Introduction to Red Hot Hoofs
For some film historians, if not all, there is an underlying philosophy that motivates the rediscovery of lost silent films: We take what we can get. In a way this might be more applicable to the process of film restoration and digitization, but what about the rediscovery of alternative sources when a silent film remains lost?
According to the Library of Congress, 75% of silent films made before 1929 are lost. These silent films may be lost, although paper-based remnants in the form of posters, film stills – and film booklets often survive. What exactly are film booklets? A film booklet, so named, is a derivative of a silent or sound film, usually published for consumer use, and distributed at movie palaces during the 1920’s to 1940’s, as in the case of Biblioteca Films, published in Barcelona, Spain. Other film booklets, such as Boy’s Cinema and Girl’s Cinema, published in London, England, were available by subscription. Still more film booklets include Los Films del Far West (Spain), Les Films du Far West (France), and Photo Aventures (France). These booklets, usually printed on thin, newspaper quality paper, contained the story, dialogue, even stills from the silent film – stills that may be lost in their original form, but have been preserved in these film booklets.
In the case of silent film leading man Tom Tyler, approximately one half of the silent films he made for Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) from 1925 to 1929 and Syndicate Pictures in 1929 exist in the form of film booklets, which have been published in Spain, and approximately one third of these silent films actually exist on 35mm or 16mm in European film archives – a much higher survival rate than most leading actors from Hollywood’s silent film era.
Over the last five years I have had the privilege of purchasing a few original copies of Biblioteca Films film booklets based on Tom Tyler’s silent films, preserving them in acid-free sleeves. One of these booklets is titled “Por la fuerza de los puños”, or “Red Hot Hoofs”, a 1926 produced by FBO.
One of the reasons I have selected “Red Hot Hoofs” for this translation project is for its genre of being a boxing film – and also the very last film that champion heavyweight boxer Al Kaufman ever made. Matched up against Tom Tyler’s muscle power, watching him taking on Kaufman must have been one of the most thrilling moments in silent film history for both Kaufman and Tyler fans alike. Moreover, 1926, the year this silent film was released, was also the year Tom won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) heavyweight weightlifting championship for the second year in a row, so he was in perfect shape for the role in “Red Hot Hoofs”.
Hailing from North Dakota, Al Kaufman fought Jack Johnson, Al Palzer, and Luther McCarty during his career from 1905 to 1915. Kaufman appeared in 28 silent films, ten of them film shorts. Among these silent films include “The Egg Crate Wallop” (1919), “Fighting Bill” (1921), “Afraid to Fight” (1922), and “Battling Bunyan” (1924). In “Red Hot Hoofs”, Kaufman portrays Battling Jack Riley, a nationally famous boxing champion who travels to the small western town of Bodie for an exhibition – and an offer of one thousand dollars to any man in town willing to accept the challenge of being in the boxing ring with him for three rounds. As a guest on the Jim Morris Ranch, Riley practices training for the big event, taking on the burly cowboys one by one, only to knock them all out. But there is am embezzler living at the Morris Ranch, who must replace a certain sum of money he stole from the local bank – and must decide if he will fight Riley in the ring in order to win the thousand dollar prize.
Translating “Por la fuerza de los puños” was no easy task. Technically, Catalan is the official language of the region Catalonia (Catalunya) where Barcelona is located – and the publishing hub of Spain during this time period – although Biblioteca Films film booklets were published in the standard Castilian language of Spain. Additionally, the role Frankie Darro has as Tom’s little brother in the silent film is reassigned as being Dorothy Dunbar’s little brother in the film booklet. The third challenge was correcting the name of Riley’s manager, which had been “Anglicized” to Jack Burns in the Spanish translation, while his silent film character name is Al Skelly. The fourth challenge of translation was the re-creation of the story as it may have happened on the silent film screen. There is next to no information about George Washington Yates Jr., the author of “Red Hot Hoofs” online, even less information on the publication history of the story. Yates also has this only story credited to his name in IMDB.
