Friday, August 31, 2001

"All Comers" - a poem by Richard "Army" Maguire

“All Comers”

There was once in Americana a contest to beat most
This event held almost daily by a most ungracious host

The carnival grounds featured men who would fight if so dared
With local towns people who were quite often feared

Athletic shows prospered as well as many local police
If the fix was in by a patch everyone got his or her piece

On the bally a man shouted, “We take on all comers, challengers if you like”
“We’re putt ‘in up some cash for you to win if you could fight”

Egos were toyed with but never to be broken
Until money changes hands and is taken as a token

The contest would commence once hands had been shook
And if the stakes were right one could always make book

Many a mark enters the ring thinking this will be easy
Till he’s looked in the wrestlers eyes and now feels queasy

Matches start out often with some banter or a flurry
It’s important for the shooter not to end this in a hurry

Now the doomed “Towner” has left himself in quite the fix
Thinking he can win this by sheer strength or by his tricks

One shoots, maybe sprawls or even tries some sweeps
Another gouges or pinches or in other ways he cheats

Once clinched then thrown and now properly ridden
His defeat is so sure it cannot now be hidden

It is now quite apparent what mattered was not size
But the man that is winded had no chance of a prize

Unique was the tongue in which Carney wrestlers could speak
But not by the man that now fell at his feet

Locals are enraged now their mans face down and counted out
If violent turns this angry mob, next “Hey rube“ may be the shout

Noses are bloodied many a time and men’s teeth are often lost
But winning must be all to the showman no matter what the cost

Ears cauliflowered and rotor cuffs are torn
These are the condition of the old battle worn

A neck could be broken, held in the deadly front face lock
A precarious position, like a gun when it’s half cocked

Seizing and then turning a neck so it is fully cranked
Often leaves an opponent with no doubt that he’s been spanked

A double wristlock is often used to disable a mean opponent
A wrist held tight with a sharp twist, a turn could break him in a moment

Hooking a man could be very vicious or crippling at best
Most efficient form of combat to be developed in the west

Destroying a man’s body and even possibly his soul
To some masters of submissions this was all part of a planned goal

Risking all was their job endangering ones life or maybe limb
Preparation for these journeys would always start off in a gym

Conditioning was important of both body and the mind
Their legacy now written clear should stand the test of time

Whether you be a fan a historian or maybe possibly a foe
You’d respect any hooker with a motto “he’s good to go”

These men engaged lumberjacks, ironworkers and the like
They scuffled with longshoremen or Indians who’d fight

They took on the town bully a farmer or his friends
They won their matches with both smarts and the will that never bends

Catch as catch can wrestlers will go down in the books
As the men who submit others with holds known as hooks

Many writers have long forgot or acknowledged to report
On the fearless men who risked it all for the sake of combat sport

Men will always have their tales and mixed in there some truths
But let it be told the really tough made their way in carnival AT show booths

Dedicated to all the AT Show fighters I’ve known

Author Richard “Army” Maguire
Copyright August 28th 2001

NOTE: Special thanks to Army for his submission of his poem.

NOTE: The above poem and note was posted to my old site ... posted 8/4/2014 and backdated to 8/31/2001 to mirror my old site. At the time of mirroring, there were 1,193 page views. Army can be contacted via his site:

For other Army Maguire or Poetry entries I've posted, please check out:


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