Earp, the legendary gunfighter,
became a boxing referee
after building his Wild West legend
boxing scandal (1896)
I.N. Choynski (circa 1896):
“If Christ would come to San Francisco, he would
find his ministers, of all denominations, eating the
juiciest steaks, drinking the choicest wines,
wearing the costliest garments, and visiting the
houses of those who give princely entertainments. If
Christ came to San Francisco, he would say, ‘Father
let me pass this wicked city, where suicides,
failures and hypocrisy abound, and where people pawn
the diamonds of their wife in order to get
themselves nominated for an office which pays no
salary, but has a lot of cabbage (graft).’”
Champion Bob Fitzsimmons vs. Sailor Tom
Location: San Francisco, California.
There are approximately 14,000 fans. It is the
largest crowd for a San Francisco bout since
Champion John L. Sullivan fought George Robinson in
1884. It is scheduled for 10 rounds. Fitzsimmons is
a 2-1 betting favorite. There is major
gambling action as to whether Sharkey can survive 6
Woman Sportswriter: “There are but two things
in this world which will command $10 a seat – grand
opera and a fight – the alpha and omega of human
emotion. To a woman, the most interesting thing at a
fight is the men outside the ropes. The superior
male animal, without the varnish, with all his brute
instincts on exhibition, is an instructive, if not
an attractive spectacle.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “Over ten
thousand people saw the fight, among the spectators
being a number of women.”
Woman Sportswriter: “It had been advertised
that many women would see this fight. There were a
few sandwiched about, some in a sub gallery,
shadowed by seats and closely escorted; a closely
yelled pair in a lower box and another feminine
couple minus their hats, in another box. Perhaps it
was in their honor that the floors were remarkably
clean, some of the ushers in evening dress and the
whole place uniformly quiet until the big fight
The two corner
men/managers debated who should referee the bout. No
matter the referee name suggested the other would
dispute. Sharkey’s manager, Lynch, offered the name
of his famous friend, Wyatt Earp. Fitzsimmons
manager, Martin Julian, questioned whether Earp had
experience. Lynch lied and stated Earp had refereed
several bouts, including Los Angeles, San Diego and
Arizona. Julian hesitantly agreed on Earp.
Four hours before the
several East Coast patrons and local San
Franciscans, approached Martin Julian to warn him
that Wyatt Earp has been paid off and that he will
not allow Fitzsimmons to win. The next 3-4 hours are
chaotic. Martin Julian wanted Earp dismissed
as the referee. Dan Lynch vehemently
referee dispute continued until
fight time. Fitzsimmons entered the ring to polite
applause. Sharkey entered the ring to a
thunderous ovation, especially from $2 back seat
crowd. The boxers shake hands. Referee Earp
has been handed a certified $10000 check for the
winner. With pugilists and the referee inside
the ring, Martin Julian climbs through the ropes.
Julian confronts Earp that he knows it is a fixed
fight. Earp insists it is not true. Julian speaks to
ringside reporters, for the public record, that he
has been informed that Earp has been paid off to
guarantee a Sharkey victory.
The person who resolves
the dispute is the champion. Fitzsimmons felt the
crowd was against him and would blame him if the
bout does not take place. Sharkey has suspicious
bandages wrapped around his hands. Champion
conditions if Sharkey’s bandages are removed, over
the objection of Lynch, he would accept Earp as
referee, over the objection of Julian.
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – steps forward and
throws right to head – misses – throws left to head
– misses. Sharkey backs – bobs head and gloves –
steps forward and lands left to body – backs.
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – steps forward and
throws left to head – misses. Champion counters
with high left jab to head – misses. Sharkey pauses
– bobs head and gloves – charges forward to throw a
left punch. Champion expects and throws short left
jab that lands to face – follows with right that
lands to jaw – Sharkey knocked to ground. Sharkey
rises – a bit dazed as he covers up – backs.
Champion steps forward – a couple left feints –
Sharkey bobs head and attempts to cover.
