MMA Root

Fighting for His Family: The Billy Miske Story



Billy Miske, a middleweight St. Paul, Minn., Has just arrived in the city. He has issued a challenge to any of the boys who are overweight. “(Milwaukee Free-Press, September 14, 1913)

One of the closest men in history stood just six feet tall and weighed about 160 pounds. Pasty white, knobby knees, and fists flew faster than even his insinuated nickname: the St. Paul Thunderbolt.

Billy Miske was a boxer, a greasy man with grit and determination. Born in 1894, he was destined for many years of glory for many years with pennies and a hungry mouth. He married, had children, and was broken. Broke dead.

But Miske used the skills God had given him to end up coming together: he bawled his fist and crossed opponent after opponent in the ring. Her style was orthodox; not sexy, not flashy, but fast and decisive. Every bribe, every hook, every hug was thrown with purpose, whether they landed or not. In preparation for each fight, Miske would punch himself in his own jaw 10 times a day.

Miske fought toe-to-toe with some of the greatest boxers of the era: Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, and Battling Lavinsky among others. During his illustrative career, Miske accumulated somewhere around 45 wins, 34 of which by knockout. The early 1900s are known as the “Undecided” era, which means that a game that did not decide to knock in some states was not considered a decision, and therefore did not fit in with the boxer ‘s overall record. Miske could have had nearly 100 career wins if it hadn’t been for the period he fought.

But Miske was not involved in the peaks. His family did. He would do everything he needed to supply them, and if he grinded through 15 rounds of charming pounds on that, it was all for him. But his time in the ring was evident in 1919.

At the mature age of 24, Miske told his coach Jack Reddy that he was feeling more tired than usual. Naturaly he attributed it to boxing. After a few visits from doctors, however, Miske learned the terrible news: he was battling Bright’s disease, a serious kidney condition for which there was no cure. Doctors gave Miske about 5 years before he died. But even worse, Miske was told he could no longer fight.

Telling a man like Miske that he can no longer fight is like telling a tiger to let the herd of antelope walk through without pouncing on one. Miske put him out of his mission in his final years to do one thing: provide financial stability for his family. If that meant boxing through massive pain and fatigue? Be that as it may.

Miske chose not to tell his family of his condition. Marie and her kids didn’t have to worry, and the last thing he wanted was someone telling him he shouldn’t fight. Miske tried other ways to make money. He used his life savings to set up a car sales shop. Unfortunately for Billy, as good as he was at boxing, he was so bad at managing business. He only had to fight to cover losses from the seller.

Miske’s options were limited. What gave him money, the only thing in this world that he was very good at, physicians told him was that it would harm his health and even shorten his limited lifespan. But Miske believed that if he could fight enough games, even if he didn’t win, he could get money to continue putting food on the table. Billy Miske continued to fight as if nothing had ever happened. He continued with regular training routines with coach Jack Reddy. He fought (and won) many games in the years following his fatal diagnosis.

In today’s era when we rarely see a boxer fight more than a game or two, Miske was involved in dozens of fights. In 1922 alone he stood in the ring 15 times. If his kidneys were failing, the outside world certainly did not know it. But as the interiors began to close down, so did Billy. There weren’t many games. Miske felt too bad to fight. He ate nothing but boiled fish, and could barely move around to get the pain, much less dancing around throwing jobs in a boxing ring.

In 1923, Miske may feel the end. The light at the end of the tunnel of his life lay ever closer. He knew, however, that he could not leave this land until he was convinced that his family was safe. As the crispness of the fall finally took its toll on the midwest, Billy called his coach, his good friend Jack Reddy, and told him death was hitting harder than ever. He had to fight.

Reddy immediately rejected the notion. He was in no way allowing Billy, a 29-year-old man with a broken and fragile body like an elderly man to step into a ring and pump it. Reddy was preparing to give Miske money to help with bills and holiday expenses that Billy was facing in the coming months. Here ‘s what Billy Miske told him: “I’ve never taken a sheet, and I won’t start now. Jack, I’m ready and I just want to give Marie and the kids a good Christmas before I check in. You get me a pay day, for the sake of the old time. “

Reddy reluctantly agreed, knowing that nothing was changing St. Paul Thunderbolt’s mind. He fought Bill Brennan “KO”, a man equal to Miske even at the peak of his career. Miske did not stand a chance. He was not even in good health to train for the fight. How could he even get into the ring with Brennan?

That was the thing about Miske. You couldn’t judge him by his appearance. It may have looked more like a minimum wage factory grunt than an excellent prize fighter, but Miske had the heart of a lion. That lion-hearted “Bren” beat Bill Brennan in the 4th round, earning him a handsome payroll of $ 2,400.

December 1923 would be special in the Miske family. Billy knew it was probably his last, but he had been reassured for a long time. It would be worth looking at his kids’ opening Christmas gifts that he couldn’t get before. Looking at his wife Marie, tick the ivory on the grand piano he bought her, it put more than sweet music in his heart.

On December 26, the day after Christmas, Miske called his good friend Jack Reddy and told him he was dying. Jack came and picked him up to go to the hospital where he would eventually reveal his fatal condition to Marie. 5 days later, at age 29, Billy Miske’s kidneys did what Miske never did: they stopped fighting. Miske died January 1, 1924.

Miske’s story traveled swiftly through the community, the state and the world of boxing. Tommy Gibbons, a boxing giant at the time and a man who repeatedly fought Miske about Billy, had this to say about Billy:

“Billy Miske was one of the gamest teammates who ever wore the gloves. He was always a gentleman in the ring; he always fought according to the rules and never caught an opponent unaided or resorted to rough tactics. “

In fact, Billy Miske is a hero. A man who fought with passion and who loved with passion. Billy Miske has left a legacy that every man can do his best. The moments of happiness with the family are more important than the deadly worries we may have about ourselves. Billy Miske had a selfless life, a life that did not show the odd appearance, it is always worth fighting for the family.

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