One of the many unpublished interviews for this blog is with a gentleman who spent years and years covering sports on Canadian radio. A huge hockey fan, and a huge boxing fan. We discussed at some length the career or Tommy Burns, a.k.a. Noah Brusso, as yet Canada's only heavyweight champ. Kirk Johnston in 2003 or thereabouts came close to becoming the second Canadian champ. I wish he had won, because he's a Nova Scotian guy, and because he would have been the second champ, not the first. Poor Tommy Burns, consigned to the dustbin of Canadian history, would finally be able get some of the respect he has not had for the past 100 years.
There is a book about Tommy Burns, a couple actually. The better one was published about 9 years ago. My own copy is on my boss' desk for him to look through some day and return to me. I sought a copy for my new friend, and will give it to him the next time I see him, prior to the publishing of the interview here.
I think about Tommy Burns when I think about how the only thing that survives one's death is one's reputation. They say you are born with nothing, and you die with nothing. I don't quite agree. You die with your reputation. That lives on forever, or at least as long as people remember you.
Those few who know who Tommy Burns was think of him as a bum, the man who lost the championship to Jack Johnson, the first African American champion. Having had the nerve to lose the championship to a black man, the press spent copious amounts of ink destroying Burns' reputation. The fact that, 100 years later, Burns still holds records has been conveniently ignored. The fact that Burns was the first champ to agree to take on blacks has also been overlooked. To this day, people rag on this man, and it is just so patently unfair that I don't have words to describe it.
There is little footage of Tommy Burns extant. I can't find any footage of anybody discussing him. Except this: A documentary about every chamption from John L. Sullivan to Ali. It's pretty old and out of date, but there are a couple of nice things said about Burns. A couple.
I have found some other footage of Burns. That will appear with the published interview when that goes up here, soon.