Colorful writing about boxing in 1903

One of the beauties of days gone by is the language they used. When you see a headline that says, simple, “World of Fistiana,” you assume it’s going to be about boxing — correctly so — but it sounds so classy . . . so elevated.

Such was the story that appeared in the Bisbee Daily Review of June 13, 1903, discussing the return of boxing to Bisbee at — of all places — the Opera House.headline for boxing in bisbee

It was a front-page article promoting the meeting a couple of days later of featherweights (128 pounds) Jack Bain and Jack Bolan. “When these men enter the ring, Bisbee will be treated to the best game of fisticuffs which has been presented to the sport-loving fraternity since the fighting game in this city underwent a revival under the conservative management of Harry B. McCoy last winter.”

Haven’t seen the term “boxing” yet. “In the world of fistiana, Bisbee has been duped into getting some of the worst exhibitions that could be imagined.” It mentioned specifically a fight between boxers Gray and Barney, which was “of such short duration that it was impossible to think that Barney, although he put his man out, was Gray’s superior in the game of hit and get away.” (There’s another euphemism for boxing.)

The upcoming bout needs to be better than that, the paper said. “The public will not accept anything but a winning on its merits, and the man who wins, if condition counts for anything, will have to get busy early in the game.”

Bolan was well known in Bisbee, and “would rather fight than eat, and has a punch with either hand that is apt to send the audience home at any stage of the game. As a clean, fair fighter, Bolan is an ideal.”

Bain was mostly unknown in the city, but came with a good record of at least being a fighter who goes in for the money and will put up a stiff argument.

No short fight, but no victor

The match drew 300 people to the Opera House to see Bain and Bolan “fight 10 rounds to a draw in one of the most evenly contested fistic battles ever seen in Bisbee.” The men’s wariness “caused a great deal of dissatisfaction among the spectators who expected to see the men put up a much fiercer go.”

In prior matches in Bisbee, Bolan was aggressive, but he knew he was up against a faster man than he had seen before. “The terrific rushes of the Cincinnati boy (Bolan) looked tame when blocked with apparent ease by the Chicagoan. The men were so evenly matched that all through the fight there was not a half dozen telling blows struck.”

The Review took the time and ink to give its readers a round-by-round description of the fight. But at the end, the referee decided it was a draw. “The decision of the referee was all that could be desired. Both men were willing to get in and do the stunt, but they were so nearly equal that it seemed each divined every more of this opponent.”

The Review reporter followed the boxers (still not called that, however) to their dressing rooms after the match. Both were pleased with the outcome, but Bain said he wished they could have gone 20 rounds or to a finish and was ready to meet Bolan again, any time and any place.


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