The most complete assembly ever offered!1892 John L. Sullivan vs. Jim Corbett Program, Ticket Stubs, Cabinet Photographs. It was the last stand of the mighty John L. Sullivan, a hard-drinking giant whose legendary indestructibility had established him as the brightest star of the nineteenth century prize ring. Financial hardship, and the $35,000 purse that could be its cure, had drawn the Boston Strong Boy back to competition after three years' absence, a period during which Sullivan appeared only in exhibition bouts, rightly believing that his bloody victory over Jake Kilrain in the sport's final bare-knuckle Heavyweight Championship had secured his legacy.
But this bout's status as the first World Heavyweight Championship contested under the Queensberry Rules of gloved combat is likewise only tangential to the greater shift in the tectonics of the sport. While Queensberry's rise and Sullivan's fall have etched this date in boxing's stone, it was James J. Corbett himself that heralded the new paradigm of the sport, the beginning of what we now we now characterize as "the sweet science." Corbett's shocking domination of an iron-jawed foe twenty-five pounds his superior was the opening salvo of skill over force in hand to hand combat. From this day forward, boxing would no longer be simply a tough man competition. It would be an art.
Here we present the most assembly of artifacts from that historic bout ever made available to the collecting community. Most significant is the official forty-eight page program for the contest, just the fourth to surface on the hobby's auction block in the past decade. Though it shows a degree of wear that one might expect for a publication entering its twelfth decade of life, the program remains in complete and relatively solid condition, with all pages still held firmly to the spine. The gorgeous Victorian artwork on the cover is still bright and vibrant, with minor chipping and tearing at edges and a tape-reinforced spine. Other than these minor considerations, the inner pages remain quite unchanged from the day the program's original owner watched Sullivan fall for the first and last time. As for the content itself, we'll leave that as the prize for the winning bidder, but suffice it to say that there are lengthy biographies of the great boxers of the day (including Sullivan and Corbett of course) and fantastic photographic images. Without a doubt one of the most exceptional boxing programs on the face of the earth.
While the ticket stub for the Heavyweight Championship contest is considerably more common than the program, the same could not be said for the stubs deriving from the Monday and Tuesday preliminaries, featuring Billy Myer vs. Jack McAuliffe's Lightweight Championship and George Dixon vs. Jack Skelly's Featherweight Championship respectively. Each rates VG-EX.
Finally, we have a matched pair of cabinet photographs by the famed studio of John Wood, the man responsible for the most famous portraits of each Heavyweight Champion. Each cabinet measures 4x8.5", with a handwritten identification at lower border and further handwriting on reverse. Minor handling wear, more apparent on the Corbett, but each presents very well.
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