June 1, 1880: Colliers Hosts World Championship Bout

Aug 12, 2016

A world championship prize fight was held in the Brooke County town of Colliers on June 1, 1880.

Goss and Ryan sparred by the popular bare-knuckles rules of the day.
Credit e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

At the time, boxing was illegal in every state. To avoid big-city police, promoters often held matches in rural railroad villages. Colliers was a perfect location, being close to Pittsburgh and several Ohio towns.

The bout paired 44-year-old defending champ Joe Goss against 28-year-old Paddy Ryan. Promoters set up a makeshift boxing ring by driving four stakes into a grass meadow and stringing a rope around them. Goss and Ryan sparred by the popular bare-knuckles rules of the day. The fight was even through the first 35 rounds. By the 45th, Goss was on the ropes but somehow rallied back. By the 70th, Ryan was again in charge. Between the 80th and 86th rounds, Ryan continually knocked the helpless Goss to the ground, but the champ astonishingly fought on. Finally, Goss was unable to answer the call for the 87th round. The nearly hour-and-a-half bout at Colliers had produced a new world champ: Paddy Ryan. Ryan lost his title two years later to the great John L. Sullivan.