International Boxing Hall of Fame
"King of the Canebrakes"
|Real name||William Lawrence Stribling Jr.|
|Nickname(s)||King of the Canebrakes|
|Birth date||December 26, 1904|
|Birth place||Bainbridge, Georgia|
|Wins by KO||128|
In 1911, Stribling's family had come to Spokane on the Sullivan and Considine Vaudeville Circuit with an acrobatic act called the "Four Novelty Grahams." They spent one week at the Empress Theater, then called the Washington Theater. As part of the show, the Stribling brothers boxed exhibitions.
Stribling was one of the best high school basketball players in the United States. He was known as a "dead shot". His team went to the national interscholastic tournament at Chicago, but he was ruled ineligible to play because of his professional boxing. Stribling was also an avid and accomplished aviator who loved to fly.
Stribling turned professional in 1921 and challenged Max Schmeling for the National Boxing Association World Heavyweight Title in 1933, and lost via TKO in the 15th round.
He died October 3, 1933, after a motorcycle/automobile accident when he was just 28. The accident occurred October 1 outside of Macon, Georgia. Traveling 35 miles per hour on a motorcycle, "Strib" was en route to a hospital to visit his convalescing wife and their brand-new baby (his third child), born two weeks previously. He waved a greeting to a friend passing in an automobile. But he failed to see another car behind that of his friend, Roy Barrow. The veteran of roughly 300 bouts, who never received a permanent scar due to his great defensive skills, attempted to dodge the second car but was too late. The fender of the car struck Stribling, crushing and virtually ripping off his left foot, and sending him to the pavement, fracturing his pelvis.
Stribling was taken to the hospital, where, coincidentally, his wife and baby were. His mother rushed to the hospital from the Stribling plantation in South Georgia; his father from Texas. At one point he awoke, saw his wife, and asked, "How's the baby?" Almost to the end he remained conscious, "carrying on in the same spirit that he showed when they picked him up from the roadside on Sunday," reported papers of the day. "Well, kid," he said to his friend (Barrow), who was the first to reach him as he lay beside his wrecked motorcycle with one foot dangling by a single tendon, "I guess this means more roadwork."
At first the doctors held out hope, after they had amputated his left foot. But his vitality began to wane. Physicians were amazed at his ability to cling to life when his temperature hit 107 1/2 degrees and his pulse 175. His wife was wheeled into his room. He recognized his wife. "W.L.?" "Sugar," was his barely audible reply. "Hello, baby," were his last words to her, the papers reported. His father walked grimly from the room and tearfully said, "He's gone. Death occurred at 6:00 Tuesday morning, October 3. The next day, his body was placed in the Municipal Auditorium of Macon, to lie in state from 10 in the morning until 6 that evening
Excerpts taken from the Nov. 7, 1927 Spokane Spokesman Review newspaper, just prior to Stribling's visit to nearby Dishman, WA.