No. 432
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
July 22, 2019

Fight of the Century!

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1897, “Ruby” Robert Fitzsimmons challenged “Gentleman” Jim Corbett for the heavyweight boxing championship of the world.
July 31, 2011
...
...

"San Francisco Examiner," August 29, 1903, via Newspapers.com It seems inevitable that rich, powerful families attract any number of strange incidents. Dysfunction abounds, perhaps as the Universe's way of balancing out all those material advantages. It's unusual, however, for one relatively small family of wealth to become famed for internal feuds, mental illness, odd disappearances,
More...
Strange Company - 7/22/2019

`
In honor of Lizzie’s birthday, one, in what will become a series of free downloads to augment your Dressing Miss …

Continue reading

More...
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 7/19/2019

This is the story of an 1889 painting, a mysterious stone wall, and a religious institution that occupied part of today’s Central Park in the mid-19th century—before the park was even in the planning stages. It starts with Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase. He was dubbed the “artistic interpreter” of Central Park and Prospect Park […]
More...
Ephemeral New York - 7/21/2019
Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
More...
Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
Adolph Stein was a 35year-old Polish immigrant living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he met Lizzie Loering, a widow with two little children and $30,000 in assets. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were married in June 1880. Stein had been prominent in political circles in Cedar Rapids, but earlier that spring he was indicted for illegally selling liquor. He decided to move his new bride to
More...
Murder By Gaslight - 7/20/2019

20th [July 1775]. Mr. Carpenter was taken by the night Patrole — upon examination he had swum over to Dorchester and back again, was tried here that day and sentence passed on him to be executed the next day, — his coffin bro’t into the Goal-yard, his halter [noose] brought and he dressed as criminals […]
More...
Executed Today - 7/21/2019
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
More...
Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Shot Down in His Office | “I’ve Taken Poison, Maudie!”

Fight of the Century!

The Great
Corbett - Fitzsimmons
Championship Bout!

Carson City, Nevada, March 17, 1897 – Much of the world had its attention focused on Carson City, Nevada, where “Gentleman” Jim Corbett would be defending his heavyweight championship against “Ruby” Robert Fitzsimmons. Billed as the "Fight of the Century," there was bad blood going in. Corbett had been refusing Fitzsimmons’ challenges for several years and at one point had nearly retired without defending his title, but Fitzsimmons had raised the necessary cash and Corbett finally accepted the challenge. Finding a venue for the fight had been a problem too. The sport was denounced as barbaric from pulpit and podium and most states had outlawed prizefighting. But Nevada hit hard by the Depression of 1893 and the falling price of silver welcomed the crowds and their money.

The date set for the fight was March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. In Carson City that night, Bob Fitzsimmons, the skinny, freckled, New Zealander, kissed his wife, Rose, and entered the ring a solid underdog. Much of the fight resembled the animation above with the two men evenly matched. Then In the sixth round, Corbett had Fitzsimmons bloodied, on his knees, but it was not enough.

In the fourteenth round, Rose came to the ropes and shouted, “Hit him in the slats, Bob." Fitzsimmons punched Gentleman Jim at the bottom of the rib cage, knocking his wind out. The Gentleman hit the canvas and ten seconds later Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons was the heavyweight champion of the world.

The Animation

The animated picture above comes from the Cincinnati Post, March 18, 1897. Their coverage of the fight included a strip of images across the bottom of the page:

fight1

The Post urged their readers to construct a kinetoscope to view the images.

Kinetiscope
 

Before now, only a handful of industrious, 19th century, Cincinnati boys, who actually built a kinetoscope, could see Corbett and Fitzsimmons duke it out round after round. But now, with the miracle of digital animation, everyone can see it without lifting a finger. That’s progress.

Winsor McCay, cartoonist and animation pioneer, was a freelance artist in Cincinnati at the time. It is possible (but unverified) that the animated fight was his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cincinnati Post, March 18, 1897