Bare Knuckle Boxing

Before La Center was La Center, just after Capt. William Weir built his first house and store here naming this place “Podunk”, there was excitement brewing on the old Cathlapoodle River (officially renamed the Lewis River in 1929).

Tickets ran high at $5 for these “moonlight excursions” as they were promoted.  Steamers left in the dark of night giving only an “undisclosed destination”, telling passengers the match would take place within 100 miles of Portland. They came from the Willamette to the Columbia and on to the Lewis River, cloud in secrecy.  Others came from Astoria – each steamer carrying 100’s of fans, drinking and betting on the out come.

They pulled ashore in a down pour of rain causing the slope and field to be a muddy “slippery” mess. The first match we found was in 1883 between Morgan / Manning … lasting 99 rounds!! The second was in 1885 with Dempsey / Campbell which only lasted 3 rounds, after Campbell slipped and Dempsey struck the final blow.

Some articles claimed the match was held on the south bank of the Lewis River at Paradise Point, others simply stated it was in Washington Territory or in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest”. One interview given well over 40yr after the fight, said it was at Paradise Point. Yet one other stated it was up the Lewis River at the farm of J. Specht.

It was a BIG deal and people talked of it for years after …I’m hoping to find someone who remembers listening to these stories by g-parents who knew and told them where the fights took place … AND I DID!!

With the help of Liz Cerveny referring me to Carol Gola I wouldn’t have known where to look – and I found it right under my nose in one of the museum’s scrapbooks. Here are all the articles I’ve found –

Pekin’s Ferry

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