LEADVILLE FIREMAN AND CIVIL SERVANT (1903)

Billy Irwin had fought professionally in Aspen for four years from 1895 to 1899. By mid 1899 however his boxing career was winding down and Aspen itself was becoming more restrictive towards boxing. Perhaps this was due to a new state law passed in mid 1899 requiring a $1,000.00 boxing license fee. And although this new state law was satisfactory to big town Denverites it was not so well received in Colorado's smaller towns. Thus by 1900 Billy relocated back to Leadville and went to work for the Midas Mining Company as a miner. He nevertheless would fight two more fights before he officially retired from the ring once and for all: one with Dago Mike for the Colorado State Bantamweight Championship (June 1900) and one “coming out of retirement fight" with Reddy Coogan (February 1901). However Billy did continue to participate in matches at "Smokers" and at "no decision matches" at the Leadville Firehouse training arena. 

 

In 1903 a vacancy in the Leadville Fire Department opened up and Fire Chief Thomas H. Horrigan, appointed Billy to the Leadville Fire Department. His new fire department job suited Billy well and he went about his task of learning all of the stations on the hook and ladder team: plugman, ladderman, changeman and hoseman, etc. Also as a Leadville fireman he had enough spare time between fighting fires to participate in boxing exhibitions held at the Leadville fire stations. According to a newspaper article from Billy Irwin’s scrapbook: “He (Billy) still dons the gloves and is said to be the best man in Leadville of his weight.”


His new fire department job also enabled him to expand his horizons even further. By 1906 he founded and managed the Cloud City Athletic Association and as manager he promoted a number of boxing matches in Leadville. In 1907 he was promoted from the fire department ranks to become its Fire Chief. In 1908 he was elected President of the Leadville Eagles Lodge and in the same year he founded the Eagles Athletic Club. In 1909 he was appointed Deputy County Clerk and Recorder for Lake County. In 1910 he was chosen to be the Secretary of the

Democratic Party Central Committee for the November mid-term elections and in this regard he devoted all of his efforts towards the success of his party.

 

Although the greater part of his working life had been devoted to mining and prize fighting it was politics and service to the community that would occupy most all of his time and energy for the rest of his life.