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

Unpopular, insolent and arrogant - but Tommy Burns was a champ

Eugene Corri, the famous English boxing referee, once described Tommy Burns as being unpopular, insolent and arrogant; his attitude earning him the titles “Emperor Burns.” or “Napoleon.” However, whatever personal qualities he may have lacked, for two years he reigned as heavyweight champion of the world.

For a heavyweight who stood only 5’7” and weighed just 175 pounds (79 kg), Burns had a remarkable record. In a career spanning twenty years, Tommy Burns (real name Noah Brusso,) lost only five times; winning forty-five of his fifty-nine bouts. He won the title in 1906, in Los Angeles, by outpointing Marvin Hart* , who before becoming champion in 1905, had earlier outpointed Jack Johnson.

Burns was born in Hanover, Canada, on June 17 1881. His father being French and his mother German, he became the first world heavyweight champion who was not of English, Irish or American descent.

Young Tommy was a first rate, all round sportsman, excelling at lacrosse, football, skating, swimming, basketball, and hockey. Burns took up boxing by accident. One night, he was a spectator at a special boxing night arranged by The Detroit Athletic Club, of which he was a member. One of the entrants failed to turn up and Burns volunteered to help out by taking his place. He went on to win his first public fight in the fifth round.

Spurred on by his success, Burns decided to concentrate on boxing. His first two official fights were against Frank Thornton, whom he knocked out on both occasions.

For a couple of years Burns continued to win, suffering his first defeat in Detroit in 1902 at the hands of Mike Schreck, who was considered a future world champion. Burns went undefeated in his next 18 fights and it was nearly two years before he suffered his second defeat against “Philadelphia” Jack O’Brien. Burns continued his winning ways, losing only to “Twin” Sullivan in 1905. Incredibly, he would lose only two more fights before he retired in 1920.

After Hart won the title, Burns began clamoring for a fight with the new champion. Hart considered Burns an easier opponent for his first title defence, than the likes of Jack Johnson and Gus Ruhlin, who were also pressing their claims. Hart paid the price for underestimating Burns and Tommy won easily on points.

Between February 1906 and August 1908, Burns defended his title 11 times. As well as two knockouts over Bill Squires, he also claimed the scalp of British champion Gunner Moir and knocked out the Irishman Jem Roche in one round.

After beating Bill Squires at Sydney Stadium, Burns went to Melbourne, accounting for Australia’s Bill Lang in six rounds. It was the last time Burns successfully defended his title. He returned to Sydney for his historic Boxing Day encounter with Jack Johnson. How Johnson taunted him and methodically pounded him to defeat, will be told later.

After his defeat by Johnson, Burns did not fight again until April 1910, when he was given a controversial points' decision over Bill Lang at Sydney Stadium. Over the next ten years, Tommy fought only five more times, before retiring in 1920. Of those he won three and fought a no decision contest with Canadian Arthur Pelkey. In London, in July 1920, he was knocked out in seven rounds by Britain’s Joe Beckett. Though Burns would later beat Beckett in a brawl, in a hotel corridor in Leeds, his official fighting career was over.

He became a manager, taking Jack Lester and Arthur Pelkey under his wing. Pelkey was beaten by Bill Lang at Sydney Stadium in 1914. He retired after Luther McCarthy died as a result of his bout with him.

Lester had several fights at the Stadium with mixed success. On one occasion he was billed to fight at the Stadium, whilst Burns was in Melbourne. At this time the Stadium was unroofed. Concerned about the size of the gate, Burns asked Lester to wire him as to how the crowd “rolled up." Soon after 8 o’clock, Tommy received a message from Lester that just said, “Thousands turned away.”

A delighted Burns retired to contemplate his percentage of a full house. Next morning he read in a newspaper, that a last minute thunderstorm had caused the postponement of the fight and that “thousands had been turned away.”

Burns tried his hand at many other ventures. At various times he owned a string of hotels in the north of England, became an insurance agent, a lacrosse promoter, cafĂ© proprietor, a hockey player and owner of a New York “speakeasy.”

In the early thirties, Tommy became plagued with arthritis and thought he would never walk again. He turned to religion for comfort and gradually his legs strengthened Drifting to the West Coast, he became a Pastor with the Church of Brotherhood of Universal Love, and began preaching in a little church in Seattle.

