Shelby's "fight that won't stay dead" celebrated July 4


July 12, 2023

Plans for Shelby's Champions Park were drawn more than 20 years ago and fundraising to complete the project soon followed. This July 4, on the 100th anniversary of the Dempsey-Gibbons fight, the outdoor interpretive memorial was dedicated. A grandson of Tommy Gibbons (who fought Jack Dempsey for the world heavyweight title in 1923) was the keynote speaker. Nearly 100 of Gibbons' descendants were on hand for the dedication and the boxing bouts held later at the Shelby fairgrounds.

The ill-fated Dempsey-Gibbons World's Heavyweight Championship boxing match held a century ago was celebrated last weekend in Shelby. The event is likely Montana's most illustrious sporting event because it was such a massive failure and bankrupt several of its backers, including four banks that had to close. It all started as a publicity stunt by some realtors in Shelby hoping to draw attention to the burgeoning prairie town and sell real estate.

The stunt ended up in an iron clad $300,000 contract with Jack Dempsey, through his infamous manager Jack 'Doc' Kearns. When the promoters from...

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