With the above challenges overcome, there were a few benefits to my credit in translating “Por la fuerza de los puños”, the main one being my six-year familiarity with Tom Tyler’s silent film career and exposure to the plots, film synopses, and many posters and stills. Second, the ability to visualize the story as it may have happened in the silent film required some creativity as well as a critical viewing “The Texas Tornado” (available on DVD) and “Phantom of the Range” (Youtube), both released in 1928 by FBO. A critical evaluation of Tom’s readily available silent films enabled me to bring to life the memorable scenes of “Red Hot Hoofs” as they happened on the silver screen: Frankie Darro slipping mothballs into a box of chocolates in which Al Kaufman proceeds to eat; the romantic scene between Tom and Dorothy Dunbar in the garden near the boxing training grounds on the Morris ranch; and the main event where Tom fights Kaufman in the boxing ring, punching out the champion. I have also attempted to reconstruct the five chapters in the story from this 5-reel 35mm Tom Tyler silent film.
-Mary, Owner, Aventuras de Tom Tyler
This translation of "Por la fuerza de los puños" is copyright Aventuras de Tom Tyler, 2020. No part of this translation, nor the Introduction, may be reproduced anywhere in any format. If you would like to link to this translation from your website, please contact me first at Aventurasdetomtyler_at_triggertom.com. Thank you! -Mary
Red Hot Hoofs
The small western town of Bodie was decorated with crepe paper and balloons, its citizens congregating and exchanging comments about the big event about to take place in their humble ranch town. Battling Jack Riley, the famous boxer, was making an appearance in town, and as part of the show, offered to challenge any of the burly cowboys in town with a cash prize of $1,000.00 offered to the winner. One citizen chirped to another: “This will put Bodie on the map.” Another citizen held a newspaper up at eye level; the larger-than-normal headline font read: “Battling Jack Riley to appear in Brodie.” In front of the crowd was the mayor and sheriff, along with the cowboys from the Morris ranch. The Morris cowboys were known for their physical strength and fistful of punches, often honing their boxing skills with each other during off-duty time. Standing on the platform of the train station, the mayor and sheriff waited for the arrival of the deputy, who had promised that Riley would arrive early but did not, much to their consternation. The sheriff whispered to the mayor:
“Your speech will impress Riley, Mr. Mayor, today is the day to show off your oration you spent a whole week composing.”
The grumpy mayor, who wore a brown suit with matching hat, white shirt and black bowtie, replied: “Get away from me. Come near me and I will leave this platform.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Mr. Mayor, if you leave now, citizens will boo and hiss you. If you don’t want that to happen, you will make your speech and fast.” The sheriff gave the mayor of Bodie a smug smile.
The citizens who gathered now continued to comment among themselves as the hour of Riley’s arrival in Bodie was approaching. One of the last citizens to join the gathering was Tom Buckley, foreman of the Morris Ranch, who desired to meet his hero with enthusiasm.
The 6’2” tall Tom was accompanied by his younger brother Frankie, who was delighted to meet Battling Jack Riley, who was in turn accompanied by his dog, Beans. The three pals were never absent from whenever action was taking place, and they did everything together, from telling jokes to eating lunch. Jim Morris, the patriarch of the Morris ranch, stood on the platform, announced that he was making his ranch available to Riley as boxing training grounds, knowing that his cowhands would be delighted to observe a prizefighter practice his punches.
