Hougen Group

Frank Slavin

In his days, he was the toughest man in the British Empire. He'd beaten everyone he'd met in the ring. But he never had the chance to fight the best in North America. So when he came to the Klondike, he was ready to take on all comers.

Frank Slavin was an Australian. He was also the heavyweight boxing champ of the British Empire. But he was never given the chance to fight in North America for the world title, and that bothered him. Slavin, while past his prime when he arrived in Dawson in 1898, was nonetheless a tough customer. He was tall and agile and known as the Sydney Cornstalk. For one celebrated match at the Monte Carlo in Dawson, he was billed as the Sydney Slasher.

Prize fights were as much a part of Dawson's entertainment as were the dance hall girls. Customers paid twenty-five dollars a seat and were seldom disappointed especially if Frank Slavin was on the bill. In one memorable bout, Slavin faced a fellow Australian, Will Perkin, who had stopped in Dawson just long enough to raise funds to work his mining claims on the Stewart River. The fight between Perkin and Slavin lasted 14 brutal rounds. Perkin was paid eleven hundred dollars for his part in the bout. Eighteen months later he died from internal injuries he had received during the fight.

Tex Richard, who went on to become the world's greatest fight promoter at Madison Square Gardens, learned his trade in Dawson. Frank Slavin and Big Joe Boyle had come to the Klondike together and were close friends. They were also sparring partners staying in shape by play-boxing with each other. Rickard, however, saw money to be made but only if the two big boxers could be depicted as arch-rivals...bitter enemies. Rickard was so successful in this ruse that the match between Slavin and Boyle was the biggest draw in Dawson.

A standing room only crowd paid $25 each to witness the match. However, there was no winner as each fighter vowed in private not to hurt the other. Later, when Joe Boyle became the biggest owner of Klondike claims, he put Frank Slavin on his payroll, though he wasn't expected to do anything but spar with Boyle to keep him in shape.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin