Letters

Boxing in saloons part of Ramona story

       To Mel McFarland: Your Cobweb Corners in the May-July Westside Pioneer tells about the Heidelberg Inn in Ramona - the town that was created “wet” just north of Colorado City after Colorado City voted “dry” in 1913.
       I want to add to the story of short-lived Ramona. Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler - later heavyweight world champion - had his first officially recorded professional fight in Ramona on August 17, 1914.
       Born in Manassa, Colorado, Dempsey worked in Cripple Creek mines and other places and also fought in saloons. His most memorable saying was, “I can't sing and I can't dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house.”
       Boxing in the saloons was a draw for Ramona. In fact, a long time local, feisty Pat O'Brien, boxed as a flyweight for his father's beer hall in Ramona.
       Westsiders, especially any who've driven north on 19th Street from Uintah, might remember the weather-beaten sign: “O'Brien Printing.” Pat's feisty descendants still own a house his father built, still on 24th Street, north of Uintah and the Heidelberg site.
       I got to know Pat, who, in the 1980s took umbrage at the county raising his property taxes. Being a small man, Pat offered to fight the likewise-small county assessor over his assessment. That's the way lots of Colorado City and Ramona disputes were settled.

Dave Hughes