A Christmas gift for my Butte-history friends

Happy holidays! 2015 will bring still more releases from us, among them Mary in The Press: Miss MacLane and Her Fame – two volumes (minimum), 1200+ pages total. People have talked about Mary MacLane’s fame for one-hundred-twelve years, but no one’s ever had a comprehensive view of it. This will no longer be so: because every signficant trace of it that’s been found in newspapers and periodicals will be in print.

As a sneak preview we’ll be releasing some of our finds along the road to publication. Our first is an interesting look at a young man associated, in 1902, with Butte: boxer James Munroe.

* * *

Munroe is Still an Unknown Quantity

Must Be Satisfied With Popular Idolatry Until He Is Tested in a Real Fight – Experts Reserve Decision – Think He May Have the Foundation of a Champion Pugilist, but Agree He Has Much to Learn First – Republic Special

New York. Jan 17—Jack Munroe, the miner and new idol of the prize ring, who with Mary MacLane made Butte, Mont., famous, was on exhibition at the office of the New York newspapers to-day, where he posed for photographs. Munroe says his object in coming east is to clinch a number of challenges which have been hurled at him since he bested Jeffries, and he will sign articles to fight Sharkey in a few days.

Charley White, the referee, and Gus Ruhlin were present when Munroe posed for photographs to-day.

Ruhlin watched quizzically as the young man from Butte stripped. Munroe felt the scrutiny of the Akron Giant and blushed as he showed his white, soft skin. As he stood out in the glare of the sunlight in front of the camera and extended his big arms, he looked at Ruhlin, and his lips compressed as though he were saying to himself:

“You may think I’m an easy mark old man, but I’ll change your mind if I get a chance at you.”

Munroe, who arrived last night on the empire State Express, was immediately recognized as the man who enjoys the distinction of having been the only boxer who has ever scored a knockdown against James Jeffries, heavy-weight champion pugilist of the world.

Is Yet To Be Tested

Thus far he is a pugilistic accident and, until he is put to the test, no man can tell whether the adulation that follows him is warranted. But he is on the pedestal now and the fickle public, hoping that he is the rising star in the pugilistic firmament, gives him the adoration that the weak give to the strong.

At first glance one would say that Munroe does not look like a fighter. A little study serves to convince that he looks like nothing else. His smiling, good-natured visage, with high cheek bones, upon which that of the man that set Terry McGovern’s star—Young Corbett—another product of the West.

He is not as tall as Jeffries, Ruhlin, Fitzsimmons or Corbett, but he towers above Tom Sharkey. In his street clothes, however, he gives the impression of a man of great strength.

The impression does not stand when he is seen stripped. He has not the shoulders of Fitzsimmons, or Jeffries, or the chest development of any of the top-notchers in the fighting game. A dozen men might be picked up in a five minutes’ walk who would beat him in tests of strength. His muscles are covered with fat and layers of fat hang over his ribs. There is the foundation for beds of wiry sinews, but as yet the foundation is about all that exists.

Is Almost Bashful

Every new man in the pugilistic game is different in the beginning and Munroe is no exception. He is not a talker—as yet. It takes time to learn to talk as pugilists talk. In complying with the demands made upon him for poses for photographs and material for interviews, he is almost bashful. But he shows a native shrewdness in action and conversation that is convincing.

In the matter of legs, Munroe is overly equipped. His calves bulge and, from the knees down, he is built like the supports of a square piano. In his fighting attitude he stands solidly upon his feet and, braced upon his mighty legs, it would be a hard matter to knock him off his balance. In putting up his fists he betrays no knowledge of science as it is exemplified by the best fighters. He is undoubtedly slow. But Jeffries was slow when he began. A good instructor can probably put speed into the Percheron legs and gigantic arms of Munroe.

For a man who has done hard work in the mines and has toiled as a delver in the tunnels through the mountains, Munroe has small hands. Unlike Fitzsimmons and other big pugilists, he has wrists that show. His hands do not run off into his arms. Above the waist he is very well proportioned. He appears to be light amidships, but it is hard to size up a man’s capabilities from appearances until he has trained off his stomach, and at this time Munroe has too much of a protuberance in front.

He wears a No. 9 shoe and he has not a bad neck. His shoulders slope away well. He is not stooped, as one would imagine a miner should be. His forehead is good. Above the chin he shows capacity for calculation.

Is Not Quite Six Feet

His eyes, overhung by bushy, mouse-colored eyebrows, are small and gray, and hard. His ears stand out from his head like spinnakers. When he smiles his mouth turns up slightly at the corners. He has a sense of humor, which is more than can be said of most pugilists, and he enjoys the company of men who talk about things not identified with his own interests. In time he may change, but as yet he abhors to talk about himself.

In weight he is no match for Jeffries. He strips at 198 pounds. But a blow with 198 pounds of bone and living muscle behind it can easily be powerful enough to knock out any man in the world.

In height Munroe is 5 feet 11 ½ inches in his stocking feet. This is over two inches less than Jeffries and half an inch less than Fitzsimmons, but it is three inches more than Sharkey, and there was a time when Tom Sharkey was considered Jeffries’s equal at the fighting game.

Some day, not so far away, Munroe will meet Sharkey in the roped arena. Then it will be possible to get a good line on him. It may be that the miner-football player is of championship stuff.

Munroe admitted to-day that Mary MacLane was a schoolmate of his in Butte, and when it was suggested that he and Mary had done quite a little to popularize Butte, the miner-pugilist replied:

“Oh, I don’t know. A lot of good people have come out of Butte, and there are a lot of them there yet. Besides, I am not in the same class with Mary MacLane.”

St. Louis Republic, 18 Jan 1903, Pt III, p 3


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