Every once in awhile the boxing world is rudely upset by unfortunate incidents commonly referred to as "frame-ups." The "set-up" has been more or less taken for granted, but the dear old public never warms up to the "frame-up," and never will. When managers and fighters get together and decide on which of the principals shall take a "dive" for the sole purpose of building up the prestige of one of the boxers, as well as for shaking down the public, no punishment is too severe for the offenders. An effort was made to enlist me as a principal in a "frame-up" in Dawson, but to ward off any suspicion that I had agreed to any "diving" exhibition I went out and won the fight in 15 seconds. I think it stands as a record for a heavyweight bout. Billy Devine fancied himself as a fighter. We always called him a "looking-glass fighter" because he did most of his fighting in front of a mirror. He was always posing, and one day said he would like to meet me in the ring. The bout was arranged, and I knocked him out in two rounds. This happened in he fall of 1893. Following the fight Devine went to Nome, Alaska, on a mining expedition, and spread the report that he was a better man than I, and that I had been lucky to win. A gambler named Johnson became interested, and came to Dawson to rematch Devine and myself. After we had signed, Johnson learned from reliable sources that my victory over Devine had been no fluke. He, came to me one night and offered me a certain sum if I would take a "dive."
"Let me look at your money," I asked him. He apparently took this to mean that I had acquiesced. No money was forthcoming, however, and this did not give me a chance to have a show-down and refuse it. I decided to play their little game, and have some fun on my own. It was arranged that I should take my "dive" early. We rehearsed the knockout blow with great thoroughness the night before, so that here should be no slip-up. The instructions called for me to go straight in. Devine was then to swing on my jaw and put an end to my evening's worries.
There was a lot of betting over the fight, and. owing to my previous quick victory over Devine, I was a favourite. There was, however, a lot of Devine money around, as many thought he had not shown his real form in the first bout. The bank boys were strongly behind me, and one of them said they had the bank on me. I told them to put every nickel they could set their hands on on me. The fight started according to the dress rehearsal, but had a totally different ending. I went straight for Devine, as the instructions said, and Devine started the right that was to stretch me, toes up, for the count. I stepped inside the right, and sank my left in the pit of his stomach. The force of the blow lifted Devine clear of the floor, and, just before I crossed my right to his chin I caught a glimpse of the surprised expression on his face. My right, however, erased all the wonder, and he crashed to the canvas with a heavy thud. All this happened in five seconds! The referee required 10 seconds to count Devine out, so that the fight was officially over inside 15 seconds. It was the shortest bout of my career. I leaped out of the ring and rushed to the box office to collect my share of the receipts. It was agreed that the winner should take all, and, had things gone according to schedule, Devine would have made the collections. I was afraid that there might be a slip at the box office, so took precautions to collect while still in my fighting togs. Johnson came to me afterwards, and contrary to my expectations, was not the least bit upset. He laughed as he caught my eye.
"I've traveled all over this world,, and I've always fought straight," I scolded him. "Did you think that I would be a sucker for this? You intended to double cross me. I know, as you never put up my money, and would have done me out of my share had I fallen in with your game. If you'd once made any sign of putting up the money I would have refused it."
I boxed several other men in the Yukon. I knocked out Al Smith in one round and Bill Perkins in nine rounds. I later fought a 10-round draw with Perkins. I boxed exhibition bouts with Philadelphia Jack O'Brien and Twin Sullivan, two good men from the outside. Sullivan and O'Brien went through 20 rounds of hard fighting. It was the finest fight Dawson ever saw. In 1898 I took Peter Jackson to Skagway to help him earn a little money. While in Victoria I met Jackson and he was in ill health and short of funds. I thought we night stage an exhibition which would go over big. Skagway liked the idea of the rout, and Peter and I danced through four rounds. It was a tame affair compared with our slashing struggle in London six years earlier. Jackson was in the first stages of consumption, and I could easily have knocked him out. I was still as rugged and strong as I was in the London bout, although a little slower. Poor old Peter, he was a good-natured chap and money meant little to him. It quickly left him. We had over 400 dollars to spilt between us as a result of the bout, but I turned it all over to Peter and instructed him what to do. I had to leave for Dawson the next morning, so wanted to see Peter clear of Skagway. I advised him to register 380 dollars with the purser of the steamer and claim it at Victoria. This would have left him with enough for his fare and a little to spend. Before Peter got to the boat he had fallen in with some friends, and in the morning he was broke. Peter finally got to the outside, and from San Francisco went to Australia, where he died. Peter stands out as perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time. I am quite sure that he could have defeated John L. Sullivan at any time. Sullivan drew the colour line on account of Jackson's great ability. My last ring engagement was in 1903, when I was 42 years of age. My opponent was Nick Burley, with whom I had previously boxed a 10 round draw. In none of my Yukon fights did I have the benefit of systematic training. I was out in the hills most of the time, either working my claims or staking others. Whenever there was a fight in sight I was sent for and stepped into the ring without any training. I was in good physical shape, but was not fit for fast work.
On the occasion of my second meeting with Burley I walked in from the hills in the afternoon. I was tired when the time of the fight came round. It was a good scrap for a few rounds, but in the ninth I felt that I was done. My legs were weary, and I knew I had no chance of stopping Burley. I could hardly keep going. I would like to have stayed with the game, but the young fellows who were coming on were too fast and aggressive for me. My age was against me, so I decided to stick to mining. I never laced on a glove again until the days of the Great War, when I was asked to give several exhibitions. I was used more as a drawing card than anything else. I was to have appeared with either Billy Wells, the popular English heavyweight, at one show in England, but we never got any further than to shake hands. I remained in the Yukon until 1913. I made several trips to the outside in the meantime, but the lure of the golden creeks always took me back. During one of my trips back from the outside I had a run-in with the notorious gambler "Soap" Smith, whose name will always be linked with the Yukon. I had reached Skagway with a number of prominent men who were making their first trip in. "Soapy" learned of their affluence, and began his "tapping" tricks. He was a smooth customer, and made a grand play before the party. He escorted us to several bars, and I noticed that he always pocketed the change when the drinks were paid for. He did this on me twice, and the third time I advised him to lay-off.
"I see," he confided, "there's a particular friend of yours and mine in gaol, and I need 250 dollars to bail him out." I tried to find out who the needy friend was, but "Soapy" would not tell me. He asked me to loan him the money, but I could not see my way clear to part with that much at the time. "Soapy" then asked me to ease my friends out of the amount. I refused. He kept hounding around until I finally invited him to visit the boat on which we had made the trip north. I went to my cabin, and took my revolver from under my pillow. I came out and flashed it at "Soapy" with instructions to run as fast as he could. "Soapy" did not hesitate, and I fired three shots in the air to help him on his way. A little later "Soapy" met his end through bullet wounds.
The Register (Adelaide, South Australia), March 30, 1926.