Al Livingston, one of Nevada's first settlers, became an architect of a tourism approach to the state's budget woes at the end of the nineteenth century.
Born in Prussian Poland in 1843, Livingston was a tobacco merchant in Genoa in 1861 before becoming proprietor of the Ozark Saloon in Carson City. He was elected Douglas County treasurer from 1878-1882 and was a founding officer of several fraternal organizations; additionally, he was president of Carson City's Jewish B'nai B'rith lodge. Despite being found guilty of selling liquor after midnight, his popularity never waned. He married May Novitzky after the death of his first wife, Hannah, and raised three daughters. Livingston may have had the latter in mind when he installed a soda fountain at his saloon as an alternative to adult beverages.
Boxing had long been a favorite male spectator sport in Nevada's saloons, and as state revenues declined, previously forbidden "glove contests" were legitimized by a legislature hungry for revenue in 1897. A county sheriff could issue an event license for $1000; ten percent went to the county and the remainder to the state. The prizefighting statute was the top legislative priority and emerged as the first bill to be signed into law. That same year, Livingston was chief among those organizing "The Fight of the Century" between heavyweight champion "Gentleman Jim" Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons. Livingston provided complimentary ringside tickets to media representatives, whose coverage appeared in newspapers nationwide. The event under-filled a 7,000 seat arena specially constructed at the Carson Race Track. It was Nevada's first venture into economic diversification through tourism, but it showed promise.
In 1899 Ormsby County voters elected Livingston to the first of two terms in the state senate. In 1903, the legislature passed laws to exact a $1000 fee from anyone promoting boxing events outside the state. And in order to control boxing within the state, a new law required that all bouts be sponsored by a licensed athletic club. In 1905, Al Livingston, considered “Nevada's premier prize fight promoter,” was elected first President of the Reno Athletic Club. It had been hastily organized to sponsor a contest between Marvin Hart and Jack Root, contenders for the heavyweight championship. The event attracted four thousand spectators and was a memorable success. Livingston died in 1908, but his promotion of Nevada tourism endured.
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