Jackie Fields

jackie fields 1Name: Jackie Fields
Career Record: click
Birth Name: Jacob Finkelstein
Nationality: US American
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Hometown: Los Angeles, California, USA
Born: 1908-02-09
Died: 1987-06-03
Age at Death: 79
Height: 5
Reach: 175
Division: Welterweight
Managers: Gig Rooney, Jack Kearns

He was an Olympic flyweight gold medal winner, and the world welterweight champion.

In 1962, legendary fight manager Jack Kearns called Fields the “best all-around battler the United States has ever produced.”

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Written by Rob Snell   
Wednesday, 05 September 2007
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Joe Beckett
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Joe Beckett


Name: Joe Beckett
Career Record: click
Nationality: British
Birthplace: Wickham, England
Hometown: Southhampton
Born: 1892-04-04
Died: 1965-03-12
Age at Death: 72
Height: 5′ 9″
Reach: 71.5"
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First Impression, October, 1922


IN order to dispose of Tommy Burns so far as this book is concerned, it is necessary to break the chronological order of contests and jump twelve years. Between his defeat by Johnson and the encounter to be described now, the records tell us that he engaged in five matches, none of the first importance. Then, in July of 1920, an affair was arranged with Joe Beckett, the Heavy-weight Champion of England. This took place at the Albert Hall, and should be regarded rather as an event than as an athletic contest.

As already suggested, the interest in many widely-advertised glove-fights is spurious: a passion of sensationalism stimulated by the Press. The fight between Beckett and Burns hardly comes under that head, because there is always a genuine interest in watching the return of a veteran, whether that veteran be boxer or prima donna. Burns had been in the hey-day of his fame when Joe Beckett was a young lad. He had been execrated by sportsmen for his trick of "mouth-fighting," for trying to intimidate his antagonists by heaping insult upon injury during the course of a battle; and also for his rank commercialism. He had been one of the first "business boxers " to be seen in England, and we had been rather appalled by the phenomena. Since those days we have grasped the fact that there is a practically negligible correlation between professional sport and sportsmanship, so far at least as boxing goes especially now that men like Jim Driscoll and Pat O'Keefe (both of whom appeared as seconds in Beckett's and Burns's corners respectively) have retired. It was from Burns that we first learned the dodge of demanding a fixed fee for a contest so much down, whatever happened. And Burns, having through his Press agents arranged to be famous and to be a certain attraction to the multitude, could get pretty well what he asked.

To set against this unpleasing but no doubt justifiable business acumen, Burns was gloriously plucky. And in his fight with Beckett he displayed that merit undiminished. People remember these things; they remember the fame (never in Burns's case entirely undeserved) and the good points quite as readily as the notoriety and the bad ones: so that Burns had a great following at the Albert Hall, and, in despite of his age and condition, his chances against the younger and stronger man were considered good. I had seen Burns watching several fights during that year, and his appearance did not suggest the hardened pugilist. Even in the ring after training he was much too fat, and he did not box like a young man. He was thirty-nine and looked a good deal more. Yet he remembered a good deal of his boxing. His footwork was still excellent, though he wasted his height by keeping his feet too far apart. His blows, however, were not really hard, except when he made a special effort to knock Beckett out. For punishment the English champion's hitting was much more level and dangerous. But Beckett looked singularly foolish on several occasions: he hooked and he swung and he led, and over and over again his opponent simply wasn't there. Burns's defence was good, and it was youth and strength that beat him. But he deserved to be beaten if only for continued holding and " lying on " his man. "Lying on " consists of resting your head on your antagonist's chest or shoulder, making some pretence at in-fighting, but all the while throwing your weight forward so that you get a good rest, and your opponent holds you up and loses energy in so doing. In a long contest between heavyweights it is extremely important to save all the strength you can and to make your man do the more work.

Taken as a whole, this contest was full of bad boxing. The referee was continually having to separate the men, and the fault was nearly always Burns's.

The first two very cautious rounds were Beckett's. In the third Beckett too, held a little: for Burns landed a right high up on the jaw hard enough to make him careful. That round made many people believe that Burns was going to win. In the next round, which was dull and tedious from much holding and clinching, Beckett showed himself most respectful, and covered himself, if not with glory, at all events with his arms. It was soon seen that Burns was beginning to flag, though now and again he made a spurt with what looked like renewed vigour. In the sixth round he was virtually beaten, but he continued to keep his head out of danger and fought on with commendable courage. After about a minute of the seventh round Beckett knocked his man down with a hard right on the point of the jaw. Burns was badly dazed and only rose at the ninth second. He dashed at Beckett and made a despairing effort to knock him out, but he had no strength and no sense of direction. Beckett easily avoided his blows. Burns was really beaten now, and, after he had risen from another knock-down blow, his seconds very wisely threw the towel into the ring as a token of surrender much to their principal's indignation. The seconds were fully justified, for unnecessary punishment to a man of Burns's age and condition may be more serious than it looks.

The public, who make contests of this kind possible, do not sufficiently realise in what way they directly affect the future of boxing in England. The majority of onlookers at a big show have only the haziest notion of what good boxing is. They are bored by too much clinching, but, determined to get some of their money's worth, they would be still more bored, if, after due warning, the referee disqualified a man, or, the fault being equal, ordered both men out of the ring. A strong referee, with the best interests of the sport at heart, does this. It seldom pays the promoters of big show contests to appoint strong referees.

This fight between Burns and Beckett was clean in comparison with many others, and is described here because it was between two very well-known men and because it typifies the futility of the return to active service of long retired veterans who are not in good condition. Also it was typical of the modern show boxing of which, since the war, there has been so much.

The only thought in the mind of either man was a knock-out. Men who stand up and hit straight with exceptional skill ( like Jem Driscoll )  also think of a knock-out, but only as a fortunate termination to a well-laid scheme and lengthy preparation. They wear their men down by real boxing and then seize an opportunity. Men like Joe Beckett, on the other hand, not being really good boxers, aim for a knock-out all the time, and hit straight once in a blue moon. It is true that in fighting Burns, Beckett wore his man down until he failed to stop a finishing blow, but it was the finishing blow that he was trying for all the time. Burns, on the other hand, in persistently trying for a knock-out, was perfectly right; because, though a better boxer than Beckett, he hadn't the strength to meet a young man on his own ground. He must have known that he couldn't last very long, and that he must dedicate his superior skill to the landing of a knock-out blow before he was too tired. His superior skill was not enough, and so when he got into danger he helped himself and hindered Beckett (though not for long) by holding. In doing that he
was breaking a cardinal rule.

But it is the sentimental or dramatic element in boxing quite a real one which draws the closest attention of the crowd. So long as a fight is comparatively fair and one of the men is well-remembered as having caused much excitement ten years or more ago, what more can be needed ? The veteran wins, or the veteran is beaten. In either case he is under the white glare of light put up on behalf of the cinematograph operators. The crowd, unless its money is upon the issue, don't much mind what happens, who wins, provided they get their money's worth of excitement.


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