If you ever saw the film, Sunset, which was about Wyatt Earp and Tom Mix solving a murder mystery in early Hollywood, the above line was one Earp (played by James Garner who had earlier played Earp in a western) said to Tom Mix about the stories told of his time in Tombstone. It suits a lot of history anecdotes.
The fascinating thing about Western history (or any history), is how many versions you can find with backup for multiple positions. It's one of the things that I enjoy about True West that it has these stories, giving both sides and looking at the evidence. This is such a story and what likely happened.
For a brief period of time in the Old West, a certain type of man felt his reputation was enhanced by victorious gunfights. It explains a lot of what seems senseless behavior where one man overpowering or killing another in a fair fight might make him seem more intimidating to others-- or was that more tempting.
Such a story was the one of John Wesley Hardin and the man known as Wild Bill Hickok with one version told by Hardin in his own book written in 1896. True or not? In True West, a segment called Investigating History by Mark Boardman, it looks as though it was not.
So in Hardin's version, it was Abilene, Kansas, 1871, the 18-years old Hardin claimed Hickok who was then 24 told him to give up his guns as he'd been getting loud, and it was against the law to carry them in Abilene. In his telling of it, Hardin claimed they went outside where he got the best of Hickok by doing a border roll but then didn't shoot him leading to the two men becoming best friends, 'knights of the prairie cut from the same cloth' so to speak.
Did it happen that way? Not according to research done for a book, Violence in the Old West, by Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown. Until this book, Hardin's was the only account of the confrontation with no witnesses or news stories backing it up. To further make it questionable, Hardin only told the story after Hickok had been killed in 1876.
The authors looked at other lies told by Hardin, Hickok's demonstrable ability with guns, and that Hardin had killed other lawmen; so why believe Hickok would be foolish enough to not be careful with a gun around Hardin?
There are even more reasons to doubt it when someone who was in Abilene that day told a different version in the saloon where Hickok walked in saying, "Arkansaw (his nickname for Hardin) you better put that pistol up before you let it go off and hurt somebody." According to the witness, Hardin did and that was all to the story. Not very exciting though to enhance an autobiography was it? Hence the embroidery.
It was true-- give or take a lie or two.