(6/9/1899) Champion Bob Fitzsimmons versus James Jeffries I
Location: Coney Island – Brooklyn, New York – despite the reputation of the undefeated challenger’s enormous physical strength, gamblers are 2-1 with odds on Champion to prevail.
ROUND 2: Jeffries throws left to head – misses. Champion steps forward – lands left, right combo to neck and body – challenger grabs Fitzsimmons and clinches – lands close left body shot – throws over the top right that grazes head. Pugilists separate – Jeffries lands left to upper body – lands left to chest – Champion does not back – Jeffries lands left jab to face – lands left jab to face – Champion throws right to head that grazes shoulder – Jeffries counters with straight left jab that lands hard to jaw – Champion drops to ground.
Challenger, Mr. Goliath, hovers over Fitz. Champion rises, charges mammoth muscled foe and throws a wild right to head – Jeffries blocks. Champion throws hard left to head – Jeffries blocks.
ROUND 5: Champion lands left to mouth – challenger counters with left to head – misses. Champion lands right to challenger’s eye. Both throw lefts – both miss. Champion throws double left – two taps to challenger’s head. Jeffries counters and lands left to head – follows and lands with right to body – Champion lands left to neck – Jeffries throws wild left to head that misses. Slight pause – Champion lands left to body – no effect on burly foe. Jeffries lands short left to chin – Champion backed a step – Jeffries follows with hard left jab that lands square to exposed face – Champion misses with two quick lefts to head and body – Jeffries counters with right hook that lands to head – Champion wobbled and falls onto knees.
Fitzsimmons quickly rises – Jeffries lands right to body – follows with hard left jab that lands square to nose. Champion gamely attempts to battle – manages light left that lands weakly to head – Jeffries counters with left jab that lands to head. As bell sounds – challenger lands hard right to body.
ROUND 10: Pugilists in clinch – separate. Jeffries flicks left jab to body – follows and lands left to jaw – Champion responds with left that lands to giant’s eye – Fitz wants to open that eye and draw blood. Champion throws left hook to head – misses – Jeffries throws right to head – Fitz ducks so it misses. Champion throws off-balance and wild left, right combo to head – misses – Jeffries counters with hard left jab that lands to face. Champion tries to duck under jab and bull forward – Jeffries snaps left that lands to jaw – Champion’s head snaps back as Englishman flops to ground onto back for 3rd knockdown.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – Champion has not moved – ‘5, 6’ – Fitz rolls over onto knees – ‘7, 8’ – with great difficulty the Champion has slowly risen back to feet – Californian has hovered and now lands hard right to neck – Champion falls back onto ground.
There is no time for referee count as Fitz jumps back to his feet quick – Jeffries hovers and lands right to head – Champion falls back onto knees for 5thknockdown.
Fitz eyes Jeffries and hopeless situation – the heart of a champion – his only instinct is to fight and never surrender. Confident Jeffries hovers, ready to punch Englishman the moment knee off ground. Champion musters all his energy to bolt upward onto feet and charges straight into Californian before he can react – clinch. Bell sounds – clinch broken – frustrated Champion throws hard wild left to head of Jeffries – misses.
ROUND 11: Champion charges out for round and throws wild left to head – misses – Jeffries clinches. Pugilists separate – Fitzsimmons throws straight left to head – misses. Challenger lands hard left to neck – Champion responds with right, left body shot combo that lands – follows with right to head – misses – challenger responds with right that lands to heart – follows with straight left jab that lands to face – Champion’s head snapped back – challenger lands left, right combo to head – lands hard left jab to head – lands hard left jab to head – Champion refuses to back – Jeffries lands hard left jab to neck – lands hard left jab to jaw – Champion wobbled and in trouble but refuses to back, but attempts to defend against left – Jeffries completes onslaught with hard right that lands to jaw – Champion collapses dead onto canvas for 6th knockdown
Fitzsimmons lands on side and rolls over onto back – ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6’ – Champion rolls over weakly with unsuccessful effort to stand – ‘7, 8, 9, 10’ – referee waves hands, bout over – KNOCKOUT!
Fitzsimmons still not moving – referee waves his corner men to do something. Handlers rush out and carry the unconscious Fitzsimmons back to corner – prop him onto stool and begin pouring water over him and lightly slapping him to face.
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Black Heavyweight Championship
(10/28/1899) Frank Childs versus Klondike
Location: Chicago, Illinois – scheduled for 6 rounds – referee is the great scientific light-heavyweight boxer, Joe Choynski. Klondike’s greatest victory from historical perspective is a technical-knockout over Jack Johnson. But he has already lost several times to Frank Childs via knockout.
Round 3: Pugilists stand toe-to-toe exchanging punches – Klondike attempts pounding to head – Childs ducks head and land body blows – Klondike is exposed as Childs lands left uppercut to jaw – Klondike drops to ground.
Choynski counts: ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8’ – Klondike attempts to rise – ‘9, 10’ – Klondike rises to feet – Choynski waves hands, bout over – KNOCKOUT!