Lingering nearby on the platform next to Jim Morris was the prettiest girl in Bodie: Frances Morris, Jim’s daughter, was a rare jewel of a woman to behold, being petite and slim, her dark hair bobbed and waved in the style of the period, with her youthful, sparkling eyes conveying innocence. Frances attracted many an admirer, but her chief interest was Tom Buckley. She won many a beauty contest when she was only in her teens, but upon discovering these contests were not suited to her puritanical personality, her father Jim soon put an end to her taking part in beauty contests. Standing next to Frances was her older brother Gerald, who also wanted to pay tribute to Riley. Having a college education, Gerald worked at a branch of a bank headquartered in New York City. Everyone continued chatting, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the train with its esteemed passenger in first-class. It was not long before the good people of Bodie heard the whistle of the train approaching the station, and the sheer noise shook the platform, increasing the excitement that Riley was going to experience once he stepped down from the train. A huge applause ensued once the citizens saw Riley seated by a window on a train. Riley’s face broke out into a huge grin as he saw the “Welcome Battling Riley” signs gracing the front of the train station. Everyone in Bodie held their breath as Riley emerged from the train, all 6’1” and 205 pounds of him, wearing a fine light gray suit with a dark gray tie, and ivy cap. Being a successful prizefighter enabled Jack Riley to afford the best threads, which certainly impressed everyone in the small western ranch town. What impressed him even more was the present reaction of the crowd before him, who chanted in unison:
“Long live champion Battling Jack Riley! Long live the hero of Bodie!” Flags and banners wove in the air, while some people whistled, everyone waved, and those in front enthusiastically thrust out their hands so they might give Riley a welcoming handshake. Even Riley’s manager Al Skelly got caught up in the crowd due to all the excitement. The mayor and sheriff attempted to instill order what with all the hullabaloo, but not without a concerted effort on the part of the crowd. As soon as there was a moment of silence, the mayor made his speech.
“I am proud to introduce Battling Jack Riley our champion prizefighter, to the city of Brodie, our hospitality, and undying support for his success in the boxing ring!” The mayor was cheered by the crowd, everyone including Riley clapped their hands.
“Bravo! You spoke for all of us,” said the Sheriff to the Mayor, who nodded with a smile. The band started performing Black Bottom and Charleston music. Honored to be in the presence of the famous boxer, the men up front appreciated the privilege, but while their eyes never left Riley, Riley was giving his attention to Frances, whose eyelids slowly lowered in shyness as she smiled at him. Riley’s manager said their stagecoach was ready to leave with them on board for the Morris ranch, where they were scheduled to stay in town. With their luggage already in the back of the stage, Riley and his manager boarded, and took off down the dirt road, a trail of dust kicked up high by the horses pulling the stage, as if they were also as delighted to be part of the revelry, in tune to the music which continued playing, until the stagecoach disappeared from sight.
Back at the Morris ranch, Riley and his manager established a schedule of training before the night of the big performance in town. Riley tried to concentrate on the various boxing punches, but his mind kept drifting back to Frances Morris. Staying at her father’s ranch made it difficult for the prizefighter to forget about her. Typical of professional boxers, Battling Jack Riley had the weathered looks, the cauliflower ears, a nose broken enough times to appear completely flat and crooked. Gerald Morris sat in the chair in the living room near Skelly after supper, and the two men exchanged words about the boxing event to come.
“It will be interesting to see how the cowboys stack up to Riley with the training,” Gerald had someone in mind who would be the perfect match for Riley but did not drop any names.
“It will not be fun for them,” replied Al Skelly, looking at Tom in a mocking manner. As foreman, Tom always took part at the Morris dining table and evenings. Tom sat next to Frances on the sofa, with Riley sitting on her other side, sandwiched between two strong men.
Tom’s eyes became steely in appearance. “It all depends on what is in the fight for us,” he said grimly. He remained seated next to Frances.
Skelly gave a smirk. “I know what is in their interest,” raising his head. “$1,000.00 to the cowboy who can go three rounds in the ring with Riley.”
Tom’s younger brother Frankie heard what Skelly said, and already standing next to where Tom was seated on the sofa, whispered into his big brother’s ear: “How little do they know about you, you can knock Riley out with just one punch.” Tom’s wide eyes and slightly opened mouth slowly transformed into a smile as he thanked the boy.
“Let Skelly say what he wants. He is just trying to talk big.” Tom crossed his arms, giving Riley a glance of indifference.
“Well I’m telling the truth, Tom. I find Riley extremely unpleasant. If I was bigger, I’d punch him out!” The precocious Frankie said his piece before politely excusing himself to bed in front of everyone for the night. Suddenly Frankie got an idea to play a practical joke on Battling Jack Riley, and he knew exactly what to do.
