Les Darcy - Australian icon, died an American soldier

Place Of Birth. Woodville NSW
Date Of Birth. October 31, 1895
Date Deceased. May 24, 1917
Height. 5’6”
Weight. 147 - 165 lbs
Divisions. Middleweight, Heavyweight

Titles. Australian World Middleweight. Australian Middleweight, Australian. Heavyweight Champion

Record Won 46 Lost 4 (2f)

Stadium Career. 1914 - 1916
Career Span. 1910 - 1916

Fights At Stadium

Fritz Holland lpts 20 18 Jul 1914
Fritz Holland lf 18 12 Sep 1914
Henri KO Marchand ko 5 05 Oct 1914
Gus Christie pts 20 17 Nov 1914

Jeff Smith lf 5 23 Jan 1915
Frank Loughrey pts 20 27 Feb 1915
Fritz Holland pts 20 13 Mar 1915
Henri Demlin ko 5 03 Apr 1915
Jeff Smith wf 2 22 May 1915
Mick King ko 10 12 Jun 1915
Eddie McGoorty ko 15 31 Jul 1915
Billy Murray pts 20 4 Sep 1915
Fred Dyer ko 6 9 Oct 1915
Jimmy Clabby pts 20 23 Oct 1915
Eddie McGoorty ko 8 27 Dec 1915

George KO Brown pts 20 15 Jan 1916
Harold Hardwick ko 7 19 Feb 1916
Les O'Donnell ko 7 25 Mar 1916
George KO Brown pts 20 8 Apr 1916
Alex Costica ko 4 13 May 1916
Albert Buck Crouse ko 2 03 Jun 1916
Dave Smith ko 12 24 Jun 1916
Jimmy Clabby pts 20 09 Sep 1916
George Chip ko 9 30 Sep 1916

Career Record

Guv'nor Balsa. pts 11 1910 Thornton, Australia
Sid Pasco ko 2 1910 Maitland Australia
Tom Donohue pts 4 26 Jul 1911 Maitland, Australia
R. Fairbairn ko 4 30 Mar 1912 Newcastle Australia
Rhymer ko 6 06 Apr 1912 Newcastle Australia
Harry Emery pts 8 27 Apr 1912 Newcastle Australia
Tom Page pts 10 04 May 1912 Newcastle Australia
Jim Burns pts 4 24 Aug 1912 Newcastle Australia
Harry Richards pts 8 14 Sep 1912 Newcastle Australia
Peter Devon ko 6 21 Sep 1912 Newcastle Australia
P. Barnes ko 9 28 Sep 1912 Newcastle Australia
Dave Depena ko 9 04 Nov 1912 Newcastle Australia
Jim Burns ko 11 14 Dec 1912 Maitland Australia
Billy Hannan ko 18 15 Mar 1913 Maitland Australia
Reg Delaney ko 8 19 Jul 1913 Maitland Australia
Joe Shakespeare ko 7 27 Sep 1913 Maitland Australia
Billy McNabb pts 20 25 Oct 1913 Maitland Australia
Bob Whitelaw lpts 20 03 Nov 1913 Newcastle Australia
Jack Clarke ko 9 5 Jan 1914 Newtown Australia
Young Hanley ko 5 30 Jan 1914 Newtown Australia
Bob Whitelaw ko 5 21 Mar 1914 Maitland Australia
Billy McNabb ko 4 23 Apr 1914 Maitland Australia
Fritz Holland lpts 20 18 Jul 1914 Sydney Stadium Australia
Fritz Holland lf 18 12 Sep 1914 Sydney Stadium, Australia
Henri KO Marchand ko 5 05 Oct 1914 Sydney Stadium Australia
Gus Christie pts 20 17 Nov 1914 Sydney Stadium Australia
Fred Dyer pts 20 26 Dec 1914 Brisbane Australia
Jeff Smith lf 5 23 Jan 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Frank Loughrey pts 20 27 Feb 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Fritz Holland pts 20 13 Mar 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Henri Demlin ko 5 03 Apr 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Fritz Holland ko 13 01 May 1915 Melbourne Australia
Jeff Smith wf 2 22 May 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Mick King ko 10 12 Jun 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Eddie McGoorty ko 15 31 Jul 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Billy Murray pts 20 4 Sep 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Fred Dyer ko 6 9 Oct 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Jimmy Clabby pts 20 23 Oct 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
Billy Murray ko 6 1 Nov 1915 Melbourne Australia
Eddie McGoorty ko 8 27 Dec 1915 Sydney Stadium Australia
George KO Brown pts 20 15 Jan 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Harold Hardwick ko 7 19 Feb 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Les O'Donnell ko 7 25 Mar 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
George KO Brown pts 20 8 Apr 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Alex Costica ko 4 13 May 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Albert Buck Crouse ko 2 03 Jun 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Dave Smith ko 12 24 Jun 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
Dave Smith ko 11 16 Aug 1916 Brisbane Australia
Jimmy Clabby pts 20 09 Sep 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia
George Chip ko 9 30 Sep 1916 Sydney Stadium Australia

