Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's Resurrection Celebrated in Style during a Gala Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's Resurrection Celebrated in Style during a Gala Week

Article excerpt

Eat your heart out, Ric Flair.

The Seventh Cavalry once opened for championship wrestling in

Jacksonville.

Masked and costumed women paraded through the streets.

Small boys danced in front of marching bands.

Fireworks exploded in the sky.

Light showered on blossom-decked teams.

A king and queen were crowned.

Horses raced at breakneck speed and Stetsons and Floridas

clashed on a field of football.

Yachts raced on the sparkling St. Johns. A French ball was held

at the Opera House.

A solid week of festivity and celebration preceded the bout.

There even was a baby show, that crisp fall day Sailor Tom

Sharkey met Tom Jenkins for the wrestling championship of the

civilized world.

"The wrestling match . . . will be of such a character that

ladies can see and enjoy it, as it is purely a trial of science

and skill and has none of the revolting features of a brutal

prize fight, but at the same is just as exciting and

spectacular," said Jacksonville's evening newspaper, The

Metropolis.

"It is expected that fully 25,000 people will be at the stadium

tonight and arrangements have been made to care for the crowd."

Indeed, arrangements had been made, near and far for months

before for this clash of titans in the Phoenix city of the

South.

Two-and-a-half years had passed since Jacksonville lay in

smoldering ash, its meaningful core burned to the ground in the

great Jacksonville fire of May 3, 1901.

From utter destruction had risen a city aware it was the envy

of the world, and this Gala Week -- that was its name -- had

been set aside to celebrate the municipal resurrection.

From the sporting capitals of the Middle West came the

celebrated Jenkins, the foremost practitioner of the wrestling

science, nay, art, in the eyes of some; and from roughhouse

Boston came Sailor Tom Sharkey, a boxer and a brawler and an

Irish force of nature bent on destruction.

With them came the Sporting Crowd, the sharp-eyed men and the

sharp-dressed ladies of the big cities, aware of the investment

opportunities inherent in physical strife. …

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