The next evening when the Morris family and Riley gathered round in the living room, Frankie glanced at a box of chocolates Riley was planning to give Frances. Being sneaky, Frankie opened the box, put some mothballs from his pants pocket and placed them in the candy box where two empty paper cups stood, a designation that two chocolates previously in there were eaten by Riley. Now Riley was giving his undivided attention to Frances during this entire time, but as soon as he remembered the box of candy, he reached over to the end table where it was positioned, and held the box in his hands, removing the lid.
“Have some chocolates, Frances.” Frances however was not very fond of sweets and turned up her nose at the candy. Being thoroughly sick of Riley’s brassy manner, she told herself he was the very last man she would accept any candy from. “But Frances, they are delicious.” To prove his point, Riley picked up the two mothballs without looking at them and ate them. What should have been an expression of pleasure tasting fine chocolate soon turned one of displeasure. Riley noticed the strange taste, but Frances continued to watch him mockingly, as if she was in on Frankie’s practical joke. Riley chewed, then finally swallowed the mothballs, making every grimace he could muster. Because Frankie stood by the end table the entire time the event transpired, Riley suddenly put two and two together, rose from his seat, and advanced towards Frankie, who stepped back in Tom’s direction.
“Do not touch this child when I am here,” Tom began, giving the champion boxer a threatening look, standing in front of his little brother.
Riley glowered at Tom. “Then I will deal with you.” Both men stood in the middle of the living room, Frankie out of the way, and out of nowhere, Tom delivered such a powerful punch to Riley that the boxer lost his balance and went to the floor – right in front of the family. Riley would not be decimated in the host’s house, and getting to his feet, tried to approach the situation from a different angle.
“If I were not a gentleman, I would fight you here in front of Frances. But since I have manners…”
“Since when are you afraid to fight in front of a woman?” Tom replied with a smile. Riley was close to losing his cool right in front of Frances but did not want to appear he would fight over a woman not as interested in him as he was in her. “Well then let’s step outside and finish this like men.”
Tom did not have to say anything but went outside the Morris ranch house, expecting Riley to follow him. Much to Tom’s surprise, Riley remained inside with Frances, when he said: “This time I will let this matter go.” In actuality Riley was more afraid of Tom’s physical strength and did not want to appear a defeatist in front of a woman he was in love with.
Frances looked at the boxer indifferently. “I appreciate it,” before turning away from him and retiring to her bedroom for the night.
Following this awkward situation, Riley pompously left with his manager. Frances sought Tom, visibly moved by his courageous stance against Riley, when she said:
“You did the right thing in standing up for your little brother Frankie…but not when you wanted to fight Riley…”
Tom knew he owed her an explanation. “I wanted to spare your seeing Frankie punished. It wasn’t totally his fault. Riley had it coming to him. My brother was just kidding around…”
“I admit that Riley could have brutally beaten Frankie, being in a rage…promise me that you will never again do anything to begrudge Riley.” Frances was sincere yet did not want to make it sound like Tom had to show any personal interest in her in front of Riley.
Tom replied: “I promise, Frances. I would do anything for you.” He exchanged a furtive glance with her, his undying devotion to the woman he knew since childhood, the love they shared blossomed from a friendship between a boy and girl that was rare. Even the smallest actions exchanged between them spoke openly of the nature of their relationship.
After Frances left Tom, she went to find her brother Gerald, who was absent from that evening’s family get together after supper. She had no idea why he avoided everyone that evening and was totally unprepared for what she saw in her brother’s bedroom. Gerald was sitting on his bed, his head buried in his hands, a feeling of great despair came over him. Frances approached him, asking him “Gerald? What is wrong? Why do you look so worried?”
Gerald remained quiet for a moment before replying: “It is nothing, Frances, please leave me alone.”
A forlorn look came across her face. “Won’t you please tell me what is wrong? Maybe I can help you.”
Gerald shook his head. “If I have to confess. I stole $800.00 from my job at the bank. I gambled it and lost.” His voice faded away.
A look of horror came across his sister’s face. Frances knew Gerald had gambling issues in the past, so why on earth would he try it again, especially money he was supposed to look after? “I warned you to give up gambling,” Frances began. “Now how are you going to replace it?”
“If you lend me $800.00 I will replace it before my boss finds out it is gone for good.”
