Lewis' $25,000 bet, Sandow's bevy of $5,000 checks and the side bets expanded with the ballyhoo. On Dec. 17, newspapers reported that Tom Law, a Wichita, Kans. promoter, had wired Kearns the following message in New York: AM AUTHORIZED BY WICHITA ADVERTISING CLUB SUPPORTED BY FIVE PROMINENT OIL MEN TO OFFER PURSE OF THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR DEMPSEY-LEWIS MIXED MATCH. TO BE HELD IN WICHITA NOT LATER THAN JULY FOURTH NINETEEN TWENTY THREE. WILL ERECT ARENA SEAT FIFTY THOUSAND AT AVIATION FIELD. BILLY SANDOW HAS POSTED FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS WITH WICHITA ADVERTISING CLUB IN AGREEMENT TO STAGE MATCH HERE. WIRE ANSWER.
This offer prompted Kearns to keep the game going. He announced such a match was obviously the will of the people and that its realization within the next year was all but certain. Shortly thereafter, in Los Angeles, Sandow and Lewis were scheduled to meet Dempsey and Kearns to shoot publicity pictures and hash over terms of a contract. Only three of the four showed up. Lewis, now beginning the easy life which eventually led to his parting with Sandow, had been arrested and charged with assault while driving back from a party in Tijuana, Mexico. The charges eventually were dropped and the incident hushed up, but the key meeting never came off.
A couple of weeks later, according to an AP story out of San Francisco, Lewis disclosed that Sandow and Kearns had signed for the Wichita match, with Dempsey being guaranteed $200,000 and Lewis taking a share of the profits. But Law, the proposed matchmaker, denied such an agreement had been signed. After that, as abruptly as it had started, conversation on the subject all but ceased. Sandow tried to keep it going, claiming at one point that the owner of an aircraft company had agreed to build a stadium for the match in Tijuana. He later wrote one of his famous $5,000 checks on the possibility of a match in Kansas City. But the idea, probably beaten to death by the excess of publicity, claims and counterclaims, never caught on again. In 1927, after his partnership with Sandow had broken up, Lewis suggested a bout with a rising heavyweight fighter named Jim Maloney in Boston, but nobody took him seriously despite his offer to bet $10,000 at 10-to-8 odds.
Just why the mixed match never materialized is unclear. Sandow, now 85 and living in Portland, Ore., says he was always serious, as were Lewis and Dempsey. The difficulty, he says, was' Kearns, who had taken an earlier fling at the wrestling game and ended up losing money after one of his charges was "upset" in a big match. In truth, it appears that Kearns encouraged the talk for publicity purposes only (although he seems to have been tempted by some of the gigantic guarantees offered by Sandow, especially at the time of the L.A. meeting) and then abandoned the idea when it had been milked of all its potential. Aware of the history of previous boxer-wrestler encounters, Kearns—himself a master of the double cross—probably was just too smart to risk an engagement with a wrestler who might elect to "shoot," regardless of previous arrangements.