Australia’s Greatest Fighter And His First Real Boxing Lesson

It is almost inconceivable that the greatest boxer Australia produced in many decades should have ever had to sue for a match - should have had to go down on his knees to promoters, so to speak, and plead that he be given a chance to show his mettle. But even the great Les Darcy had a hard battle to obtain consideration and way back in June, 1914, The Referee published the following plea from Mick Hawkins, the Newcastle boys mentor. Can you give me any reason why Les Darcy isn’t given a chance by the Stadium people to prove his worth? He has done everything we have asked him to so far in a manner that leaves no doubt that he is a coming champion…. Darcy has won two tournaments in one of which he gave away over a stone, and has had eleven contests for ten wins and one defeat on points after twenty rounds to Bob Whitelaw, whom afterwards he knocked out in five rounds. I am willing to put him against any middleweight in Australia at the present time, and I am sure he will do himself justice.

Darcy at that time was what might be termed a half-time boxer. He was still following his calling as a blacksmith, and for most part did his training after working hours. He had certainly done all that was said of him, and although he had not been able to break into the big money in Sydney, the northern coalfields of New South Wales were behind him to a man. They did not think they had a champion in the making: they were insistent that they had a champion who would jump right to the top of the tree in one fight. But that is a way they have in Newcastle and Maitland. There are no more loyal communities in the world when it comes to boxing and the miners and their friends could see no defects in their champion. Consequently when Darcy at 18 years of age was matched to fight

Fritz Holland at the Sydney Stadium on July 18, 1914, the male population of two towns came to Sydney en masse. Special train services had to be provided, as was ever afterwards the case when Darcy fought in Sydney, to cope with the traffic and the crowd at the Stadium was one of the greatest that the arena was ever called upon to accommodate. It was even bigger than that which attended the famous Burns-Johnson fight and after the building had been jammed by experienced “packers” over 2000 gathered in the street outside and waited breathlessly for any news of the contest as it progressed. What a shock that crowd received! Essentially a Darcy gathering and one that could not see their man doing any wrong, the boxing lesson Darcy was given that night was anything but palatable.

They cheered their man’s untiring but relatively crude efforts; they hooted everything Holland did. But that did not get away from the fact that, strong and all Darcy was, his lack of experience made him an easy target in the hands of the crafty old general opposed to him. Despite that he was uncommonly tough, game and cool, Darcy was never quite up with his task. After the initial rush, Holland always kept him at a safe distance and more or less made him do what he wanted him to do. Now and again Darcy shook him with heavy punches, but using his left with precision and timing with wonderful accuracy, Holland was able to keep him at a distance most of the time. Damaging his nose early in the piece he pasted it with a stinging…..rounds, but although he landed many telling rights that were sent out with the idea of finishing the contest there and then, Darcy proved too tough for them to do any damage. Towards the finish Darcy knew he required a knock-out to win, but try as he did, he found the opposition too elusive. No matter how he crowded his man, Holland out-generalled him and although the Maitland boy finished up the stronger of the pair, Holland was a long way ahead on points.