Champion throws left half hook that lands to jaw –
Sharkey flops backward to ground – slightly tangled
in lower ropes. Fitzsimmons assists Sharkey until
the Irishman staggers back to his feet.
Woman Sportswriter: “At the end of the round
there were two sleek, shining bodies, glazed with
sweat and shining in the fierce light. Sharkey was
heaving like a draught horse and seemed much the
wearier of the two, Fitzsimmons looking about him
all the time and on his feet.”
Champion is anxious to begin round. He paces
and fidgets as he waits... Bell sounds…
Champion steps out – feints left to head – follows
with left that lands to forehead. Sharkey
attempts to step forward and throw a right to head –
misses wildly – Fits steps back to easily evade.
A.P. reporter telegraphing live: “The button
is pressed again and they begin to dance about to
the quickstep: Fitz came over three quarters of the
way, and after feinting tries the left at the head.
Sharkey ducked and caught him around the legs.”
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – springs forward as he
attempts to club top of head with left – misses –
throws desperate right to top of head – misses as
Champion evades. An aggressive Sharkey steps forward
and lands a left to body. Champion counters with a
right punch that lands to face. Sharkey throws
right to head – misses while stumbling.
Champion head bobs and steps away. Sharkey regains
balance – bobs head and gloves – steps forward to
throw left – Champion stops foe with left jab that
lands to head. Sharkey bobs head and gloves – steps
forward to throw left – Champion easily lands left
jab to forehead instead. Sharkey bobs head and
gloves – madly charges forward and lands left to
body – tries to follow with right but loses balance.
Champion attempts to evade and throw left jab –
misses. Sharkey charges forward and lands illegal
right to crotch – crowd boos.
San Francisco Chronicle: “The
suspicious blows were, however due to Sharkey’s
style of swinging. Being so short, he hit in a
circular way at Fitzsimmons and when that wily boxer
ducked away from him blows that were aimed high at
the body struck far below the mark.”
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – charges forward and
throws left to head – misses as the Champion evades
– throws right to head – misses as the Champion
evades – throws left to head – misses as the
Champion evades. Sharkey steps forward
aggressively and pushes the Champion backward onto
his butt (no knockdown).
Sharkey is tired and
attempts to land a cheap shot left to head. Champion
evades while on the ground. Sharkey throws an
illegal right to head. Champion evades and
rises to his feet. Champion grabs and holds
the out of control Irishman. The crowd is yelling
with mixed frenzy. Sharkey’s supporters
mistakenly believe the illegal push was a knockdown.
Champion’s supporters are angry at the fouls and
attempt to illegally hit someone who is on the
Round 4 (cont’d):
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – steps forward –
Champion awaits and lands an over the top left hook
to head. Sharkey bobs head and gloves – charges
forward and grabs the Champion in a clinch.
Sharkey holds and bulls the Champion back to ropes –
tries to illegally pin and punch – lands right to
lower body – lands right to lower body. Champion
lands a short left jab to head and escapes the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “In the fourth
round, Sharkey pushed Fitz over on the floor and
before Bob could get up, made a couple of vicious
swipes at him. Fitz cleverly clinched and avoided
damage, but it was a clear case of a foul on
Sharkey’s face is covered with blood. His left
eye is partially closed. Fitzsimmons determinedly
steps forward with bobbing head and gloves.
Champion throws a right at the bobbing head –
misses. Champion steps forward to throw a left
– Sharkey rises from his crouch and lands hard left
jab to head – his supporters roar. Champion
feints a left to head. Champion throws and
lands a left to face. A confused Sharkey
attempts to back. Champion aggressively steps
forward with a right that lands to jaw – Sharkey
knocked to ground – tangled in lower ropes. (This is
the 3rd knockdown of Sharkey with no published
account that referee Earp has initiated any sort of
‘10’ count). Champion protects Sharkey from slipping
out of the ring as he assists the Irishman to his
Woman Sportswriter: “In the fifth round
Sharkey fell through the ropes clumsily and
Fitzsimmons helped him back.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “In the fifth,
Sharkey did more mean work, grabbing Fitz around the
legs and trying to throw him…. A poke on the
nose and a left swing on the jaw sent Sharkey down.