In 1946 Burns moved to California. He met a woman he had first fell in love with, 43 years earlier in Detroit. Their love was rekindled and they married in July that year.

Tommy Burns died from a heart condition in Vancouver, in May 1955. He had travelled to Vancouver from his home in California two weeks earlier, to enter a religious order.

*There has been some considerable discussion concerning Hart’s claim to the title.

When Jim Jeffries retired as champion in March 1905. He named Marvin Hart and Jack Root as leading contenders and agreed to referee their fight in Reno, Nevada., on July 3, 1905, with the stipulation that he would term the winner the champion. Hart, knocked out Root, in the 12th round.

Jeffries right to make such a stipulation has been called into question by many boxing writers, but at the time, Hart was generally considered world champion.

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

Pipe Bands To Title Fights

In August 1908, Sydney was a hive of activity and excitement. On August 20, the US Navy steamed into Sydney Harbour. Dockside crowds gave the visiting US sailors an enthusiastic welcome and thousands more lined the streets to watch the crews take part in a welcoming parade. That night, the stadium opened its doors to its first audience, for a performance by the Scottish pipe band, “The Kilties.”

Adding to the excitement was the fact, that in four days time, Sydney would stage its first world heavyweight title fight. The Burns - Squires fight, however, was not the first fight to be held at the stadium. That honor fell to two North Sydney brothers, Harry and Charlie Raff. The fight was a preliminary to the main bout between Sid Russell and Peter Felix, for the NSW heavyweight championship.

Harry and Charlie were both popular lightweights and arguments raged over who was the better boxer. At the special request of fight fans, McIntosh agreed to stage a six rounds fight between the two. He stipulated that he would not allow a points decision to be made., and that any bets on the result would be decided by a majority newspaper decision. At 3pm on Friday August 20, Harry and Charlie Raff came out of their corners and began an era that would last for sixty two years. The assembled journalists made Harry an unanimous winner.

The main event was scheduled for 4pm. To help promote the forthcoming world title fight, McIntosh engaged Tommy Burns as referee. A large crowd looked forward to an exciting bout between the two well-known heavyweights.

Felix (photo) aged 42, was a veteran boxer who had been fighting for fourteen years. Born in 1866 on the West Indian island of St Croix, Felix stood 6’ 3” and weighed 12½ stones (79½ kg). In 1899 he became Australian heavyweight champion by beating Bill Doherty in seven rounds. During the course of his career he fought most of the top Australian heavyweights of the time.

His biggest moment came in February 1907. Jack Johnson had arrived in Australia with the intention of fighting Bill Squires. However, Squires had made his way to America in pursuit of Tommy Burns and Felix stepped into the breach instead. The fight took place at the Gaiety Athletic Club in Castlereagh Street and was billed as “The Colored Heavyweight Championship of The World.” Johnson demolished Felix in less than a round, having sent the unfortunate challenger to the boards three times.

The 23 year old Russell was considered a valuable standby in the days of the Gaiety Athletic Club and National Sporting club. Russell had earned a shot at

the state title by virtue of wins over leading heavyweights of the day, such as Jim Griffin and Billy McCall.

The fight was scheduled for twenty rounds and the much younger Russell was declared the winner on points. The first title fight fought at the Stadium had been decided.

Less than 18 months after beating Felix, Russell would be dead. He went to England and France, and became popular amongst fight crowds. It was in France, that a promising career, was cut tragically short. In Paris, Russell contracted cerebral meningitis and died in 1910 aged only 25.

Felix won only one more fight after his encounter with Russell and retired in 1909. In 1915 at the age of 49, he made a comeback at Broken Hill. He was knocked out in two rounds by Bill Turner and never fought again. In 1926, aged 60, he died of heart failure at his home in Sydney’s Palmer Street.

“The Burns Boom Is On,” declared the newspaper ads, and it certainly was. Within a few days of going on sale at Paling & Co’s Music Warehouse in George Street, almost half the tickets had been sold. Demand for tickets was also heavy in Newcastle, Melbourne and even Auckland. Reserved seating cost £5, £3, £2 and £1, whilst a limited number of unreserved seats were available at 10 shillings.

