Once in San Francisco, Sam Stubener’s troubles began. Not that young
Pat had a nasty temper, or was grouchy as his father had feared. On
the contrary, he was phenomenally sweet and mild. But he was homesick
for his beloved mountains. Also, he was secretly appalled by the city,
though he trod its roaring streets imperturbable as a red Indian.
“I came down here to fight,” he announced, at the end of the first
“Where’s Jim Hanford?”
“A big champion like him wouldn’t look at you,” was his answer. “‘Go
and get a reputation,’ is what he’d say.”
“I can lick him.”
“But the public doesn’t know that. If you licked him you’d be champion
of the world, and no champion ever became so with his first fight.”
“But the public doesn’t know it, Pat. It wouldn’t come to see
you fight. And it’s the crowd that brings the money and the
big purses. That’s why Jim Hanford wouldn’t consider you for a
second. There’d be nothing in it for him. Besides, he’s getting
three thousand a week right now in vaudeville, with a contract for
twenty-five weeks. Do you think he’d chuck that for a go with a
man no one ever heard of? You’ve got to do something first, make a
record. You’ve got to begin on the little local dubs that nobody ever
heard of–guys like Chub Collins, Rough-House Kelly, and the Flying
Dutchman. When you’ve put them away, you’re only started on the first
round of the ladder. But after that you’ll go up like a balloon.”
“I’ll meet those three named in the same ring one after the other,”
was Pat’s decision. “Make the arrangements accordingly.”
“What’s wrong? Don’t you think I can put them away?”
“I know you can,” Stubener assured him. “But it can’t be arranged that
way. You’ve got to take them one at a time. Besides, remember, I know
the game and I’m managing you. This proposition has to be worked up,
and I’m the boy that knows how. If we’re lucky, you may get to the
top in a couple of years and be the champion with a mint of money.”
Pat sighed at the prospect, then brightened up.
“And after that I can retire and go back home to the old man,” he said.
Stubener was about to reply, but checked himself. Strange as was
this championship material, he felt confident that when the top was
reached it would prove very similar to that of all the others who
had gone before. Besides, two years was a long way off, and there
was much to be done in the meantime.
When Pat fell to moping around his quarters, reading endless poetry
books and novels drawn from the public library, Stubener sent him off
to live on a Contra Costa ranch across the Bay, under the watchful eye
of Spider Walsh. At the end of a week Spider whispered that the job
was a cinch. His charge was away and over the hills from dawn till
dark, whipping the streams for trout, shooting quail and rabbits,
and pursuing the one lone and crafty buck famous for having survived
a decade of hunters. It was the Spider who waxed lazy and fat, while
his charge kept himself in condition.
As Stubener expected, his unknown was laughed at by the fight club
managers. Were not the woods full of unknowns who were always breaking
out with championship rashes? A preliminary, say of four rounds–yes,
they would grant him that. But the main event–never. Stubener was
resolved that young Pat should make his debut in nothing less than a
main event, and, by the prestige of his own name he at last managed
it. With much misgiving, the Mission Club agreed that Pat Glendon
could go fifteen rounds with Rough-House Kelly for a purse of one
hundred dollars. It was the custom of young fighters to assume the
names of old ring heroes, so no one suspected that he was the son of
the great Pat Glendon, while Stubener held his peace. It was a good
press surprise package to spring later.
Came the night of the fight, after a month of waiting. Stubener’s
anxiety was keen. His professional reputation was staked that his man
would make a showing, and he was astounded to see Pat, seated in his
corner a bare five minutes, lose the healthy color from his cheeks,
which turned a sickly yellow.
“Cheer up, boy,” Stubener said, slapping him on the shoulder. “The
first time in the ring is always strange, and Kelly has a way
of letting his opponent wait for him on the chance of getting
“It isn’t that,” Pat answered. “It’s the tobacco smoke. I’m not used
to it, and it’s making me fair sick.”
His manager experienced the quick shock of relief. A man who turned
sick from mental causes, even if he were a Samson, could never win
to place in the prize ring. As for tobacco smoke, the youngster would
have to get used to it, that was all.
Young Pat’s entrance into the ring had been met with silence, but
when Rough-House Kelly crawled through the ropes his greeting was
uproarious. He did not belie his name. He was a ferocious-looking
man, black and hairy, with huge, knotty muscles, weighing a full two
hundred pounds. Pat looked across at him curiously, and received a
savage scowl. After both had been introduced to the audience, they
shook hands. And even as their gloves gripped, Kelly ground his teeth,
convulsed his face with an expression of rage, and muttered:
“You’ve got yer nerve wid yeh.” He flung Pat’s hand roughly from his,
and hissed, “I’ll eat yeh up, ye pup!”