He rolled under the ropes and would have gone off
the platform had not Bob courteously hauled him
Play by play account: “That Sharkey was losing
steam was evident. He clinched at every
opportunity, striking interlocked, contrary to
San Francisco Chronicle: “It seemed as
if Sharkey could not help fouling. Not once but a
dozen times he wrestled the Australian, butted him
with his shoulders and grasped his legs as he tried
to hurl him over his head…. Fitz let the sailor have
his left and right in the jaw, knocking him through
the ropes in a very bad condition. So close was
Sharkey to the edge of the platform that he looked
as if he might fall off. Fitzsimmons with the
coolness of an old ringster, reached out and caught
him and pulled him into the ring.”
Champion throws a right to foe’s bobbing head –
misses. Champion throws a left to head –
misses the ducking Irishman. Champion lands a left
to head. Sharkey charges forward and grabs the
Champion around the legs. Champion is enraged at the
persistent illegal tactics against him. Champion
steps forward to punch. Sharkey backs. Champion
continues forward. Sharkey surges forward and
Woman Sportswriter: “At each round and during
it and all the time the crowd yelled madly, with
hats and arms in air. It was like 10,000 maniacs,
each man yelling for his favorite and his money. As
the rounds reeled off, with Sharkey still in the
ring, the men who bet on his endurance went mad with
Sharkey bobs head and gloves – charges forward.
Champion awaits with a left jab feint – lands right
to head – lands left uppercut to jaw – lands right
uppercut to jaw. Sharkey continues to foolishly step
forward. An enraged Sharkey surges ahead and grabs
the Champion with a wrestling clinch. Both boxers
grapple while attempting to punch. The bell sounds.
Champion releases his
clinch at the conclusion of the round.
Champion turns his back on the Irishman as he
returns to his corner. Sharkey illegally
charges an opponent that is not looking and throws
right to the back of head. Champion evades.
Sharkey illegally throws a left to head – misses….
(There is no published account of referee Earp
having issued a single warning to Sharkey for these
repeated cheap shot fouls).
A.P. reporter telegraphing live: “Fitz is
after the marine like a tiger. Sharkey won’t let go
of a clinch. Fitz is looking for a good opening to
jab that left in. He finally finds it and lands both
hands. Sharkey gets the better of the mix-up. He is
fighting foul. Fitz is not as fast in this round and
the sailor lands frequently.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “Fitz swung his
right repeatedly for the jaw, but in some manner
Sharkey escaped. The left jabs always connected,
though, and Tom was decidedly on the wane. Bob
himself was none too strong and seemed to be a bit
tired when the round closed.”
Champion lands a straight left jab to head – Sharkey
wobbles backward. Champion pursues and lands a
right to the top of his crouching foe’s head.
Sharkey backs near the ropes. Champion throws a left
hook to head – misses. Sharkey bobs head and evades.
The Irishman is desperate as he clinches around the
waist. Champion attempts to shake himself
free. Sharkey will not let go of his hold.
Referee Earp intervenes. Earp is unsuccessful
as he fails to separate the boxers.
Round 8 (cont’d):
Earp finally pushes the boxers apart. Sharkey
staggers toward the center ring and halts. The
outmatched Irishman attempts to be defensive and
protect his face. Champion lands a left jab to
stomach. Champion lands another left jab to
stomach and backs. Sharkey wobbles forward
though he is unable to defend himself. Sharkey
attempts to keep his gloves upward. Champion steps
forward and lands hard left to exposed stomach –
Sharkey’s gloves drop. Champion follows with a
right uppercut that lands to chin – Sharkey
collapses to the ground.
The crowd is in
pandemonium. Referee Earp is not offering a count.
