Garth and the Glove Game
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 28/11/49 – 3/6/50 (H283 – J131)
Number of Episodes: 159
Sam Gorgon has learned from press reports and letters from his manager and Chief Trainer in London that his star boxer, Irishman Paddy O’Braune, is out of control and running wild. He decides to fly back to England to sort matters out, taking Karen with him. Lumiere is still not recovered from his wounds, and when his ward Dawn loyally agrees to stay and look after him in Africa until he recovers, Garth elects to accompany Karen and Gorgon on the plane to London.
On arrival at the airport, they are met by the trainer, Tich, who tells them that Paddy – whom Gorgon had been building up for an imminent championship bout – has broken training and gone “berserk”. Gorgon asks Garth to be a guest at his country house (whose extensive grounds also serve as a training camp) and Garth accepts the role of Karen’s chaperon and protector until the marriage. He learns that the fighter had been permitted a limited amount of drugs to combat his pre-fight nerves. But when they arrive at Gorgon’s country house they are met by a rampaging Paddy who, after knocking out a policeman who had tried to serve an assault summons, now savagely assaults both his trainer and Gorgon, only to be kayoed as he tries to tackle Garth.
On examining Paddy’s arm, Garth sees it carries a mass of puncture marks. They realize that the fighter must himself have got hold of a supply of needles and drugs. After the police arrive to arrest Paddy, Gorgon despairs that Paddy’s arrest will soon be splashed in all the papers, and that his reputation as a promoter will be ruined. He offers to release Karen from their engagement, but she stands by him.
Gorgon explains that he had been building up his fighter through a series of contests to meet the British Champion, Dandy Denkins, managed by a rival promoter Mrs. Silverado, in a winner-takes-all match. She is the widow of Syd Silverado, a man who had earlier nearly ruined Gorgon. Sam has guaranteed everything – stakes, gate money, the venue itself, and if he can’t put his man in the ring on the agreed date, he stands to be ruined. Karen comes up with the suggestion that she could persuade Garth to take his place. Gorgon is so elated by the idea – the contract would allow a substitution – that he takes of his mask to kiss Karen. She screams and shrinks away, repulsed by his bestial appearance.
Garth agrees to fight Mrs. Silverado’s champion, but only on condition that Gorgon releases Karen from her engagement if he beats Denkins. Gorgon shakes on the deal, and Garth goes into training. In due course Paddy is discharged by the court provided he takes a course of medical treatment to cure his drug addiction.
When Garth goes riding with Karen and Gorgon, he is shot at by a hidden assailant and narrowly escapes death by spurring his horse as he spots the glint of a gun barrel in the bushes. Karen’s horse bolts, and in the confusion, the gunman slips away across the fields.
The next day, Gorgon is driving Garth into London when they encounter a road block, and as Sam looks out of the car window, a dagger is thrown at him. He only escapes death because the knife embeds itself in his well-filled wallet!
Gorgon tells Garth that the only venomous enemy he’s ever had was the late Syd Silverado. Could his reclusive widow, whom Gorgon has never seen, be carrying on the vendetta? Silverado had died after shooting himself in order to spite Gorgon. It was his only way out from bankruptcy and disgrace – he owed Gorgon a fortune that he couldn’t collect after his death.
The story rapidly develops into an intriguing mystery, through a series of exciting action scenes, including more murder attempts when Gorgon’s circus lions are released by the bearded and mysterious and eccentric Diego, whose farm adjoins Gorgon’s estate. He is revealed as being in league with Denkin’s manager, the shady Cliff Clay.
As an unknown quantity, Garth is obliged to have a couple of warm-up fights to prove he is a worthy opponent for the champion. The ingenious story is full of near slapstick humour, but also has some dark satiric undertones dealing with the crooked side of post-war professional boxing. This was the heyday of British boxing icons Bruce Woodcock and Freddie Mills, and a British Heavyweight story would strike a responsive chord with Mirror readers.
When Gorgon eventually gets to meet Mrs. Silverado, he takes off his mask in order to shock her into confessing that she is behind the attempts at murder and to ruin him – only to learn that she had been blinded because of her faithless husband’s affairs. She had hated him, and greatly admires Gorgon.
Further twists involving the identity of the would-be murderer, help build up to an exciting climax when Garth (with a badly injured left arm!) gets to face Denkins in the ring. Of course, he wins by a dramatic knock-out, and both villains meet their deserved deaths. Sam Gorgon loses Karen as his fiancée – but gains the blind but beautiful Mrs. Silverado as a replacement! His mission accomplished, Garth announces his immediate retirement, and Paddy O’Braune having underwent a successful rehabilitation, rejoins Gorgon’s boxing stable.
Synopsis by Philip Harbottle
In a feature encompassing the entire history of the much-loved strip, Garth writer Philip Harbottle pays tribute to artist and editor John Allard, who worked at the Mirror for over 50 years, outlining his huge contribution to Garth‘s enduring success
Strip dates given are those of their original appearance in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror, first compiled by Geoffrey Wren and Ann Holmes and updated by Ant Jones and Philip Harbottle
Garth © REACH/ Daily Mirror