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Old 12-01-2007, 06:52 PM   #1
mcvey
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Default Billy Miske, how true is it?

The story goes that Miske is dying of Brights disease,he retires ,is forced to comeback due to finances,he wins a fight ,then gets a title shot from his pal Dempsey who kos him,when Miske dies he says to those around his bed "tell Jack thanks ,thanks from Billy",is it true or apocryphal? After his title shot in1920 ,Miske fought on for 3 more years having around 24 more fights ,losing none of them ,and in his last year kos Bill Brennan,so how much of the yarn is true ,and how much is embellishment?We know he died from Brights disease but how sick was he when he was fighting ,those last 3 years?
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

He had one of the best periods of his entire career the years before he died, so probably his ability wasn't effected much.
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Old 12-02-2007, 05:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
He had one of the best periods of his entire career the years before he died, so probably his ability wasn't effected much.
Its a touching story ,but Ive often wondered how much substance to attach to it.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcvey
Its a touching story ,but Ive often wondered how much substance to attach to it.


I agree with Chris in that, while he was ill for a period, it can't have affected him that much to be fighting for the big one. The last words are obviously bullshit, one of those stories that probably came out about 30 years later. He may have said "Tell Jack thanks if you ever see him" in the weeks/months leading up to his death but he was unconscious for a fair while before he died. A week or so I think. So that's just more 'legend' shite...one for the likes of Janitor , dmt and co.

Last edited by dmt; 10-16-2006 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Ha ha, 'last edited by dmt'.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

In that case i don't want to know what the initial post said.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

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Originally Posted by My dinner with Conteh
I agree with Chris in that, while he was ill for a period, it can't have affected him that much to be fighting for the big one. The last words are obviously bullshit, one of those stories that probably came out about 30 years later. He may have said "Tell Jack thanks if you ever see him" in the weeks/months leading up to his death but he was unconscious for a fair while before he died. A week or so I think. So that's just more 'legend' shite...one for the likes of Janitor , dmt and co.
"Print the legend" John Ford.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:43 AM   #8
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by My dinner with Conteh
I agree with Chris in that, while he was ill for a period, it can't have affected him that much to be fighting for the big one. The last words are obviously bullshit, one of those stories that probably came out about 30 years later. He may have said "Tell Jack thanks if you ever see him" in the weeks/months leading up to his death but he was unconscious for a fair while before he died. A week or so I think. So that's just more 'legend' shite...one for the likes of Janitor , dmt and co.
i never said Miske was ill or this was a "legenadary" fight or whatever. I myself said Miske had plenty of wins afterwards and therefore he wasn't that past his best when they fought

and if i were defending Dempsey, it's not like i'd say Miske was shot or anything. The truth is a man who can win several fights vs top contenders afterwards is not shot or anything. I have always said that
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

I'm guessing Miske was diagnosed before he fought Dempsey with what was then any incurable condition.

Having been disgnosed he knew his days were numbered, but that's not the same as your remaining days being ones of sickness or weakness, they clearly weren't.

Miske may have been tip-top as far as FIGHTING FORM goes in the title shot and his next run of fights, regardless of the fact that one of his vital internal organs was terminally diseased.

We've seen some pretty damned impressive athletes who turned out to be HIV+ in recent years.

I believe the story that Miske DID disclose his medical condition to Dempsey and Dempsey was persuaded to give the guy a shot partly out of kindness, friendship and professional comaraderie. But I dont believe anyone thought Miske was fighting in any actually weakened or declining state. All the evidence points to Miske being a very solid fighter right up to his final months when the illness did eventually manifest itself in a debilitating manner.

Of course, ill-informed Dempsey haters are likely to jump on this story and imagine Miske as being dragged from a hospital bed to fight Dempsey and then crawling back there to die soon after the fight.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
He had one of the best periods of his entire career the years before he died, so probably his ability wasn't effected much.
The story is true. Miske knew boxing could not make him any sicker, so he fought on for his family.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:28 AM   #11
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Wonder if any film of the bout exists??
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:39 AM   #12
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny's jab
I'm guessing Miske was diagnosed before he fought Dempsey with what was then any incurable condition.