Sharkey noisily writhes on the floor as if fouled.
Twenty seconds have elapsed with no count or signal.
The San Francisco crowd roars its approval at the
apparent knockout. Sharkey stops moving.
Champion Fitzsimmons raises his gloves in triumph.
Champion waves his glove
in acknowledgment of the appreciative crowd.
Sharkey’s corner man, Lynch, enters the ring and
shouts conversation with referee Earp. Several
seconds pass. Lynch shakes his fist in triumph but
no one notices. Another 30 seconds elapse before it
is announced to the crowd that the Champion has been
disqualified. Sharkey is declared the victor.
Chaos ensues. Boos and hisses shower from all
directions. Fitzsimmons entered the ring favored to
win, but not the crowd favorite. Referee Earp
frantically waves his hands toward the hostile,
threatening crowd. Earp receives hate and
invective, threats and curses, “FRAUD” and “FIX” and
“CHEAT” are shouted at him. The famous
gunfighter is frightened as he wisely exits. Sharkey
still lay on the ground. This is usually the
moment when a boxing mob attempts ‘humanity’ by
quieting and showing concern for a fallen or injured
pugilist. But with referee Earp gone, shouts and
curses, boos and hisses, are aimed at Sharkey and
his corner men.
Woman Sportswriter: “It was a lame conclusion.
Sharkey fell over like a collapsed balloon. He
writhed in pain, where a moment before he had been
fresh and strong. They carried him out – the man who
had been like a lion, while Fitzsimmons friends
shouted that he was shamming, and the sailors
supporters swore he was not, until for a moment it
looked like a hundred fights all over the house.
Fitzsimmons paced about the ring shaking his fist,
spitting his rage, and the crowd stood up in its
chairs, everybody talking at the top of his voice,
with the decision in doubt because no one would
listen. The referee had vanished like the Arabian
Tom Sharkey post bout comment: “I am certain
that Fitzsimmons fouled me deliberately to save
himself from defeat. It was getting too plain to him
that I was gaining in strength, while he was going
down hill, so to speak, so he thought he would lose
on a foul.”
Bob Fitzsimmons post bout comment: “He fouled
me at every clinch. I appealed eight times, and
then, seeing that it was no use protesting, I quit
and went in hitting my man just where I wanted to.
In the fifth round Sharkey clinched and caught me
round the hips. The referee deliberately stuck his
fingers in my face, cutting my eyelid with his
Referee Wyatt Earp: “Julian came to me before
the fight and said he had been told I was fixed. I
am a friend of Lynch to be sure, but I know Sharkey
only slightly. I first met him the night before he
fought Corbett. Fitzsimmons I met four years ago,
and was introduced to him by Bat Masterson, the best
friend I have on earth. If I had any leanings they
would be toward Fitzsimmons, for I know that Bat
Masterson, who is in Denver tonight, had every
dollar he had on Fitzsimmons.”
W.H. Naughton (boxing writer): “If Fitzsimmons
struck Sharkey a foul blow last night I did not see
it. But even at that I would scarcely like to go on
record as saying that the punch on which the fight
was given the sailor was not foul.”
San Francisco Chronicle: “It was Bob
Fitzsimmons hand that struck the $10,000 blow last
night, but the referee – none other than Wyatt Earp,
who is better known in gun fighting circles than to
pugilism – called it a foul and gave the trophy of
battle, a certified check for a little fortune, to
the sailor fighter who lay hopelessly knocked out in
his corner of the ring.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “Then Fitz got up
to finish the job in a workmanlike manner. A right
half arm jolt under the chin sent the sailor’s head
to one side. A left hook similarly applied sent him
over backward. Then came the much disputed foul.
Very few of the immense crowd could be convinced
that Fitz had been unfair and it is almost certain
that if a foul were committed, it was
San Francisco Chronicle: “There was
pandemonium of shouting from the short enders who
hadn’t looked for anything beyond winnings on the
rounds and a fierce, long sustained deep-throated
yell of ‘fraud’ ‘job’ ‘robbery’.”
