Sport: Man in a Derby

John L. Sullivan and his handlebar mustaches were objects of manly admiration when a pint-sized Englishman arrived in Manhattan and decided to become a prizefighter himself. After a few fights, James J. Johnston reconsidered. A man with his brains shouldn't risk having them knocked out.

He threw away his boxing gloves and bought a black derby. For the next 50 years, at a saucy angle, the derby accompanied Jimmy Johnston and his winged gab through boxing's shady domain. Wearing neat dark suits, and never smoking nor touching whiskey, he hung out mostly at Lindy's,...

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