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It is recorded by boxing historians that James Jeffries was the 1899 heavyweight champion – which is true – but that he held the title alone – which I would dispute. Jeffries, more than any heavyweight champion since John L Sullivan made it publicly cleat he would not fight a Black man to unify the title. James Corbett only fought three rounds over five years as undefeated champion. Bob Fitzsimmons stated he would fight a Black man to unify the title but was de-focused on boxing as champion and lost the title before keeping his promise. Colored and Black heavyweight champion, Frank Childs would have been a good opponent for Jeffries; a smaller offensive guy who lands body punches while setting up his vicious right punch to jaw. For Frank Childs, former White champion Bob Fitzsimmons would have matched better; smaller size who is probably a better boxer but would be in trouble if gritty Childs lands right to jaw. Frank Childs knocked out larger Bob Armstrong twice to become Colored champion – but Armstrong would have matched better versus Jeffries. They often sparred but publicly fought once with Armstrong holding his own – and in the craziness that constitutes racism – would become lifelong friends. Before he became champion, James Jeffries knocked out legendary Colored champion, Peter Jackson, in three rounds. Denver Ed Martin – with only one loss to his record (knocked out by Bob Armstrong) would have matched well versus Jeffries. The White heavyweight champion was more experienced whose steady diet of body blows could be problematic for Martin. James Jeffries at 6’2 was the largest American heavyweight champion since Tom Hyer 50 years earlier – but both Bob Armstrong and Denver Ed Martin were larger. Styles make fights – and there are breaks and fortune which allows one man to fight for the title but not someone else. For the moment, James Jeffries and Frank Childs would be viewed as heavyweight champion – not equal by 1899 contemporary accounts – but in fairness from historical perspective.
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(11/3/1899) Champion James Jeffries versus Tom Sharkey
Location: Coney Island – Brooklyn, New York – scheduled for 25 rounds – crowd: 10,000 fans – tickets range from $5-35. Crowd cheers Jeffries and boos Sharkey’s insistent claims that he is still Champion when he has NEVER had support to this fake claim.
Tom Sharkey gained infamy as the instigator participant in a rigged 1896 heavyweight title bout versus champion Bob Fitzsimmons. One of the other participants of the fraud was famed Tombstone O.K. Corral gunfighter turned temporary boxing referee, Wyatt Earp. Though Fitzsimmons knocked Sharkey down several times Earp stopped the fight in the 8th round ruling Fitzsimmons disqualified. The ruling was immediately questioned (Earp was lucky to get out of that San Francisco frenzied, enraged mob forum with his life) which was confirmed via court testimony since the crooks foolishly utilized in an attempt to receive illegal money. Fitzsimmons lost his title without Sharkey being declared champion. In a convoluted approach to clarify DISASTER former undefeated champion, James Corbett, was reinstated as heavyweight champion with condition that he fight a long delayed confrontation with Bob Fitsimmons – who eventually scored a 14thround knockout. So Sharkey had gone from popular – to notorious – to despised – to redemption thanks to a previous bout with James Jeffries, along with this one, lasting combined 45 rounds without being knocked out.
ROUND 2: Pugilists mix it up – exchange punches – Jeffries lands right to side of head – Sharkey drops to ground.
Referee counts: ‘1, 2, 3’ – Jeffries backs away – ‘4, 5, 6’ – Sharkey awaits full count on one knee – ‘7, 8, 9’ – Sharkey rises and charges Champion – Jeffries sidesteps – Sharkey stumbles and falls down onto hands and knees.
ROUND 25: Fight nears end – Jeffries backs Sharkey to ropes and lands right to body – lands left to body – Sharkey grabs and hold tight onto foe’s left arm – Jeffries angrily flails his held arm – Sharkey pulls Jeffries glove off as he tumbles to ground. Referee Siler steps over to pick up glove and place on Champion – Sharkey rises and pauses before suddenly attacking the defenseless Jeffries – referee forcefully pushes Sharkey while attempting to fit glove onto Champion – bell sounds – bout over…. Referee raises Jeffries arm and declares him as victor.
Post bout: Referee Siler explains his decision: “Sharkey was foul at times. He hit low at different times and hit in the clinches while holding. He twisted Jeffries’ neck several times and cut Jeffries’ nose with a butt, not with a punch…. Jeffries did the clean punching, his blows landed fair and square. Sharkey was knocked down clean and was groggy at several stages…. All of this I took into consideration in making the decision, for clean and fair tactics are what counts.”
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle once observed that Sharkey was defined by his failures rather than by success – and this bout is no different. Despite two cracked ribs and a broken nose – this loss would be the highlight of his career and the basis for much of his post pugilist fame: the stubborn bastard who lasted two bouts and 45 rounds with James Jeffries without being knocked out.
(1/3/1900) New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt Speaks
ANNUAL MESSAGE: “I call the attention of the legislature to the so called Horton boxing law on the statute books, and recommend its appeal…. Rough, vigorous pastimes are excellent things for the nation, for they promote manliness, being good in their effects not merely upon the body, but upon the character, which is far more important than the body…. Every exercise that tends to develop bodily vigor, daring, endurance, resolution and self-command, should be encouraged. Boxing is a fine sport, but this affords no justification for prize fighting.”
(4/6/1900) Champion James Jeffries versus Jack Finnegan
Location: Detroit, Michigan.
