Joe Louis

by Hurley B. Carlisle

 

In 1950, to my astonishment Ben Davenport somehow managed to book Joe Louis for Dailey Brothers proposed Canadian tour.  He didn't splash his name all over the wagons like he had for Doug Autry the previous year.  For Joe would not join us until we crossed the border.  As I remember, he splurged on Joe Louis paper to plaster half the barns and billboards in Canada.  I think that Joe was still plagued by the IRS for back taxes, as he was for the rest of his life.  I don't think he got any tax benefits out of touring Canada.  He was to appear in a wrestling show that Dailey had been having in previous seasons.  Joe was to be the referee.

 

We crossed into Canada at Windsor, Ontario that season.  I remember a pretty big house.  The wrestling match was in the aftershow.  Previously the aftershow had been only 25 cents for a ticket.  But I think they got 50 cents, maybe a dollar for a wrestling match with Joe Louis refereeing.  We show folks were also eager to see Joe referee the wrestling.  I might mention that Ben Davenport gave Joe the use of his suite in Sleeper 100.  I don't know if Joe had the whole car or not.

 

Joe usually had a woman or two riding along.  On the lot Joe was a really nice fellow.  You could ask him for a picture, and he would put up his dukes.  You had something to talk about then.  I owned no camera,  thieves were too bad.

 

The aftershow was like this.  The announcer introduced the show wrestler, a fat guy wearing really ugly purple tights.  They wrestled in the circus ring on a mat that they spread out.  The announcer would say that our wrestler challenged any man from the audience...one fall to a finish, Texas style.  After a pause our plant would come out from the audience, with a program in one hand and a popcorn box in the other.  Our plant at first was Tarzan, a Hollywood-type with a great physique.  Tarzan left and was replaced by Carl Barron.  Both were friends of mine.  The plant would "be sent to the dressing room for wrestling trunks".  Actually he had them already on.

 

Then the announcer would give a big introduction for Joe Louis, and the crowd would go wild, for this is what they came to see.  Joe would come out wearing an old fashioned undershirt on top so the audience could see his muscles.

 

After the cheers stopped the match would begin.  The fat guy would start fouling the "towner" right away.  Joe would be counting the house and would not see a thing.  The audience would get noisy----

 

"Joe!  He's pulling his hair!"

"Joe, he's gouging his eyes!"

 

Joe would keep on counting the house, ignoring the shouts.  Then would come more fouls.

 

"Joe, he's stepping on his head!

"Joe, he's got something in his boot!"

 

Joe would finally get an inkling of the dirty tricks of the fat guy.  He would demand to see what was in his boot, with the fat guy protesting his innocence.  The "towner"  would be staggering around on rubber legs.

 

Finally Joe would catch the fat guy in the act and He would hit him.  It sounded like hitting a side of beef.  The fat guy would fall down.  The "towner" would miraculously recover.  He would quickly clean the fat guy's plow for him, pinning him to the ground.  Joe would hold up the "towner's" hand and the match would be over, except for the audience giving the fat guy hell.  He would give them the finger.

 

Joe left us in the middle of our tour.  I think he went back to fight Ezzard Charles.

 

We had 2 weeks of paper out on him.  They had a 7 foot brown bear that they put in the ring as replacement for Joe, a poor replacement.  He was muzzled and had on thick leather slapper gloves.  I can see him in my mind's eye, striding across the ring, dragging his handlers on a big collar chain.  It was funny.  Drunks came at him like moths to a light.  He just drew them from the audience and slapped them silly.  Today personal injury lawyers would destroy a show that would do that.

 

Alas, the bear could not replace Joe Louis.  Our whole business dropped off and the show folded when it got back to the US.

 

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