Martin Julian: “This man Sharkey, who they
claim was so badly knocked out, actually took the
check out of the referee’s hand and stuck it in his
belt directly after he fell down.”
For several hours
following the bout partisan dispute is fierce. By
the following day, the tide has already turned
against Sharkey. Though sports media acknowledges
that Fitzsimmons has lost, no one calls Tom Sharkey
the new champion. The days that follow increase any
anger and outrage against the Irishman. Sharkey
insists he is Champion, but his voice is slipping
from minority opinion to sole pathetic whine. The
news spreads across the nation and world that a
heavyweight Championship bout has been “fixed”, an
intentional fraud committed, and that it’s
unresolved who possesses the title.
Post bout legal issues: A ‘stop payment’ is
placed the night of the bout on Sharkey’s certified
$10,000 check. That is supposed to be impossible as
Sharkey/Lynch were waiting to cash it the moment the
bank opened. But they underestimated Martin Julian,
who called the President of the bank, informed him
an injunction would be placed on the check that
morning in court, because a scandal had ensued that
would likely place people in jail. The president
personally placed a hold on the cashier’s check
before the bank opened.
The decision is made to allow the legal system
decide the winner or at least who is entitled to the
money. Testimony for the record is offered in the
lawsuit. Sharkey’s trainer, Australian Billy
Smith admits in Judge Sanderson’s court that a ‘fix’
was in and names the four who planned the scam: J.J.
Groom, J. H. Gibbs, Danny Lynch and Tom Sharkey.
Wyatt Earp agreed to the scam in which he would
disqualify Fitzsimmons on a body punch. Earp was to
be paid 25%, or $2500, for his necessary
participation in the fraud.
Several days following
this testimony the legal system fought back. The Los
Angeles based District Attorney decides that the
testimony offered is proof than an illegal prize
fight has taken place and that everyone involved may
be arrested. Judge Sanderson dismissed the lawsuit
by ruling that courts do not resolve civil legal
issues involving criminal activity.
Tom Sharkey returns to the
bank with his cashier check and demands payment with
all sorts of threats. He is told that nothing can be
done. Sharkey asks if he can have any of the funds.
He is told that 15% is placed under some sort of
legal injunction. Sharkey waives this amount,
collects $8500, before he leaves the bank a happy
and relieved man.
The McLoury brothers & Billy
Wyatt Earp gained fame on
October 26th, 1881, Tombstone, Arizona,
when he was charged, along with Doc Holliday, for
the murder of three ranchers. The incident
would be forever remembered as the “Gunfight At The
O.K. Corral”. The consensus was that Morgan
Earp, badly wounded, and Holliday, opened fire on
Frank McLoury and an unarmed, Tom McLoury.
Sixteen-year-old, Billy Clanton, was killed in the
ambush while an unarmed Ike Canton successfully
No one believed
that Marshal Virgil Earp was aware those he
deputized that day would use their law enforcement
status for a triple homicide. The consensus
was that Wyatt Earp was innocent while Doc Holliday
was guilty, but the decision was they should both be
acquitted because one side was former Confederates
while the murderers were pro-Union transplants.
Virgil Earp was the law enforcement hero of his
family. He was a quiet, tough, honest, mean
figure. Hollywood movies, and directors that
suck at their jobs and are contemptuous of truth,
would alter this good family man into a minor
character of a story for which he was the leading
Virgil Earp and Sheriff
John Behan were the two highest ranking law
enforcement officers on that fateful October, 1881,
day. Wyatt Earp had lost a sheriff’s election
to John Behan so that he earned his money as a
minority owner of a gambling house. Frank
McLoury was visiting Tombstone for business.
