David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Fights, Firsts


• Patty Barton was a jockey at Waterford Park in West Virginia in the 1970s. She quickly learned that she would have to be tough to make her way as a jockey in a man’s world. In fact, she is tough and muscular — she says, “I’m the only mother I know whose kids bring the neighbors in to look at her muscles.” In a race, another jockey by the name of Clifford Thompson deliberately knocked into her horse and hit her across her rear end with his whip. After the race, she waited for him. He snuck into the male jockeys’ room, and she followed him there, then she started a fight. Blood flowed for a while, and after the fight had been broken up, a steward asked what had caused the fight. Ms. Barton pulled down her pants and underpants and showed the steward the welt caused by her opponent’s riding whip. Both jockeys were fined, but Mr. Thompson was fined twice as much as Ms. Barton. (In addition, Ms. Barton was requested in future to ask the track nurse to examine her instead of pulling down her underpants in front of a male steward.) In another fight with a male jockey, she grabbed his genitals. Later, she said, “You go tell that little so-and-so that there was hardly anything to get hold of.”

• Cathy Gale is a feminist character in the 1960s British tongue-in-cheek TV series The Avengers. Instead of screaming for help when attacked by a thug, Mrs. Gale responded with martial arts, including kicks to the groin. This didn’t happen at first. Honor Blackman, who performed the role of Mrs. Gale, disliked some of the early scripts because her character was “so wet.” She finally told the writers, “Look, write my part as if I were a man, and I’ll turn it into a woman’s part.”

• Heavyweight boxer Jerry Quarry won a televised match in Madison Square Garden in March of 1969. Unfortunately for the audience watching at home, commercials for a Ford dealership were shown between the rounds of the match, with the commercial cutting off the end of one round and the beginning of the next round. After the fight was over, irritated viewers at home were delighted when, after winning the fight, Mr. Quarry was awarded a new General Motors Pontiac.

• Practitioners of the martial arts are very willing to walk away from fights they know they can easily win. (If they respect their opponent, they will fight.) Martial arts master Tajima once entered a town where news of his arrival quickly spread. A hothead eager to make a name for himself challenged Tajima to a duel to the death, but Tajima replied, “You are too young — and unworthy — to die,” then left the town.

• Jackie Robinson, the African-American player who integrated baseball’s major leagues, was a fighter no matter what sport he played. While playing basketball for Pasadena Junior College, he faced an opponent who kept sticking his hand in Mr. Robinson’s face, including in his mouth. Mr. Robinson grew tired of the abuse, so he bit the opposing player’s finger — and bit it hard. This almost caused a riot.

• When Mike Tyson fought Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mr. Tyson won quickly. In fact, writer Bill Barich sat near the seat of a man who had purchased a $1,500 ticket but failed to return from the restroom in time to witness any of the 91-second fight.


• The Boston Celtics basketball team scored a couple of notable firsts in opening doors to talented African Americans. In 1950, Walter Brown drafted Chuck Cooper, an African-American forward who played for Duquesne University. Another owner of an NBA team tried to convince Mr. Brown not to become the first team owner to draft an African-American player, but Mr. Brown replied, “I don’t give a damn if he’s striped or polka-dot or plaid — Boston takes Charles Cooper of Duquesne.” In addition, when Red Auerbach quit coaching the Celtics, he handpicked center Bill Russell to be his replacement. Mr. Russell thus became the first African-American head coach or manager in a major team sport in the United States. In appreciation for Mr. Russell’s talents, the Celtics paid him $100,001 — $1 more than Philadelphia star Wilt Chamberlain received.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: Blue Moon Marquee — “Ain’t No Stranger”


Music: “Ain’t No Stranger”


Artist: Blue Moon Marquee

Artist Location: Alberta, Canada

“Blue Moon Marquee is a swinging jazz and blues band born of the wild rose country. They currently make their home in an island shack on the coast of the Salish Sea. A.W. Cardinal (vocals/guitar) and Jasmine Colette a.k.a. Badlands Jass (vocals/bass/drums) write and perform original compositions influenced by anything that swings, jumps or grooves.”

Price: $1.50 (CAD) for track; $15 (CAD) for 12-track album

Genre: Blues




Blue Moon Marquee on Bandcamp


Blue Moon Marquee Official Website