On June 12, 1923, boxing favorites Henry F. "Dode" Bercot (1902-1988) of Monroe and Ted Krache (1902-1995) of Hoquiam fight a six-round match at the Seattle Arena for the Pacific Coast Lightweight Championship. The two fighters are closely matched in size and age and both have been loggers by trade. Krache is favored to win. A capacity crowd of enthusiastic fans cheers on the boxers and the fight does not disappoint. In the final round Bercot is declared the winner.
The Monroe Bearcat vs. the Harbor Horror
Dode Bercot, known as the "Monroe Bearcat," was a welterweight boxer in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s and early 1930s, a favorite son of the small Snohomish County town of Monroe. Bercot had built great strength working as a high rigger in the area's logging camps, one of the trade's most dangerous jobs. Frederick "Ted" Krache of Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County had a similar background working as a boom man, walking downed timbers in ponds and rounding them up, a job in the early days of logging that required great agility. While the two boxers would fight each other a half dozen times in their careers, the Pacific Coast Lightweight Championship in 1923 was their first official matchup and was clearly a draw for regional boxing fans. Fight promoters and sports writers had plenty of material to use in advertising the match, which resulted in drawing the largest crowd to that point at the Seattle Arena (the Civic Auditorium at 225 Mercer Street, later Seattle Ice Arena and now the site of McCaw Hall). Krache had started boxing a year earlier and was a more seasoned fighter, thus favored to win.
On June 12, 1923, about 7,500 spectators packed the Seattle Arena to witness a six-round match between these two popular fighters. About 300 Monroe fans, men and women, attended wearing white badge ribbons bearing the name "Monroe Bearcat" and were ready to cheer on their favorite son. Krache had hundreds of supporters as well.
The Everett Herald and The Seattle Times wrote about the match the following day. According to both, the first four rounds went smoothly for Krache, who was able to punch Bercot with several blows to the head. Bercot moved awkwardly but managed to connect a few left-hand punches to Krache.
Then, "Bercot changed his style completely in the fifth round and it was well that he did," the Times reporter opined, going to to describe the result:
"In a mild way he had been rushing Krache before, but he became a veritable demon in the fifth. He started with a left to the chin and crossed with his right. He never gave Krache a chance to set, paying no attention to the Hoquiam lad's right and left hands. There must have been steam in Bercot's punches, for even though he was doing all the leading, which is playing right into the hands of most clever boxers, Krache began missing badly. A right and left punch sent Krache against the ropes and Bercot won the round decidedly. In the sixth round, Krache could not recover his stride and Bercot moved in for a knockout. Although Bercot was declared the winner, Krache was able to stand after the count of 7, giving the Bearcat the win but depriving him of a knockout" ("Bercot Has Krache on Floor ...").
The Bearcat Leaves His Mark
The Herald focused on the Monroe fans' reaction:
"Bedlam broke loose as Referee Scott raised Dode's bronzed arm in token of victory. The Monroe delegation stood on chairs shouting the name of the youthful high rigger… Bercot won because of two things, his fighting heart and his punch. The fans packed the Arena to see a rattling good bout. They were given a thriller" (Robertson and Kilmer).
After the game, Dode was feted at a banquet given by Monroe citizens. In 1924, Monroe High School changed the nickname of its athletic teams from the Panthers to the Bearcats.
Promoters did not pass up a quick rematch between the two young welterweights who had drawn a record crowd and given a good fight. The next meeting between Bercot and Krache was set for just two weeks following the championship match. Once again it was held in the Seattle Arena and this time it ended in a draw. Both Bercot and Krache lived to an old age, Bercot dying at 85 and Krache at 93.