WILLIAM JOSEPH LIGHTNER

WILLIAM JOSEPH LIGHTNER

William Joseph Lightner was born in Baltimore, Mary­land in 1877. His grandfa­ther started fighting dogs about 1850 and developed a game strain, never sold a dog. Mr. Lightner’s father and uncles continued winning, never sold a dog. When Mr. Lightner was six years old he used to watch the fights which were held every week in the old ice­house in Baltimore.
About 1894 he entered the prize ring as a fighter himself and made a little money around the east, he also was a singer, he had a wonder­ful deep bass voice. In the late 1890’s he, two sparring partners and 4 dogs started west and fought their way to the Pacific Coast. Most of his fighting was bare nuckle fights for side bets in locals not known to the Police and were finish fights. His hands were all busted up and look like sledge hammers. Some of the fights were on river boats, where they had dog and cock fights at the same time. He speaks of the Illinois River and of course, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He made a lot of money in Or­egon, where the lumberjacks had a bully in most every camp and money meant very little. However, Cripple Creek was his favorite for winning as the altitude affected new-comers, both dogs and men. This trip to the Pacific Coast was a highly profitable one, from a money standpoint, as he still had 2 dogs left, and $8,000. However, he was shot thru the shoul­der which ended his own career as a fighter but he still sang in saloons and fought dogs. He stayed with Jim Corbett in San Francisco a while to rest up.He then started back, ending in Cripple Creek, Colorado, where dog fights were the chief sport. He got more dogs from home – at one time he had 32 bitches.
He got married and Mrs. Light­ner became a fanatic on dog fights. She was a smart operator and match maker and they never lost a fight for 42 years with dogs they backed themselves.After the boom died out in Cripple Creek, they had a lot of dogs and no place to fight, so they sold a few and cut the kennel production.

Mrs. Lightner died suddenly. Her picture in the front room always had a fresh flower in front of it.
Mr. Lightner was the best friend a man ever had, and the worst enemy. He has been a tremendously powerful man, hands like hams, big boned, 200 lbs. and skinny.

William J. Lightner died on Febru­ary 13 ,1959. He and his wife are bur­ied in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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