June 11th, 1951
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Boxer, singer and sometime Hollywood star Jack Doyle, aka “The Gorgeous Gael”, met an equally colourful (and ageing) Italian-American heavyweight, Tony “Two Ton” Galento, in a wrestling match in Tolka Park, witnessed by Quidnunc of the Irishman’s Diary. -
WHEN I reached it [Tolka Park], I found an astonishing press of burgesses present, most of them wearing the look of vacuous expectancy that may be found on the faces of spectators at any street excavation but all of them considerably more vocal.
I arrived in the middle of an engagement between a mellow gentleman called Pat Magee and a slightly less mature mat-man who bore an Italian name. The crowd discarded his programme name for the simpler “Romeo,” while well-informed circles in the vicinity of the press seats insisted that he came from Whitehall or Glasnevin . . .
Now, the stage was set for the epic of the night, and the breathing of the sportsmen behind me, had it been harnessed to a monster windcharger could have saved the E.S.B. the fuel crisis of ten years.
Mr. Doyle was the first of the two major artists to enter. The Minstrel Boy did not bring his pipers this time – he didn’t even bring his harp. Instead, he climbed into the ring to the strains of “Come Back to Erin,” played on a rather uncertain gramophone. He was robed in a gown that might have been described as off-white, and he acknowledged his receptors a little absently-mindedly, with some of the air of a duchess who wasn’t sure if she had invited quite the right people to tea.
Signor Galento, who was also played in by “Come Back to Erin,” had properly chosen a rich and sombre black gown relieved with gold. It befitted his imperial Roman dignity, for the Signor reminded me, at first sight, of a larger Edward G.
Robinson playing Caligula Cæsar for Cecil B. de Mille . . .
The bout was produced with a thought for everybody. The first couple of rounds might be described in musical terms as Andante.
Messrs. Doyle and Galento stalked each other round the ring with every appearance of the ferocity that had been promised, and then disposed themselves on the boards, more or less gracefully at each side of the ring in turn, so that all the customers might have their money’s worth.
My knowledge of 18th century dancing is not expert, so that I couldn’t be sure whether they were dancing a Pavane or a Menuetto, but I became conscious of a growing irritation that Signor Galento did not seize his chance to gain a decisive grip on Mr. Doyle by the nethermost of Mr. Doyle’s chins. He could easily have had two fistfuls of it at any time, and once strategically attached thus, he would have been very hard to shake off.
Beside me, a young woman with glazed, rapturous eyes and an open mouth watched Mr. Doyle as a rabbit watches a weasel. She spoke once when inelegantly, but with much emotion, she said: “I hate his guts, but I wouldn’t like to see him losing.”