Tales of Old Newton Races

“FELIX FIGHTS SLAVIN.”

“I am going to have a do for that ?5, I said to myself, and if I win it Nellie will be able to go to the specialist without my parents being pulled for the money. “When I reached home I explained to mother and dad what. the doctor had said, and the three of us agreed that Nellie must go by hook or by crook. “I then got dad away quietly and told him of my intention of standing up to Slavin. My dad wouldnt listen to it on any account. “Why, Felix, hed kill you, and do you know that his next. fight is with Peter Jackson for the championship of the world?” “I know that, Dad, I replied, but you know Ive never been knocked out in any of my fights, and I feel sure I can keep out of his way. Its only for three rounds. Im in training and almost as big in every way as Slavin. Do let me have a try, Dad. “In the end Dad agreed, but we didnt let Mother know that. I was going to fight Slavin. We put her off by saying it was another amateur contest. “I sent my name up to the music hall where Slavin was appearing for the week, and I got on answer saying that I had to appear at Saturday nights show. ” Of course, that suited me down to the ground, and the lads at the Gymnasium put me through my facings that week, I can tell you. “We went to Sydney on the Saturday afternoon, and after a light tea my mates, four of them (Dad wouldnt come) and I made our way to the music hall. “The stage was set out exactly the same as a boxing ring?ropes, sawdust, buckets and sponges all complete for the last turn, as Slavin was the chief attraction?top of the bill. None of my mates allowed even to go in the dressing-room, never mind act as second. Seconds and dressers were provided by the management. It made not the slightest difference to me not having my mates with me, as I had fought too many battles to be nervous. All I thought about was to get that ?5 for Nellie.

There were five of us to be knocked out at that last show, and we drew lots for places. I drew No. 4. Very well satisfied I was, for it gave me a good chance of seeing how he knocked them out. After Slavin had been introduced to the audience, who rose to their feet, he gave a three-round exhibition with one of his sparring partners. It was a tame affair I noticed, and gave me very little to work off. Then came our turn; what the audience wanted to see?the real stuff. Slavin putting them to sleep, as the referee announced. “The first chap went on, while I was all head and ears watching to see if I could gather any moss from the fight, but what a surprise I got. Dont forget, boys, we were all heavyweights, and very little difference in weight in any of the six of us, including Slavin. As I said, the first chap went on, was introduced to the audience, shook hands with Slavin, went back to his corner, then walked out to meet Slavin in the centre of the ring, and I am certain he remembered no more. He simply put up his guard, while Slavin made a pretence with his left, then brought up his right, smartly, no doubt, and with force. Plonk, the fellow fell, and to all appearance looked dead. “Rounds of applause greeted this, and they didnt carry him to his corner to get him round. Oh, dear no! Two men with a stretcher came in, put him on it, and carried him past us four who were waiting to go on. As they passed us, one stretcher-bearer said to the other: This is No. 1, Tom. Dont forget theres four others! That was all done to put the wind up us, but it didnt upset my programme. “No. 2 went on and exactly the same thing occurred. “No. 3 was treated in the same manner ; a feint with his left, Slavin had done in all three cases, then a smart right uppercut. “I must avoid that, said I to myself, and true enough, boys, avoid it I, did. “As soon as we met, after the introduction in the centre of the ring for me to receive the usual K.O., as everybody thought, a surprise took place, for, as Slavin pretended with his left, I let drive with my right, with all the force I could command. “Slavin fell like a nine-pin. “The place was in a death-like silence for a moment or so, as no one ever expected that happening ; but when the audience had realised that it happened I received their unstinted applause. “There was no doubt Slavin was taken by surprise. All the same, it was fair and square, above the board. He was badly shaken I could see. When he rose to resume the fight he fought very warily until the end of the first round. I could also see he had no intention of trying to knock me out in this round, as I had frustrated his plans, and at the time upset him a little. “And I can tell I had no intention whatever of mixing it with Slavin, because I knew I was no match for him, but to keep out of his way for the three rounds was all I cared about, and the reason I hit him was to let him know he was up against no dud, which made him very careful how he treated me. “When the first round ended I received a good round of applause, but I didnt let it go to my head, as I knew Slavin would not leave himself open again in the next two rounds. One of my mates must have been reading my thoughts, as, when we advanced for the second round, he shouted out : Keep out of his way, Felix. “It was that remark which caused Slavin to show me what a thorough gentleman he was. He chuckled with a laugh that showed not only me, but the whole of the audience, that he hadnt an ounce of malice in him.