Of course the coalfields crowd would not have that their idol had been beaten., but the fact remained that not only had he been beaten, but he had been given the boxing lesson of his young life. Certainly by a wonderful boxer and one who knew every trick in the game backwards, but beaten all the same. That setback, with the experience that went with it, did Darcy a world of good, although he was still handicapped by having to work in his smithy by day and do his training at night after a hard day’s work at striking. Still he was a very different fighter. There was more snap in his work; he moved with greater freedom, and was more aggressive and determined to get to close quarters. On top of this Holland had a keener appreciation of his mettle and fought with greater caution - too cautiously in fact for his own well being. For Darcy was determined to get close at all costs and a little more assertiveness on the part of the American might have enabled him to effect the strength of the opposition. Still he knew his man and was aware of his improvement since the previous meeting and it is quite possible that in all the circumstances he was content to see the journey through.

That there was never any real safety for him was obvious at every stage. Darcy outfought Holland just as convincingly as Holland had out-generalled and outboxed him in their first fight, and the American had to have all his senses alert all the time to prevent his youthful opponent landing a knock-out. Unfortunately Darcy lost that fight……not having been anything else for he was the fairest of fair fighters-that prompted his fouling Holland on at least three occasions during the eighteen rounds they were in the ring. As early as the third round he swung his left to Holland’s groin, and although the punch must have hurt the American made no complaint and the referee, despite that he could hardly have missed seeing it, took no action. Then again in the sixteenth session, he swung his left low without incurring the displeasure of the referee, but when in the eighteenth round, he repeated the performance for the third time a particularly unfortunate, but nevertheless glaring infringement, the contest was stopped and Holland declared the winner.

Darcy showed wonderful improvement in that contest and there is little doubt that had he kept his left glove away from Holland’s groin he would have earned a points decision and might have won with a knock-out, a happening that was a possibility at any stage of the later rounds of the battle. Even if the Maitland boy’s friends were satisfied with that showing - apart, of course, from the fouling - Darcy was not. He realised that he still had a lot to learn, and when an opportunity occurred for him to join Dave Smith’s training camp, he jumped at it.

His boxing with the ex New Zealander rounded off a lot of his rough edges, and when he again took the ring with Holland on March 13, 1915, the further improvement was most noticeable. His speed had increased, he hit more quickly and with greater precision and there was a material difference in his defence, with the result that Holland’s footwork and cleverness in fighting a rearguard action went for nought. The new Darcy simply overwhelmed the old Holland. All the wiles and all the tricks that had stood him in such good stead previously were offset by the aggressiveness of the Novacastrian and after the first round Holland realising that he had met his master, fought solely on the defensive.

With that wonderfully happy smile that was a characteristic of Darcy’s fighting at almost every stage of the game, he reveled in his work like a schoolboy at a picnic. It was a real pleasure to him and any move on the part of the opposition only spurred him…… Holland realising that there was a remote hope of winning with a knock-out, let go a punch capable of ending matters, but the harder Darcy was hit the harder he fought back.

This was a pleasing peculiarity of all Darcy’s subsequent battles and many a great fighter had cause to remember that it was not a paying proposition to hit him too hard. The master and the pupil almost became the pupil and the master that night and it was a wonderful tribute to Holland’s cunning that he was able to see the distance out. Youth, strength, aggressiveness and skill were all pitted against him and it was only his knowledge of the finer points of the game that made it possible for him to weather a fight that was one big storm from the start to finish.

The fourth and last of the Darcy-Holland series I did not witness. It took place in Melbourne on May 1, 1915, and resulted in another victory for the Australian. But strangely enough, although it was apparently upto the standard of their Sydney engagements, it did not please the good folk of Melbourne. As a matter of fact the referee almost accused them of not trying, yet when I saw Holland in Sydney two or three days afterwards, he was still showing signs of two blackened eyes, his mouth was cut and a bruise on his chin indicated where there had been a good sized “mouse” at the termination of hostilities. Whatever Darcy did afterwards a lot of credit must be given to Holland. He gave the lesson while he was still in his teens.

