World championship fights in New Orleans
Boxing was extremely popular in the South, especially during the 1880s and early 1890s. The national center of boxing was in New Orleans, and the height of 19th-century American boxing occurred in September 1892. In that month, New Orleans's Olympic Club staged three world championship fights. On September 5, the fights began. The crowd was very large and varied. Representatives from every state and nearly every leading power of the world showed up. Jack McAuliffe and Billy Myer fought in the lightweight championship. McAuliffe won in the fifteenth round.
On September 6, George Little Chocolate' Dixon, a black, faced off against Jack Skelly in the featherweight championship. Dixon easily defeated Skelly in the eighth round. The public reaction to the Dixon-Skelly match demonstrates the white American's racist attitude that prevailed during this time. The editor of the New Orleans Times-Democrat said that it was a mistake to match a negro and a white man, a mistake to bring the races together on any terms of equality, even in the prize ring.' After this fight, segregation appeared in the boxing ring.
The final, and most anticipated, event was the heavyweight championship on September 7 between James J. Corbett and John L. Sullivan. Nearly ten thousand people saw the fight. It came as a shock to many when Corbett defeated Sullivan in the twenty-first round. This was only the second time in Sullivan's career as a fighter that he had been knocked down. James Corbett became the first heavyweight champion under the Marquis of Queensbury rules. These rules included the use of gloves, the 10-second count for a knockout, and the 3-minute round.
- Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris, Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
- Laurence Urdang, ed., The Timetables of American History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
- "?Cyclone? Myer Defeated," Washington Post, September 6, 1892, 1.
- "Quickly Finished by Dixon," Washington Post, September 7, 1892, 1.
- "Vanquished at Last," Washington Post, September 8, 1892, 1.