The Two-Week, Two-Weight Olympic Boxer

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By Ken Zurski

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Oliver Kirk

Oliver Leonard Kirk has two gold medals from one Olympic Games. That’s not unusual in today’s Olympic climate. Many athletes have done it especially in swimming and track and field events.

But Kirk was a boxer.

In the slipshod third Olympiad held at the St Louis World’s Fair in 1904, due to a limited amount of competitors, especially in boxing, Kirk was allowed to compete in two weight classes.

So as a featherweight Kirk faced a slightly larger opponent in Frank Bee Haller, another American. Kirk was a brawler and won. But was it a fair fight? Haller was a tough competitor, but many felt he was taxed from an earlier bout, while Kirk had the advantage of a bye in the first round.

Regardless, Kirk took the gold.

Kirk than spent a week losing 10 pounds and as a bantamweight faced the slighter smaller George Finnegan. A week before, Finnegan had beat Miles Burke to win the flyweight gold medal.

Finnegan quickly added 10 pounds to battle Kirk.

Finnegan may have been pressured to move up and fight Kirk. That’s because there were no other competitors in the bantamweight division. Kirk had made the weight, but no one to fight. So Finnegan put the extra load on his frame.

It showed.

Kirk landed more punches and won his second gold medal.

 

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