Corbett vs. Fitzsimmons, Carson City 1897


The dawn of battle day In Carson was all that could be desired by the several thousands of people who have traveled many miles to the snow-bound valley to see the great Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight.

St. Charles Hotel at about the time of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons prize fightLate last night the weather was bitterly cold, the sky was overcast with clouds and light flurries of snow fell several times, with every indication that daybreak would find a prospect for a cold, cloudy day ahead, and perhaps several inches of snow on the ground.

But at a little after six o’clock the sun rose over the snow-covered mountains. In a short time the whole valley and white mountains on all sides of it were glistening in brightness. Not a cloud was seen anywhere, and it could readily be predicted that when the sun was a few hours higher the day would be perfection.

Three special trains came in this morning bringing the last of the visitors. They were made up of 22 sleepers from San Francisco, but the last section had four day coaches in which were a few visitors from the east — those who reached Reno last night.

V&T Railroad depot at about the time of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons prize fightThe large delegation of miners expected from Virginia did not come, although the mines are well represented. The arrivals this morning were about five hundred making the total strangers in town between three and four thousand.

The demand for tickets to the fight was very good this morning, Dan Stuart’s headquarters where they were on sale being crowded. The demand was so brisk, indeed, that one price of the cheaper seats was doubled.

The Indications now are that there will be a larger number present than Stuart had been hoping for since last Friday. The main street is full of people waiting to see the principals drive in from their quarters on their way to the arena. The fakirs are doing a good business selling souvenirs in the shape of small boxing gloves, medals and small pieces of red, white and blue ribbon. At one of the corners surrounded by a large crowd is a wheel of fortune, the proprietor of which is very busy taking in bets and paying out winnings.

John L. Sullivan was up early this morning, and attracted a good deal of attention. He seems to be just as big a man, in the estimation of Carsonites and many others, as Corbett and Fitzsimmons.

Mr and Mrs FitzsimmonsLate this morning Mrs. Fitzsimmons changed her mind about not coming to the fight and decided she would watch her husband battle for the championship. She will be in a box close to the ring.

No news has been received in town from either of the training quarters this early in the morning. The town was astir early and crowds began to gather about the railway station, waiting for incoming trains and all eager for any piece of news or gossip in connection with the fight.

All night long and until an early hour this morning the principal streets and resorts were thronged with excited crowds of men, native and foreign to the sagebrush country, eager to glean the latest news of the big fight. At Corbett’s pool-room the betting was of a desultory character on the big fellow. The odds of 10 to 6 remained almost stationary all night. Occasionally 10 to 7 was offered but there was a remarkably small amount of money at either price.

Corbett men were apparently waiting for something softer, while the Fitzsimmons contingent held out for a little “sure money.” Corbett is considered the favorite with a majority of eastern experts and the California visitors are almost solid for the native son.

Arlington Hotel at about the time of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons prize fightJohn L. Sullivan arrived in the Davies special at midnight. Three thousand people and a brass band were waiting to escort the ex-champion to his hotel.

He made a short speech in which he said he was not there to “chew the rag” but to challenge the winner of this Corbett-Fitzsimmons go.

Corbett will enter the ring today close to 180 pounds while Fitz will tip the scales at 168.

The gates were opened at 9:30 and there was a rush to go in. The press was so great that it was impossible for the gatekeepers to take tickets. Holders of the pasteboards were requested to hold them up above their heads, and in that fashion five hundred people rushed into the enclosure. There were three women in the first burst and they were as eager to get in as the rest.

When the crowd was first admitted workmen were still busily engaged in putting the finishing touches on the arena.

Half an hour after the gates opened there were about one thousand people comfortably seated. They put in the time gazing with interest on the platform where Corbett and Fitzsimmons were to fight for supremacy. The floor of the ring was of pine boards, closely dovetailed together and sprinkled liberally with resin. The boards were unpadded and comments on the probability of the fighters knocking their heads on the hard surface in case of a knock-down, were frequent.

Shortly after 10 o’clock Fitzsimmons arrived and went directly to his dressing room. He stayed near a stove so as not to get cold and cheerfully chatted with his attendants. Corbett did not start from his camp as early as expected, and did not reach his dressing room until after Fitzsimmons.

At 11:10 about four thousand people are seated and the special train yet to arrive. Corbett rules favorite in betting at ten to six and a half.

Billy Madden announced from the ring that after the corbett-Fitzsimmons fight the arena would be cleared. and at 3 o’clock the Green Smith and Hawkins Flaherty fights will take place. The prices of tickets were placed at $5, $10 and $20.