Hugh D. McIntosh, Governing Director of Scientific Boxing and Self Defence and Managing Director of Sports And Amusements Ltd, had found another money spinner. From his office in Challis House, Martin Place, he planned a campaign that made Tommy Burns and Bill Squires household names, even amongst those who were not sports minded. Twenty thousand people would pay to see his “two man show.”

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

Jimmy Clabby - From Golden Days to a Sad, Lonely Death

Out of all the boxers who fought at Sydney Stadium in the early part of the 20th century, the charismatic, skillful and tragic Jimmy Clabby, would have to be one of my favorites.

A charmer with the ladies, dreadful with money, an inspiration to troubled kids who he encouraged and tried to set on the right path.

I wont attempt any formal structure in this post, his story can be told by various news articles. The idea of this post - and indeed the whole blog, is that it will be like rummaging through boxes in an old shop - you never know what you may find.

Place Of Birth: Norwich, Connecticut, USA
Date Of Birth: 14 July, 1890
Date Deceased: 18 Jan 1934
Height: 5’8”
Weight 158 lbs
Divisions: Middleweight, welterweight
Titles: Claimed world welterweight title (1910 -1911). Australian middle and heavyweight champion

Stadium Career Span: 1910 - 1921
Career Span: 1906 - 1923

Misc.: Known as the Lochinvar or Prince Charming Of Boxing.
Managed by Emil Thiery.

Fights at Sydney Stadium

Bob Bryant ko 7 02 Nov 1910

Mark Higgins ko 8 07 Dec 1910

Ed Williams ko 11 21 Dec 1910

Dave Smith lpts 20 17 Jan 1911

Arthur Cripps ko 15 18 Nov 1911

Tim Land ko 10 23 Nov 1911

Dave Smith drew 20 09 Dec 1911

Dave Smith drew 20 24 Feb 1912

Hughie Mehegan pts 20 10 Apr 1912

Jeff Smith lpts 20 06 Jun 1914

Eddie McGoorty wf 8 04 Jul 1914

Dave Smith ko 1 01 Aug 1914

Les Darcy lpts 20 23 Oct 1915

Fritz Holland pts 20 20 Nov 1915

Mick King pts 20 01 Jan 1916

Fritz Holland pts 20 04 Mar 1916

Dave Smith pts 20 20 May 1916

Les Darcy lpts 20 09 Sep 1916

Fred Kay lpts 20 27 Oct 1916

Tommy Uren lpts 20 17 Feb 1917

Tommy Uren pts 20 28 Apr 1917

Dave Smith ko 10 26 May 1917

Albert Lloyd drew 20 11 Aug 1917

Albert Lloyd lpts 20 01 Jan 1918

Fritz Holland pts 20 12 Jul 1919

Tommy Uren lpts 20 31 Aug 1919

George Cook pts 20 27 Sep 1919

Billy Shade lf 13 09 Apr 1921

Frank Burns koby 15 10 Sep 1921

Random Jottings

• Started boxing at the age of fourteen at the request of his father.

• In the USA he defeated Mike Gibbons, Eddie McGoorty, Sailor Grande, then toured England, Australia, New Zealand.

This information was taken from New York Police Gazette. (Clabby in fact made four trips to this country.)

• Involved in argument with Snowy Baker after “Cyclone” Johnny Thompson fought Tim Land.

• Also involved in weigh in incident “Cyclone” Johnny Thompson fight with Hughie Mehegan.

• Won many titles that he never assumed.

• In 1914 when Mike Gibbons, Jeff Smith, Frank Klaus and others claimed the title, it was generally conceded by boxing writers that Clabby was the uncrowned champion. (1)

• Spent all his money. When he last left Australia and returned to Milwaukee, he had only $10 in the bank, which a bank clerk suggested he left deposited.

• Worked with a crew of concrete workers on a road gang.

• Enlisted in AIF but never left Australia.

• Immensely popular and highly regarded by other boxers and fight fans.

• Fred Kay tells a story of how when he was playing cards with Clabby, he suggested he put some money away for when he was “old and grey”. Clabby replied “Son, I ain’t going to live to be old and grey”.

• “Solar Plexus” (Will Lawless) was critical of his fighting style. Other boxers conceded he was tricky, but they still held him in high esteem.

• When asked how he twice managed to last twenty rounds with Les Darcy, he replied that he wasn’t stupid enough to hurt him.

