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1930s & Earlier / Eery Boxing Photo 1913
This is one of my favorite sports photographs. It isn't a particularly great photo--in fact, it's quite poor from a photography standpoint--but is does show an eery ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds to illuminate the prone Luther McCarty. The date was May 24, 1913. McCarty, a 21-year-old 'white hope' from Nebraska, was being groomed for a chance to meet Jack Johnson for the world heavyweight title. McCarty had already beaten a couple of top contenders. He was pitted against lightly regarded Arthur Pelkey in Calgary, Alberta as a keep-busy fight. To everyone's shock, McCarty collapsed in the first round after absorbing a very light punch from Pelkey. (Some reports say it landed on McCarty's body; others claim in struck his head.) Regardless, it wasn't a very hard punch. McCarty dropped to the canvas unconscious and never rose. The crowd booed, believing the fight was fixed. It wasn't. McCarty had died of a brain hemorrhage. It was likely caused by a fall from a horse a few days earlier that his managers had kept secret from sports writers. Writers and fans alike agreed the strange ray of light only illuminated the spot where McCarty lay dying--and nowhere else in the ring.