Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mark Twain

On Saturday, December 30, 1893, Mark Twain, along with Henry H. Rogers and others, attended boxing matches at the New York Athletic Club. They saw Frank Craig, the Harlem "Coffee Cooler," defeat "the white man" Joe Ellingsworth. Twain wrote to his wife Livy:

Mr. Archbold of the Standard Oil got tickets for us & he & Mr. Rogers & Dr. Rice & I went to the Athletic Club last Saturday night & saw the Coffee Cooler dress off another prize fighter in great style. There were 10 rounds; but at the end of the fifth the Coffee Cooler knocked the white man down & he couldn't get up any more. A round consists of only 3 minutes; then the men retire to their corners and sit down and lean their heads back against a post and gasp and pant like fishes, while one man fans them with a fan, another with a table-cloth, another rubs their legs and sponges off their faces and shoulders and blows sprays of water in their faces from his own mouth. Only one minute is allowed for this; then time is called and they jump up and go to fighting again. It is absorbingly interesting.

- Letter to Olivia Clemens, January 4, 1894, reprinted in The Love Letters of Mark Twain, (Harper & Bros., 1949), p. 287.


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