Page 101                        THE READER'S DIGEST                   January 1951

Billy Miske's Last Fight 

By Dorothy Kilgallen
and Richard Kollmar
 


     ON an afternoon in 1923, as the first snow of the winter fell on the city of St. Paul, Billy Miske got to thinking about Christmas. As you may remember, Miske was one of the best heavyweight prize fighters of his day. In his ring career of more than 100 bouts he fought Jack Dempsey, Tommy Gibbons and Harry Greb. Only one opponent - Dempsey - ever scored a knockout against him.
     He was 29 years old, blond and blue-eyed, muscular and graceful. He looked like a champion. But he was dying, and he knew it.
     It was a well-kept secret. The only persons who knew of his condition were Jack Reddy, his manager, George Barton, a sports writer on the Minneapolis Tribune; and Dr. Andrew Sivertsen, who five years before had said, "I won't lie to you, Billy - you have Bright's disease.  If you quit fighting and take care of yourself you may live five years."
Billy did not quit. To his wife, Marie, he reported casually that he had "a little kidney trouble," which could be all right with diet and doctoring. Such was his courage and unfailing gaiety that she never suspected that his ailment was more serious than he had admitted.   He climbed into the ring 70 times after the death sentence was pronounced. He made money, and because he knew his fighting days were numbered he put all his savings into an automobile sales business in partnership with a friend. The business was to be security for Marie and the children when he was gone. But within two years the venture was....
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