1. This is at variance with the meticulous boxing historian Bert Cox, in his account of George Chip and Cyclone Johnny Thompson

Article from publication. Title and date unknown (approx 1934)

JIMMY CLABBY Knew His Gloves

With the exception of Mike Gibbons Jimmy Clabby was about the fastest and smoothest worker in the middleweight division in the days of not so long ago.

Gibbons was always a thorn in Clabby’s side and one niche in the pugilistic Hall of Fame that Clabby just couldn’t squeeze into.

But that doesn’t mean that Clabby wasn’t a good boy. He was, and a very good boy at that.

And Clabby, himself said and knew that he was good - so good, in fact, that following the death of Stanley Ketchell, Jimmy ballyhooed himself as the logical successor to the crown. But he was not alone in this respect. No indeed, for no less than four or five other middleweight performers thought themselves of championship caliber and forthwith began to tell the world about it.

So Clabby had to join Klaus, Gibbons, McGoorty, Darcy and Chip, in the elimination contests to see who should justly wear the crown that was taken from the great Ketchell by death.

Clabby soon found that reaching the coveted goal was no easy matter. It was a tough grind and one filled with ups and downs for Clabby - mostly downs, as this little narrative will show.

Through a long and tedious process of elimination, which lasted until the spring of 1914, the boxers see-sawed up and down on the records of various clubs throughout America and Australia. Chip cleaned up Klaus twice, and won over Papke and Jimmy Gardiner.

Clabby had won over McGoorty and then went to the West Coast. While there the fast travelling Al McCoy broke right out in front with his sensational victories over such notable fighters as Noah Brusso (Tommy Burns), Willie Lewis etc., and it was McCoy who was matched with Chip for an alleged middleweight championship title. His knock out of Chip in one round in Brooklyn, April 7, 1914, remains vivid in the memories of thousands of fans today.

The most popular Mike Gibbons was a stumbling block in the path of Clabby. In their bout on January 21, 1915, in Milwaukee, upon Jimmy’s return from the coast, the older of the two famous Gibbons boys, then in his prime, tied Clabby into seventeen kinds of knots with the thirty minutes of electrical speed that the St. Paul boxer turned on.

Following this bout with Gibbons, the records of Clabby show that none other than Young Ahearn was the next boy to slip him the rollers. In six rounds in Philadelphia the same year Ahearn battered Jimmy to a happy day.

Having been made the subject of considerable discussion over his apparently poor showing in numerous bouts at that time, Jimmy protested through the columns of the press. In his opinion Mike Gibbons was the obstacle he was forced to overcome and towards this end he offered to place a side bet of anywhere from $5000 to $25,000 that he could defeat Mike over the long route - from twenty to forty-five rounds. No championship battle should be decided in a short distance bout was Clabby’s contention.

This bout however, was never arranged for one reason or another, and the next time we hear of Clabby he had been easily outpointed in a terrible encounter with his former rival, George Chip. This was of course, after Chip had lost to McCoy.

But there was no discouraging Clabby. A match between him and Al McCoy was finally consummated. It was at the Broadway Sporting Club in Brooklyn on May 4, 1915. It was a ten round affair, and for nine rounds McCoy stood like a hitching post and kept Jimmy on the hop as he jabbed him freely. In the closing round both of them mixed it hotly with everything but the kitchen stove, and when the fracas was over and the smoke of battle and cheap cigars had cleared away, the best that Clabby pulled down for his bother was an even break.

There is an oft repeated and now ancient adage which says that “A stitch in time saves nine.” If Jimmy had minded this in 1914, about the time he defeated McGoorty, Chip and Dave Smith, he might have been a champion. He was slipping that is sure, and he must have known it too. That was the time for him to take a rest and brush up a bit. That was the time for him to take the stitch in time. Be he didn’t.

It is seldom that a boxer of any real prominence is ordered out of the ring for a stalling. Seldom have they been brought before boxing boards for obtaining money under false pretenses, which is only a direct way of stating the fact. But this happened to Jimmy Clabby and George Chip.

In the eighth round of this bout, at the St. Nicholas Athletic Club in New York, May 12, 1915, Referee Billy Roche a veteran of the ring, virtually threw Clabby and Chip out of the ring after having warned them for stalling twice. The sensation this created in boxing circles was a lasting one. The New York State Boxing Commission sat on the case, with the result that both Clabby and Chip were suspended for one month.