ROUND 1: Pugilists reach center of ring – Challenger lands right to head – American Champion counters with left hook that lands to jaw – Irish Challenger drops to ground.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – Finnegan rises – Champion lands left to head – challenger flops to ground onto back.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – distressed challenger eyes Champion hovering above – ‘5, 6, 7, 8, 9’ – Finnegan rises to charge Jeffries and clinch – Champion lands right to body – challenger flops face-first onto ground.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – Finnegan rolls onto side – ‘5, 6’ – referee notices challenger is CRYING – stops count for moment and then continues – ‘7, 8, 9’ – Finnegan staggers onto feet, wobbles and cries while staggering toward ropes – corner men rush out to grab their man – referee waves hands, bout over – technical KNOCKOUT!
Finnegan is assisted to stool – vomits several times – remains on stool slouched for several minutes.
Post bout: The first official gloved heavyweight championship bout to last under a minute.
(5/11/1900) Champion James Jeffries versus Gentleman Jim Corbett
Location: Brooklyn, New York – crowd: 10,000 – almost exclusively on side of challenger – 25 rounds. This is Corbett’s first opportunity to reclaim his title since the Fitzsimmons loss.
ROUNDS 1-22: Corbett appears to dominate – his ‘science’ out-boxes and out-classes ‘brutal force’ – his left jabs have created mush to the Champion’s face while his own face is unmarked. Jeffries himself likes to jab with his left in order to set up his right and Corbett has played havoc with this tactic. Jeffries cannot land the left jab because the opponent is quicker – so he begins aiming for the head with misses and eventually renders his left useless as an offensive tool after he dislocates his shoulder. This is why the challenger deserves credit for ‘science’ – not because the misses, although the ensuing laughter by Corbett and the crowd, emphasizes the ‘buffoon’ qualities of Jeffries – but because causing your opponent to miss punches, especially an offensive foe, to the point where they injure themselves with misses is legit strategy and achievement. But Jeffries has adjusted and created a tactic: despite the pain, he continues throwing the left and while it was blocked or off-target, followed up with clinches and a hard right to body. These punches were landing – but because it is easier to spot external rather than internal damage – even people that pride themselves as ‘experts’ on boxing vastly underestimate its damage.
If I had to compare James Jeffries to two champions that I have seen on film – it would be Rocky Marciano and the ‘old man’ (early 40’s) 2nd incarnation of George Foreman. Both landed knockouts that rendered their opponents goofy and sometimes unconscious. But neither were one-punch knockout artists, despite their reputation. What both of them did, along with Jeffries, was pound and pound and pound with body shots – with an amazing resilience to receive those same body shots in return. It appears both those Champions – and Jeffries as well – are losing certain battles (or rounds), but retrospectively, I’m not sure that is the case. Their foe receives these body shots – and do not appear bruised or rattled – and then an amazing thing occurs. The opponent starts, not becoming wobbly, but slipping into a ‘dream daze’ where something is clearly happening to the oxygen in their brain but they do not consciously realize this. The offensive crispness is off, the opponent starts stepping forward without proper defense, their gloves start dropping down somewhat – they stay closer and closer within punching range – and that’s when those steady body punchers freely allow a short, launched shot to the jaw which sends these foes into the next orbit.
The last point on Jeffries, is that prior to abandoning retirement years later to face unified heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, he was one of the most disrespected and disliked champions in the history of their own time.. He trained much harder than John L. Sullivan – he could defeat the supposedly ‘fast’ athletic James Corbett in a foot race – he was no less tenacious a battler than Bob Fitzsimmons – but those three were respected as boxers but not him. The 3rdround knockout of Peter Jackson was the greatest accomplish of his athletic career – but you wouldn’t know it based on San Francisco reviews the next day. From Europeans – to Australians – to Americans of both the East and West Coast – Champion Jeffries was: “Dumb” “Slow” “Clumsy” and on and on.
James Jeffries had grown to hate fame – and sort of hated people. Or at least he wanted them to stay away from him. He liked the solitude of fishing. One of the reasons for his terrific athletic conditioning was that vigorous exercise kept people at distance. Training was his form of solitude meditation. Boxers – besides the basic animal component that this is two guys trying to beat the shit out of each other – held certain camaraderie. A moody Jeffries preferred to sit alone than with other boxers at public events.
ROUND 23: Pugilists step out – crowd roaring its approval for the challenger and his superior boxing technique – Corbett’s gloves had been lowering for one or two rounds – a bit arm weary – and sometime after a minute passes by in this round, the challenger would admit he is “daydreaming” while his brain is in and out of focus. Undefeated champion is doing what he has been doing all night – boars forward into foe – usually Corbett would land the left jab or evade with foot, but this time does nothing as Jeffries crashes into him, bulls him backward onto ropes – lands hard right to body – with dislocated shoulder, but Corbett leaving himself exposed, lands hard left hook to face – Corbett slips away slowly – Champion chases and lands hard left to jaw – Corbett knocked against ropes, vaguely tries to grab them as he falls to ground.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – Jeffries is hovering and ready to punch – Corbett’s corner man rushes to his man – ‘5’ 6’ – water is sprinkled through the ropes onto Corbett’s face – ‘7’ – an enraged Jeffries ignores fallen fighter to reach through ropes and push the corner man backwards ‘8, 9, 10’ – referee waves hands, bout over – KNOCKOUT!