Frances had an idea, but stated “Where could I get that money from?” Gerald looked at her with a glimpse of hope in his face, before falling into a state of despair again.
“Then there is no alternative for me but death or dishonor.” Gerald tried to think of the lesser of the two evils as suitable for him.
Frances gave him some encouragement. “Do not despair, I will try the impossible to help you.”
Gerald found his own courage. “Maybe I can fight Riley in the ring and go for three rounds against him. If I can hold my own for that long, I can win the $1,000.00.” Suddenly Gerald realized that deep down, there was no way he could fight Riley, when he could not even match the best cowboy fighters on the ranch.
“I don’t know how that could happen. Riley is a beast. He needs someone who is a physical match.” Gerald listened to his sister’s words which forced him to go out and in effect, change her mind on how she viewed him. He may be a bank clerk, but that necessarily mean he could not also possess the physical strength of a boxer? Sympathetically, Frances left Gerald to be by himself for awhile, to find a viable solution to his problem.
Stills from "Red Hot Hoofs", Motion Picture News, November 13, 1926
Gerald was convinced that by taking on Battling Jack Riley in the ring would be the quickest and easiest way for him to earn the money back. With this thought planted firmly in his mind, he left the house and walked over to the part of the ranch where Riley set up his training area. Some of the cowboys were nearby, along with Frankie, who also practiced various boxing punches. As in the boxing ring, Riley took on any cowboys who were willing to give their best shot, but they all got knocked down. Gerald took a swing at Riley and failed, ending up on the ground with a feeling of immediate defeat even before he got started. How could he possibly beat Riley in the boxing ring? Admitting defeat, the men got up and remained on the sidelines while Riley continued training for the big event. Talking amongst themselves, one cowboy said to another:
“Riley is invincible, no one can beat him.”
Tom stood nearby, watching the scene that unfolded before him, feeling sorry for Gerald. Frances arrived and stood next to Tom. She saw her brother on the ground before she turned away, walking to a corner of the area where a garden grew, so that Tom could not see her cry.
“Frances? Are you crying because your brother got hit by Riley?” Tom’s voice was soft and gentle.
Frances dried her eyes with a small hanky from her dress pocket. “No, it is not because of that.”
“Then why are you crying?” Tom knew how to gently prompt Frances into telling her anything. They have been good friends since childhood, why wouldn’t they confide their innermost thoughts to each other? They sat next to each other away from Riley’s training area.
“It’s just that we have known each other for so long….and what I am going to tell you must be kept secret. Gerald embezzled $800.00 from his job at the bank and gambled it away. Now he feels the need for punishment, which means a beating from Riley in order to win the $1,000.00 prize in order to put the money back in the bank.” Frances felt a huge weight lifted from her shoulders.
“Don’t worry Frances, I will solve this matter in a short amount of time. I will not do anything to let you down.” Tom looked at her, his eyes full of sincerity.
“Really, Tom?” Frances was delighted at Tom’s words of promise.
“Of course. With my strength and courage, I can take on Riley in the ring or anywhere else, for that matter.”
Frances replied: “But Riley is an experienced boxer, the best among boxers.”
Tom thought about that but refused to let it cause a diversion in how he felt right now. “I am not afraid of him. It takes a lot more than boxing fists to win a fight.”
Frances was not afraid to ask Tom his true feelings about the issue, to which he replied: “I would live my life a thousand times over just to see your eyes radiant with happiness.” In turn Frances breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, thank you! Your generosity has earned my deepest thanks – and deepest sympathy.” Her voice had an element of unconstrained worry. Frances knew deep down that Tom was the strongest man she has ever known, but could he really win a match against the one and only Battling Jack Riley?
“It is not your sympathy I need, Frances. We have known each other since we were children and reciprocating this relationship is an obligation.” The serious tone of Tom’s voice exhibited nothing but devotion to her.
“I do not know how to thank you for this gallant gesture,” Frances replied.
“I will think of something.” Tom gently held both hands of the woman he has loved for a long time and he had no intention of letting her down.