He had refused Virgil Earp’s demand to turn over his
gun temporarily until his exit. Sheriff Behan
had intercepted Marshal Earp and pleaded with him
for the opportunity to speak with McLoury before any
confrontation. Marshal Earp declined. It
had been Marshal Earp who had foolishly cut his
police staff from six officers to two. Virgil
Earp was an honest, hard-headed man who had arrested
his brother, Wyatt (not a law enforcement officer),
days earlier for assaulting an unarmed, Tom McLoury,
with a gun.
Marshal Earp had no
idea of the planned murder ambush by his brother and
Doc Holliday. The sad irony is that the intent
of Virgil Earp with the unusual display of guns was
meant to deter violence. Wyatt Earp, amoral at
best, did not likely know of this plan to kill under
the shield of law enforcement immunity. There
were two bullets simultaneously fired, not three,
and Wyatt would not have left his Marshal brother
unaware and dangerously exposed. Virgil Earp
had his arm outstretched, pointing a cane, not a
gun, when he ordered: “Lay down your arms.”
Marshal Earp was shot during the 30 second massacre.
Of the eight men involved, or nine if the nearby
Bill Clairborne is included, only Ike Canton and
Clairborne who fled, and Wyatt Earp, were not shot.
To his credit, despite future San Francisco fame as
a ‘wounded gunfighter’, Virgil Earp always stated
that October 26th, 1881, was the worst
day of his law enforcement career.
In his decision to
acquit both Wyatt Earp, who was innocent, and Doc
Holliday, who was guilty, of murder charges, Judge
Spicer publicly tongue-lashed Virgil Earp for his
decision to deputize his brothers and Holliday.
Tombstone citizens felt similar so that Marshal Earp
was suspended and eventually fired because of the
incident. Two months following the verdict,
Virgil Earp, was ambushed with two shotgun blasts
that left him permanently paralyzed. Soon
after, the still wounded, Morgan Earp, who should
have been convicted for murder, was ambushed and
shot dead while shooting pool with brother, Wyatt.
The ambush was
intended for Wyatt, too, with a shotgun blast
narrowly missing his head.
The next phase of Wyatt
Earp’s fame, along with Doc Holliday, was one of
1882 revenge. Earp believed a man named Indian
Charley was involved in the ambush of his brothers.
Holliday and Earp shot a man five times in the back,
a Hispanic named Florentino Cruz, in a case of
mistaken identity. Holliday and Earp entered
Tucson and shot another man in the back five times.
The murder of former deputy sheriff, Frank Stilwell,
brought murder charges against the pair, and three
others, Earp and Holliday successful fled to the
border with a posse in pursuit. Somehow, with
Eastern people treating this lawlessness as heroic,
they displayed less class and honesty than Arizonans
Tucson was not the ‘Wild
West’ where people could simply enter and murder
indiscriminately. Tucson citizens were
outraged along with the media. The Tucson
Daily Star published an angry editorial about
Earp and Holliday: “Their paths are strewn
with blood.” Doc Holliday was eventually
arrested for vagrancy in Colorado and charged with
five murders. It was the Frank Stilwell
killing that was most prominent. Wyatt Earp
pleaded with his respected and famous lawyer friend,
Bat Masterson, to request Colorado’s governor to
ignore Arizona’s extradition request.
Masterson had great respect for Earp from their days
as Kansas law enforcement officials. Masterson
despised Doc Holliday, and likely thought he
deserved the hanging awaiting him in Tucson, but
convinced the governor that Holliday would not
receive a fair trial.
James J. Corbett
The final player of the 1896 boxing scandal is
former undefeated Champion, James Corbett. He had
decided it was premature and a mistake to have
surrendered such a prestigious and lucrative
position as Heavyweight Champion. Corbett had made
it clear pre-fight that he wanted an opportunity to
face the winner and Champion in order to regain his
Corbett, no fan of
Fitzsimmons, offered his opinion, without having
seen the bout, that he believed the disqualification
of Fitzsimmons by referee Earp was legitimate.
