The Killings of Stanley Ketchel
Stanley Ketchel was a complex man. To women he was a handsome and generous lover; to men he was the man they secretly wanted to be. From his drunkard father, Stanley learned violence and brutality, and from his gentle mother, he learned to appreciate music and women. At fifteen, Stanley ran away. He lived the hobo life until at seventeen he got a job as a saloon bouncer. From saloon bouncer to prizefighter was an easy transition. Rising in the profession to Middleweight Champion, it became Stanley’s dream to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Jack Johnson, The Great White Hope. Although their only match ended in defeat for Stanley, his persistence for a rematch resulted in a lifelong friendship with Johnson. Of all the women in Stanley’s life, there was only one true love from whose death he never recovered. At twenty-seven Stanley was murdered. The sports world mourned along with his family and friends.
In his quirky narrative style, Blake has written a brilliantly moving biography, respectful and sympathetic. Stanley Ketchel lived life outside the ring with the same exuberance that he brought to his matches inside. Blake’s admiration of Ketchel, warts and all, is clearly expressed.