Riley completed a full night of training on the Morris ranch before retiring to bed, well fatigued with the assurance he beat the cowboys who competed with him, for it gave his ego a boost in preparation for the main boxing event in Bodie. The rustic garden on the ranch which became home for training grounds was now quiet, desolate, its beauty waiting for enjoyment for the right couple. Now Frances and Tom occupied the rustic beauty under a crescent moon. Soon Frances found herself getting completely lost in Tom. Tom remained composed for some time before he leaned over and shyly kissed Frances on her cheek. Frances was taken by surprise.
“Why did you kiss me like that?” She sounded more disappointed than what her expression revealed.
Tom bent his head sheepishly. “I’m sorry, Frances. Had I asked for a kiss, my request unworthy, as if I did not deserve to kiss you the way I wanted to…”
Frances did not want to encourage Tom in the wrong way. “This is how we kissed as children. I remember your innocent kisses on my cheeks many times.”
“True. There is nothing I would not give to comfort you now, to erase all your sadness and despair.” Tom could not bear to see Frances hurting like this.
Frances moved her head. “Thank you, Tom, I can see that we both agree and sympathize in a very different way now than when we were children.”
“Our love has matured from what it was in the past,” Tom explained. With that, the intimate couple shared a special moment of love, a love that required sacrifice, a love that required responsibility to each other. Frances may not have felt it, but she was more than ready for the type of love Tom desired.
“What about Gerald? I cannot be happy until he escapes the predicament he is in.” Frances still felt unsure, the nagging feeling that threatened her present feeling of contentment in Tom’s presence.
“That depends upon my boxing punches. I can beat Riley. I will not allow Gerald to go into the ring with a professional boxer.” Tom’s esteem grew slightly stronger at the thought of knocking out Riley in the boxing ring, right here in Bodie. A sudden sound from the stillness arose, that of Frankie’s dog Beans walking towards the house, paws crunching on gravel. Frances thought the noise would be her father coming out to fetch her for bedtime. Only two people existed in the world of this rustic garden though, and it was the longest moment of happiness not to be shattered by sudden noises. Tom held Frances in such a manner to kiss her on her lips, the kiss she was waiting so long for – the kiss that lasted the entire evening.
Early the next morning, Tom went to speak to Al Skelly. “Good morning, Mr. Skelly. Is the offer of $1,000.00 to whoever beats Riley or lasts three rounds in the boxing ring still good?”
Skelly took one long look at the tall, muscular cowboy. “For you, that bet is always good,” he replied boastfully.
“In that case, tell Riley I want to meet him.” Tom’s expression told Skelly that he meant business.
“All right, wait here and I will inform Riley.” Skelly left Tom to wait for a few moments, walking over to the spot on the ranch where his prizefighter trained. “Riley. We have a contender for the $1,000.00.”
Riley continued practicing his punches with the punching bag while he talked. He looked over at Tom, taking him for a pretty boy who had the physical appearance of an athlete. “Fine, but I will beat him, not in the third round, but in the first round. Monday is a holiday and we will give this cowboy a run for his money. Let the town watch. You may try to champion this contender but you’re still my manager. Don’t forget, Frances will be watching too, and I am in love with her.” Riley punched the bag as hard as he could.
Being more observant, Skelly mockingly said: “It looks to me like Tom has already fallen in love with Frances.” He left Riley’s presence, giving the boxer some time to think on his own. He needed it, especially being challenged by someone like Tom Buckley, a man who was a cowboy but big and strong, a man possessed of integrity and confidence. Yet Riley provided an inspiration for the ranch hands, the energy put out which made the men want to be like him and fight like him. Deep down, Riley knows he met his match even before getting into the ring with Tom. Like Riley, Tom spent time training too, his little brother Frankie coaching him, wearing gloves perhaps too big for his small hands yet looking every inch the encouraging coach Tom could ask for. After all, they were pals, weren’t they? Even Beans was never far from the scene, periodically glancing at the playful boxing motions Tom and Frankie engaged with each other.
