Fr. Rutler . . . On Bare-Knuckled Boxing? Yes!

Crisis, Father George Rutler: The recent pardon of the late world heavy weight champion Jack Johnson by our president was a gracious act long overdue. A previous motion had passed the House but died in the Senate in 2008. Johnson’s racially motivated conviction for violating the Mann Act after he had married a white woman resulted in his beginning a year term in Leavenworth prison in 1920. It was not a salutary place; I buried one of its inmates who had done much more than a year there. Johnson skipped bail and spent several years in Europe via Canada. In Barcelona, much in need of funds that had run out although he had garnered fantastic box office fees in illegal matches and had squandered them with commensurate prodigality, he undertook an exhibition match while on the lam in 1916. The site was a bullring near the church of Sagrada Familia. Johnson’s opponent was Arthur Cravan, a Swiss amateur boxer and Dadaist poet also in need of funds. The match was brief, as Cravan froze at the sight of the “Galveston Giant.” They fought by the eponymous rules of the Marquess of Queensbury, first published in 1867. As one of those curiosities only to be sorted out in the eternal habitations, the Marquess had brought the legal action leading to the downfall of Oscar Wilde, and Cravan was the nephew of Wilde. The atheist Marquess died ten months before Wilde, and both were received into the Catholic Church on their deathbeds. Read the rest here.