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Send in the Clowns

One hundred years ago today the 101 Rodeo Show was in Bloomington in the Ball Park. The headliner for this show was Jess Willard, the current heavy weight boxing champion in 1915, called the Pottawatomie Giant. He was not however, a native American. He was of English descent and a working cowboy before he started boxing at age 27. He stood over six and a half feet tall. While holding the heavy weight boxing championship title he worked with and purchased the 101 Rodeo Show.

The show was carried by 3 trains of 16 cars and included 101 people and animals. The pictures here are of the clowns and of course Jess Willard.

Wild west shows were still great hits but one source says that after Jess Willard bought the show in 1917 it was not as successful. Jess Willard was not actively boxing, but in 1919 he attempted to defend his title against Jack Dempsey and was knocked down for the first time in Toledo, Ohio, losing the title. He went on to appear in a few movies and vaudeville.

Bill Caress, the clown squatting, appeared in silent movies with Tom Mix. For more photos of the 101 Ranch go to

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