A Backward Glance-1931, The Year in Boxing: Tut Stuns Petrolle, Berg Stays Busy, Brown Reclaims British Crown

A week by week look at the boxing world in 1931 by Andrew Fruman.

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King Tut - Minnesota Junior-Welter

Tut Blasts Out Petrolle in 24 Seconds

February 2… Local brawler Henry Tuttle (138 ½), aka King Tut, stunned a capacity crowd in St. Paul with an explosive opening round knockout of lightweight contender Billy Petrolle (138 ½).

The bout was the fifth meeting between the two midwest rivals, with Tut now holding a 3-2 edge in the series.   Petrolle had taken such a bad beating when the fighters previously met back in September of 1929, that he’d announced his retirement after the bout, only to return to the ring a few months later.  In recent months, Petrolle had reestablished his credentials as  one of the world’s best lighweights, having defeated Jimmy McLarnin and current lightweight champion Tony Canzoneri, while giving 140lb king Jack “Kid” Berg all he could handle.

Image Courtesy of Antiquities of the Prize Ring

Charging out from his corner, Tut immediately cracked Petrolle on the point of the chin with a round house right hand. Petrolle tried to clinch, but Tut forced his way free before unloading with a flurry of lefts and rights that finished Petrolle in a total of only 24 seconds, leaving the Fargo Express slumped in the corner with his head resting over the second rope. It was the first time Petrolle had been counted out, though he had lost twice previously via the TKO rout.

The crowd of just over 10,000 was the largest in Minnesota boxing history, with only the 1920 middleweight title contest between Mike Gibbons and Mike O’Dowd topping the gate of $38,546 for the Midwest showdown.

140lb Champion - Jack "Kid" Berg

Berg Tops Perlick at the Garden

January 30… Only a week after battering Goldie Hess in Chicago, Jack “Kid” Berg (138 ½) was back in action defending his 140lb crown against Herman Perlick (139) at Madison Square Garden. There had been some question over whether Berg would make the date, as the London fighter had reportedly been suffering from a sore back and shoulder.  His appearance was a welcome site to New York boxing fans, many of whom had been growing weary of the tedious heavyweight fare recently on display at the Garden.

The champion didn’t disappoint, overcoming an impressive start by the Kalamazoo fighter to pound out a clear cut ten round unanimous decision in his customary whirlwhind style. A considerable underdog, Perlick surprised onlookers by giving the Englishman plenty of trouble in the early rounds, though by the middle sessions had become too busy trying to fend off Berg’s assault to mount a consistent counter attack. He did fire off intermittent rallies, and made a game stand in the final round that won over many of the nearly 9,000 spectators in attendance.

It was the fourth victory in a little over eighteen months for Berg over the Perlick family, having beaten Herman’s twin brother Henry Perlick once, to go with three wins over Herman.

Brown Takes Title From Kirby in Manchester

British Flyweight - Jackie Brown

February 2… Jackie Brown reclaimed the British Flyweight title from Bert Kirby with an exciting fifteen round decision victory at the King’s Hall in Belle Vue, Manchester. The two previous meetings between the English rivals had both ended in third round stoppages, Brown having won the vacant crown over Kirby in October 1929, before the Birmingham fighter returned the favour the following March – with Brown reportedly having been suffering from tonsillitis at the time of the rematch.

Image Courtesy of Antiquities of the Prize Ring

Fighting at a terrific pace in front of a capacity hometown crown, a fully fit Brown was in control most of the way on this occasion. Kirby battled gamely and had his moments in the gruelling struggle, but was generally a step behind the Lancashire man and started to noticeably wear down in the later rounds under Brown’s steady two handed assault.

Brown pushed hard for a stoppage in the eleventh, and almost finished Kirby with a barrage along the ropes in the following round. The exhausted Kirby survived the onslaught and battled desperately to the finish, but was a clear second best when points were tallied.

More Boxing News For the Week of January 29 – February 4

January 30… Jack “Doc” Kearns has reportedly worked out a deal with Chicago matchmaker Nate Lewis, for Mickey Walker to take on Jack Sharkey during the summer.  Walker, who recently was stripped of middleweight title recognition by both New York and Pennsylvania, currently has a rematch scheduled in Florida with heavyweight Johnny Risko for later in the month.

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Gorilla Jones (157) easily handled San Francisco middleweight Mike Hector (158) over ten rounds in Stockton. While in town, a frustrated Jones expressed his disappointment to the Oakland Tribune over the lack of opportunities and poor paydays coming his way. The middleweight contender told the paper he could make more money running his billiard parlor back in Akron than he could under his current workload and pay-rate.