Having been disgnosed he knew his days were numbered, but that's not the same as your remaining days being ones of sickness or weakness, they clearly weren't.

Miske may have been tip-top as far as FIGHTING FORM goes in the title shot and his next run of fights, regardless of the fact that one of his vital internal organs was terminally diseased.

We've seen some pretty damned impressive athletes who turned out to be HIV+ in recent years.

I believe the story that Miske DID disclose his medical condition to Dempsey and Dempsey was persuaded to give the guy a shot partly out of kindness, friendship and professional comaraderie. But I dont believe anyone thought Miske was fighting in any actually weakened or declining state. All the evidence points to Miske being a very solid fighter right up to his final months when the illness did eventually manifest itself in a debilitating manner.

Of course, ill-informed Dempsey haters are likely to jump on this story and imagine Miske as being dragged from a hospital bed to fight Dempsey and then crawling back there to die soon after the fight.
A very thoughtful post!
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:57 AM   #13
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

What I've read indicates that initially he was quite ill, and that the money from the Dempsey purse helped him get the treatment for his condition. (not cure, obviously)

If he was fighting professionally, especially in those days, he can't have been in too bad a shape.

Dempseys quote was something like "I put him away early for his own good." which I found amusing and ironic, the implication he was at his most savage and cruel to save Miske from a gruelling long bout.
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Old 12-08-2007, 09:09 PM   #14
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Brights disease is/was a generic term for a variety of Kidney ailments that doctors knew little about in those days and didnt know how to treat. Miske did suffer from one of these diseases and it was terminal the deal was that his symptoms were intermittent which isnt uncommon with such kidney ailments. You can be bedridden for months and then spend years seemingly healthy. Another thing to consider about Miske is that his illness wasnt a total secret even before the Dempsey bout. Many fighters willingly wore the handcuffs in unimportant bouts against him to further his career and purses. His last fight against Bill Brennan seems impressive until you read the ringside reports of the bout which make it very clear that Brennan was not trying at all. In fact his purse was withheld and given to charity after the bout and he was barred from fighting by that particular commission.

In regards to another question the fight with Dempsey was filmed. Ive seen advertisements for the film and Ive even been fortunate enough to find snippets of it but nothing very interesting. Supposedly the film was a failure because Miske looked so bad. I was told that by Steve Lott who used to work for Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs.

Hope this sheds light on an interesting story of boxing. BTW Ive spoken with Miske's daughter before who helped to reiterate many of the legends about Miske.
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Old 12-08-2007, 09:21 PM   #15
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Default Re: Billy Miske, how true is it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by klompton
Brights disease is/was a generic term for a variety of Kidney ailments that doctors knew little about in those days and didnt know how to treat. Miske did suffer from one of these diseases and it was terminal the deal was that his symptoms were intermittent which isnt uncommon with such kidney ailments. You can be bedridden for months and then spend years seemingly healthy. Another thing to consider about Miske is that his illness wasnt a total secret even before the Dempsey bout. Many fighters willingly wore the handcuffs in unimportant bouts against him to further his career and purses. His last fight against Bill Brennan seems impressive until you read the ringside reports of the bout which make it very clear that Brennan was not trying at all. In fact his purse was withheld and given to charity after the bout and he was barred from fighting by that particular commission.

In regards to another question the fight with Dempsey was filmed. Ive seen advertisements for the film and Ive even been fortunate enough to find snippets of it but nothing very interesting. Supposedly the film was a failure because Miske looked so bad. I was told that by Steve Lott who used to work for Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs.

Hope this sheds light on an interesting story of boxing. BTW Ive spoken with Miske's daughter before who helped to reiterate many of the legends about Miske.
Really excellent and interesting post.

That first part about what shape he was really in and if his opponents were actually trying in all cases is interesting. I've wondered about that. I remember reading Dorothy Kilgallen's piece on Miske's last days and he is moribund but somehow rises from his deathbed to ko Brennan and get himself enough money to buy presents for his kids for Christmas. It is not surprising that if Brennan knew the situation he might have done the noble thing and taken a dive.

Dempsey did state in his autobiography in the late fifties that he knew Miske was dying and gave him a shot to make money, ko'ing him quickly as a mercy.
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