Corbett’s handlers enter the ring to carry their unconscious man back to his corner. After several minutes, Corbett is revived – knows who he is and where he is – and he tells his handlers he is ready to fight the next round. Corner men must explain that the bout is over while he has been knocked out – thus upon that realization, Corbett bursts into tears.
Post bout New York brutal reviews: “Jeffries is like no animal so much as the biggest of the ape tribe.” Besides referring to the Champion as a ‘gorilla’ the following is offered: “The public will never willingly accept Jeffries as the Champion…. Corbett in defeat is infinitely higher in public opinion today than Jeffries in victory. He is the poorest specimen of Champion that ever held the title, for he is Champion only in his great strength and his wonderful physique. From the scientific point of view, Corbett made him look like the poorest novice.”
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(6/26/1900) Tom Sharkey versus Gus Ruhlin
Location: Coney Island, New York – non title bout – scheduled for 20 rounds – Sharkey is a 5-3 favorite over much larger foe. Ruhlin was a tall, popular heavyweight at 6’4 who was an important person of this era – someone projected as possible future heavyweight champion – but would ultimately underperform at boxing’s highest level. There are even gambling odds that Ruhlin will not survive the 10th round.
ROUND 11: Aggressive Sharkey charges forward and lands left below belt – crowd boos – Ruhlin backs. Sharkey charges and intentionally lands hard right below belt – crowd fervently boos Irishman – referee does nothing – Ruhlin backs.
ROUND 15: Sharkey has no creative style – Ruhlin has foe figured out and timed – Sharkey steps forward – Ruhlin plants self and lands clean right to jaw – Sharkey wobbled – crowd cheers. Sharkey steps forward with no defense – Ruhlin lands left jab to head and backs – Sharkey continues forward with wild left, right in no particular direction – Ruhlin lands left jab to head and backs. Sharkey disrespects and wobbles forward with no defense – Ruhlin times left jab to head – Sharkey dazed and disoriented – Ruhlin pounces forward and lands right to head – lands left to body – Sharkey does not want to back or defend himself – Ruhlin aims and lands right to head – Sharkey falls to ground.
Irishman rises and throws directionless punches – Ruhlin aims right that lands to head – Sharkey drops to ground.
Irishman immediately rises – Ruhlin lands right, left, right to head – Sharkey drops to ground for 3rd time.
Disoriented Irishman attempts to immediately rise – wobbles backward off balance into ropes and nearly falls out of ring – wobbles forward and falls down – crawls couple steps and stands – Ruhlin lands right to head – Sharkey falls to ground for 4th time.
Sharkey’s manager, O’ Rourke frantically waves for referee’s attention to end bout – crowd loud and roars – Sharkey lifts himself to feet – gloves down as he doesn’t know where he is or what is happening – Ruhlin lands right and left to head – lands right and left to head – aims and lands clean right half hook to exposed jaw – Sharkey collapses to ground for 5th time.
Sharkey crawls and attempts to rise – referee grabs Irishman’s arm and waves bout over – technical KNOCKOUT!
(8/10/1900) Bob Fitzsimmons versus Gus Ruhlin
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York – non title bout – crowd: 10,000 fans. The smaller Fitzsimmons would score an impressive 6th round knockout.
Post bout: Brooklyn Daily Eagle review: “There is another scalp at old Fitz’s belt!…. Fitz, the ‘Old Man of the Ring’, was decorated with a black eye, two of them at once, this time: his throat was hurt by the elbow blow Ruhlin unintentionally gave him and his recently repaired left hand was badly bruised…. The knockout blow was a left hook, which was whipped up to Ruhlin’s jaw as the giant was half stooping. Fitz’s fist did not travel two feet in delivering it, but it might as well have been a ton of brick falling on Ruhlin. There was no use in counting the seconds, for the Akron man was lying on his face and a fighter who falls on his face never gets up unassisted.”
Bob Fitzsimmons: “As I stood there and let him swing on my jaw, I thought to myself, ‘What a fool I am to do this’, but I wasn’t a bit frightened and I did not feel that he could hurt me. I had my wits all of the time and heard all of the bells, even when Ruhlin didn’t…. Yes, he is a good man, better than I thought, but he isn’t good enough to do the old man yet awhile. If I had fought like that with Jeffries, I would have never lost the championship, for this fellow is a better man than the Champion and can lick him any time they meet.”
(8/24/1900) Bob Fitzsimmons versus Tom Sharkey II
Location: Brooklyn, New York – non title bout – prize: $25,000 – split evenly between two boxers. This is the rematch of infamous rigged 1896 heavyweight bout – except this time no one is paid to cheat.
Pre bout: Fitzsimmons’ sparring partner, Bob Armstrong, tells several people of dream he has that Fitz scores a clean 2nd round knockout.
