Because boxing is a considered an illegal and disreputable enterprise in 1880's San Francisco, wealthy and influential members of the prestigious Olympic Club vow to make the sport a "gentlemanly" one. They sponsor a brash, extroverted young bank clerk named Jim Corbett, who quickly becomes an accomplished fighter under the new Marquis of Queensbury Rules. Despite his success, the young Irish-American's social pretensions and boastful manner soon estrange him from his benefactors, who plot to give their conceited former protégé a well-deserved comeuppance. Despite this, his dazzlingly innovative footwork helps him to beat a succession of bigger and stronger men, and he finally finds himself fighting for the world's championship against his childhood idol, John L. Sullivan.
The grandest story of the Naughty "Nineties" becomes the gayest picture of the Fighting "Forties!"
Did You Know?
Former Junior Welterweight champion Mushy Callahan not only trained Flynn for the film's fight sequences, his feet doubled for the actor in the shots that showed off his famous footwork. See more
Joe Choynski is shown as a big brute. The real Choynski was a middleweight who never weighed over 155 lb., and was much smaller than Corbett. See more
James J. Corbett aka Gentleman Jim
I've seen you around San Francisco a few times but from a long distance, of course.
John L. Sullivan
Well, seein' me from a long distance is a smart idea, young fella.
to "Die schöne Galathée (The Beautiful Galatea)" (1865) (uncredited)
Music by Franz von Suppé
Played by the theater orchestra See more