Boxing fans rejoice

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Last Sunday’s free viewing of the matchup between two double Olympic Gold medallists is one of the entrees that Sky occasionally serve up, to wet the appetite of boxing fans in this country.

The Junior Lightweight World Championship bout between Vasyl Lomachencko and Gullermo Rigondeaux put together two two-time Olympic champions - notwithstanding the fact that Rigondeaux had won his Olympic crowns in Sydney and Athens in 2000 and 2004 respectively. 

There was huge anticipation around the fight that took place at the original traditional home of boxing in America, at Madison Square Gardens.

In the end, the bout was ruined by holding and pushing, before Rigondeaux quit at the end of the sixth round, claiming he had suffered a wrist injury that stopped him from continuing. 

For this boxing fan, the most significant part of the fight was that it was held at the legendary Madison Square Gardens in New York City.

Simply called "The Gardens" by many American sports fans, it’s the fourth building to bear the name of Madison Square Garden since the original "Gardens" were built in 1879.  

While Joseph Parker holds the WBOP version of the World Heavyweight Championship, the first Kiwi to challenge for the World Heavyweight Crown entered the ring in New York nearly nine decades ago. 

Promoter George Lewis “Tex” Rickard had strong links to Madison Square Garden and has a story well worth re-telling. 

Rickard went to Alaska drawn by the discovery of gold, arriving there in November 1885.

On learning of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1887 he couldn’t get there fast enough.

After selling his and his partners claim for $60,000, he opened a saloon where he eventually lost everything. 

While working as a poker dealer and bartender at the Monte Carlo saloon and gambling hall, he and Wilson Mizner began promoting boxing matches.

In 1899 Rickard left for another gold strike in Nome where he first came in contact with Western legend Wyatt Earp.

The Western legend had refereed a number of fights, including a Heavyweight title fight between New Zealand’s Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey in San Francisco in December 1886. 

After a sojourn in South America, Rickard secured the rights to promote boxing at Madison Square Gardens in New York City.

By 1924 Rickard was putting together the finances to build the New Madison Square Garden’s, which was completed in 1925. 

During the 1920’s, Rickard promoted World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey in association with Dempsey’s manager Jack Kearns and grossed over eight million dollars from five fights between 1921 and 1926.

They were also responsible for the first live radio broadcast of a title fight and the first Million Dollar gate between Dempsey and George Carpentier in 1921.



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