ROUND 1: Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward – Fitzsimmons jumps back. Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward and throws right to head – misses as Fitz jumps back. Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward and throws right to head – misses as Fitz jumps back. Suddenly, Fitz leaps forward and lightly lands left tap to head – jumps back again. Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward and throws right to head – misses as Fitz jumps back. Fitz leaps forward and lands left to body – Sharkey backs…. Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward – Fitz stays ground and lands left jab to jaw – Sharkey throws right to head – misses – Fitz lands right to body – Sharkey backs – Fitz charges – Sharkey backs to ropes – Fitz throws right uppercut to jaw – misses – Sharkey lands hard left jab to chin – Fitzsimmons’ head snapped back – Sharkey follows with right to head – lands hard to shoulder instead – Fitz falls to ground.
Sharkey also falls to ground – rolls over Fitz – it appears Sharkey might strike Fitz at this point – both men on ground – referee intervenes and jumps between boxers – ref pushes Sharkey away – Sharkey rises to feet – referee begins count on Fitz – ‘1, 2, 3’ – bell sounds.
ROUND 2: Sharkey bobs gloves – charges forward – Fitzsimmons steps to side and lands clean right to face – Sharkey wobbled – Fitz steps in and lands close left hook to head – lands close right hook to head – Sharkey charges and flails with lefts and rights – Fitz blocks and backs. Sharkey has slightly tired himself so lowers gloves – Fitz steps in and lands left hook to chin – Sharkey drops to ground.
‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5’ – Sharkey on one knee and waits – ‘6, 7, 8, 9’ – Sharkey rises – Fitz lands left to head – backs.
Tom Sharkey stands still – Fitzsimmons steps forward and lands right to head – backs. Sharkey charges and clinches – Fitz pushes foe back – lands left to jaw – lands hard right to temple – Sharkey wobbled and falling – Fitz lands left to head – Sharkey lands with thud to ground.
‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10’ – referee waves hands, bout over – KNOCKOUT!
Post bout: Sharkey immediately leaves the building – Fitzsimmons wants to do same but roaring crowd demands some sort of speech. Fitz obliges: “Well, say, don’t you think the old man did pretty well?” To a tune from ‘The Mikado’ – Fitz sings what he will do to Champion James Jeffries during anticipated rematch: “He’ll try it on Sharkey and give him a cramp – and he’ll turn Big Jeffries into a tramp.”
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(8/29/1900) Champion James Jeffries versus John L. Sullivan
Location: New York City – Madison Square Garden – crowd: 5,500 fans – 4 round exhibition – prize: $11,000 for legendary former heavyweight champion, Sullivan.
Pre bout: Charity benefit for Sullivan – pre event to Corbett/McCoy bout the following night. The $11,000 raised will be placed in trust – interest annuity paid to legend and former Champion…. Pugilists James Corbett, Steve O’Donnell and an ill Joe Choynski are present.
Peter Maher/Pete Burns – (Rounds 1-3): Crowd cheers throughout – neither serious as they spar.
Gus Ruhlin/Charlie Goff – (Rounds 1-3): Both spar – a workout more than bout – crowd appreciative and in good mood – warm ovation.
Tom Sharkey/Jim Gulder – (Rounds 1-3): Sharkey is popular with crowd – slightly clowns – also opens up a bit with actual punches…. As bout ends, crowd suddenly roars – huge ovation – former heavyweight Champion Bob Fitzsimmons enters building – most popular of all – cheers and cheers. Sharkey has taken off gloves – pugilists shake hands – crowd chants for Fitz to speak, but he waves hand and declines. Fitz fits himself with Sharkey’s gloves.
Bob Fitzsimmons/Jeff Thorne – (Rounds 1-2): Fitz puts on show – foot shuffles and boxes – throws some harder punches as well. (Round 3): Thorne lands hard right to jaw – Fitz (allegedly) wobbled as he staggers back toward ropes – Thorne chases and lands hard left to body – Fitz doubles up in pain – Thorne backs. Pause – Thorne rushes and lands right to head – Fitz falls to ground face first – crowd shocked.
Fitz rises visibly (or so spectators think) dazed – Thorne chases – Fitz staggers and dodges – Thorne pursues – Fitz stops and lands right to jaw – Thorne falls to ground – crowd roars.
Thorne rises (allegedly) dazed – both pugilists appear (fooling anyone not realizing this is play) hurt – stand toe-to-toe and exchange punches – crowd ecstatic – each knocks the other down.
Both rise – things out of control – crowd does not mind – both wildly swing at one another – bell sounds, bout over. Both ignore and continue throwing punches – referee White attempts to intervene – pugilists ignore and continue throwing and landing punches – crowd cheers and cheers – both land further knockdown punches – crowd roars its approval.
Pugilists rise smiling – tap one another via sportsmanship – crowd laughs and cheers as they realize the anger and violence all staged. It is two ACTORS pleasing an audience while 100% succeeding.
Jeffries/Sullivan – (Rounds 1-3): Sullivan badly out of shape – four one minute rounds reduced to three thirty second rounds instead. Obese Sullivan mostly feints – pretend punches – Jeffries blocks and fake counters. Crowd applauds appreciatively – exhibition overall a resounding success.
