The Main Event | by Richard O. Davies

As the twentieth century dawned, bare-knuckle prizefighting was transforming into the popular sport of boxing, yet simultaneously it was banned as immoral in many locales. Nevada was the first state to legalize it, in 1897, solely to stage the Corbett-Fitzsimmons world heavyweight championship in Carson City. Promoters such as Tex Rickard brought in Jack Dempsey and other fighters to the mining towns of Goldfield and Tonopah. Prizefights sold tickets, hotel rooms, drinks, meals, and bets on the outcomes. Reno hosted the Johnson-Jeffries “Fight of the Century” in 1910. It was boxing—before gambling, prostitution, and easy divorce—that first got Nevada called “America’s Disgrace” and the “Sin State.”

The Main Event explores how boxing’s growth in Nevada relates to the state’s role as a social and cultural outlier.

Davies, O., Richard. Spring 2014 University of Nevada Press. University of Nevada Press. Spring 2014. 17 Apr. 2014