News spread like wildfire about Tom taking on Battling Jack Riley in the ring on Sunday. The cowboys made comments among themselves on who would win the match. Tom’s mind was so focused on being in the boxing ring with Riley that most of his ranch chores that day went neglected. According to the cowboys Tom spoke to earlier in the day, they were not too worried about any uppercuts and swings that would be delivered in Tom’s direction by Riley. In their eyes, the enthusiastic amateur was more exciting to watch in the ring, compared to the professional. There was no question that this fight had nothing to do with self-esteem or pride on Tom’s part; they were clearly aware why Tom was going to fight Riley, and that was to save Gerald, the brother of the woman he loved.
Sunday, the day of the boxing match, finally arrived after their somewhat restless sleep the previous night. Everyone in the town of Bodie showed up for the boxing match, many taking seats in chairs surrounding the boxing ring, while others stood, forming groups and chatting about the match. The cowboys at the Morris ranch fell into the latter category, agreeing that Tom had what it took to take down Riley in the ring, even if he was not well-read on the sport of boxing itself. Some of them even wondered if the boxing gloves Tom wore might be a hindrance, for his bare hands, when formed into fists, held much more power and strength in them. Were Tom to fight Riley without boxing gloves, there was a strong chance the champion boxer would concede the game.
Gerald was getting ready too, ready to be ready to receive the money Tom would win fighting Riley in the ring, for $800.00 of the $1,000.00 would have to be returned to the bank as soon as Tom won the money. Gerald planned to go to the bank immediately after the fight and replace the money he stole from general cash box before its contents could be verified by his supervisor Tuesday morning. Gerald knew that his situation was dire, but so did his sister Frances, who quietly prayed that Tom would be the victor in this boxing match.
Not only did the entire town of Bodie pack the audience, but so did nearby towns who heard of the news of the famous boxer taking on an amateur contender. Once everyone settled in, Riley’s manager Jack made his way to the middle of the ring, holding up a leather bag containing the winning money, loudly announced: “Ladies and gentlemen! This $1,000.00 will go to Tom Buckley if he can hold his own for three rounds against Battling Jack Riley.”
The manager’s speech elicited a standing ovation from the crowd, and in traditional boxing style, Tom and Riley formally greeted each other then shook hands before returning to their corners of the ring.
The bell sounded and with both men attired in boxing shorts and gloves, Riley used all his professional moves against Tom. Having the many years of boxing experience under his belt, Riley knew he had an advantage over his amateur contender, a cowboy from the Morris ranch. He tried every jab, cross, uppercut, hook, and nelson hold on Tom, who efficiently delivered straight punches to Riley, much to his little brother Frankie’s delight. During the first round of the match, Tom carefully observed how his opponent was planning to take him down, but soon he realized that he was only afraid of what was in store for him during the next two rounds. The bell sounded the end of the first round, and Tom, his stamina in full speed, returned to his corner of the ring. Frankie handed Tom a towel and some water. In the other corner, Riley spoke to his manager.
“I’m just playing with him right now, I plan on taking him down in the next round.” Riley was sweating heavily, wiping off his face with a damp towel his manager handed him.
Skelly was more concerned about losing the money, for he wanted to keep it. “Stop playing with that guy, your fooling around is going to cost me a grand.” Skelly took away the damp towel as Riley returned to the center of the ring.
The bell sounded for the second round of the game. Tom and Riley continued fighting each other, Tom using all the slick moves he knew to avoid being taken down by Riley, while at the same time delivering some sharp punches to his opponent. Perhaps it was the blows being delivered to Riley’s head that made the boxer start to feel confused. Why isn’t this guy going down? I’m the champion here. Since when does a cowboy have what it takes to beat me? Riley kept delivering the punches, but Tom’s punches were even harder and sharper, doing a number on Riley. The last seconds of the second round passing vertiginously. Skelly attempted to delay the bell from sounding the end of round two, believing that Riley would have a chance to win.
With the condition Riley was presently in, he was about to keel over onto the mat in the ring. Before the bell could sound though, the audience started shouting. “It’s been ten seconds since the end of round two! Stop the fight! Tom has won!”
