While recently listening to a few selections from Mae West’s misguided rock album, I came across the tale of one of her associates, a middleweight boxer by the name of Gorilla Jones. The exact nature of Jones’ relationship with the famously libidinous West is hard to establish—he has variously been mentioned as her bodyguard, her managee, and one of her long-term lovers. What is known for sure is that West’s money helped fund Jones favorite hobby: collecting lion cubs, which accompanied him virtually everywhere he went. The fascinating Mike Mazurki chips in his recollection of Jones’ feline predilection here:
The father of slick black flamboyancy, [Jones] entered the arena escorted by lion cubs on a leash–lions he caught in Africa with the Great White Hunter, Clyde Beatty. Flying his own airplane in 1931, Gorilla took the only dive in his career, not in the ring but into a barn in Kansas. He lost his pilot’s license, his championship belt, and his eyesight. A year later he regained both his sight and his title, but he never flew again.
A pity that a certain contemporary heavyweight didn’t credit Jones for inspiration when he went parading about with a white tiger. Stylistic flourishes can’t be copyrighted, but credit should be given where credit is due—call it the spirit of Twitter in the realm of exotic-game shownmanship.
Another stellar shot of Gorilla Jones with a feline associate after the jump.