The audience laughed at the action, and it guessed hilariously at
what Kelly must have said.
Back in his corner, and waiting the gong, Pat turned to Stubener.
“Why is he angry with me?” he asked.
“He ain’t,” Stubener answered. “That’s his way, trying to scare
you. It’s just mouth-fighting.”
“It isn’t boxing,” was Pat’s comment; and Stubener, with a quick
glance, noted that his eyes were as mildly blue as ever.
“Be careful,” the manager warned, as the gong for the first round
sounded and Pat stood up. “He’s liable to come at you like a
And like a man-eater Kelly did come at him, rushing across the ring
in wild fury. Pat, who in his easy way had advanced only a couple of
paces, gauged the other’s momentum, side-stepped, and brought his
stiff-arched right across to the jaw. Then he stood and looked on
with a great curiosity. The fight was over. Kelly had fallen like
a stricken bullock to the floor, and there he lay without movement
while the referee, bending over him, shouted the ten seconds in
his unheeding ear. When Kelly’s seconds came to lift him, Pat was
before them. Gathering the huge, inert bulk of the man in his arms,
he carried him to his corner and deposited him on the stool and in
the arms of his seconds.
Half a minute later, Kelly’s head lifted and his eyes wavered open. He
looked about him stupidly and then to one of his seconds.
“What happened?” he queried hoarsely. “Did the roof fall on me?”
As a result of his fight with Kelly, though the general opinion was
that he had won by a fluke, Pat was matched with Rufe Mason. This took
place three weeks later, and the Sierra Club audience at Dreamland
Rink failed to see what happened. Rufe Mason was a heavyweight,
noted locally for his cleverness. When the gong for the first round
sounded, both men met in the center of the ring. Neither rushed. Nor
did they strike a blow. They felt around each other, their arms bent,
their gloves so close together that they almost touched. This lasted
for perhaps five seconds. Then it happened, and so quickly that
not one in a hundred of the audience saw. Rufe Mason made a feint
with his right. It was obviously not a real feint, but a feeler,
a mere tentative threatening of a possible blow. It was at this
instant that Pat loosed his punch. So close together were they that
the distance the blow traveled was a scant eight inches. It was a
short-arm left jolt, and it was accomplished by a twist of the left
forearm and a thrust of the shoulder. It landed flush on the point
of the chin and the astounded audience saw Rufe Mason’s legs crumple
under him as his body sank to the floor. But the referee had seen,
and he promptly proceeded to count him out. Again Pat carried his
opponent to his corner, and it was ten minutes before Rufe Mason,
supported by his seconds, with sagging knees and rolling, glassy eyes,
was able to move down the aisle through the stupefied and incredulous
audience on the way to his dressing room.
“No wonder,” he told a reporter, “that Rough-House Kelly thought the
roof hit him.”
After Chub Collins had been put out in the twelfth second of the
first round of a fifteen-round contest, Stubener felt compelled to
speak to Pat.
“Do you know what they’re calling you now?” he asked.
Pat shook his head.
“One Punch Glendon.”
Pat smiled politely. He was little interested in what he was called. He
had certain work cut out which he must do ere he could win back to
his mountains, and he was phlegmatically doing it, that was all.
“It won’t do,” his manager continued, with an ominous shake of the
head. “You can’t go on putting your men out so quickly. You must give
them more time.”
“I’m here to fight, ain’t I?” Pat demanded in surprise.
Again Stubener shook his head.
“It’s this way, Pat. You’ve got to be big and generous in the fighting
game. Don’t get all the other fighters sore. And it’s not fair to
the audience. They want a run for their money. Besides, no one will
fight you. They’ll all be scared out. And you can’t draw crowds with
ten-second fights. I leave it to you. Would you pay a dollar, or five,
to see a ten-second fight?”
Pat was convinced, and he promised to give future audiences the
requisite run for their money, though he stated that, personally,
he preferred going fishing to witnessing a hundred rounds of fighting.
And still, Pat had got practically nowhere in the game. The local
sports laughed when his name was mentioned. It called to mind funny
fights and Rough-House Kelly’s remark about the roof. Nobody knew
how Pat could fight. They had never seen him. Where was his wind,
his stamina, his ability to mix it with rough customers through long
grueling contests? He had demonstrated nothing but the possession of
a lucky punch and a depressing proclivity for flukes.
