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Ringside Shelby

Courtesy Montana Historical Society, Helena

About the Show

In one corner: the champ Jack Dempsey. In the other corner, the contender Tommy Gibbons. Both men faced off in the little-known boom town of Shelby, Montana for the World Heavyweight Championship fight that took place on July 4, 1923. Ringside Shelby is a fascinating look at the circumstances that brought a sporting event of international importance to a small Montana town. In a few short months, Shelby was ready for crowds of eager fight fans. A 40,000-seat arena was erected in just over twenty days. But nervous investors watched as their plans began to falter. In the end, banks ran out of cash and had to close, and the primary promoters were left with $160,000 in debt. This is not merely the story of a legendary fight but of Shelby’s fighting spirit when it was down for the count.