Bimini , Bahamas is known today as the Sports Fishing Capital of the World among it's other reputations. In 1935 one of the leading proponents of that sport, writer Ernest Hemingway would sail there from Key West, along with the wealthy sportsmen who came from the Miami area in search of BIG FISH. When "The Storm King" from Ft. Lauderdale with Joe "Dodi" Knapp aboard tied up at the dock, a small squall brewed up and Bimini soon had a new sport....Boxing.
In 1993 there was a movie made with Robert Duval, Sandra Bullock (her first) and the irrepressible Richard Harris called "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" The story line is about two retired gents living out their days in Miami. Harris the wild one tells Duvall all about his reckless youth, including the time he fought with Ernest Hemingway. I have to wonder with what I just learned if this real story which they still talk about and sing about in Bimini, was not the source of that movie.
Here are two excerpts from biographer Carlos Baker's book, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story published by Charles Scribner 1969
and here is the letter the "BIG FAT SLOB" wrote to his editor Arnold Gingrich at Esquire magazine about the incident. It appears in Baker's other book Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters 1917-1961
I've made contact with people from The Bimini Museum in Alice Town, Bimini where this took place. Nat Saunders aka "Piccolo Pete" who is credited with writing the song is still alive and runs a bar there. His nephew Ashley is an author, teacher, and Bimini Historian. Mike Checkley from the Museum has told me he has a recording of the song and will get it to me mid November upon his return from a trip he is taking. Also a Dan Craig from the Museum has weighed in with a phone # and address for the Saunders. Stay Tuned...it's gonna get interesting. In the meantime here's a photo of Bimini Harbor taken in 1935.