PRIZE FIGHT AT FRIES PARK JUNE 29 1899
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prize fight held at Fries Park, Parkersburg, on June 29, 1899, between Kid Wanko of Parkersburg and Felix Carr of St. Albans led to Carr's death.
The Prize Fight Results in the Death of Felix Carr He Was Floored by a Hard Left Swing He Was Counted Out and Soon Became Unconscious Death Ensuing about Two Hours Later The Authorities Take Hold and Arrests Are Made. The prize fight at Fries Park on Thursday night between Kid Wanko of this city and Felix Carr of St. Albans terminated in a tragedy.
The fight had been arranged several weeks ago, and both parties put up $50 forfeit, for the fight. The forfeit was placed in the hands of Capt. S. B. Baker. The terms, as we understand them were that the fight was to be for a decision and that the winner should take the gate receipts. The terms was accepted by both parties, as well as their backers. Ben Morrison of the Commercial bar was backer and trainer of Wanko and a man by the name of E. E. Wright a saloon keeper of Huntington was backer and manager for Carr, who, we are informed, was a novice in the prize ring.
Carr and his trainer, Eugene Lutz arrived here from Huntington on Wednesday at noon and all the final details for the fight were made. All the interested parties including about two hundred of the sporting fraternity and several women from the lower end of town gathered at the park at 10 o'clock and after a preliminary bout between two negroes, the fight between Wanko and Carr took place, beginning about 11 o'clock.
J. H. Nightingale was chosen referee. Red Budd and Joe Bruner were seconds for Wanko and Wright and Lutz were in Carr's corner. Both men weighed in at 151 pounds, though Carr was much taller than Wanko and looked the heavier of the two. After shaking hands the men went to work and fought four vicious rounds with regulation 5 ounce boxing gloves. The fighting was very fast, but it was soon apparent that Carr was no match for his opponent who landed blows at will without getting any punishment in return.
The fifth round had only fairly begun when Carr received a blow alongside the head which sent him to his knees, while he grasped the ropes with one hand and rested the other hand on the floor. While the referee was counting off the ten seconds Carr fell forward on his face and made several ineffectual attempts to rise. He was not able to do so and when the fight was decided in favor of Wanko Carr's seconds assisted him to his corner. He was rubbed down and no one supposed that he was seriously hurt, but in a few minutes he began vomiting and then went into convulsions. His condition was so alarming that a messenger was dispatched for a physician. Dr. Davidson was summoned but before he arrived Carr was placed in a hack and brought to town at 12 o'clock. He was taken to a room at the Commercial and Dr. Bailey also assisted Dr. Davidson, but Carr was beyond human aid and lingered in an unconscious condition until a few minutes after 1 o'clock this morning when death ensued. Wanko was with Carr from the time that he was brought to the hotel until his death ensued. The others interested in the fight were also in the room and about the hotel. Wanko took it greatly to heart and did not make any attempt to escape.
'Squire Drennen, Coroner Keever and Prosecutor Laird were notified, and the prosecutor prepared a warrant charging Wanko with murder. He was arrested by Lieut. King and was taken to the city lockup. 'Squire Drennen detailed Tenney Ward as special constable to summon a coroner's jury, to hold an inquest. The following persons were summoned: W. C. Leonard, henry Smith, Pat Mullen, Chris Kaltenecker, E. L. Flack and R. H. Piggott. They, with Coroner Keever, viewed the remains. The corner then adjourned the inquest until 11 o'clock this morning and Undertakers Dare & Carney were directed to take charge of the remains, and Drs. Kelly and Stout were notified to make a post mortem examination to discover the cause of Carr's death.
Lutz, Carr's trainer, as soon as he learned of the death left town hurriedly afoot but Wright remained in the city. All the other principals and spectators, soon scattered and very few could be located. Wanko was seen by the SENTINEL this morning at the lockup, before his removal to the county jail. He said the last blow he struck was comparatively light and landed on the right jaw below the ear. It was not a full force blow by any means and he was surprised when Carr went to his knees and was counted out, as none of the blows he had delivered were of the knockout kind. After Carr was taken to his corner he went over and shook hands with him, and he thought he would be all right within a few minutes. Ben Morrison, Wanko's backer, says that Wanko did not deliver a knockout blow. He, as well as others thought it was just a case of quit on Carr's part, and they had no idea that anything serious would result.
Wright, Carr's backer, says that Carr has been suffering with a touch of the malaria for several weeks, and while not in a very good condition he thought he was able to go through with it. Carr thought so too and was anxious for the bout. Wright secured a coffin for Carr and had the remains shipped to St. Albans.