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(3/16/1901) Colored Heavyweight Championship
Colored Champion George Byers versus Black Champion Frank Childs
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas – crowd: 1,000 fans – referee: Bat Masterson – Childs is 2-1 favorite.
Newspaper dispatch from Hot Springs: “Frank Childs and George Byers of Boston fought 17 hard rounds here tonight, and Childs was declared the winner of Masterson when Dobbs threw the sponge into the ring while Byers was lying on his back, where he had been knocked by a hard right swing from the Chicago heavyweight. Byers was 20 pounds lighter than his burly antagonist, but made a good uphill fight, being the much cleverer and landing three blows to Childs’ one, but he did not have the strength to win.”
Post bout: the ‘Colored’ Championship as more highly esteemed – this unifies the title and ends ‘Black’ Championship.
On September 6th, 1901, President William McKinley is visiting the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo, New York. As he greets admirers amongst the public an admitted anarchist from Poland, Leon Czolgosz pulls a gun and fires twice. The President steps back “bewildered” before dropping to ground. The President was operated upon 80 minutes later with only one of the bullets located. He died from wound infection eight days later. 42-years old Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the United States. Czolgosz admitted guilt with cause that the President was the enemy of working people. He offered no assistance in his legal defense thus was executed via electric chair several weeks later.
One of the earliest momentous on President Roosevelt’s White House desk is an iron-steamed pounded creation by Bob Fitzsimmons.
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(11/15/1901) Champion James Jeffries versus Gus Ruhlin
Location: San Francisco, California. Sometimes, because of the advent of film which only allowed a limited view of boxing heavyweights made it sort of appear Black heavyweight Jack Johnson was a big – not huge athlete – while Whites were puny mice in comparison. Ummmm – that is just sort of the way it works out but not truthful of reality. There were Black heavyweights (Bob Armstrong/Denver Ed Martin) much larger than Jack Johnson and White heavyweights such as James Jeffries/Gus Ruhlin who were larger, stronger, and taller than those guys whose recorded film bouts were being preserved.
ROUND 5: In close fighting – body blows back and forth – challenger shoves Champion backwards. Both stalk – no punches – challenger surges forward – Champion clinches. Pugilists bull forward to stalemate – Champion shoves challenger back – Ruhlin charges forward – both again bull to stalemate. Pugilists stalk – Champion throws left to head – wraps around challenger’s neck instead – both wrestle in clinch. Pugilists separate – challenger lands left tap to face – Champion counters with right to head that misses. Pugilists stalk – Champion lands left body shot – follows and lands hard left to body. Pugilists close – push off – Champion surges forward with left jab that lands to body – both bull in close – Champion lands right to head – both bull in stalemate push – Champion gets better as he pushes Ruhlin back into ropes – challenger escapes. Both stalk – challenger surges forward into Champion – both stalemate push – Champion pushes challenger back – lands right to body – continues forward stalking – challenger backs. Ruhlin grabs Champion around head with gloved hands – continue backing – Champion stalks forward. Challenger steps forward with awkward right jab to face – jumps back – Champion chases forward. Jeffries lands hard left to lower body – both clinch – wrestle – challenger backs off with left arm outstretched – Champion chases forward. Jeffries attempts left body punch – challenger charges forward to block and clinch. Both wrestle – separate – Champion throws wild left to head – misses. Jeffries chases and catches Ruhlin – bulls and pushes foe backward – challenger lands right to head – Champion pushes back – both clinch – Champion lands hard left to kidney – challenger Ruhlin takes two steps forward and drops to canvas, onto knees.
‘1, 2, 3, 4’ – Ruhlin winded and on one knee – ‘5, 6, 7, 8’ – challenger stands – referee counts ‘9’ then backs off. Champion attacks and lands hard left to kidney – challenger grabs for clinch – both bull in stalemate. Pugilists separate – Champion lands right to chest – both briefly clinch – referee separates. Challenger quickly backs – Champion chases forward. Jeffries touches left gloved hand to challenger’s head and attempts to pull it in – lands right to Ruhlin’s ribs. Pugilists clinch – separate – slow stalk – challenger backs – Champion steps forward. Jeffries lands hard left, right, left body shots – challenger backs. Ruhlin looks hurt as he backs his way onto ropes – Champion stalks forward – challenger grabs Champion by head and pushes forward – referee separates. Challenger throws wild right that hooks to back of Champion’s head. Jeffries lands right, left body shots – pins challenger onto ropes – bell sounds.
ROUND 6: Ruhlin refuses to come out for the round – claims Champion is “foul fighting” and overly rough. If nothing else, more than a century after his championship reign James Jeffries remains arguably the hardest body puncher in boxing history…. TKO – 6!
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(2/24/1902) Colored Heavyweight Championship
Champion Frank Childs versus Denver Ed Martin
Location: Chicago, Illinois – 6 scheduled rounds – not sure of attendance numbers but place is packed to capacity – Bob Fitzsimmons is in attendance.
Pre bout: An unusual and traditional contrast: boxer versus puncher – but it’s the much larger man who is defensive – smaller man is aggressive and desires to brawl.