Corbett told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the day
following the bout that he believed Fitzsimmons felt
the fight was slipping from his grasp, and as he
landed a left hook to chin, simultaneous landed an
intentional knee to groin so fast that spectators
could not witness this devastating foul. The main
problem with this theory is that none of the
principals, or referee Earp, had suggested that
Fitzsimmons landed a knee to groin.
Corbett’s timing to
reenter the ring, along with a desired resolution of
the scandal, proved fortuitous for boxing. With
utter refusal by both public and media to
acknowledge Sharkey as Champion, and no legal
recourse for Sharkey, an unprecedented decision in
the history of sports resolved the matter and
lessened the taint of scandal: James Corbett
remains undefeated Heavyweight Champion. History was
re-written so that Corbett never ‘retired’ for stage
acting and simply received a break from boxing.
Corbett was more than willing to accept this
arrangement, since it placed him back into a power
position, but it was understood that his first
defense must be against Fitzsimmons. A previous
guaranteed $25,000 purse for a 20 round bout would
be accepted by both pugilists.
This meant that Tom Sharkey was not the heavyweight
Champion, because the Fitzsimmons/Sharkey battle was
not a title bout. This meant that neither Bob
Fitzsimmons (1896) nor Peter Maher (1896) had been
heavyweight Champions because their previous title
bouts were not. This means that the last heavyweight
Champion from Ireland remained Paddy Ryan
Champion James Corbett vs. Bob Fitzsimmons
Location: Carson City, Nevada. Because of the
many delays, often because of law enforcement, and
mutual venomous remarks, it has become one of the
most anticipated bouts in American history.
The crowd was a smaller 5000 persons. It was
the first filmed heavyweight title bout. It
would be released as a movie in its entirety.
‘Moving Pictures’ averaged 1-3 minutes in length.
This film would dramatically alter the new art form.
It would ultimately be the #1 movie in America
released at an unprecedented 97 minutes in length.
Following the referee’s instructions, the Champion
attempts to shake hands, but an angry Fitzsimmons
Fitzsimmons has both gloves outstretched as he
attempts to force the Champion backwards. Champion
pushes forward and slips under the outstretched
gloves with a right that lands to jaw. The boxers
clinch. Fitzsimmons breaks the clinch and backs.
Champion steps forward and lands a right to chin.
Fitzsimmons backs. Champion steps forward with
light left jab to face. Champion follows with
a harder right that lands to head. Boxers
clinch and wrestle before separation. Champion
bobs gloves as he steps forward with a left, right
combo that lands to chin. Fitzsimmons is
unsuccessful with defense blocks. Champion lands a
right, left, right punch combination to head –
Fitzsimmons unsuccessful at grabbing his foe - falls
to the ground onto his butt. Referee Siler
pushes the Champion back ‘1,2’. Referee
Siler pushes the Champion back – ‘3,4’. Fitzsimmons
alert as he temporarily rests – ‘5,6,7’.
Fitzsimmons rises to feet. Champion
steps forward. Fitzsimmons lands a left to
jaw. Fitzsimmons follows with a right to head that
grazes. Champion backs.
Champion pushes the challenger backward and extends
a left jab to face. Fitzsimmons surges forward
with an attempted body shot. Champion wraps his arm
around Fitzsimmons’ head and pulls the smaller
Englishman into a clinch. An annoyed Fitzsimons
presses his arm into the Champion’s neck. The
boxers separate from their clinch. Champion
throws a left to head – misses – wraps his arm
around Fitzsimmons’ neck. The boxers separate from a
brief clinch. Fitzsimmons steps forward with a
short left that lands to the Champion’s jaw.
Champion’s head is snapped back as he is rocked
backward several steps. Fitzsimmons steps
forward and pushes the Champion backward. Both
stalk one another. Champion steps forward to throw a
left punch to head. Fitzsimmons quickly leans
forward with a left punch that lands to body -
Champion drops to his knees before falling flat onto
the ground. Referee Siler pushes an anxious
Fitzsimmons backward. Champion is winded and
cannot breathe. The count begins: ‘1,2’.