“The second round was similar to the first, except that he dealt more punishment out to me towards the end of the round, and some of the blows hurt me without a doubt, but I managed to avoid the K.O. So the round ended, and as I went to my corner I felt that I would win the ?5 which I intended to spend on Nellies benefit. “As the seconds were fanning me, one of them said in rather a sarcastic manner : Franks been playing with you like a cat with a mouse, so look out for the usual wallop in this last round. That wasnt going to disturb me, and, just to show him so, I whispered in his ear : Tell the stretcher-bearers theyll not be wanted this time round. “The referee called Time and Finish. “Slavin at once sailed into me, and I parried his blows as well as I could. Be it to my credit also that I got one or two on him, at the same time taking care not to leave myself open. These blows from me no doubt made him cautious and also gave me more courage to try and last the round out. I thought it was never going to end, but after him beating a tattoo on my body, the gong sounded and I was still on my feet.

“Frank was the first man to congratulate me, the referee was the next, but the second who told me to look out for the usual wallop, didnt offer to wipe me down. “Slavin made the presentation of the ?5 to me himself, at the same time informing the audience that he would send me a gold medal which would have inscribed on it : Presented to Felix Scott by Frank Slavin.” Felix then took out of his pocket the gold medal, which was in a case, and showed it to us. ” Why dont you wear it on your watch-chain, Felix?” Sam Lloyd asked him. “I am not given that way, sonny,” replied Felix, ” and, besides, amongst the race folk I have to mix with it might get snatched, and it was too dearly bought to lose it in that way.” I can quite believe it was, because Frank Slavin was a strong, powerful fighter, although Peter Jackson beat him for the worlds championship. It was believed that this fight was the cause of both Jackson and Slavin dying, as they had hurt each other to that extent. Personally, Ive never seen Slavin, but I saw Jackson give an exhibition after he won the championship of the world.

To resume Felix Scotts tale to us three lads :?” I went home with the ?5, and arrangements were made for Nellie to visit this eye specialist. I went with her, as I intended to tell the specialist what the street singer had told us, providing, of course, the specialist gave me no hope. “A fifty shillings fee was paid in advance, and I dont think the specialist was fifty seconds in arriving at his decision. He took me in another room after examining Nellie, and said : Im very sorry, young man, very sorry, but nothing can be done. You see, she was born blind. “Had it been either my Mother or Dad instead of me I think they would have come away crying. Not so with me, as I at once began to tell him what the street singer told us. He listened quite patiently to all I told and I took good care to leave none out. “After I had finished, the specialist said : No doubt, my young man, miracles do happen, and will happen every day of our lives, but it is a case of finding that source from which a miracle can spring that will give your sister sight. ” At that my heart gave a lean for joy as I said : Then you believe, doctor, that it is possible for my sister to have her sight given her? ” Yes, answered the specialist. All things are possible to those that believe. ” Dont you believe? I pleaded with him, and I noticed the specialist had a very serious look when he answered: Certainly I believe. The trouble _with me is that I dont know the way. Yet I have a friend in England, an eve specialist, who would no doubt take an interest in your sisters case, as I have just thought of the last letter I had from him, in which have writes in the same strain as the street singer talked to you. My friend not only believes, but he thinks he knows the way. One sentence in the letter particularly reminds me of your street singer, and it is : The Creator never intended anyone to be born blind and not enjoy seeing the beautiful flowers of the earth. Now, if you like, he continued, I will give you my friends name and address, then you can write him ; he may be able to do something. I should tell him exactly as you have told me about the street singer, and I feel sure something will be done. In any case, there will be nothing lost, only a little money, perhaps, and what is that compared with having a chance for someone to see the light?

“I took my sister home again, and, as we were travelling in the train, Nellie asked me if there was any hone for her. ” There are great hopes, Nellie, I answered. “Then why are you so quiet, Felix? ” Well, I was thinking, Nellie, you may have to go to London, in England, and leave us all for quite a long time. “What does it matter how long I am away from you if only God gives me back my sight? replied my sister. And, besides, when I come back from England I will be able to tell you all about London. Fancy, Im going to see London. “She certainly had more faith than I had, although I was very hopeful after leaving the specialist.

“On arriving home we had many a consultation as to what we were going to do. One thing was definite with us all, and that was Nellie would go and visit this great London specialist. It was the money question that troubled us most ; so I proposed that 1 should go on tour with a boxing booth and would send my weekly takings home to them. “I started touring Australia with my show, and we soon had quite a good sum of money before we made arrangements with the London specialist.