Did a Boxing Championship Bout Once End in a Double Knockout?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about boxing and whether they are true or false.

BOXING URBAN LEGEND: A boxing championship bout once ended in a double-knockout!

First off, almost all states have it written into their rules what would happen if there was a legitimate double knockout (both fighters knocked unconscious or both fighters just able to get to their feet before being counted out) – it would be a draw.

However, it really does not come up that often – boxers are known to occasionally both get knocked down at the same time, but one of the fighters almost always gets up before being knocked out.

That did not happen in the bout between Adolph “Ad” Wolgast and “Mexican” Joe Rivers on July 4th, 1912 in California, as the two fought for the lightweight championship (Wolgast was the defending champ).

Wolgast was a bit of a wild man, known to just throw himself all out into his matches (this would be why he spent the last thirty plus years of his life in mental institutions with brain damage), but Rivers seemed to be more than Wolgast could handle, and as the thirteenth round began, Wolgast was ready to throw the towel in, but his trainer insisted he go on.

What happened next is some of the most egregious refereeing you’ll ever see.

Wolgast hits Rivers in the groin, but as he does so, Rivers hit him hard in the face. Both men stumble to the floor, with Wolgast falling on top of Rivers.

The referee, Jack Welch, counts to ten – both men are still on the floor.

Welch proceeds to PICK Wolgast up and goes to declare him the winner, but Rivers gets up, but is told by Welch that, no, Rivers was counted out and Wolgast is the winner by knockout!!

That’s why this is not “technically” true, because that’s how the fight went into the books, as a knockout for Wolgast.

There’s actually VIDEO of the fight out there in the vast ‘net, but the link I had is now dead. If anyone can find me a live link, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it into this piece!

The legend is…

STATUS: Technically False but Effectively True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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