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100 years ago in Spokane: Former world boxing champion ‘Ruby Robert’ Bob Fitzsimmons says he didn’t see his estranged wife in Davenport Hotel lobby

 (Jonathan Brunt / The Spokesman-Review)
(Jonathan Brunt / The Spokesman-Review)

From our archive, 100 years ago

Two internationally known celebrities were playing out a bizarre marital spat in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel.

Bob (“Ruby Robert”) Fitzsimmons was the former boxing champion of the world. Countess Zelin was a former operatic and dramatic star, turned evangelist and rescue worker.

She was also the current Mrs. Fitzsimmons – although the two had been living apart for more than a year.

The countess had been staying at the Davenport Hotel for weeks as part of her work on a “white slave” (prostitution) case.

Ruby Robert had just arrived in Spokane to appear in a vaudeville sketch at the Pantages Theater. He was staying at the Coeur d’Alene Hotel, but one day he went to the Davenport lobby to talk to reporters.

When he walked in, the countess happened to be sitting in the lobby. “Neither made any sign of recognition,” said The Spokesman-Review. Later, however, he walked over to the hotel desk and looked through the register. He pointed to her name and asked the clerk, “Do you know who that is? That’s my wife.”

He then told reporters that he did not see her in the lobby “and don’t know if I want to.”

“She left me after kissing me goodbye and never returned and never gave men any reason,” he said. “Maybe a divorce will come some day. I don’t know that there’s any hurry.”

The countess admitted she saw Ruby Robert in the lobby.

“He looked pretty good to me yet,” she said. “As a fighter he’s the finest in the world, but as a husband – never! I can never take him back as my husband, but I would like him to give me my freedom.”

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