David Bruce: Fights Anecdotes

• While Abraham Lincoln was President, Ward Lamon was Marshall of the District of Columbia. A powerful man, Mr. Lamon’s fists were weapons. Once, he arrested a man, but the man resisted arrest and attempted to hit him. Mr. Lamon hit him with his fist, and then carried him to a physician, who said the man would die soon. Worried, Mr. Lamon talked over the matter with President Lincoln, who counseled, “I am sorry you had to kill the man, but these are times of war, and a great many men deserve killing. This one, according to your story, is one of them; so give yourself no uneasiness about the matter. I will stand by you.” Mr. Lamon said that he had no doubt but that he had done his duty, but he felt grief over taking the man’s life. President Lincoln smiled, then said, “You go home now and get some sleep; but let me give you this piece of advice — hereafter, when you have occasion to strike a man, don’t hit him with your fist. Strike him with a club, a crowbar, or with something that won’t kill him.”

• In the 1960s British tongue-in-cheek TV series The Avengers, Mrs. Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman, used judo to subdue her attackers. The use of judo came about through a process of elimination. The producers had already rejected the idea of Mrs. Gale screaming for help. At first, they had her reach into a handbag for a gun, but that grew tiresome. Then they tried having Mrs. Gale wear a gun in a garter holster, but it made her walk bowlegged. Next they tried concealing the gun in an under-arm holster, but tight sweaters are incompatible with concealed guns. Then came concealed daggers and short swords, but they kept cutting her bra straps. Finally, René Burdet, who had been the head of the Resistance in Marseilles during World War II, taught Ms. Blackman how to throw people. Later, both Ms. Blackman and Patrick Macnee, who played John Steed, learned judo from Douglas Robinson, a 9th Dan black belt.

• George Frideric Handel and Johann Mattheson were both composers and friends, although occasionally they had fights. Mattheson wrote the opera Cleopatra, in which he played Mark Antony. When he wasn’t on stage, he played harpsichord in the orchestra pit, with Handel filling in while Mattheson was on stage. At a December, 1704 performance, Handel was having so much fun playing the harpsichord that he refused to let Mattheson play it even after Antony had been killed on stage. Mattheson promptly challenged Handel to a duel; in the duel, Mattheson’s sword broke on one of Handel’s brass coat buttons, and Handel lived to compose his Messiah.

• Tsukahara Bokuden founded a school of martial arts known as the Way of Winning Without Trying. In the practice of this martial art, the adept wins by figuring out how not to lose. One day Bokuden was traveling in a small boat with a few other people when a warrior on the boat challenged him to a duel. Bokuden suggested that they duel on a near-by small island. When they reached the island, the warrior stepped off the boat, walked onto the island, and unsheathed his sword. However, Bokuden, still standing in the boat, used a pole to shove the boat off the island and into the water, leaving the warrior stranded on the island.

• Bruce Lee was a master of the martial arts, but he became a master in spite of his physical limitations. One of his legs was almost one inch shorter than the other, so he developed a stance with the left foot leading. He discovered that his physical limitation gave him an advantage in certain kinds of kicks because a greater impetus came from his uneven stance. In addition, he wore contact lens because he was nearsighted and unable to see an opponent until the opponent was close. In fact, Mr. Lee began to study the martial art of wing-chun because it was ideal for up-close fighting.

• Heywood Broun was on a voyage once when he was asked — for the sake of entertaining his fellow passengers — to fight another man of approximately his own weight and stature. He agreed, but when he met the man he was supposed to fight, the man said to Mr. Broun, “I’m going to ask you a question which I have wanted to ask someone ever since I got on this ship. What is this ‘demitasse’ they have on the bill of fare?” Mr. Broun immediately canceled the fight, saying, “Any chap who doesn’t know what a ‘demitasse’ is must be a tough guy.”

• Groucho and Harpo Marx once managed a fighter who lost many more fights than he won. The Marxes promptly nicknamed him “Canvasback,” but continued to manage his career. In one fight, Canvasback was knocked down five times in the first round. When the round was over, he tried to sit in the fighter’s stool in his corner, but Harpo shoved him aside and sat down in his place, and then Groucho fanned Harpo.

