Home History Stories From the Files of the Lassen Historical Society: Kid Benoist

From the Files of the Lassen Historical Society: Kid Benoist


By Susan Couso

Malcolm Mac ‘Kid’ Benoist was born in Reno, Nevada in 1895, but by the time he was 25 years old he was the pride of Lassen County’s pugilistic world. He was a road hostler for the railroad and lived in Westwood. Mac had served in the Army for a short time, until Armistice was signed. Then, wiry and strong, he fought in the Lightweight Division at 135 pounds, and kept the local gamblers busy.

By March of 1920, Benoist had competed in over 19 bouts and won every one of them. He was a champion in the making. And, in April, he was to have his first fight in Reno, when he was to take on Christ ‘The Greek’ George of Oakland, California.

George arrived at his Reno quarters early and began training for the bout. One day he fought a six-round-bout with Molly Malone from the university, and put on an exceptional show for the crowd.

Following that he fought three rounds with Tommy Sanderson. To even matters off, he boxed the sand bag a bit, then ended in skipping rope… all in a great show for the excited spectators.

‘Kid’ Benoist knew very well that he had to be in the best shape for this fight. It was to be a career changer.

Back in Susanville, he was doing six miles of road work every day. His trainer, Johnny Dunn, who was a veteran trainer, had been at Susanville for the past two weeks, pushing the Kid towards a win.

Dunn said that Benoist was in wonderful shape. He had been boxing with the Kid and promised that he could beat any 135-pounder in the country.

Benoist has a ‘sleep producer’ in either hand and fights from gong to gong, never letting up on his opponent. Benoist was to arrive soon to begin his training in Reno, and he would put on a real show for the crowd! Dunn said that Benoist could stand more punishment in training than most fighters can stand in the ring.

On April 6th, the two contenders finally met in a match. For the Kid, it started out all wrong. The Greek hung a series of dazzing punches on Kid Benoist’s jaw in the third and fourth periods of a short, but hurricane affair, and blasted the pugilistic ambitions of the ‘Pride of Susanville’.

George had too much experience for the Kid and was way too clever. Benoist showed great ability at blocking. He managed to get his head in the way of nearly every punch George propelled. The Susanville fighter, touted as a coming champion by the citizens of Lassen County, showed up as a big awkward boy, with an unusual length of reach and a terrific wallop, but with an entire lack of knowledge as to how to use either.

Benoist was knocked down for the count of eight in the middle of the third round, but came back strong. Even George appeared groggy at the end of the period. But in the fourth, George struck again and soon floored The Kid with rights and lefts to the jaw.

The Kid at first stood his ground, but was quickly knocked to the canvas. He sat on his haunches, shaking his head until after the count and had to be carried to his corner.

Susanville sports enthusiasts were deflated at the loss, and Mac Benoist was never to become the champion that he had dreamed of being. He continued his career as a railroad man and settled in the Weaverville area. After a long comfortable life, he passed away in 1973.

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