Much to the chagrin of Skelly and his champion Battling Jack Riley, they had to give in to the protests of the public in order to avoid being called cheaters and run out of town. Skelly announced Tom the winner and gave him the $1,000.00 prize. Sitting in the front row, Frankie, Frances, Gerald, Jim, and all the cowhands from the Morris ranch cheered Tom. Leaving the ring, Tom handed the proceeds to Gerald, who thanked Tom for his sacrifice, then left for the bank, since he owned a set of keys to the front door. With Monday being a holiday, Gerald knew that he needed to be quick about replacing the money he stole and gambled with. Unknown to him, however, was the fact that Al Skelly saw Tom give the money to him, thus prompting the boxing manager to follow Gerald – and kidnap him in order to get the money back. It was not so much that Riley wanted the $1,000.00 – he was far more interested in securing a reciprocated love from Frances. Now Skelly and Riley surprised Gerald as he was about to leave the ranch house for the bank, and took him hostage at gunpoint, marching him off to an isolated cabin in the woods near the ranch, locking him up there. Inside the cabin, with the gun still held at him, Gerald was forced to write a letter to Frances, in which it said:
“Come to the small uninhabited cabin in the woods. Come alone by yourself. Your brother’s salvation depends on it.”
The letter was left in the Morris ranch house where Riley was sure Frances would see it. Upon reading the note, she went out to the cabin, not telling Tom where she was going. Yet Tom saw the incident transpire, and while he wanted to go with her, Frances replied no. Tom bid her farewell and tried to come up with a plan. Suppose she might get into trouble? Frances reached the cabin and to her shock, saw her brother Gerald standing in between Skelly and Riley. With her eyes wide, she became speechless, giving Riley an advantage to speak. “Frances. I know all about Gerald and why he needed the money. I can give you that money but on one condition.”
“And what is that?” Frances responded haughtily.
“I want you to be my wife.” Riley tried to hug her, but Frances squirmed. She found the champion boxer repulsive. “Your resistance is futile. You are under my control and by resisting me, you only put your brother’s life at risk.”
Skelly still had his gun pointed at Gerald, who gave his beloved sister an anguished look. Gerald may not have the muscles that Tom has, but he could still muster courage in facing Skelly and Riley. As Gerald attempted to fight back, Skelly struck him, knocking the young bank clerk to the ground. Frances witnessed the incident in horror, and it crossed her mind to give in to Riley’s demands if it helped to save her brother. Gerald came to and rose up off the floor. Taking one look at Riley’s strong boxing arms firmly wrapped around Frances, he said: “Don’t give in to him! Fight him off! Do not give yourself to this wretch!” Adrenalin flowed though Gerald, who leaped onto Riley’s back, arms around his neck, trying to pry him lose from his sister Frances.
Riley, stunned, temporarily let go of Frances before Skelly started pulling Gerald off Riley. Free from the boxer’s grasp, Frances went over to the window of the cabin and called for help:
“Help! Tom! Help!”
Fast on his feet, Tom raced towards the cabin, just as Riley threatened to stick a knife through his own heart, the act of a spurned heart. Gerald looked on helplessly, and the more Riley was blinded by his love for Frances, forced his affections upon her, attempting to kiss her with his gorilla lips. Frances trembled, hoping that Tom would arrive quickly – which he did.
Breaking open the door in a whirlwind, Tom took on both Riley and Skelly at the same time, punching out Riley in one powerful blow, when Gerald broke loose from the firm grip Skelly had on him. Battling Jack Riley was out cold on the ground, his manager standing over him. Tom tenderly took Frances in his arms, then shuffled her off to safety. Gerald could not have been more delighted to see Tom, especially when Tom handed him the money to return to the bank. Gerald promptly left the small cabin, but Tom and Frances remained, tenderly kissing each other, just as they had in the rustic garden where Riley trained for the match. With the fiasco behind them, Tom and Frances soon married afterwards, and a state of happiness and contentment was reborn at the Morris ranch.
This translation of "Por la fuerza de los puños" is copyright Aventuras de Tom Tyler, 2020. No part of this translation, nor Introduction, may be reproduced anywhere in any format.
2020 Aventuras de Tom Tyler