Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 430
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 430
 
arguments, economic and moral. There is good bottom, even in the slum, for that kind of an anchor to get a grip on. Some years ago I went to see a boxing match there had been much talk about. The hall was jammed with a rough and noisy crowd, hotly intent upon its favorite. His opponent, who hailed, I think, from somewhere in Delaware, was greeted with hostile demonstrations as a “foreigner.” But as the battle wore on, and he was seen to be fair and manly, while the New Yorker struck one foul blow after another, the attitude of the crowd changed rapidly from enthusiastic approval of the favorite to scorn and contempt; and in the last round, when he knocked the Delawarean over with a foul blow, the audience rose in a body and yelled to have the fight given to the “foreigner,” until my blood tingled with pride. For the decision would leave it practically without a cent. It had staked all it had on the New Yorker. “He is a good man,” I heard on all sides, while the once favorite sneaked away without a friend. “Good” meant fair and manly to that crowd. I thought, as I went to the office the next morning, that it ought to be easy to appeal to such a people with measures that were fair and just, if we could only get on common ground. But the only hint I got from my reform paper was an editorial denunciation of the brutality of boxing, on

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