So it was that his fourth match was arranged with Pete Sosso,
a Portuguese fighter from Butchertown, known only for the amazing
tricks he played in the ring. Pat did not train for the fight. Instead
he made a flying and sorrowful trip to the mountains to bury his
father. Old Pat had known well the condition of his heart, and it
had stopped suddenly on him.
Young Pat arrived back in San Francisco with so close a margin of time
that he changed into his fighting togs directly from his traveling
suit, and even then the audience was kept waiting ten minutes.
“Remember, give him a chance,” Stubener cautioned him as he climbed
through the ropes. “Play with him, but do it seriously. Let him go
ten or twelve rounds, then get him.”
Pat obeyed instructions, and, though it would have been easy enough
to put Sosso out, so tricky was he that to stand up to him and not
put him out kept his hands full. It was a pretty exhibition, and
the audience was delighted. Sosso’s whirlwind attacks, wild feints,
retreats, and rushes, required all Pat’s science to protect himself,
and even then he did not escape unscathed.
Stubener praised him in the minute-rests, and all would have been well,
had not Sosso, in the fourth round, played one of his most spectacular
tricks. Pat, in a mix-up, had landed a hook to Sosso’s jaw, when to
his amazement, the latter dropped his hands and reeled backward, eyes
rolling, legs bending and giving, in a high state of grogginess. Pat
could not understand. It had not been a knock-out blow, and yet there
was his man all ready to fall to the mat. Pat dropped his own hands and
wonderingly watched his reeling opponent. Sosso staggered away, almost
fell, recovered, and staggered obliquely and blindly forward again.
For the first and the last time in his fighting career, Pat was caught
off his guard. He actually stepped aside to let the reeling man go
by. Still reeling, Sosso suddenly loosed his right. Pat received it
full on his jaw with an impact that rattled all his teeth. A great
roar of delight went up from the audience. But Pat did not hear. He
saw only Sosso before him, grinning and defiant, and not the least
bit groggy. Pat was hurt by the blow, but vastly more outraged by the
trick. All the wrath that his father ever had surged up in him. He
shook his head as if to get rid of the shock of the blow and steadied
himself before his man. It all occurred in the next second. With
a feint that drew his opponent, Pat fetched his left to the solar
plexus, almost at the same instant whipping his right across to the
jaw. The latter blow landed on Sosso’s mouth ere his falling body
struck the floor. The club doctors worked half an hour to bring him
to. After that they put eleven stitches in his mouth and packed him
off in an ambulance.
“I’m sorry,” Pat told his manager, “I’m afraid I lost my temper. I’ll
never do it again in the ring. Dad always cautioned me about it. He
said it had made him lose more than one battle. I didn’t know I could
lose my temper that way, but now that I know I’ll keep it in control.”
And Stubener believed him. He was coming to the stage where he could
believe anything about his young charge.
“You don’t need to get angry,” he said, “you’re so thoroughly the
master of your man at any stage.”
“At any inch or second of the fight,” Pat affirmed.
“And you can put them out any time you want.”
“Sure I can. I don’t want to boast. But I just seem to possess the
ability. My eyes show me the opening that my skill knows how to make,
and time and distance are second nature to me. Dad called it a gift,
but I thought he was blarneying me. Now that I’ve been up against
these men, I guess he was right. He said I had the mind and muscle
“At any inch or second of the fight,” Stubener repeated musingly.
Pat nodded, and Stubener, absolutely believing him, caught a vision
of a golden future that should have fetched old Pat out of his grave.
“Well, don’t forget, we’ve got to give the crowd a run for its money,”
he said. “We’ll fix it up between us how many rounds a fight should
go. Now your next bout will be with the Flying Dutchman. Suppose you
let it run the full fifteen and put him out in the last round. That
will give you a chance to make a showing as well.”
“All right, Sam,” was the answer.
“It will be a test for you,” Stubener warned. “You may fail to put
him out in that last round.”
“Watch me.” Pat paused to put weight to his promise, and picked up
a volume of Longfellow. “If I don’t I’ll never read poetry again,
and that’s going some.”
“You bet it is,” his manager proclaimed jubilantly, “though what you
see in such stuff is beyond me.”
Pat sighed, but did not reply. In all his life he had found but one
person who cared for poetry, and that had been the red-haired school
teacher who scared him off into the woods.