It showed him his shortcomings and prompted him to make those corrections and seek the improvement that developed him into the greatest middle and light-heavyweight Australia has seen for many, many years.

The following article is taken from an undated newsclipping, written by Jack Gell.

When a fight was made for Darcy

A Practical Joke and Its Consequences There is always an element of danger about a practical joke. There is no telling what the consequences may be. But about some, although the result to the individual may be more or less drastic, there is sometimes a laugh, although the humour of the situation may not be obvious at the time. And behind the farcical fight between the famous Les Darcy and Alex Costica on May 13, 1916, were the machinations of three confirmed practical jokers, who, as a result of their raillery of an otherwise sound boxer, sent him into the ring the finest sample of a cold-footer the Australian ring has probably ever seen, and were responsible for one of the greatest fistic fiascoes staged during the boxing boom that followed the Tommy Burns-Jack Johnson world’s championship fight in 1908.

A tall, olive-complexioned well-built young fellow, with a crown of jet-black hair that gave him an almost sinister appearance, Costica arrived in Sydney in April, 1916, along with Harry Stone, Buck Crouse and Eddie Moy, under engagement to the Stadium and as he had excellent performances to his credit in America and England and on the Continent, there appeared every prospect of his sojourn being a profitable one to employer and employee alike. A shrewd publicity agent gave it out that he had defeated such men as Johnny Summers and Johnny Basham in London, accounted for Albert Badoud, the welterweight champion of Europe, and held Mike Gibbons over ten rounds in America, and although this was not correct the atmosphere was created that he was a boxer likely to cause a whole heap of trouble in the middleweight ranks of Australia.

Now, at that time, the Stadium applied an extremely sound business principle to an importation - he was pitted against the best man of his class right away, so that after the fight the management was in a more or less safe position as far as his guarantee was concerned. They did not want doubtful profit-earners to fight longer than was absolutely necessary, and if they could gather in the reward promised the visitor, out them for nothing for the remainder of his contract. So it came to pass that Costica was at once matched to fight Darcy.

The Maitland middleweight was a sure guarantee of a bumper house, and the day and night of a contest in which he was one of the principals the Railway Department had to put on special trains to and from the coalfields. Measurements Although it would not have been safe to have suggested that anybody had a chance against the invincible Darcy, the men were fairly evenly matched - physically at any rate.

But there the eveness ended - on paper - although, on his performances abroad, Costica should have been able to have given a reasonable account of himself. The Roumanian, who had been working on shipboard and was fairly well, went into training right away, as he had only a couple of weeks to get himself properly attuned. And then the fun commenced. Eddie McGoorty, the great American middleweight (who took a lot of money out of Australia as a result of his fights with Darcy and other top notchers) was at the height of his popularity, and one afternoon along with “Red” Watson (a devastating little fighter, who sacrificed his training to the flesh-pots of Sydney, and suffered in earnings and popularity accordingly) and Tom Cubbit (erstwhile manager of Dave Smith, and still a popular figure in Sydney’s sporting world) visited the Roumanian at his training quarters. After Costica had “done his stuff” they remained behind for a yarn. “Know anything about this fellow Darcy?” McGoorty asked innocently.

Costica admitted his innocence, but hoped that he would be fit enough to make a decent showing. “Do you know what I think you ought to do?” Watson commenced. The Roumanian pricked up his ears, thinking he was about to get a useful tip as to the line of action to pursue, when Watson continued: “---------order a coffin!”

Costica smiled, but it was the smile of a man who did not appreciate the joke. “Yes,” interjected Cubbitt, “This fellows a terrible puncher. Killed a couple of men, and that sort of thing.” Hits All Over Costica Blanched, but said nothing “Yeh,” grunted McGoorty; “he’s got a fist as big as a ham” (which was perfectly correct), “and he doesn’t hit a man on the jaw - he hits them all over the face. I know because I fought him and my head’s still aching from where he got me.”

