It was an affair of honor. Two gentlemen, pillars of this city's legal community, squared off to settle a dispute growing out of a courtroom clash.
In the tradition of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchester, the combatants agreed to meet each other, accompanied by seconds, in a secluded place.
They agreed on weapons ahead of time. They chose neither guns nor knives (an 1840 Texas law outlawed dueling with lethal weapons).
Instead, they chose 12-ounce boxing gloves.
It was the first lawyers' grudge match in the history of the Allstate Boxing Club, a vine-choked, weather-beaten arena on Texas Street in East Dallas.
The opponents were Boyd Waggoner, a 44-year-old lawyer specializing in criminal case, and Gerald Banks, a 39-year-old veteran prosecutor now assistant Dallas County district attorney.
They were daversaries in a criminal case at the Dallas County Courthouse this spring. Sharp words were exchanged over some courtroom tactics, one lawyer slapped the other, and the gauntlet was thrown down.
The challenge accepted, the lawyers asked a friend, Arlen D. (Spider) Bynum, a local lawyer who has been a professional boxing referee for 20 years, to make the necessary arrangements.
"One of the attorneys called me and said he and another attorney had a beef and that they wanted to settle it by engaging in the gentleman's sport of boxing," said Bynum.
He agreed to judge the fight and he asked Dick Cole, a veteran ring official, to officiate. Bob Fite, the manager of the Allstate Boxing Club, agreed to be the time-keeper.
The fight was to take place behind closed doors with the audience limited to a select group of ring judges, corner men and club regulars.
"The lawyers gave me strict instructions," said Fite. "We don't want the public allowed in. We want the doors locked.'"
But since the lawyers knew little about boxing, they allowed Fite, Cole and Bynum to set ground rules.
It was to be a three-round bout, with each round lasting one minute, said Cole.
At the appointed hour, the boxers arrived, stripped to their trunks and met in the center of the ring with referee Cole.
"I gave them the standard instructions," he said. "I told 'em to break when I say 'break.' I said if one guy knocks the other guy down, no jumping on him."
The fighters touched gloves and the bout began.
By all accounts the first round was a dandy.
"They stood toe to toe and went at it tooth and nail," said Fite. "I don't think they moved six inches away from each other. It was just bam, bam, bam."
"They just stood there and whaled away," said Cole. "The big guy would throw a punch and fall back a step. Then the little guy would throw a punch and step back."
They gave the first round to Waggoner.
In the second round, the fighters demonstrated a little more movement.
"I wouldn't exactly call it dancing. But, you know, they shuffled around a bit," said Cole.
By most accounts, the second round went to Banks.
"The big guy was throwing the haymaker, but he couldn't land it," said Cole.
"At the same time, the little guy was starting jab," he said, "and he was showing some class. I thought to myself, 'If he weren't so old, I could make a boxer out of him.'"
By the third round, both fighters were fading fast.
"I didn't think the big man was going to make it off the stool," said corner man Tyrone Cotton.
"After the first 10 seconds, they more or less stood there and waited for the round to end," said Cole. "They both looked like they were about to pass out."
Fite, the time keeper, did not help matters. Without telling anyone, he said, he lengthened each round by 30 seconds, making the third round a minute longer than the first. "I was just experimenting with 'em," he chuckled.
When it was over, Fite, Cole and Bynum ruled the match had been a draw.
The fighters did not argue with the decision.
"They shook hands and acted friendly to each other," said Cole.
If they are contemplating a rematch, they have not told anyone.
Some observers of the fight have been more polite than others in their assessment.
"They were real earnest about it. They went at it like a couple of kids," said Cole.
"It wasn't something I would try to sell to Tv," said Bynum.