To cover discoveries not directly connected to the old waterfront I have started a new blog, Oregon Ozone . I stole the name from an Oregonian column from the 1890s. The first girl “Mysterious” Billy Smith ever loved met her tragic death on their honeymoon. Billy had a monument erected over her grave that cost a fortune. Today the beautiful monument—a large sculpted angel—is part of the Historical Monuments on the Cemetery Tour page of the River View Cemetery website. The fact that her husband was a famous prizefighter has escaped everyone’s notice, until now. Read the story in the very first post on Oregon Ozone .
It is true, an asthmatic weakling, who used to regularly give up his lunch money as tribute to bullies, has written a book on prizefighting. Not only this, History Press has just published it! Oregon Prizefighters: Forgotten Bare-knuckles Champions of Portland and Astoria , will hit the shelves on Monday. What was it that made someone like me, born without the “sports gene,” to become interested in the bare-knuckles prizefighting of yesteryear? It was the people: brash, naïve youths, wracked by passions, ruined by limelight. Then there is the model Portlander, Dave Campbell, for many years “Our Dave,” beloved chief of the Portland fire department. He was self-educated, intelligent, measured, and fearless, and gave up a sure championship career as a boxer to fight Portland’s fires. Add to the mix the original all-time champion, Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey (died 1895), and “Mysterious” Billy Smith—both legends in the world of boxing history—and you soon begin to wonder why these fellow