And so the kidding went on for half an hour or more, with “Red” Watson delivering the parting shot as they left the gymnasium: “What kind of flowers do you like?” he asked adding: “The boys are sure to ask when they’re ‘touched’ to put in for a wreath.” Costica’s enthusiasm regarding his prospects with Darcy ended there and then. The more he inquired of the prowess of the Maitland boy, the more he brooded over the hiding he was in for. He said nothing, but when Jack Munro visited his quarters to look him over, he saw that everything was not all right. He asked Costica if there was anything wrong, but the Roumanian assured him that he was doing well, and that he would be sparking on all cylinders on the night of the contest. Munro knew that something was being kept from him, but he could not fathom it. He suspected that Costica was scared - there was nothing out of the ordinary in that, seeing that almost every man who met Darcy worked himself into a similar condition - but the Roumanian had himself terrorised. Still, as he asserted that he was going along nicely, Munro could do nothing but wait and hope for the best.

Meantime he visited Costica fairly often, and did his best to cheer him up - told him what a nice fellow Darcy was, and tried to assure him that he had every chance of at least making a showing that would ensure good money for following fights. But the seed McGoorty and Co. had sown had taken too deep root, and when Costica called at the Stadium on the afternoon of the Saturday on which he was to fight, to be weighed, it was discovered that the Roumanians condition was the reverse of satisfactory. He was only 4 ounces over 11st, whereas he had expected to have difficulty making 11st 6lb, and under cross-examination it was discovered that he was suffering from bowel trouble. A doctor was sent for immediately, and when the trouble was explained, he gave him a mixture which brought him back to normal.

Carefully handled all the afternoon, Costica was almost human again when he returned to the Stadium at night. In his dressing-room he talked fairly cheerfully to his attendants, and was even capable of raising a smile when McGoorty, Watson, Cubitt and a couple of others sneaked into the room looking like professional mourners. “Well good-bye, Alex,” said McGoorty, gloomily, “You can’t say I didn’t warn you, can you?” “Good-bye, Alex old chap,” sobbed Watson, “it’s a pity you have to be taken so young.” “Good-bye,” whispered Cubitt, “I hope for your sake, that he gets it over quickly,”

And the procession filed out of the room, with heads bowed. Costica was his old self again - scared stiff, trembling all over, and in deadly fear that there might be something in what he had just been forced to listen to. And so it was that when a few minutes afterwards, he came out to face the smiling Darcy and a crowd of about 8000, he was the picture of misery - pale, drawn, care-worn, and scared of his own shadow. His olive skin was almost white with fright, and dark rings under his eyes threw his almost emaciated features into bold relief. A frightened rabbit would not have looked a daring cut-throat alongside him. There was not an ounce of fight in him. As a matter of fact, he was not fit to fight. Fright had done it’s work in deadly fashion.

The contest itself was a farce. Darcy had only to look the way of his opponent to get Costica on the jump, and the Roumanian did not land a decent blow while he was in the ring. He gave one of the finest exhibitions of cuddling ever seen at the Stadium and did his best to get himself disqualified for going down without being hit Every time Darcy came within reach he grabbed one or both arms and for the first round the Maitland boy treated his attentions as a joke. He laughed at the crowd over his opponents shoulder, and made not the slightest effort to free himself. But in the last ten seconds of the opening session he let himself loose, and Costica went to his corner with his nose damaged and bleeding freely.

Costica continued his cuddlesome tactics, and was content that these were keeping him out of harms way until Darcy with Costica clinging desperately to his right arm, slammed him on head and body and then, that arm tired, dragged his right from its vice-like grip and repeated the dose with that member. It was a pitiable spectacle to see the ease with which Darcy, handled him, and the pathetic efforts of the visitor to do nothing. Towards the end of the second round, Darcy chopped his right down on the opposing head and Costica dropped for the count of seven; but Darcy imagining that his man had been counted out, lifted him up and helped him to his corner. Darcy continued to drive, jolt, swing, and rip almost everything in his repertoire on to the pitiable object in front of him, and once when he swung a series of hard rights and lefts to the body and head, the Roumanian doubled in two, staggered back a few yards, and then, fully three seconds after the last punch had landed, sank to the floor within a second or two of the gong sounding. That heralded the finish.

