and charged with a right lead to the head; but Burns had no difficulty in getting under … Burns was boxing superbly … just as the gong sounded, Johnson reached Burns’ head with a stinging rush (of punches).

Round 5 – Burns went down … but was up again!

At the end of round four, Johnson let a straight left go which Burns dodged. Johnson walked up quietly and he said: “Come right for a couple of seconds” then let loose with his right, reaching Burns under the chin. The champion’s ankle gave away and Burns went down; but he was immediately up again. Johnson placed right and left punches repeatedly to Burns’ head … and his left eye started to swell. Johnson was having the best of the round. Burns was receiving heavy punishment by Johnson but Burns was dancing around. Johnson, however, was surveying him coolly … After several seconds Burns remarked to Johnson: “Are you going to fight, you cur?” Johnson suddenly moved forward and swung a terrific left jab, which found its way to Burns’ stomach … The champion still kept to his work but he was doing very little scoring. His mouth was bleeding … Johnson brought his right jab up, catching Burns under the chin. The gong sounded.

Round 7 – Johnson swung his right across Burns’ head; the eye drew blood

At the end of round six, Johnson bustled Burns into his corner … a terrific left jab just missed
the champion’s chin. The gong sounded. After a few seconds the fighters circled each other; Burns commenced the attack … but Johnson cut around and got both hands severely on his ribs and body … and let in some unmerciful blows … slinging his right across Burns’ head. Burns’ right eye drew blood … Johnson was scoring freely with both hands. It seems at this point Burns was tiring. Then, Johnson turned to the crowd and said: “I thought Tommy was an in-fighter.” … But only a few seconds remained … Johnson took matters very quietly when the opportunity presented itself. The coloured man swung his left on to Burns’ ribs, dropping him. Burns remained down for a few seconds … when the gong sounded.

Round 14 – Burns buckled and fell to the canvas

At the end of round 13, Burns was attacking his opponent’s head. Johnson used both left and right on the face and drew blood from Burns’ eye. In the opening of the 14th round, the last of the fight, the left side of Burns’ face was badly swollen. They sparred and clinched for a few seconds. In the breakaway Johnson sent his right viciously to the jaw. Burns saw it coming, and was quickly out of reach … They stood out again and Johnson looped his left to Burns’ body … and a good right to the ribs. Johnson, who had a big advantage in reach, swung his right and got Burns square on the jaw. The champion buckled and fell to the canvas, where he remained for eight seconds. When he rose … Johnson swung his left which caught Burns on the forehead. Mr McIntosh, the referee, declared Johnson the winner.


BONUS:  Johnson v. Burns … What they said after the BIG fight!

JOHNSON TAKES THE ADVANTAGE.

JUST ABOUT EVERYONE HAD AN OPINION ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BIG FIGHT. EVEN JACK LONDON CAME AWAY WITH THE BIGGEST PRIZE OF ALL!

FRANK MORRIS

Jack Johnson at ringside. “I never had any doubt; I knew I was too good for him. Why, I had forgotten more than he ever learned. You must admit that I punished him severely, and he had to take the punishment. From the start of the fight I was dead sure I would win. It was a good crowd and a fair crowd.

Tommy Burns, before leaving the ring: I did my best. I fought hard but Johnson was too big. His reach was too much for me … I fought as hard as a man could … that’s all I have to say.”

Mr H.D. McIntosh, the referee: “It was a great fight, and I think the best man won.”

Mrs Jack London, wife of the celebrated American novelist, and only woman to witness the fight: “It seems a pity … that it should end as it did, but I think Burns is the grittiest fighter it is possible to be. I was much surprised at Johnson’s fighting. He is a much better fighter than I thought he was; it was too bad to see Burns cut up the way he was.”

Larry Foley, one of 20,000-odd at ringside. “The fight, in my opinion, was not a great scientific display; but was a splendid physical effort -- Johnson’s weight, strength and in-fighting gained him the day. I have not seen any better fights.”

Not that London missed anything between Johnson and Burns as they skirted each other around the ring. Those left hooks, particularly those from Johnson, would have knuckled me for sure.

Not surprisingly, the Burns-Johnson stoush inspired London to pen a short story, a Piece of Steak.

Set in Sydney, its protagonist is an ageing fighter, Tom King, once champion, who at forty, is at the end of his days.

When the book was released, London wrote to the president of the Macmillan Company, George F. Brett, saying that the collection of stories “is the best l have ever written, I believe that the title-story is one of the three best short stories I have written.”


VIETNAM: Part 1.The major battles that involved Australia

FLY IN, FLY OUT.

PROBABLY, THE BEST KNOWN ‘PUBLICISED’ OF THESE WAS THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN. IT WAS NOT THE ONLY MAJOR BATTLE OF THE WAR, NOR EVEN THE LARGEST. BUT IT WAS A VIET CONG HOTSPOT.
BOB FRESHFIELD      

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

Australia’s involvement each year seemed to bring with it at least one or two major confrontations that would become known to Australians as ‘battles’.

While the battle details that follow are brief … readers are encouraged to seek further, more descriptive material available throughout the internet and unit histories.

Probably, the best known and publicised of these was The Battle of Long Tan. It was not the only major battle of the war, nor even the largest.

In May 1966, we saw elements of 1RAR and 5RAR deployed with the Americans 173rd Airborne Company, to secure and set up a Task Force Base at Nui Dat near to the centre of the province and alongside a key road route (2), that ran from Vung Tau, via Ba Ria, in the south, north into Long Khan Province.

OCCUPY PERIMETER

By early June the task force base, 1ATF, was complete with Artillery emplacements, Armoured Corps, with their tanks and APCs’, SAS Squadron manning the highest point, at what would become known simply as SAS Hill; and sundry units like Signals Corps and Task Force Headquarters (HQ).

The 5 RAR arrived in during May 1966, and 1 RAR completed its first ‘tour of duty’ in June 1966, to be replaced by 6 RAR.

The 5th and 6th Battalions of the Regiment, each with four rifle companies and support, administration company, as well as their own HQ, took up positions occupying perimeter areas along the base’s extended boundaries.

The exclusion zones were cleared for added security in approaches to the base. This required the relocation of some villages, including Long Tan, a known Viet Cong hotspot.

MORTAR BOMBARMENT

Meanwhile, in response to the threat posed by 1ATF, a force of between 1500 and 2500 men from the Viet Cong 275th Regiment, possibly reinforced by at least one North Vietnamese battalion, was ordered to move against Nui Dat.

On the nights of the August 16 and 17, Viet Cong mortars and recoilless rifles (RCLs) bombarded Nui Dat from a position 2 kilometres (1.2 mi.) to its east, damaging the base and wounding 24 people.

The Viet Cong positions were then engaged by counter-battery fire and the mortaring ceased.

NEXT MAY: Vietnam – the battle of Long Tan: Heavy fighting ensued as the attacking battalions Viet Cong attempted to encircle and destroy the Aussies.

Below: The chopper noise was like machine gun rattle – there was death around, said a soldier. Below: The newspaper headline: LBJ to Menzies – “Thank you.”


THE QUEEN: Meeting the 11 Presidents of America!

The Queen catches up with Ike Eisenhower, when he became president of the United States.

SOURCES: The Big Fight by Frank Morris extracted from various publications … Vietnam series adapted from Bob Freshfield, Vietnam Veterans Magazine, March 2017 … Presidents Eisenhower from Google.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 29 March 19

Stay Informed

Receive eNews & Special Offers

Brochure Request Order

Tour Reviews Read

Last 12 months


Tags