At some period in the life of all men a woman, enters, and in most cases a union, for better or for worse, results. Just prior to my fight with Smith, a gallant little woman crossed my path, and soon after that memorable bout I was married. Marriages among prize-fighters have not always proved successful. We have scores of wrecked romances. Stung in their first marriage, some fighters have tried a second and third time, and still others have been known to posses even greater courage and persistency than that. I found success and happiness in my marriage. Thirty-sis years ago on February 12 next, I led to the altar the lady who was to share my triumphs and trials, who was to bear me a family of four children, and be my comfort and joy in my declining years. My only boy has gone. He sleeps in Flander's fields where the poppies grow side by side. He heard the trumpets of war and was one of the noble sons of Canada who won imperishable fame for their Dominion. I think there are very few gladiators of the ring who can point with pride to such a happy domestic life as I can. While I was training at Margate, the celebrated English watering, place, I met Miss Edith Slater, daughter of Mr. John Slater, of Guildhall Chambers. She did not know at that time that I was a prizefighter, but in time someone enlightened her.
"What, a prizefighter?" asked my wife. "One of those men who punch other men. Why, I thought he was a nobleman."
There probably was some excuse for my wife's conclusion that I was a noble man. I always wore a silk hat, "swallow- tail," and all the other regalia of a first class gentleman. Whenever my wife looks at me now she always likes to jokingly remind me that when she married me I was the handsomest man she bad ever seen.
The day I fought Smith my future wife happened to be at Waterloo Station, London, and on a bulletin board she saw the words, "Slavin Reported Killed." One of the newspaper correspondent at the ring-side had apparently felt the Birmingham toughs would carry out their threats to kill me; and wanted to be the first to get the news to London. My wife's agony was short-lived, as almost immediately the bulletin was torn off and this one substituted, "Report Slavin's death incorrect." A cheer went up on the platform.
Fresh from my conquest of Smith, I toured the music-halls of London and was treated as a true champion. I decided to marry on February 12, 1890, and Mrs. Slavin was anxious for a quiet wedding. We were successful as far as the church ceremony was concerned, but when we reached Margate word had gone ahead of our intention to visit there. I think that the rest is best told by one of the newspaper cuttings in my possession. It was one of the most spectacular and thrilling receptions tendered anyone but royalty.
"Reaching Margate," the clipping says, "a remarkable scene was witnessed. Despite the vigilance of the officials the platform was packed, and it was with no small amount of difficulty that Slavin and his wife made their way through a perfect crowd of friends. Congratulations came from all sides, and eventually the newly married pair took their seats in an open carriage drawn by a pair of greys. In the advance of this was the volunteer band, following which came a dozen or so carriages containing dignitaries. So dense was the crowd that the procession could not go beyond walking pace, the route from the station to the Royal Hotel being lined with people. Decorations were met with at every step, such as 'Advance, Australia.' 'Welcome to Slavin.' 'Long life and happiness,' and reaching the hotel where the banquet was to be held, the building was found to be literally bristling with flags and devices. A volley of cheers greeted the bride and bridegroom, and the crowd insisted on a speech. Stepping to the balcony Slavin, in a few words, thanked those present for the kind reception they had given him.
"At 7 o'clock the guests sat down to a recherche repast at the Grand Hotel in a newly decorated apartment that had been specially prepared for the occasion, the colouring being most effective and appropriate, representing, as it did, the bridegroom's now famous colours, blue and white. Covers were laid for 100. Following the dinner came a magnificent display of fireworks, from the sands by Messrs. Wells, which was witnessed by thousands of people who lined the whole front of the parade. The set pieces were particularly fine, including the names of Slavin, H. F. Conti, Frank Hinde and the portrait of Slavin. The day's festivities concluded with a smoking concert, at which a largely augmented gathering was present. Frank Slavin took the chair and in the course of the evening reference was made to the gallant stand made by the champion at Bruges in face of an almost overpowering combination. Mr. Dunning, of The Sportsman, added his testimony to the prowess of Slavin, who, he said, went over to Bruges to fight one man, instead of which he had to fight six or seven, yet he came out of the struggle, if not unscathed, the best man. In consideration of this it had been thought that some tribute should be paid to his skill, and he had pleasure in handing Slavin the sum of £500. (Applause.) Although technically he had not won the championship, no one would doubt that he was the champion. Frank Hinde, one of Slavin's backers, said that when Slavin came to England he thought his duty, as a sportsman, when a man came to a strange country, whether he be Australian or any other countryman, was to show him around, and, if he required backing, to support him. He had heard of Slavin's good record, and he thought that anyone who saw him fighting would acknowledge that he was one of the pluckiest men who ever stepped in a ring. (Applause.) Although the champion's friends implored him in the fight with Smith to stay in the centre of the ring he took no notice, but went into his opponent's corner-- not to fight one man, but to fight eight or 10 men armed with knuckle dusters and sticks. He was struck on the head, but made no complaint. He only wanted to finish Smith. When the referee called a draw for fear of Slavin's safety, the champion had every' right to feel chagrin."
From Margate, Mrs. Slavin and I proceeded to Monte Carlo, where I had the misfortune to lose one of the most beautiful wedding gifts that I received. Fred Kotchie, a prominent London fight follower, had presented me with the finest diamond ring I have ever looked upon. One morning in Monte Carlo Mrs. Slavin remarked to me that the stone was gone from my ring. I looked and beheld the hole! The continent is a happy hunting ground for the light-fingered gentry, and I proved an easy victim. The stone had been lifted through the cutting of two of the claws. I felt sick for awhile, but knew that it was useless to expect to recover it. On our return to London I went into training once more with my wife in charge. While she never witnessed any of my fights she was very careful of my condition and solicitous of my welfare. She always had great confidence in my ability to overcome not only every obstacle in the ring, but also elsewhere. This was particularly evident when my death in the Klondike was reported. For two months she held out that I was still alive, and even when she put on the widow's weeds for three months she continued to believe that I was still alive. But then that is another story, and a most unusual one.
The Register (Adelaide, South Australia), March 22, 1926.