One minute and 14 seconds after the fourth round commenced, Costica, after receiving two heavy batteries of punishment, went down twice for nine seconds, and the police ordered a cessation of hostilities.

On the night, Costica displayed none of the prowess or ability with which he must have been possessed. But he was doubly unfortunate - firstly in having an imagination and, secondly, in being selected by McGoorty and Co., as the subject of a practical joke. And it was only fun they were after, for Darcy was always too strong a favorite in the betting for them to hope to gain anything by frightening the opposition so that they could back the champion with greater safety. There was no need for that - there was never much risk attendant on giving the odds about the Maitland wonder

The following article is taken from, The Daily Telegraph dated May 10, 1946. It is an interview with Les Darcy’s fiancee, Winifred Hannan, (nee O’Sullivan)

For one woman in Sydney comparisons of boxing champion Vic Patrick with the great Les Darcy revive poignant memories of Darcy’s lonely death aged 21, in America 29 years ago. She is a charming grey-haired widow, Mrs. Winifred Hannan of Bennett Street, Bondi. As Winifred O’Sullivan, she was Darcy’s fiancee. She was with Les when he died in Memphis, Tennessee on May 24, 1917.

Mrs. Hannan is the sister of the New South Wales Transport Minister Mr. Maurice O’Sullivan and Mr. Jim O’Sullivan of Marrickville, both of whom were Darcy’s closest friends. The O’Sullivan brothers were among the 14,000 who packed Sydney Stadium eight nights ago to see Patrick knock-out Tommy Burns. Mrs. Hannan did not go to the fight because she has never been to a boxing contest in her life. But after the contest Mr. Jim O Sullivan joined her and her family at supper. The conversation inevitably swung to a comparison of Patrick with Darcy. Mrs. Hannan never went to the Stadium. “It wasn’t considered the right thing to do” she says. “But with Les’ mother and his other friends I used to go to training matinees held at the Stadium on the Thursday before he fought.

“I don’t know anything about boxers or boxing. Patrick and Burns may be champions, but to my mind there will only be one Les Darcy, only one person with all the wonderful qualities he possessed.”

Mr. Maurice O’Sullivan who was in Darcy’s corner for all of his big fights is just as emphatic. He says, “If Vic Patrick is as good in his class as Les Darcy was in his, I don’t think there is anyone in the world who will beat him.” Mr. Jim O’Sullivan says, “Vic Patrick is the best proposition as a non stop fighter since Les Darcy. “But how good was Darcy? No one knows.

He was 20 when he had his last fight. No one knows what a mighty man he may have been had fate spared him. “In the Burns-Patrick fight the huge crowd roared for Burns to knock Patrick out in the seventh round, and then stood and cheered for five minutes when Patrick knocked Burns out in the ninth. “Les was never in the position where he risked defeat at the hands of a fellow Australian. “All his greatest fights were against America’s best boxers. To the crowds which flocked to see their idol, defeat for Darcy was out of the question.

“On the afternoons of his big fights the bookmakers at Randwick bet on the fight - not who would win - but on how many rounds Darcy’s opponent would last. “After the fight the crowd used to wait for Les outside the Stadium and then carry him about shoulder high. “The only time Les was not favorite was in his second fight for the championship of the world with the American Eddie McGoorty, known as the “Oshkosh Terror” “Darcy won their first fight by a knock-out in fifteen rounds. For some extraordinary reason the impression got around that McGoorty did not try in this contest. “For this reason McGoorty was made favorite for the return fight.

“I was with Les just before he went into the ring for the second fight. I don’t think I ever saw him more determined. “His last words were: ‘Every one says McGoorty didn’t try the last time. Well, I’ll make him try tonight!” “Darcy won by a knock-out in eight rounds.

McGoorty had arranged a great victory party, but when the fight ended his handsome face was bruised and bleeding. “Instead of going to the party, he went from the Stadium to St. Vincent’s Hospital.” Over a cup of tea, the years were rolled back to 1915 and 1916, when Darcy was the idol of every Australian sportsman and schoolboy.

