A committee from the Phœnix Athletic Club and one from the Prescott
Club had met, and after considerable discussion had arranged a match to
decide the Amateur Championship of Arizona.
As the Phœnix and Prescott clubs were far and away the foremost
athletic organizations in the Territory, the contest was looked forward
to with a great interest, especially as an intense rivalry existed
between the two cities.
"Let the contest be fair and square on both sides," said Smith, the
chairman of the Phœnix committee. "Let each club send its best man,
who is strictly an amateur, of course, and a member of the club, in
good standing, and let the best man win."
"Them's my sentiments exactly," responded Johnson, the chairman of the
Prescott committee. "Fair play and honors to the best man, say I! I did
think of sending a young fellow I know in our club who took some
sparring lessons in 'Frisco last year, and is quite clever; he's a
gunsmith by profession, but the trouble is he has been teaching the boys
during his spare time when he could get away from the shop, and that
makes him a professional, doesn't it?"
"It does," said Smith, "and I am glad to find you are as particular as I
am in such matters; let me tell you, it is a pleasure to meet a man like
yourself who tries to be fair and square, and to take no advantage of
anybody. Let's take something."
During the next few days there were anxious meetings of the committees
in charge of the arrangements. A certain man well up in sporting
matters went to 'Frisco as a committee of one, representing the Prescott
Club, to hunt for talent; at the same time a brother of the chairman of
the Phœnix committee, who kept a bar-room in Chicago, received a
letter which caused considerable discussion between him and his partner,
and several interviews with a certain short-haired, thick-set individual
who frequented his place.
"What I want," said the letter, "is the best man you can get. Some one
who is a sure winner, and can punch the stuffing out of this amateur
duck from Prescott. Don't make a mistake, and do not spare money. Get a
star, as the boys will bet all they have on him, and we do not want to
take any chances."
The following week the chairman of the committee of the Phœnix
organization received a letter from his brother in Chicago, which
informed him that for two hundred dollars, and expenses, they had
secured the services of a well-known professional, but one who had never
been West, and who, they were sure, could "lick" anything which could be
produced, professional or amateur, on the Pacific Coast. He had
commenced training, and they could rest easy, and bet as much money as
they wanted to.
Meanwhile the Prescott Club's representative had made a rich find in San
Francisco, in the shape of an Australian professional who had just
landed and was therefore not likely to be recognized. He had a record of
numerous victories in his own country, and cheerfully undertook, for the
sum of seventy-five dollars, "to knock the bloomin' head off any
bloomin' duffer," anywhere near his own weight, that might be brought
Things went along merrily, letters were exchanged between the chairman
of the two committees reporting as to the progress of their
"Our young man," wrote the Prescott leader, "is doing very well, and I
hope great things from him. Naturally we want to win, and have secured
the best man of good amateur standing in our town to represent us. He is
a drug clerk, and his mother objected pretty strongly at first, but she
has been talked over. There will be a party of at least one hundred of
us go down with him, and I hope you will have front seats reserved for
us. Most of the boys feel inclined to wager a little on the success of
our representative, but he himself does not feel very confident of the
result. Upon my return I found quite a strong feeling in favor of having
the young gunsmith represent us, but, after my conversation with you,
could not for a moment countenance any such proceedings on our part."
Two nights following, the Prescott chairman read the following letter
in answer to the one which he had sent:
To R. W. Johnson, Esq.,
Chairman of the Committee
for the Prescott Athletic Club,
Dear Sir: I am glad to hear that there is considerable interest
taken in the forthcoming match. Boxing is a noble art, and this
coming contest will no doubt help to boom both our clubs. There is
a great interest taken here in the match, and I warn you our man is
getting himself in the very best condition possible. He is nervous,
of course, this being his first appearance in an affair of this
kind. He is a clerk in a bank, who has lately been engaged by my
friend Robinson, and therefore does not get as much time for
exercise as perhaps would be wise, but Robinson is an enthusiastic
sport, as you know, and has arranged to let him get off several
hours each day. We look forward to a great contest, and I certainly
feel that the winner may fully consider himself the Amateur
Champion of the Territory. We shall take great satisfaction in
reserving the one hundred seats you ask for. I think you will find
all the money ready for you in the way of bets that you will want.
Our population is made up a great deal, as you know, largely of
miners and ranchers, and they are inclined to bet recklessly. I
cannot close without congratulating the Prescott Athletic Club for
the energy and enterprise they have shown in this matter. May the
best man win!