The special train for which the fight is waiting, has arrived, and the passengers will be at the ringside at 11:40

Jim CorbettBob FitzsimmonsFitzsimmons enters the ring at one mlnute to 12, and Corbett followed half a minute later, both are heartily cheered. Mrs. Fitzsimmons, escorted by Louis House, walked into the arena and took a seat in a box behind her husband’s corner. She received a round of applause.

“One-eyed” Connelly created a sensation by climbing into the ringside in response to calls and attempted to make a speech. Referee Siler ordered him out, but Connelly want to talk and wouldn’t come.

Three deputy sheriffs attempted to put him out, but Connelly gracefully got out of the predicament by shouting: “This is no time for speechmaking, the men are ready to fight.” Then escorted by the Sheriffs he left the ring.

Fitzsimmons came from his dressing room at 11:57 in a pink and blue dressing gown. Corbett came a minute later with his seconds. Both men were loudly cheered. As Fitzsimmons passed his wife he shook his wife by the hand and kissed her. Fitzsimmons climbed into the ring first, but Corbett was close behind. Corbett had a broad grin on his face and shook hands with Siler. Billy Madden at 12 o’clock said: “While the contest for the world’s championship is taking place please keep order; there are ladies present.”

Fitzsimmons was introduced and Corbett next. Corbett got the loudest applause. Fitz then stripped and put on his gloves of light pea green. Corbett wore a red, white and blue belt with green buckle and rosette. His trunks were green and he wore white socks rolled down over the tops of his shoes. Fitz wore dark blue trunks with a belt covered with small American flags. The referee ordered the men to shake hands, but Julian prevented it, saying, “no, you refused once,” when they walked to their corners.

Round 1
At 12:06 the men step to the center of the ring. Fitz’s face is almost expressionless but Corbett stands like a panther ready to spring, darting forward at the stroke of the gong with a fearful look of hatred on his face. For a moment the men dance around one another and then Corbett’s face assumed its customary “fighting grin” as he settles down to the fight of his life. Corbett lands several blows. One, an uppercut, staggers the auburn-haired fighter, while the latter returned the compliment by two hot ones to the head and a body blow.

Both men are careful and make no attempt to strike on break-aways. Fitzsimmons holds his own during the round and every time either man makes a motion, the crowd cheers. Near the end of the round they clinch, but no damage done on the break-away; Fitz lands a stiff one on Jim’s head; Jim says “oh” and laughs, and then lands his right on Fitz’s ribs as the gong sounds.

Round 2
In the second round the men grin at each other in a friendly way. Corbett lands two belts on Fitz’s stomach and the crowd yells “too low!” Corbett lands another hard left jab on Fitz’s stomach and follows with another in the same place; he is jabbing Fitz with a hard left and a right to the body as the gong sounds. Corbett seems to have the best of the round.

Round 3
When they come up for the third round Corbett loses no time but gets in a left on the belly. He seems confident while Fitz appears a little bit nervous. The crowd howls when Fitz lands a left on the jaw, but as the bell rings Corbett is about to hit Fitz whose arms are down. Fitz seems anxious to continue, but Corbett laughingly sticks his right glove in Fitz’s face and they both return to their corners laughing good-naturedly.

Round 4
In the fourth, Corbett lands a hard right on Fitz’s ear during a clinch. Fitz misses a vicious left swing that would have ended Jim if it had landed. They are fighting at a terrific rate and it is a beautiful contest. Fitz is doing the rushing and hitting and roughing in the break-aways; Corbett is by long odds making the cleverer fight; he is playing systematically with right and left on the body. Both men received encouraging cries from the crowd. The round ended with an exchange of lefts to the head and a a clinch.

Round 5
As usual Corbett strikes the first blow. Corbett seems able to land whenever he wishes while Fitz is unable to hurt him. Fitz’s blows have plenty of steam behind them but are not as frequent as Corbett’s. Corbett lands a staggering blow on the mouth which cut Fitz’s lip and started his mouth to bleeding badly. The blood, which soon spatters over the bare breasts of the men, inflames the crowd to the highest pitch of excitement, and nothing but barbed wire and heavy wooden barriers prevent a rush to the ring side from all parts of the sloping floors.

Fitz seems tired and he is bleeding as the gong rings the end of the round. Neither man is seriously damaged bit Corbett had the best of it. He landed oftener than his opponent, but when Fitz got in his terrible right on the head or body it counted heavily. They hurry to their corners where the bevies of seconds fan and groom them during the minute’s intermission.

Round 6
At the gong the gladiators spring at one another and clinch. Fitz ties to wrestle Corbett down to loud cries of “Oh! oh!” Corbett lands a light left jab on the face; Fitz counters on the jaw; Corbett uppercuts fiercely with a right and has Fitz going; Fitz is literally covered with blood, but is fighting like a demon. Fast and furious the fighting went on while the crowds in the great open arena stood on their seats yelling like maniacs, shouting words of encouragement to their friends.

Fitz is down for an 8 count in th 6th roundCorbett is trying to finish Fitz. The clinches are frequent and owing to the interpretation of the rules, both men are extremely careful on the break-aways. The picture of the two almost naked men, their muscles straining and gleaming in the brilliant light was like one from the Athenian Games.

Finally Fitz slips and is on his knees for eight seconds. Julian rushes frantically around the outside of the ropes yelling “Get up, Bob. Get up quick.” And Bob, though bloody from forehead to waist, comes to his feet with renewed vigor. When the round ends Corbett’s partisans are yelling that it’s all over. Corbett is puffing. [NOTE: The film clip below begins with round 6 and the knock-down occurs at about 2 minutes in]

Round 7
The minute’s rest demonstrates that it isn’t over, for the red-headed fighter comes to the mark full of fight. Fitz is bleeding again and fighting like a lion but Corbett is slaughtering him with upper-cuts. They are both looking for a knock-out blow. Jim lands a light left on Fitz’s sore mouth; Fitz tries a left swing which is ducked by Corbett and countered with a heavy right over the heart.

Corbett evidently has more partisans among the spectators, for every time he landed, which was about twice a minute, there were cries of “Knock his head off. How do you like it, Bob?” He is very tired and cautious, however, and waited to pick out a vulnerable spot. Fitz looks like a stuck bullock, a horrible sight, but was on his feet when the round closed. His mouth and nose were bleeding, and both he and Corbett were covered with crimson.

Round 8
Fitz is doing all the forcing in this round; eight Fitz jolts his antagonist heavily, the champion staggering several steps backward. But he comes back smiling and raps Bob twice in succession with force. Fitz tries a right hand cross, but Corbett ducks it; Fitz lands his left on Corbett’s face and Corbett counters with a right to the body; Fitz tries his hard right at Corbett’s head but is countered heavily on the jaw with Corbett’s good left. Fitz continually glanced at his wife, who stood on a chair anxiously watching him. Her face was pale and she looked worried, and Fitz reassuring but bloody smile did not seem to comfort her.

Round 9
Fitz has realized his only show is at close quarters, for he keeps boring in and finally he catches Corbett under the chin with a left, and there is a roar from the crowd. Fitz lands below the belt and is cautioned by Siler. Fitz rushes Corbett but does very little damage; Jim is jabbing and clinching and upper-cutting on the break-away; Fitz lands a very heavy left-hand swing on Jim’s jaw and tries right cross, but Jim is inside; Fitz is landing more often than Corbett now.

Round 10
Fitz is receiving frequent blows on his bruised mouth, and the blood is flowing freely over the queer shaped chin and down upon the red hairy expanse of breast. Corbett’s face was a study. Sometimes he smiled in his old time way, but as the round closed and the battle grew hotter and hotter Corbett lost his good nature and went at Bob savagely. When his numerous blows failed to badly injure his antagonist, he grew savage in every motion. Fitz’s ugly little eyes grew uglier with each exchange of blows. When he got in a right on the body and a left on the jaw, there were shrieks of delight.

Round 11
Fitz is receiver general for Corbett’s left jabs, but is like a bear in strength; Corbett misses a half round hook on the jaw; Fits lands a hard left straight on Corbett’s face. ; they clinch and Fitz crosses with his right in the clinch; they mix it and Fitz has decidedly the better of the roughing; Mrs. Fitz yells with delight every time bob lands a blow, waving a bag. Fitz fights Corbett to his corner and has him weak and tired as the gong sounds.

Round 12
Jim’s pompadour looks wilted but he seems as confident as ever as he rushes Fitz , misses with his left hand and is countered on the face; Fitz is now bent on rushing it and Corbett is keeping away; Fitz gets the worst of it in the rush; more clinching; Corbett lands his left on Fitz’s sore nose and follows with a half round to the body; he forces Fitz to the ropes and smashes him hard on the short ribs; Corbett is now rushing it and lands one two right and left on Fitz’s face again on the Australian’s face; Corbett lands left on Fitz’s face again and follows with a right to the body. In a clinch he tries a knock-out upper-cut with his right hand but is a hair too short. The crowd howled. Fitz is tired; this is Corbett’s round.

Round 13
Fitzsimmons comes up fresh and goes at Corbett, rushing him to his corner but doing little damage. Clever Jim is sparring beautifully and ducking out of out of some very dangerous positions; Fitz lands his left straight and hard on Jim’s face; Fitz tries that hard right swing but it does no good. Bob seems to be willing to take all sorts of punishment if he can only land a blow. Jim is careful though and gives him no chance. His left glove is in Fitz’s face when Madden pushes the button to sound the gong.

Round 14
Corbett’s leads are blocked but he lands that left jab again on Fitz’s head; Fitz counters with a terrible right swing on Corbett’s neck and has Corbett going back for a few moments; Fitz lands a powerful left hand jab over the heart.

Jim staggers and Fitz strikes a right on the jaw. Jim sinks to his knees clinging to the ropes. His face is contorted with pain and he cannot breathe. He tries in vain to rise but each time he sinks back in agony with his hand over his heart. Slowly Siler counts the fatal seconds, and when he raises his hand at the tenth second a mighty roar burst up from the crowd.

Bob stands over his fallen rival, waiting to administer the finishing blow if Jim got up, but his precaution was unnecessary. Jim’s seconds rushed into the ring and carried him to his corner. There Corbett revived and when he learned he had lost he became frantic. He broke away from his seconds and rushed about hunting for Fitz and striking blindly right and left. It was a pitiful exhibition of impotent rage. He pushed his way through the crowd surrounding Bob, and grasping the Champion’s right hand in both of his, he said:

“Bob, I will fight you at any time and for any amount.”

Fitzsimmons rose from his chair, and pushing Corbett back, said: “No no; go away. I don’t want to talk to you.”

Corbett’s seconds tried in vain to control him, but he struck viciously at them as well as at others. Finally they grabbed him by the legs and arms and carried him by force from the ring.

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At the ringside while Corbett was being assisted from his corner and the arena was filled with howling Fitzsimmons supporters, Wm. Brady, the ex-champion’s backer, sprang to a platform and waving a roll of greenbacks shouted: “I have $2,000 to deposit that Corbett can whip Fitzsimmons for a purse of $20,000. Now you yelling, howling idiots, come up here with your money.” The challenge received no attention, and Brady was compelled to return his money to his pocket.

All this time Fitz sat quietly in is corner waiting the decision of the referee. When Siler’s voice could be heard above the noise he awarded Fitz the fight. Julian grabbed his brother-in-law about the neck and together they danced up and down in a frantic manner.

Mrs. Fitz, in her box close to the ring, laughed and cried alternately, and tried in vain to get through the crowd to embrace her husband. After some minutes Fitz was escorted through the crowd to his dressing room and his wife followed.

"Fitzsimmons Champion!"In the dressing room his damaged face was repaired by his trainers and when he had hastily dressed himself the party was driven to his training quarters. He will probably start for San Francisco tonight in order to arrive in time to his exhibition Friday. Corbett had engaged the pavilion in San Francisco for Thursday night but he will probably now reconsider.

Corbett’s dressing room after the battle was a dismal spot for visitors. Helped to his room by his brothers Harry and Joe, the defeated champion sank into a chair and burst into tears. “I can lick him, I know I can,” he said. “I don’t know how I happened to let him get in that heart blow. How it hurt! It felt as if I should die for the first few moments after I went down on my knees. I had a chance to put Fitzsimmons out once when I got him on his knees, but I waited to let him rest a bit and put him out with a blow. That’s where I made my mistake, but I hope for another opportunity to get at him, and next time I wont lose. I wouldn’t care so much if it wasn’t for my friends. They have lost thousands of dollars on that blow.”

Meanwhile the trainers were working with their man. His pallid face and the nervous twitching of the limbs gave rise to a fear that he has been seriously injured, but gradually his nerve and strength came back to him, but with it came mental agony which he made no attempt to conceal. Billy Woods, dazed at the unexpected calamity, cried silently in a dark corner of the room while Delaney and McVey, with drawn faces and set jaws. sponged and rubbed the fallen champion into fair condition. It was a chance blow,” said White, ” just what is likely to occur in any fight. We have nothing to regret except that the blow landed. The man’s condition was all right.”

Corbett left the next afternoon on a special train to San Francisco.