• Wilson Mizner and Sammy Finn left the Brown Derby restaurant one foggy night, when they noticed that they were being followed by two men who apparently intended to rob them. Mr. Wilson said to Mr. Finn, “You take the big guy, and I’ll take the little guy with the knife.” Fortunately, they got away from the two men in the foggy night, and it wasn’t until later that Mr. Finn realized that the fog had been so thick that it was impossible for Mr. Mizner to see whether the little guy had had a knife.

• Jigoro Kano adapted the martial art of jujitsu into the sport of judo. In Russia, he demonstrated judo by facing a much bigger Russian fighter. He quickly threw the man, but he put his hand under the man’s head to cushion his fall and make sure the man was not hurt. For good reason, the 5-foot-4-inch-tall Mr. Kano was known as the Gentle Giant.

• Medieval astronomer Tycho once got in a fight in which most of his nose was cut off. For the rest of his life he wore a fake nose made of an alloy of gold, silver, and copper.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Happy New Y’ar!

t r e f o l o g y

I suppose I have always been lucky …

My family & friends say I that mis-remember a lot

of my past. And maybe that’s true — for some things.

But there are also places & people that I will never forget.

Like growing up in a ginger-bread house,

or the Man with No Bones.

And, one thing in particular, my moms peculiar way

of setting the dinner table.


For as long as I can remember, my mother always set

the table with two sets of identical salt & pepper shakers.

Seems trivial, I know.

But we were only a family of four.

And it made little difference if only two or three of us

were eating that night. My mother would still place, on

the table, two sets of identical

salt & pepper shakers.


I recall one day having to stay home from school

due to…

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Four Hummingbirds

Charmed Chaos

Photo byJames WainscoatonUnsplash

I watched four hummingbirds bathe before the sun arose
swimming in the fountain, with fluttering wings and toes
they sailed into the air, returned and took a deep dive
chirping to each other, drowning in ecstasy’s throes

Their innocence of being, in the moment alive
sent my heart leaping and brought joyous tears to these eyes
I saw true happiness with their feathers gleaming wet
they illuminated my day, infused with delight

Author’s note: I was blessed to actually see this little miracle first thing the other morning. I was so struck by their pure joy, it stayed with me all day, and even nowbringsasmile.My attemptataRubaiyat.

dVerse Poets MTB: https://dversepoets.com/2019/01/31/poetry-forms-the-rubaiyat/

View original post

Morning Tea

Charmed Chaos

for his morning tea
a monk sits down in utter silence-
confronted by chrysanthemums    

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. unknown)

sacred serene ritual
steeped in solitude of peace

©2019 Linda Lee Lyberg

This month at Carpe Diem, we have a Tan Renga challenge. A Tan Renga is typically written by two poets. The first three lines are written by one poet, and the last two by another.

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David Bruce: Fights Anecdotes

• John L. Sullivan used to fight all comers barefisted for a $1,000 purse; because he was such a great fighter, the person who lasted the longest in the ring with him got a consolation prize of $50. Once, a first-year student at MIT named Alfred I. du Pont showed up to fight Mr. Sullivan — not for any glory, but because he needed the money. Mr. Sullivan was sympathetic to the student’s plight and made sure to spar with Mr. du Pont long enough for him to pick up the consolation prize money. The two men became friends, and after Mr. Sullivan had retired and spent all the money he had earned prizefighting, Mr. du Pont gave him a monthly stipend and a small farm to live on.

• Jack Dempsey was merciless in the boxing ring, battering his opponents senseless as they tried to do the same to him. He believed, “When you get between the ropes you’re supposed to take it.” Once, he decided to go easy on Bill Brennan, whom he called “a nice fellow and a good fighter.” In the 3rd round, Mr. Brennan hit him hard, and Mr. Dempsey didn’t become fully conscious until the 12th round. When he came to, he knocked out Mr. Brennan and refused to show pity in the boxing ring ever again.