There was a great crowd packed into the ring of the Phœnix Athletic
Association on the evening of the contest. Seats were at a premium, and
the fight had been the principal subject of conversation for days. The
two principals had met and been introduced to one another, just before
going to the scene of the contest. Both were dressed for the occasion,
and I tell you they were sights! The bank clerk had on a collar so high
that he could hardly turn his head, a high silk hat, long black
frock-coat, and an immense white rose in his buttonhole.
The Prescott drug clerk was still more gorgeous. Besides a buttonhole
bouquet and high collar, he sported an eye-glass, and smoked a cigarette
while in the presence of his opponent.
"'Ow's yer bloomin' 'ealth?" remarked the drug clerk. "Hi 'opes as 'ow
"Ah-h-h, go arn," answered the embryo financier, using only one side of
his mouth, "don't try ter jolly me, yer sage-brush dude, or I'll give
yer a poke right here."
Several members of the committee hastened to interfere, and put a stop
to all further danger of trouble by hurrying the principals off to their
dressing-rooms to prepare for the contest.
In the ante-room Smith hugged Robinson, and nearly wept with joy when
they were alone.
"Did you take a good look at the stiff?" he gasped. "Why, our man will
punch daylight out of him in two minutes after the gong sounds! Why, I
say this is wrong—it is too easy; I really feel sorry for these
Robinson chuckled and muttered something about "fools and their money
being soon parted," and then the two worthies repaired to the ringside.
Smith was to be Master of the Ceremonies, and climbing upon the raised
platform he crawled through the ropes, and after looking about him for a
moment, raised his hands to enjoin silence.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I must beg you all to stop smoking. The contest
which is to be held here to-night is to decide the Amateur Championship
of the Territory of Arizona. Nothing is more calculated to incite among
our younger men the love for athletic sports than such competitions,
when conducted in a fair and sportsmanlike manner. I must beg of you
not to allow yourselves to be biased towards indulging in any unseemly
noise in case your favorite should be worsted. What we want is a fair
field and no favoritism, and while we hope our boy will win, none of
you, I am sure, would wish in any way to feel that either man was given
any undue advantage. The men will fight with 3-oz. gloves, Marquis of
Queensbury rules, three minutes to each round, with a minute's rest
between. A man down to get up inside of ten seconds or be counted out.
No hitting in the clinches. Many of you are acquainted with the
gentlemen who are our representatives this evening, but for the benefit
of those who are not I will introduce them."
Waving his hand towards the Prescott pugilist, he said:
"This is Alexander Harrington, amateur champion of the Prescott Athletic
Club, who is, I may say, by profession a popular druggist in the town
from which he comes. [Considerable applause.]
"And this," he continued, pointing to the man who represented the
Phœnix Club, "is J. Francis Livingstone, a young man who has shown
himself to be a good exponent of the noble art, and who is deemed to be
the amateur champion of the Phœnix Athletic Association. As he has
only lately arrived, and is not very well known to many of you, I may
add that he is a personal friend of our Vice-president, Mr. Robinson,
and is employed at his bank. [Wild enthusiasm.] As there can be no
question as to the amateur standing of the gentlemen, I will again beg
of you to treat both men with equal favor, and will ask the Referee to
The seconds at this climbed down from the ringside, shoving their stools
out under the ropes, and the two athletes, throwing aside their bath
robes, stood up in their corners, each stripped to the buff, with the
exception of tight trunks and canvas shoes. A roar of admiration and
astonishment went up as the bank clerk first exposed himself, and
Robinson grinned at Smith across the ring as the splendid exhibition of
muscle was exhibited. It was evident that the bank clerk had not devoted
all his time to banking; he was apparently as fit as a race-horse, and
the muscles of his back and arms twisted and rolled about like snakes,
at every movement.
But Robinson's expression altered somewhat as he glanced at the drug
clerk. That individual was somewhat shorter than his opponent, but if
the banking representative was well developed, he of the pharmaceutical
persuasion was magnificent.
Both men had been fanned and washed, their gloves carefully tied on, and
they now stood rubbing their shoes on some powdered rosin which was
scattered about the corners, eyeing each other intently. What they
thought will probably never be given to the public, but there is no
doubt that each must have experienced a feeling of surprise at the
physical condition of his opponent. This did not affect them in the
least, however, as they were both as anxious to begin as bull-dogs, and
when time was called and the gong rang, they danced to the middle and
commenced sparring for an opening, grinning with confidence.