ROUND 6: Goliath challenger keeps long left extended and backs – content to take bout the distance. Champion continues to charge forward – Martin jab lands to face – Childs wild body blows miss short as opponent backs. Bell sounds – challenger Martin awarded decision.
Post bout Chicago critics: “Childs, although defeated, did not lose much prestige, from the fact that Martin simply out boxed him. The Champion was never noted for his scientific ability, and in all his battles he depends solely on knocking his man out. With fully five inches the advantage in height and reach, combined with his cleverness, Martin had no difficulty in out pointing Childs.”
(7/25/1902) Colored Heavyweight Championship
Champion Denver Ed Martin versus Bob Armstrong
Location: London, England – Martin wins – 15 round decision.
Post bout: the pressure from Europeans is on – that the winner of Jeffries/Fitzsimmons II should fight Denver Ed Martin to determine a true unified Champion. Martin’s tremendous Goliath size impresses many – that the ‘Colorado Giant’ could give any White fighter of stature a Battle of the Century.
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(7/25/1902) Champion James Jeffries versus Bob Fitzsimmons II
Location: San Francisco, California – scheduled for 20 rounds – crowd: 5,000 fans – a battle of ‘youth versus aged’ – 27 vs. 40 – makes Fitzsimmons a 5-2 underdog and the sentimental favorite.
Pre bout: In an unusual stunt – the main event fighters are introduced to the crowd early on. Both pugilists are brought out through carriages – Fitzsimmons is accompanied by terrific Black heavyweight Hank Griffen (who fought and lost to James Jeffries but defeated Jack Johnson.) Griffen helped him train but will not work his corner. The crowd is heavily pro Fitzsimmons – but there are more women than usual at this bout. San Francisco athletic clubs encouraged female attendance; probably in an attempt to raise respectability for boxing as a sport and combat its illegality. Jeffries had developed a female cult due to his unusual physical ultra-muscled appearance while wearing pink attire. Both boxers return to their dressing rooms to allow pre bout festivities to begin.
Prelim: Following a dull middleweight bout between two locals, San Francisco Athletic Club owner, Alex Greggiann leads four anonymous black boxers into ring –BATTLE ROYALE – all wear black trunks with advertisement for Pall Mall cigars. Each boxer steps into separate corner – Greggain exits.
ROUND 1: Four black pugilists step out amidst cheers from crowd and prejudiced “nigger” freely shouted – final boxer left standing wins. Sort of chaotic as blows are exchanged in non-orderly fashion – no referee or rules – one boxer profusely bleeds by end of round, but continues.
ROUND 2: General chaos begins to form order – two boxers apparently know one another and are busily trading punches – the other two has larger man dominating smaller foe. Then all three gang up on smallest pugilist – crowd cheers – beating him soundly though the smaller man refuses to fall or quit. It is not purely ‘toughness’ that keeps smaller man on feet. Though attempting to be undetectable to crowd, the boxers are self-organized not to maim or kill one another – thus the lack of below the belt blows. It is not a timed round as the club is anxious to begin main event. Two smaller pugilists step toward corners to rest – two larger boxers stand in center ring and exchange punches. In midst of prolonged round – club owner Greggain enters ring and announces spectacle over – crowd assumedly applauds and boxers relieved.
Though spectacle announced as “fight to finish” with only winner being paid – it was pre-planned that all pugilist/actors would earn something and this was meant as ‘entertainment’, but not entirely bloodthirsty – as opposed to the old Southern ‘slave’ forced bouts. Without doubt, this was due to pre-planned agreement with law enforcement presence and Mayor Schmitz.
Pugilists enter ring – Champion James Jeffries receives applause while Bob Fitzsimmons receives tremendous ovation – very unusual when you consider Jeffries was the local star. Commotion begins to calm – pugilist Tom Sharkey draws attention to himself by standing and shouting that neither is the true heavyweight Champion until they defeat him (again) – and that he expects to fight the winner. A horseshoe flies from the crowd onto the ground in center ring – a good luck symbol meant for Fitzsimmons.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle describes Fitzsimmons: “The ravages on the face of Fitz, due to training and age, were emphasized by a look of anxiety rather than of confidence…. Anxiety was clearly there, however. It kept him feeling, fidgeting in the sanded floor and rendered him oblivious to encouragement from friendly voices.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle describes Jeffries: “A sufficiently forbidding man is the giant Californian. The ponderous seemed to ooze out of him at every pore. He looked as though he could never become alert, as though nature, having made him massive, had withheld flexibility and the possibility of hurried movement. Added to that, he appeared to be positively dull, impressing the spectators as one to be instructed, rather than to be trusted to follow any inspiration of his own in time of desperate need.”
Two meet in center ring for referee instructions – pugilists shake hands – Jeffries asks: “How do you do, Bob?” with Fitzsimmons returning gesture – referee completes instructions, then orders: “Go to your corners, gentlemen.” Referee shouts to pugilists from center ring: “Are you ready?” – pugilists nod – referee barks: “Time!” – bell sounds.