Referee Nightingale states that when he went into the ring he announced that the affair would be strictly a boxing contest for points and that no brutality would be allowed. He did not think that a knockout blow had been struck, but thought that Carr was not in good condition. He says that Carr, after being counted out, came to him in the middle of the ring, shook hands with him, and thanked him for his fair decisions and then walked to his corner. After a few moments he complained of being sick at his stomach and asked them to remove the gloves from his hands. Shortly afterwards he had convulsions and was removed to town.
The autopsy was conducted at Bentley & Gerwig's undertaking rooms this morning at 9 o'clock by Drs. Kelly, Stout and Row in the presence of Coroner Keever, and a number of local physicians were also present. The examination disclosed that there was a large blood clot on the left lobe of the brain and the whole side of the head was suffused with blood. The physicians gave it as their opinion that this was caused by a blow on the head and that it was the direct cause of death. A further examination disclosed that Carr was certainly in no physical condition to engage in a prize fight. His heart was enlarged and in a fatty condition. His liver was large and hard and the spleen was also enlarged. His left lung was found to be almost of no service. It was attached to the pleural cavity, was hard and there was evidence of tuberculosis.
THE CORONER'S INQUEST.
It was exactly 11:30 o'clock, when Coroner W. S. Keever resumed the inquest and T. E. Quinn was put on the stand. He testified that he was out riding with two gentlemen friends and went to the park. He saw the fight and saw Carr fall to the floor. He could not get up and his seconds carried him to his corner. In a short time, he went into convulsions and his friends worked with him until he was brought to the Commercial hotel. As to the blow that knocked Carr out, Mr. Quinn said he thought it was on the jaw.
E. E. Wright, of Huntington, was called. He said he saw the fight and posted a forfeit for Carr's appearance. He said Carr had complained of being sick for two days with a cold. In the first round Carr seemed to slip, and he did not seem to be struck often by Wanko. He did not go to Carr when he was knocked out. He did not think that Carr was seriously hurt and did not stay around where Carr was. Eugene Lutz and Ben Anderson, Carr's seconds, carried him to his corner. He said he posted $50 with Capt. S. B. Baker, of the State Journal, for his appearance in the ring at a weight not to exceed 154 lbs. He had Carr in training thirteen days at Cincinnati. E. G. Henry, of Marietta, was the timekeeper for Carr. Chester Williams, of Huntington, acted a bottle holder for Carr. Ben Morrison furnished copies of the articles of agreement. Morrison and Wright drew their forfeit this morning from Capt. Baker.
Alderson Adkins, of Huntington, said he never knew Carr until the day of the fight. He met him at Huntington and came on the same train to see the fight. He bet a strange man at the park a dollar the Wanko would knock Carr out in six rounds. He paid the man the dollar and could not tell his name. He did not think Carr received such severe blows as to knock him out but that he was not in condition. He went down in the fifth round.
G. B. Adkins, of Huntington, said he came to see the fight. He met Carr at the O. R. R. depot at Huntington. He knew of the fight by seeing a bill advertising the fight in a saloon at Huntington. He simply came only as a spectator and paid $1 to see the fight. He could not describe the fight except as to Carr's slipping in the first round. In the second the men only sparred and in the fifth round, he saw Carr fall and could not get up. He thought Carr was struck on the jaw.
Chas. Miller, of Huntington, said he worked at a lunch counter at home, and that he came to see the fight here. He came with a party from Huntington, and he only came to see a glove contest and not a prize fight. There were about 200 people at the park. He described Carr's knockout and he added that both men wore boxing gloves. He saw Carr knock Wanko down.
Dr. W. J. Davidson testified that he was called by two men at midnight to go to Fries' Park to see a man. He was taken out in a cab. The party met Carr's friend's [sic] bringing him to the Commercial hotel. He came back with Carr and gave him a heart stimulant but he died in a few minutes. He was not having convulsions when he saw him and the doctor could not state the cause of his death. The inquest then adjourned until two o'clock.
E. E. Wright and J. H. Nightingale were arrested at noon today on a warrant charging them with aiding and abetting a prize fight. Both were arrainged [sic] before 'Squire Drennen and waived examination. Bond was fixed at $500 for their appearance before Criminal Court. Wright gave bond with Geo. M. Adkins as surety and Nightingale gave bond with H. W. Eaton, jr., as surety.
Warrants were issued this afternoon for Chester Williams, Ben Anderson, Eugene Lutz, Joe Bruner, Harry Budd and Ben Morrison. The penalty upon conviction is from two to ten years in the penitentiary. At two o'clock the inquest was resumed by Coroner Keever, who issued subpoenas for C. A. Wade, sheriff of Wood county, S. B. Baker, Gustavus Fries and Joe Bruner to appear forthwith.