To Daily Telegraph reporter Merton Woods this week Morry, Jim and Mrs. Hannan harked back to the old days. Mrs. Hannan disclosed for the first time her death-bed meeting with Les in Memphis, told of the great boxers last tragic moments. Morry and Jim disclosed for the first time that they were confidants of Les in his decision to stow away on an American bound ship.

Darcy was the second son in a family of 11, a devoted son and brother. It was his sense of responsibility to his family that set him on the path which ended in his tragic, untimely death. As a boy of 19 and 20 he defeated the best American boxers who could be bought to Australia. He was proclaimed the middleweight champion of the world. He was offered huge sums if he would go to America and fight there.

Because he was of military age, the Australian Government refused to let him go; maintained this attitude even after Darcy offered a £5000 that after six months in America he would return and enlist or go to France and join the A.I.F. On his 21st birthday (October 28, 1916), Darcy stowed away on a ship leaving Newcastle. He worked his passage as a stoker, but received a welcome fit for a king when he landed in New York. Tex Rickard, the great promoter, who “made” Jack Dempsey, and other leading US promoters vied with each other to place Darcy under contract.

His popularity slumped after a few weeks. Public resentment at the manner in which he left Australia spread to America. He was barred from boxing in New York, Chicago, and other US cities. When America entered the war, in April, 1917, Darcy took out US naturalisation papers and enlisted in the US air Corps. He was then granted permission to have five fights during his training as a pilot.

A few weeks before Darcy died, Mrs. Hannan (then 19 year old Winnie O’Sullivan) arrived in Hollywood on a holiday visit with Australian actress Lily Molloy then hailed as “Australia’s Mary Pickford,” And Miss Molloy’s aunt, Miss Mary Dwyer. Miss Molloy was Australia’s leading film star of the day. She played with Reg L. (“Snowy”) Baker in “The Enemy Within” and other Australian films of the last war years and the early twenties. They were in Hollywood when Mrs. Hannan received a telegram from Mick Hawkins, Darcy’s trainer, which read; “Les is sinking fast in a private hospital in Memphis. Please come at once.” Within two hours Mrs. Hannan and Miss Dwyer were on a trans-continental train.

The journey to Memphis took three days. They arrived two days before Darcy died. “It was a dreadful experience for me,” Mrs. Hannan says. “Even now, after all these years it upsets me to think about it. “When Les enlisted the US Air Corps Doctor who examined him described him as the most perfect man physically he had ever seen. “But when I reached the hospital he had been so ill and lost so much weight that he looked just like a little boy. “He was thrilled to see me and asked about his mother and his friends. After my visit he seemed to pick up, and the doctors gave him a chance of recovering.

“Next day, when Miss Dwyer and I called on him, his condition was worse, and the sisters at the hospital pressed us not to stay too long. “We said good-bye and told Les we would call next day. We were just walking out of the ward when the sisters called us back. Les died just after we reached his bedside.” Mrs. Hannan travelled back to Australia on the “Ventura,” the ship which brought Darcy’s body back to his homeland.

Americans who in life had ostracised and reviled him, honored him in death. Mounted police, bands, and hundreds of cars followed his flag-draped coffin through San Francisco streets before it was placed on the ship. Mrs. Hannan and her brothers, Morry and Jim, were with Darcy just before he sailed to America. Darcy said good-bye to them at the O’Sullivan’s Lord Dudley Hotel, Woolahra, where Darcy made his home while in Sydney.

He stowed-away at Newcastle the next day. Describing the parting, Mr. Jim O’Sullivan says: “Les used to play the fiddle a bit. Just before he left to catch the night boat to Newcastle he played us a few tunes. “Then he handed me the fiddle and said, “I’m going away for a while, Jim. Will you keep my fiddle for me?” “That’s all he said, but I knew what he meant. I shook hands and wished him good luck

Article on Les Darcy dated January 12, 1945, newspaper not known

Michael Evans, a second hand dealer, was cleaning out some junk from an attic storeroom. The frame of a battered water colour was the only item worth salvaging. He ripped off the brown paper back of the picture. Wedged beneath it as padding were two yellowed newspapers. One was a Stadium “blurb” sheet dated November 1916.

