It was April 6, 1893.
Andy Bowen stepped — rather, fell — out of the boxing ring. He had just fought in the longest boxing match in history. Against an opponent, every bit is equal, named Jack Burke.
The two fought for more than 7 hours. In a battle that would lead into the early morning hours of April 7th.
It is a feat that still stands today and is not likely to be beaten any time soon thanks to current boxing regulations.
Andy Bowen grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jack Burke was from Texas.
When Bowen was 20 years old, he started fighting. It just came naturally to him. He was short and stocky — with a penchant for dishing out trouble wherever he went.
It only made sense that he should end up in a boxing ring one day. And he did.
But Burke was different.
He seemingly came out of nowhere. He was a boxing trainer.
It was his boxer who was scheduled to fight Bowen. But at the last minute, he bailed. So Burke stepped in and rose to the challenge.
After all, he had trained his boxer — so he should have no problem executing the win he had envisioned for his boxer.
Boxing in New Orleans had been vilified for years.
To make it a respectable sport, there were guidelines that had to be followed. Some of them included no fighting on Sundays, no alcohol for the crowd, and a portion of the proceeds would be donated to charity.
That seemed to make everyone happy.
And so, the two met on the evening of April 6th, 1893.
The fight was planned to be held in the Olympic Club in New Orleans. The Club was a stadium that spanned an entire New Orleans city block.
It seated well over 9,000 people. Which was a good thing — because almost 9,000 people showed up to watch what would become the longest fight in boxing history.
Andy Bowen was a local hometown hero. From the day he started boxing, he had gone undefeated. His special skill was marathon fighting. His endurance was a force to be reckoned with.
Andy Bowen always outlasted his opponent. And he always won.
So when the day came for him to fight for the Lightweight Title of the South, he had no question in his mind that the title would be his. And neither did New Orleans. They packed into The Olympic Club and bet all their hard earned money on Bowen.
The fight started out promising for Burke. He came out strong. Over the first several rounds Burke got the better of Bowen.
All the way up until round twenty-five.
But Bowen struck back every time Burke landed a blow. Burke hit and hit and hit. Andy Bowen just kept taking it.
Not only did he not back away from the punches.
“HE DROVE HIMSELF INTO THEM CREATING AN IMPACT THAT WAS SO VICIOUS THAT BY THE 50TH ROUND, BOTH OF JACK BURKE’S WRISTS WERE BROKEN ALONG WITH EVERY BONE IN BOTH OF HIS HANDS.”
But neither man would give up.
Andy Bowen would swing. Jack Burke would try to block him without using his broken hands. They danced like that for three minutes at a time. That’s how long each round was. And in 1893, there were no limits on how many rounds could be fought.
It was more like a dogfight.
You just fought until you were the last man standing.
And so the two men continued to fight. Three minutes. Rest. Three minutes. Rest. Three minutes. Rest.
As midnight approached and the fight was going nowhere, hundreds of disappointed fans started to file out of the stadium. Those who stayed fell asleep in their seats.
By midway through the bout, both fighters had lost their luster and were just trying to stay on their feet. And they did until they made it to round 108.
At that point, the referee, John Duffy made an executive decision. He decided that if both men were still standing in two more rounds, he was calling it. That’s exactly what happened.
Neither Bowen or Burke could lift their arms to throw a punch.
They were just falling over each other relying on the other to keep him up.
They both decided they could not go on.
The two fought so hard and so long they lost ten pounds in the seven hours they were beating each other.
John Duffy declared the fight a “no contest” and insisted the pair split the $2500 purse. Almost $70,000 in today’s dollars.
Even though neither man was declared the winner, they have been declared lifetime badasses by fans of boxing. They set a record that will never be beaten.
A century after the fight, they are both still legends.
Jack Burke stayed in bed recovering for six weeks after his fight with Bowen. He went on to fight more fights. But his fight with Andy Bowen was the last of the vicious prize fights of the time.
He lived to tell the story of his 110 rounds for many, many years.
Andy Bowen was not so lucky. He continued to fight after his famous 110 rounds. Just a few months after, he fought victoriously in an 85 round fight. During the fight, he broke his left hand, but he continued to fight and beat his opponent one-handed.
A year later, he fought George “Kid” Lavigne. He only made it to the 18th round. He was hit in the jaw and fell on the hard ring surface cracking his skull. The fight was over. He died the next day of a brain injury. He was 27.
Both men died legends.
What will it take for you to be a legend? What will it take for you to decide that you will continue to fight no matter what?
What is so important to you that you will stand 110 rounds with two broken wrists to prove that it was meant for you to do it?
What is worth fighting for?
Maybe you aren’t standing in a literal boxing ring, but you are standing in the middle of your own fight every single day. And each day you are deciding whether you will keep fighting or you will throw in the towel.
What changes will you make today? What changes need to happen to make you feel like the champion of your own life?
Life is too short to give up on your dreams. Your opportunity for greatness isn’t determined by anyone else. It’s all you.
It’s what you want. What you need. What you are willing to go fight for. For 110 boxing rounds. With 2 broken wrists.
Until you create your own legendary story.