No. 522
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 17, 2021

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
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The following tale comes from that classic collection of mostly first-hand accounts of supernatural encounters, "Lord Halifax's Ghost Book."  It was related to Lord Halifax in 1920 by his nephew, Charles Dundas.  Dundas had recently heard the tale from a renowned Royal Air Force pilot named Edward Villiers.  (Later Sir Edward Villiers.)  It is one of the briefest stories in the "Ghost Book," but
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LOOK OUT FOR "SOAPY" SMITHSt. Louis DispatchSeptember 23, 1897(Click image to enlarge) e reported himself in good health and money."   New information showing that Soapy Smith did go to St. Louis to check up on his ailing wife, Mary, after leaving Skagway.  Below is the transcription of the article from the St. Louis Dispatch, September 23, 1897. LOOK OUT FOR “SOAPY” SMITH ― The Smooth Man
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Born in 1870 and completed 13 years later (at a cost of $15 million and with more than 20 worker deaths), the Brooklyn Bridge is marking its 138th birthday this week. What better way to honor an icon than with a brilliant lithograph produced by a Pearl Street publisher depicting the fireworks, ship parade, and […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/17/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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The crack of gunfire startled the residents of 88 Merrimack Street, a boarding house in Lowell, Massachusetts, around 10:00, the night of  August 31, 1876. The boarders rushed to Lulu Martin’s room on the third floor, where the shot was fired. The door was locked; they heard a man inside shouting, “Go for the police! She has shot me! I will hold her! Break open the door!”A group of men broke in
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Along with Bertie Whitehead, Abby’s half-sister, May 13th was also the birthday of Helen Craig, famous stage actress best-remembered for Johnny Belinda. Helen Craig, who played Abby in The Legend of Lizzie Borden was born May 13, 1912, a month after Titanic sank. Helen Craig was not a great beauty by Hollywood standards, but a very fine actress. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0185871/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 Her portrayal of Abby Borden as a mean, greedy glutton, more than any other thing, has affected the way most people think of Abby Borden. Sadly it was not an accurate portrayal. Helen did some television in her later career, most notably The Waltons. She died in New York City in 1986. She was married to stage and film actor John Beal who played Dr. Bowen in Legend of Lizzie Borden. They are seen together in the publicity photo below.
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[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 […]
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New York Society Classified. | The Great Disappointment.

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