Champion is desperate and unable to rise.
Fitzsimmons attempts to sneak through the referee:
‘3,4’. Champion begins crawling across the ring.
Fitzsimmons bounces on feet as he hovers over the
Champion: ‘5,6,7’. Fitzsimmons prepares a right
punch once the American’s knees are off the ground.
Champion attempts to crawl toward the ropes so he
can pull himself onto his feet: ‘8,9’.
Fitzsimmons recognizes the Champion is too far away
from the ropes to beat the count. The
Englishman lowers his gloves and relaxes.
Champion surrenders by collapsing flat onto the
ground: ‘10’. Referee Siler waves hands. Bout
James Corbett post bout
comment: “I made a mistake in not keeping
away. Fitzsimmons, I knew to be a terrible
puncher, but I never calculated on his being able to
reach me…. He whipped me fair and square.”
Bob Fitzsimmons post bout
comment: “I never saw such a clever man in my
life. He got away from me time and time again
when I thought I had him dead to rights. I
knew I could wear him out, and so I kept coming
right along until my opportunity arrived.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: “The fight has
removed the bogus ‘Gentleman’ fighter from public
view. Hereafter if Corbett fights, he will not
be accepted at his own estimate. The man who
spat in Fitzsimmons face while the latter’s arms
were held, the ‘Gentleman Jim’ who taunted John L.
Sullivan with unprintable epithets when Sullivan was
at his mercy at New Orleans, the self styled
‘Gentleman’ whose everyday language reeks of the
slang of the slums, will hereafter be known for what
he really is - a common bruiser… (Fitzsimmons)
triumph is not popular because of any regard of his
personality. He will be accorded a moderate
amount of respect because he laid low a braggart,
who has irritated great masses of people by his vast
Bat Masterson, a 20th
century New York sportswriter, published a letter
from Wyatt Earp. It was dated December 24th,
1909, from Parker, Arizona. Earp was hoping to
publicly explain that he did not need the $2500 that
was his profit from the 1896 disqualification.
“At the time of the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight, I
owned and raced a stable of thoroughbreds on the
tracks at Oakland and Ingle Side. I was living
at the Baldwin Hotel, and occupied a fine suite of
rooms for which I paid promptly…. Take my tip,
Bat, and never referee a prizefight. It’s a
thankless job, and you’ll be sure to make enemies no
matter how fairly and honestly you may act.”
New York Times
(7/23/1911): “Earp’s Faro Plan Fails….
Marshal who disqualified Fitzsimmons arrested in
raid…. (Los Angeles, California, July 22nd).
Wyatt Earp, Arizona Marshal of early days, who in
1896, as a prize fight referee disqualified Bob
Fitzsimmons for a doubtful foul and awarded a
decision to Tom Sharkey, was remanded to prison
to-day for failure to produce $500 bond for his
arraignment on a ‘get-rich-quick’ charge. Earp
and his two companions, Walter Scott and E. Dunne,
who are also in jail, will plead next Tuesday.
J.Y. Peterson, a realty broker, told detectives that
Earp had unfolded to him a scheme to break a faro
bank which Earp was operating as an employee.
According to Peterson he was to appear in the
gambling room with $2,500, and by means of marked
cards was to be permitted to win $4,000, to be
shared with Earp, Scott and Dunne. Peterson
pretended to acquiesce in the arrangement, but when
the big winning was to have taken place detectives
whom he had previously informed raided the place.
The faro outfit was confiscated.”
ALSO BY CHRISTOPHER JAMES SHELTON
Down goes Frazier! 'The Sunshine
Last of the bare-knuckle championships
Death of an Irish pugilist
Sharkey-Corbett: A battle of unbeatens
200 years ago ... without gloves
The final interview of
legend Al Fenn, manager of Zora Foley
Johnson vs. Jeffries, the 100th
Sonny Banks, who died fighting, would
have been 70