For the first minute or two nothing was done. Forward and back they
moved, their arms moving in and out, each with his eyes fixed on the
face of his opponent, watching closely for an opening. Then the bank
clerk jumped in and led one, two, without effect, for his first blow was
neatly guarded and the second brought a vicious cross-counter in return,
which grazed his nose as he got back out of the way. In came the drug
clerk with a rush, and they closed just as the gong sounded which ended
Up through the ropes came the seconds with the activity of a lot of
monkeys, and the two men were hurriedly seated upon stools and each was
fanned furiously with a towel by one second, while the other bathed his
neck and face with cold water. A hum of conversation arose.
"Who is the blooming duck?" whispered the druggist to his principal
second. "'E ain't no bleeding dude, I can tell yer."
But before the man had time to reply, the gong sounded the call of
"time," and the men sprang forward to the middle of the ring.
There was no sparring this time—they went at it biff, bang, right and
left, sending in their blows with all the power of their muscular
bodies. The Referee, almost dancing with excitement, shouted to them to
"break away," and tried to part them when they clinched, but they were
no sooner separated than they closed again, fighting with the energy and
tenacity of bull-dogs.
Just before time was up, the drug clerk swung his right and caught the
gentleman of finance fair and square on the nose, with the result that
Prescott was awarded first blood and first knock-down, amid great
During the one minute's rest the seconds did wonders. The men were
sponged and rubbed, while fanned constantly with a large towel, water
was squirted on their heads and the back of their necks, and at the
sound of the gong each arose from his stool looking as fresh as at the
Round 3 opened as though it would be a repetition of the hurricane
style of fighting of the previous round, but after a clinch or two and
giving and receiving a few good blows, the men kept apart and fought
more warily. Each had evidently become satisfied that the other was not
quite the easy victim he had expected; and as this conviction gradually
dawned upon them they dropped the rough and tumble style and fought
with more skill and caution, each watching and waiting for an opening,
hoping for a chance for a "knock-out," but none came, and the round
closed with honors even.
During the intermission Watkins, the sheriff, who was acting as Referee,
talked earnestly with a friend, and from time to time looked hard at the
drug clerk. He turned towards the time-keeper and seemed about to say
something, when the bell rang and the men were again in the middle of
Round 4 had commenced.
They were both fresh and eager, but business was written all over their
hard faces,—they were not smiling now. Round and round they moved,
constantly facing each other, their arms moving back and forth like a
machine. Now and then one or the other would make a quick feint or
move, and the other would spring back with the agility of a
Suddenly the financier thought he saw an opening, and let go his left,
but was short, and received a counter in return which sounded all over
the place; then they went at it hammer and tongs and kept the Referee
very busy separating them, and making them fight fair. Questionable
prize-ring methods were resorted to by both men, and the knowledge shown
by these amateurs of the little unfair tricks of the professional
prize-fighter was astonishing. The bank clerk took especial pains to
stick his thumb in his opponent's eye whenever they clinched, and the
compounder of drugs used his head and elbow in a way which is frowned
upon by advocates of fair play.
The men were fighting hard and fast when the round ended. Every man in
the crowd was on his feet yelling like a hyena, as they went to their
corners. Referee Watkins walked to the side of the ring, and raising
his hand to enjoin silence, stood waiting for the uproar to subside. At
last, when he could be heard, he addressed the crowd as follows:
"Gentlemen, I am sorry to stop this fight, but I must do it. These men
are supposed to be fightin' for the Amatoor Champeenship of the
Territory. Whether this is a put-up job or not, I do not know, but I do
know that the Prescott man is a professional pug, lately arrived from
Australia. I suspected him from the first. From the way he acted I was
pretty blamed sure he was no drug clerk and my friend here, Jim Sweeney,
swears he knows him, and that he was called the 'Ballarat Boy' when he
saw him fight in Australia, some seven months ago. I can't let this
thing go on, and have honest men lose their money. I am not dead sure in
my mind that the other man isn't a ringer; he is a damned sight too good
for an amatoor; but that cuts no ice. This fight stops right now. It's
a draw, and all bets are off."
There was a tremendous row, but the pugilists were hurried off to their
respective dressing-rooms, and the crowd slowly left the building. On
the steps outside, Johnson, the chairman of the Prescott Athletic Club,
met Smith, and, going up to him, he offered him his hand.
"Smith," said he, "I want to tell you how pained I am that the affair
ended as it did. You, of course, do not for a moment suspect that any of
us knew our man was a professional. How he could deceive us I cannot
understand. Why, I was never more fooled in my life!"
Smith shook hands heartily. "Don't say a word, Johnson; the best of us
are often deceived, and the more pure our motives are the easier it is
to fool us."
They walked on in silence for a short distance.
"Pity they stopped it; it was a lovely scrap while it lasted."
"That's what it was," said Smith.