Heavyweight Jimmy Maloney

January 31… Miami Promoter Frank J. Bruen was quick to address news of Primo Carnera’s latest suspension, telling the Associated Press that it would not hinder a coming clash between the Italian and Jimmy Maloney. “Maloney and Carnera have signed to fight in Miami, and they are going to fight. I can’t see where it will have any effect on the local fight, for Florida is not a member of the N.B.A, but I will investigate the charges brought against Carnera.”

Image Courtesy of Antiquities of the Prize Ring

Bruen’s remarks came after the National Boxing Association suspended Carnera in support of the International Boxing Union. The IBU had barred Carnera after the heavyweight had failed to pay a $1,200 fine levied by the Italian Pugilistic Federation for reneging on a contract to fight an exhibition in Florence.

Bruen’s assessment was confirmed two days later when the Miami Boxing Commission announced that a permit had been issued for the bout. The match-up between Carnera and Maloney is a rematch of a ten rounder, won by the Boston man the previous October.

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The California State Athletic Commission confirmed Max Baer’s persona non grata status by denying a licence to the fighter’s manager, J. Hamilton Lorimer. Though Baer did not apply for a boxer’s license, the commission were in agreement that the promising heavyweight was not welcome to ply his trade locally “for the good of the game.”

Baer had been suspended indefinitely by the commission after the death of Frankie Campbell, the previous August. Though Baer had been cleared of any wrong doing in Campbell’s death, a subsequent probe revealed Baer may have been involved in a fixed fight involving Tiny Abbott earlier in the year.

February 4… The main-event at Chicago Stadium between giant Portuguese heavyweight Jose Santa and lanky Dane Knute Hansen ended with the purses of both fighters held up. The fight came to an unsatisfying and questionable conclusion in the second round of what had mostly been a messy wrestling match, when Hansen, who had already been down three times from what appeared to minor punishment, theatrically tumbled to the canvas after a light tap.

Referee Davie Miller chose not to bother counting, and the Illinois State Athletic Commission immediately ordered the announcement of a no-contest. The fighters were both suspended, though the ISAC lifted the ban on Santa after a hearing was held the following week determined the fighter had done his best. Hansen chose not to attend and with the board likely far from convinced over the bout’s legitimacy, the purses remained withheld.

Quotes of the Week…

“They’re  a lot of jokes, those big fellows.  They’re so slow that they can’t get out of their own way.”

“I think that Stribling will beat Schmeling.  I envy Stribling.  I’d knock out Schmeling.  I’d knock out Carnera.”

- A confident Mickey Walker shares his thoughts on the heavyweights

e-mail Andrew Fruman

Topics: Bert Kirby, Billy Petrolle, Gorilla Jones, Herman Perlick, Jack Berg, Jack Sharkey, Jackie Brown, Jimmy Maloney, Jose Santa, King Tut, Knute Hansen, MAX BAER, Mickey Walker, Mike Hector, Primo Carnera

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  • Carlos Acevedo

    Hi Andrew,

    I was just doing some research on King Tut, so it’s cool to see him mentioned here. If you can whack out Billy Petrolle in one round, you must be a real tough S.O.B. From what I’ve read, he was a real colorful guy and actually ran around in King Tut mask and Egyptian garb for publicity.

    It’s sad to read about Gorilla Jones’ complaints, knowing he had to hold back as much as he did throughout his career. At least he got to, err, have fun with Mae West….

    It must have been tough work trying to take a dive against a Portuguese heavyweight….It reminds me of Lee Oma, who complained about how hard it was to “lose” to Bruce Woodcock, and so just threw himself to the canvas to end matters.

  • http://theboxingbulletin.com Andrew Fruman

    Hi Carlos,

    Tut sounds like he was never in a boring fight. One of those come forward sluggers, always willing to take a few to land his own. I’ll have more on him and Petrolle later in the month.

    A little bit more patience might have served Hansen better in his task – unless his goal was to try and lose without getting hit at all, which perhaps it was. Here’s Wilfrid Smith of the Chicago Tribune’s write-up of the “knockout”…

    “Santa closed in with poofs and grunts and while he could not punch when clasping his smaller opponent to his bosom, he handled him with every intent of throwing him out of the ring. Miller pried the men free. Santa danced toward Hansen, who unexpectedly sprang in to grapple in a neutral corner. Santa tapped gently with his right hand at Hansen’s head and the Racine lad went into his act. He wobbled from side to side, emoting as if in pain. Then Hansen fell sideways to the floor in the best approved form for complete disability. Referee Miller did not go through the formality of counting over the fallen man. Hansen, half raised his head at this departure from custom, then resumed his posture.”