• During the Avengersepisode “Mandrake,” Honor Blackman, who played Mrs. Cathy Gale, accidentally knocked out pro wrestler Jackie Pallo during a fight scene, kicking him in the face and knocking him backward into an open grave. He remained unconscious for six or seven minutes, and the newspapers had a field day with the story. For a while, Ms. Blackman was afraid that she had ruined his career.

• Lord Buckley was a 1950s comedian who said pretty much whatever he wanted, whether the audience wanted to hear it or not. Once, a big man started to heckle him, so Lord Buckley asked him to step outside. They did, and a few minutes later, the two men returned. The heckler was unharmed, but Lord Buckley had been stomped. Lord Buckley then continued his act as if nothing had happened.

• Kato-Dewanokami-Yasuoki revered the martial arts. One day, Zen master Bankei visited him, and Yasuoki picked up his spear and pointed it at Bankei. However, Bankei merely used his rosary to flick the point of the spear aside, then told Yasuoki, “No good. You’re too worked up.” Eventually, Yasuoki became a master of the spear and spoke of Bankei as having been his greatest teacher in that art.

• Orestes A. Brownson (1803-1876), a Unitarian minister, once became angry at Mr. Trask, an anti-tobacco crusader, and knocked him down, then apologized for it. Mr. Trask accepted the apology, but kept saying “I forgive you,” which made Mr. Brownson angry enough to tell Mr. Trask, “I have knocked you down, and I apologize for it. If you say anything more about forgiving me, I will knock you down again.”

• Sir Thomas Buxton (1786-1845) noticed in the Election of 1818 that his supporters were engaging in physical violence against the supporters of the opposing candidate. Sir Thomas told his supporters, “Beat them; beat them in the generous exercise of high principles; beat them in disdain of corruption, and the display of pure integrity; but do not beat them with bludgeons.”

• Early in his career, Lenny Bruce worked in burlesque. This can be a hard place for a comic to work, as the patrons go there to see the strippers, not to hear the comedians. When patrons cried out “Bring on the broads” during Mr. Bruce’s act, he responded, “I’d like to, but then you wouldn’t have any company at the bar.” This comment occasionally caused fights to break out.

• Alfred Davis, a Quaker, once saw a fight in which a large woman was sitting on a small man and hitting him. He tried to stop the fight, only to have the small man tell him, “If you won’t allow us to settle our family affairs in our own way, I’ll change places with you.” Mr. Davis decided to allow the family quarrel to continue without interference.

• Sports writers Joe Williams and Heywood Broun were watching the Baer-Carnera fight, in which Baer knocked Carnera down several times, yet Carnera kept getting up. Mr. Williams said, “Gosh, but the big fellow certainly can take it.” Mr. Broun replied, “Yes, but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with it.”

• In 404 C.E., the gladiatorial contests in the Roman Coliseum came to an end. Telemachus, a monk, ran into the arena and commanded the gladiators in the name of God to stop. The audience howled for Telemachus’ blood, so the gladiators killed him. This murder brought an end to the gladiatorial contests.

• In the early 20th century, Mr. Fyfe, the Caddie Superintendent at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland, had an interesting way of dealing with disputes between caddies. He simply told them, “Go to the bandstand and fight as long as you can stand, then come back and I’ll find you work.”

• Lord Justice Harman once had to judge at a trial between two men — both were fighters who claimed to be the welterweight champion of Trinidad. The Lord Justice said, “It occurred to me for the first time during the hearing to regret the desuetude of ordeal by battle as a matter of trial.”

• In 1942, Robert Trias, the United States Navy’s middleweight boxing champion, got into the ring with a kung fu master and discovered that the kung fu master was so quick that he couldn’t hit him. After the “fight,” Mr. Trias began to study kung fu.

• In 1966, in London’s Albert Hall, young ballet dancer Natalia Makarova fell down while performing Giselle. As she lay on the floor, her dance partner, Onoshko, pretended he was a referee in a boxing match and started counting, “One … two … three ….”

• Famous actor Rudolph Valentino once walked into the offices of the Chicago Tribuneand offered to fight anyone at the newspaper because a reporter had said in print that he was a sissy because he wore a wristwatch.