J. H. Nightingale, a blacksmith at the Oil Well Supply Company's shops, stated that he was referee at the fight; that he was engaged to act in that capacity by E. E. Wright and Ben Anderson. He did not agree to act, though, until he had talked with Carr, who assured him that there was no money up and that it was a glove contest for scientific points only. He called the contestants, Ben Anderson, Ben Morrison, and the seconds to the ring, and asked for the articles of agreement. He said none were produced, and that the contestants agreed with him that it was a friendly twenty round scientific contest.
He had made such an announcement to the audience. He said that he cautioned both men against brutality and said he informed the men that he would not tolerate any such act. In the fifth round, the men came to the center, boxing very lively. Carr made a clinch, Wanko caught him over the right shoulder and struck Carr. He fell and then arose again and walked to his corner apparently in good condition. He did not rise until he had been counted out or rather he came up as the tenth second was counted.
His head did not strike the floor during the entire contest. The gloves weighed five ounces each and were in good condition. Carr talked to his seconds after the fight and thanked Nightingale for his fair decisions. Capt. S. B. Baker stated that a representative of Mr. Wright, of Huntington, called on him and deposited $50 in his hands for Carr's appearance in the ring. Morrison also deposited $50 for Wanko's appearance at the same time. He refunded the money to Messrs. Wright and Morrison this morning.
He susposed the money was for a prize fight and to insure the men's appearance in the ring at the time of the contest.
Sheriff C. A. Wade testified that some time ago he received a dispatch from the Cincinnati Post asking as to the fight and then he received a letter from Gov. Atkinson telling him not to allow the fight, and he referred both to the Prosecuting attorney. He also stated that Gust. Fries showed him a contract for a glove contest at Fries' Park. None of his deputies were at the fight.
Chester Williams, of Huntington, testified that he came to Parkersburg to see the fight. He understood it was a glove contest. He did not see the contestants, but twice until last night. He went to the fight in a cab with Mr. Carr, Lutz and Anderson. He fanned Carr during the fight. He was of the opinion that Carr slipped on the canvas, when he fell. He did not see Wanko hit Carr, and stated that he, himself, was under the influence of liquor.
As soon as Williams testified Constable Carter placed him under arrest for aiding and abetting the fight. Sheriff Wade was recalled, and said he understood the contest was for points only. Dr. Bailey stated that he knew nothing of the case except that he saw Carr at the Commercial hotel just as he died. Carr died at 1 o'clock.
Patsy Gavin said he did not see any but the first 5 rounds as John Devlin annoyed him and he was compelled to leave the scene of the fight. After the fight, he went back to Carr, who was suffering. Carr told him that he should not have fought as he was just recovering from malaria fever.
C. D. Heaton, of the News, said he was at the fight to report it for this paper. He named the principals and seconds as given above. There were five round. In the second honors were even. Though the blows were not brutal, they were very hard. In the third round, Wanko slipped on the canvas and fell on the floor and rolled under the ropes.
In the fourth, Carr was weak and appeared discouraged. In the fifth, Carr appeared fresh and seemed brighter. Wanko struck a long left handed blow and hit Carr somewhere on the neck or face. He then left as soon as Carr was counted out. It seemed to be a scientific contest, there being nothing brutal about the entire fight. The physicians submitted the report of the autopsy, which is practically the same as stated above.
West Virginia Code Regarding Prize Fighting
Chapter 144, section 27a of the Code of West Virginia Fourth Edition, 1899. To suppress prize fighting.
[27a. I. If any person fight a prize fight in this State, or act as second or trainer, or time-keeper, or referee, or umpire, to any persons so fighting, or if any person assist or in any way aid or abet another to fight a prize fight in this State, he shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be confined in the penitentiary not less than two nor more than ten years.
II. If any person come into this State for the purpose of fighting, or intending to fight a prize fight therein, or for the purpose of acting as second to, or of training, or assisting, or in any way aiding or abetting another to fight a prize fight, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, fined not more than five hundred dollars, or shall be confined in the county jail not exceeding one year, or both, at the discretion of the court.
III. Upon affidavit made before any justice or notary that the affiant has knowledge or information, and believes that any person is about to come into this State for any purpose mentioned in the last preceding section, such justice or notary shall issue his warrant, directed to the sheriff or any constable of his county, requiring him to arrest and bring such person before any justice of the county, and thereupon the same proceedings shall be had as in other cases of persons charged with an offence under chapter one hundred and fifty-six of the Code.
IV. Chapter fifty of the acts of one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two and seventy-three is hereby repealed.
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