The item was a vicious 1200 word attack on Les Darcy, “The flappers ideal and the schoolboys hero.” “It can be fairly said that Les Darcy has evaded the military authorities, set aside his kinship with the gallant men of Gallipoli, scorned his obligations to his King, his flag and his country and answered the call of his god - the god of Mamon in America.” “Darcy was needed. One Darcy in a battalion, and that battalion would march to the battlements of hell, if need be, to distinguish it as Darcy’s battalion

“Last Thursday, Darcy in a published interview said he had no intentions of going to America while the war was on. However, on that very day he left Sydney ostensibly for Newcastle. It is peculiar, but nethertheless true, that an American tramp steamer the Hattie Lickombale left Newcastle for Inique, Valpariso or some other Chilean port.

“One story is that a well known ‘Shanghaier’ put the acid on Darcy and got him aboard as a stoker. The ship is supposed to have sailed out of port on Thursday, which means that Darcy according to reports, just missed being called up by the Commonwealth Defence Act, by two days, as he came of age (21) on Saturday 28 October.[1] “Although he has forfeited practically all claim to being called an Australian in the future, in the true sense of the word, every Australian will continue to watch his career wherever he is and when he fights they will almost to a man put their money on him.

Other points in this article:-
· Travelled under the name of James Dawson
· Thousands of blurb sheets were sent to the US, resulting in Les Darcy being branded a slacker. · This particular extract was thought to be the only copy in existence. · The author of the article was never identified.

[1] This contradicts a previous article which claims he stowed away on his birthday.

Unidentified report summary of the Darcy/McGoorty battles.

…So deadly was the McGoorty hook, that he was known as the “Oshkosh Terror,” The first time that they fought McGoorty hit Darcy more heavily than any opponent had done previously, but Les did not feel more than a little dazed. Darcy whipped him so severely stopping him in the 15th round, that some spectators said McGoorty did not do his best. This was disproved when they fought again.

McGoorty was in perfect condition and 17,000 people wedged into the Stadium to see the fight. Darcy smashing away to the body had McGoorty hanging on from the first round. Darcy blocked the hooks and the contest swung along at a terrific rate. In the 4th round a deadly hook exploded on Darcy’s jaw, but appeared to have no effect. In fact the battle swung the other way, for it was Darcy who became the , hooker and he dropped McGoorty for six in round eight. The towel came from McGoorty’s corner. The “Oshkosh Terror” had been most brilliantly outclassed by the Australian.

Random Jottings

• Had a superstition when fighting at Sydney Stadium. He would walk into the little office with his cap and sweater on and talk with Jim Taylor for a few minutes. The night he fought Harold Hardwick he entered the office after he had knocked him out in seven rounds. He was holding his two front teeth by the roots, which Hardwick had knocked out with a crashing right. Hardwick asked if he could keep the teeth. Darcy said he would like to consult a dentist to see if he could put them back. He did.

• Offered a £1000 guarantee he would enlist.

Before he died he joined the Tennessee National Guard as a thank you for the kindness he received from that State. Shortly before he died, the US War Dept. Federalised the unit, therefore he died an American Soldier.

• Always fought with the Australian Flag in his corner.

• Margaret Darcy died 1929. Buried in same vault.

• Ned Darcy died 1936

• Jack Darcy became a main event fighter. In 1994 he was 92.

• Winnie O’Sullivan married in 1922. Her husband died five years later. She did not marry again and died in 1974. Age 76.

• Frank Darcy died in 1919 from influenza whilst preparing to fight Tom Uren.

• Mick Hawkins trained fighters including George Mendies. Worked on the wharves at Newcastle and Sydney. Died in June 1959, he was in his mid seventies.

• Snowy Baker faced a committee of inquiry in Maitland in 1917, that officially cleared him of any implication in Darcy’s American problems. Died in 1953 age 69.

The above information came from various sources including newspaper clippings and Ruth Park’s “Home Before Dark”.

Copyright Mike Hitchen, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved