Wyatt Earp and the ‘Fixed' Heavyweight Title Fight

The modern day image of Wyatt Earp is that of a gunslinger, Old West lawman, and gambler. We know from previous articles that there was much more to his adventurous life. Part of that was his involvement in boxing. In fact, some historians will tell you that at the beginning of the 20th century, Earp was better known for refereeing a boxing match than he was for the fight at the OK Corral. This was because he was the referee at the infamous 1896 fight that many believed was fixed -by Earp.

After Tombstone and the OK Corral, Earp drifted to San Diego where he ran saloons and dabbled in real estate. He also refereed a number of fights both with gloves and bare knuckles, Dyke said. By the time Earp moved to San Francisco in 1891 he was well-known in west coast boxing circles.

The Sharkey-Fitzsimmons fight was to settle a three-year question as to the rightful holder of the gloved (Marquess of Queensberry rules) heavyweight title. Boxing was illegal in San Francisco but such trivialities as city law hardly mattered as city officials and police commissioners embraced the bout, Mechanics Pavilion was secured as a venue and more than 10,000 tickets were sold.

So what happened? Earp was suspect the minute he entered the ring, as he was friends with Sharkey’s manager and should have never been chosen as the referee. When Earp made a controversial call against Fitzsimmons, the crowd went wild. Read the entire story of the fight that ruined Earp’s reputation for the rest of his life at the Guardian. -via Digg

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