Wyatt Earp

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Wyatt Earp

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From Wikipedia- The Fitzsimmons vs Sharkey Heavyweight Championship boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey was awarded by referee Wyatt Earp to Sharkey after Fitzsimmons knocked Sharkey to the mat. Earp ruled that Fitzsimmons had hit Sharkey when he was down, but very few witnessed the purported foul. The fans at the December 2, 1896 fight in San Francisco booed Earp's decision. It was the first heavyweight championship fight since James J. Corbett, the prior champion, had retired from boxing the year before. The fight may have been the most anticipated fight on American soil that year.

The match was illegal under city law, but civic and police officials who attended the match along with the public bet heavily in Fitzsimmons' favor.[1][2] Virtually no one agreed with Earp's ruling and Fitzsimmons' managers went to court to prevent Sharkey from obtaining the purse. The judge ruled that since the match was illegal the court had no standing, allowing Sharkey to claim the prize. After Corbett ended his retirement the next year he was the de facto champion, but he fought Fitzsimmons and lost.

Earp was pilloried for his decision by the public and popular press, who vilified him and accused him of accepting a payoff to throw the match. The story about the fight and Earp's contested decision was reprinted nationwide. Earp left San Francisco soon after and when he died in 1929, he was perhaps more well-known for his decision in the title fight than his actions at the O.K. Corral gun fight.[3] In 1905, Dr. B. Brookes Lee confirmed the fight had been fixed and confessed he had treated Sharkey so it would appear that he had been fouled,[4] although it's unclear if Earp had prior knowledge of the scam.

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