CDP_banner_4-23-23GENEPLUS_banner_2-23-23Texas Alliance_3-23-23TX Alliance_3-23-20232023 ABBA National F-1 Sale
Advertise With Us Subscribe Today Facebook
Not a member? Membership has its privileges— Register today! • Make SLS your homepage!
home articles Columnists |

Texas Trails-Feb. 3, 2023

published: February 3rd 2023
by: Clay Coppedge
source: Southern Livestock Standard

The only things Lew Jenkins ever got or learned came through fighting. He was one of those hard-luck, hardscrabble kids that this country produced in considerable quantity during the 1930s, but Jenkins was blessed with a quicker right hand than most and was able to turn fisticuffs  into something like a real living.

It started when he was a kid, the second oldest of seven children, following the cotton harvest from one end of Texas to another with his family, sleeping in tents because it cost $5 a month to rent a house and they didn’t have an extra $5 to spare for such luxuries. Some of his first fights were next to a pie shop in Sweetwater where the winner would be awarded a pie.

Lew’s father died when the boy was 16 ,so Lew joined a traveling carnival as a boxer, taking on all comers. On a good night he might clear a couple of dollars. The carnival folded its tents after a couple of years so Lou joined the Army, a natural enough move for a fighting man. He won the Fort Bliss title and came back to Texas where he  fought for money in New Orleans or Houston or wherever, or for fun in a bar or honky tonk.

“You may have guessed that Lew Jenkins was not one of this planet’s gentle creatures,” the late Larry L. King wrote of Jenkins in 1968. “He drank whiskey as if Prohibition had wired him it was coming back on the next train. The reckless way he roared around on his motorcycle might have caused the Hell’s Angel’s to shave, find work and join the JayCees. If you thought you could best Lew Jenkins at anything back in those days— dice or brawling or barking at the moon— why, he would give you a chance to put your money where your mouth was.”

This is further evidence of  dynamite in small packages.. Lew Jenkins was 5-foot-7 and a shade under 130 pounds before lunch. He was once described as looking like “a floor mop walking on its stick end.”  As such, Jenkins was considered a perfect foil for lightweight champion Lou Ambers, who needed a warm-up bout before going on to bigger game.

We can assume that someone must have told Jenkins he was a sacrificial lamb in his appearance at Madison Square Garden on that May night in 1940, but there is not a scrap of evidence that he believed it. Why should he have? He’d won his last 14 fights, the last eight by knockout. The Sweetwater Swatter swatted Ambers around for three rounds before knocking him out and taking the title. Then we went out and had 15 quick ones at a local bar.

“Lew did most of his training on booze and his roadwork on high-speed motorcycles, yet, pound for pound, few fighters ever packed more wallop than the skinny little Texan,” Robert W. Neubert wrote of Jenkins for Sports Illustrated in 1968. Jenkins’ described a boxer named Tippy Larkin as “the most knocked-out man I ever knocked out.”

Jenkins lost the title to Sammy Angott on a 15-round decision less than two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He kept fighting, not for titles, but for paychecks and for fun. He drank as much as he fought and thought nothing of mixing the two. In a non-title rematch with Ambers, he admitted to seeing double after several hours of pre-fight preparation at a bar. It took him until the eighth round to dispatch Ambers that time, by which time Jenkins was almost sober but not quite modest, wondering aloud, “How come it took me longer to knock him out this time?”

Lew joined the Coast Guard in 1942, his outfit participating in landings on Sicily and Salerno, in Burma and at Normandy on D-Day. Lew was a fighting man, but he wasn’t fighting in this war. He was transporting troops to do the fighting, and bringing back the ones who didn’t make it. He agonized over being on the sidelines during the fight that really mattered. His last professional bout was on April 14, 1950, when he knocked out Beau Jack in the sixth round.

Jenkins enlisted in the Army again in 1950, and this time he ended up where a fighting man belonged, in the thick of it. His courage in the Korean War earned him the Silver Star. He returned home, quit drinking and settled down, by all accounts a model citizen. He died in 1981 at the age of 64 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Site:   Home   Publications   Market Reports   Sale Reports   Sale Calendar   Cattle & Service Directory   Full Commodities Report   Services   About Us   Contact Us

Article Categories:   All   Industry News   Herd Health   Feed & Nutrition   Pastures & Forages   Reproduction   Marketing   Columnists   Production   Genetics & Performance   Weather Forecast   Breed News   Producer Feature Stories   Items of Interest   New Products   Recipes

User:   Login   Logout   Register/Profile   Submit Market Report   Submit Sale Report