ROUND 1: Pugilists meet in center ring – mutual feints – Fitzsimmons backs – Jeffries crouches low with left arm jab extended – Fitz slightly backs – Jeffries steps forward – Fitz steps in with left that lands to mouth – Jeffries counters with hard left jab to head – misses – Fitz tees off with hard left that lands clean to nose – Champion’s head snapped back (nose broken) – Fitz backs – Jeffries aggressively charges foe – Fitz quickly backs toward ropes – Jeffries follows and attempts to trap smaller foe – Fitz snaps left jab that lands to broken nose – Jeffries snaps left jab to head – Fitz blocks and lands right to side of body – follows with awkward ineffective left – Champion lands left to body – Fitz lands left jab to mouth – lands right to neck – Jeffries knocked slightly off balance – Fitz lands light left jab to neck…. Bell sounds.
Crowd roars its approval of action-packed round along with the performance of Fitzsimmons. Undefeated Champion bleeds from nose – tells his corner man he cannot breathe – blows nose openly – ‘SNOT ROCKET’ – ewwww – blood spurts visibly as spray mist – crowd is both disgusted and awed at spectacle.
ROUND 3: Fitzsimmons backs – Champion aggressively follows and throws left jab punch to head – Fitz backs – frustrated Jeffries stands with less defensive crouch as he pursues – Champion throws left jab to head – grazes – Fitz lands left to broken nose – blood gushes from Champion’s face and covers foe’s gloves – Fitz lands left jab to mouth – Jeffries counters with left – misses – both tired and simultaneous clinch. Pugilists separate – Fitz lands hard left to eye – lands left jab to mouth – Jeffries face pours blood from eye, nose, mouth – round ends as crowd ecstatic and on feet – cheers and cheers thus far for Fitz performance and realization that a major upset is possible.
ROUNDS 4-5: Fitzsimmons dominates – but it’s closer than one might think. Jeffries’ face is a mess with swollen eyes and broken nose – but his methodical hard body blows have left Fitz the more tired of the two pugilists.
ROUND 6: Fitzsimmons lands left to face – lands left to face – Jeffries throws left to head – misses – Fitz lands hard left to face – Jeffries having difficulty with eyes as they swell and bleed, but counters with hard right that lands to body – Fitz lands left jab to mouth – lands left uppercut to jaw – Jeffries appears disoriented with damaged eyesight – bell sounds – Champion lands left jab to chin – Fitz scowls while crowd boos.
ROUND 7: Jeffries lands left jab to neck – lands left jab to neck – Fitzsimmons counters with left jab that lands to face – follows with right that lands to head – lands left jab to mouth – Champion’s head rocked back as he stands straight – Jeffries stubbornly steps forward and lands hard left to stomach (which probably altered momentum of bout) – Fitz injured and slightly winded, but determinedly throws right to head – Jeffries blocks – Fitz charges forward and pushes Champion back – lands left to head – lands right to head – Jeffries defensively backs toward ropes – Fitz lands light left jab to face – Jeffries steps forward to clinch. Fitz throws short right to head – misses – Jeffries illegally smashes shoulder to foe’s mouth – Fitz lands short right to jaw. Pugilists separate – both tired and clinch – bell sounds.
Crowd cheers older pugilist as he acknowledges fans with smile – but tells corner man he is winded from left punch to his stomach earlier in round. Jeffries corner man works on cuts – attempts to slow bleeding and sets nose back to proper place. Crowd is excited and still senses major upset. Fitz began bout as 5-2 underdog – gamblers have now placed him at even odds to win. What gamblers don’t realize is that Jeffries left body punch in this round has seriously injured Fitzsimmons more than spectators realize.
ROUND 8: Fitzsimmons – who does not know he suffers from internal bleeding – backs. Jeffries – who has had his eyelid cut open in order to see and does not know his nose has been broken throughout – stalks forward. Fitz continues to back – Jeffries follows – Fitz pauses to land straight left jab to mouth – Champion lands left jab to stomach – lands left jab to chest – Fitz lands left to body – Jeffries lands left to body – Fitz lands right to body – Jeffries lands right to body – Fitz lands right to body – Jeffries lands left to head – Fitz lands left to head – two clinch. Champion bulls foe backward toward ropes – Fitz attempts to push off and break clinch – Jeffries lands hard right to stomach, borderline legal – Fitz drops to ground.
Referee counts: ‘1, 2’ – Fitz writhes in doubled-up pain and cannot breathe – ‘3, 4, 5’ – Fitz attempts to rise from side – ‘6, 7, 8’ – Fitz wants to rise but unable to breathe and in overwhelming pain – ‘9, 10’ – referee waves hands, bout over – KNOCKOUT!
Crowd applauds Champion – slightly shocked at abrupt conclusion. Fitzsimmons is angry – not at final punch which he believes legal – but that dominated Jeffries early on and had victory within his grasp. Fitz pulls off one glove and then the other – throws both with disgust into crowd and shouts aloud that he will never fight again.
Post bout: Money breakdown from approximately $32,500 in receipts: Jeffries receives $14,500 – Fitz receives $9,500 – San Francisco Club receives $8,000 – referee receives $500….
Brooklyn Daily Eagle review: “There is no exaggeration in the statement that Fitz is a greater marvel than his conqueror.” San Francisco Chronicle review: “Surely no other encounter of the kind ever waged combined all the good qualities of that fight last evening and the best man won.”