The Apparition in the Prize Ring
Click on image to enlarge.
by Robert E. Howard
Description: "The Apparition in the Prize Ring" was published in Ghost Stories in 1929. This pulp was a little different from most. It was an oversize magazine format, 8x12, and featured stories from various people who were telling allegedly true stories. REH sold them a weird boxing story, writing as John Taverel, the mythical manager of a mythical black fighter named Ace Jessel. This is one of the few stories where the protaganist is black, as is the antagonist. For those curious about REH's views on race, this is a good story to read. This story has never been reprinted in any mainstream publication.
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 1929 Ghost Stories
eBookwise Release Date: September 2002
21 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [29 KB]
Reading time: 16-23 min.
THE APPARITION IN THE PRIZE RING
READERS OF THIS magazine will probably remember Ace Jessel, the big negro boxer whom I managed a few years ago. He was an ebony giant, four inches over six feet tall, with a fighting weight of 230 pounds. He moved with the smooth ease of a gigantic leopard and his pliant steel muscles rippled under his shiny skin. A clever boxer for so large a man, he carried the smashing jolt of a trip-hammer in each huge fist.
It was my belief that he was the equal of any man in the ring at that time--except for one fatal defect. He lacked the killer instinct. He had courage in plenty, as he proved on more than one occasion--but he was content to box mostly, outpointing his opponents and piling up just enough lead to keep from losing.
Every so often the crowds booed him, but their taunts only broadened his good-natured grin. However, his fights continued to draw a big gate, because, on the rare occasions when he was stung out of a defensive role or when he was matched with a clever man whom he had to knock out in order to win, the fans saw a real fight that thrilled their blood. Even so, time and again he stepped away from a sagging foe, giving the beaten man time to recover and return to the attack--while the crowd raved and I tore my hair.
The one abiding loyalty in Ace's happy-go-lucky life was a fanatical worship of Tom Molyneaux, first champion of America and a sturdy fighting man of color; according to some authorities, the greatest black ringman that ever lived.
Tom Molyneaux died in Ireland a hundred years ago but the memory of his valiant deeds in American and Europe was Ace Jessel's direct incentive to action. As a boy, toiling on the wharves, he had heard an account of Tom's life and battles and the story had started him on the fistic trail.