Not that this interfered with Clabby’s progress in the ring. Suspending his boxing for one month in New York State meant nothing. His next match was in Oshkosh with Frank Framer. His reputation had been dealt a lasting blow from which no reputation can quickly recover, even in the prize ring. Whether or not Clabby was guilty of stalling will never be known. It would be strange if a boxer would admit a charge like that. But the confidence of promoters is shaken and other boxers have reputations to maintain.

We in Australia took kindly enough to Jimmy and he again became a busy middleweight boxer. Among the boys he met here were Fritz Holland, Tommy Uren, Les Darcy, Dave Smith, Albert Lloyd, Fred Kay. Darcy was his first opponent. In twenty rounds Les, who was then heavyweight champion of the Antipodes, handed James a nifty trimming, but did not stop him.

In 1916 Clabby defeated Fritz Holland and Dave Smith each in twenty rounds in Sydney, after which he knocked out Holland in six rounds in Melbourne. This elevated him a notch or two in the estimation of the fans, so that a bout was arranged for December with Fred Kay, one of the best men we had. Kay won over Clabby in twenty spaces, drawing the draw curtain over his record for that year.

It was against Tommy Uren that Clabby fought his first battle in 1917. Twenty rounds they boxed and Uren won the decision. Then in April all of Australia was aroused over the widely exploited and loudly heralded contest which was to bring together Uren and Clabby. Jimmy was advertised here as the American champion, and when the gates were closed there were many folk present in the role of witnesses. Clabby won in twenty rounds.

With his victory he went out and knocked out Dave Smith in ten rounds, met Uren again for twenty and won again, and foolishly made the mistake of taking him on again too soon. This was the same policy he had followed in the United States and was sure to spell ruin for him. It did. Uren defeated him in their last battle of twenty rounds. Subsequently, though unimportant by this time, Clabby met Lloyd twice to a draw and a win, and then knocked out Fred Kay, who had beaten him in twenty rounds a year before.

Shortly after this engagement, in 1921, he was defeated by Billy Shade in twenty rounds. From then on he was on the down grade. In the same year he was knocked out by Frankie Burns in fifteen rounds. During 1922 he failed to chalk up a win, his best showing that year being a draw with Joe Egan in ten rounds. In 1923 he staged his last battle of any importance and for his efforts in this tussle he was rewarded by being knocked out in two rounds at the hands of Morrie Schafler in Chicago.

That was about the last act in the drama of fisticuffs in which Jimmy played an important role.

It was only recently that poor Jimmy Clabby was reported dead. It is said that he died of starvation.

Article From Unknown Publication.

Jimmy Clabby A Fast Worker!




The “Connecticut Yankee” did not cause half as much disturbance at the Court of King Arthur as did Jimmy Clabby, a genuine Connecticut Yankee, when he betook himself to the King’s Domains in Australia on a far more modern date.

This calls to attention a peculiar fact regarding Jimmy’s record: while in this country he established himself as a leading figure in the most elite middleweight orders, but always something would happen at the psychological moment to check his progress toward a really outstanding position.

Yet, as soon as he arrived in the Antipodes he embarked upon a busy career which carried him onward and upward to the championship of the lands down under. True enough he did not hold the diadem very long, but one thing must be said in his favour - he was a real fighting champion while he lasted, giving the former title holder two return bouts in short order, the latter of which saw the title return to the ex-champion from whom Jimmy had taken it.

The quick passage of the title from the hands of the Connecticut man bespeaks his greatest falling. Jimmy - oh that the gods would give us a few like him these days - liked to fight too much. He burned himself out by working too hard in his too frequent matches, and just at the times he should have taken vacations to rest and recuperate from the strenuous exertion of his many battles, he would foolishly dig up a bout with some dangerous battler, and trouble aplenty would be forthcoming immediately for Mr. James Clabby

It was his utter disregard of common-sense procedure which prevented him from winning the world’s championship. In 1914, after he had beaten McGoorty, Chip and Dave Smith, he should have rested a bit before attempting further progress. Instead, however, he tackled Mike Gibbons early in 1915, and the things Mike did to him did not help his mental or physical condition at all.

Young Ahearn next gave him the rollers and a bit later George Chip handed him another like dose. Not at all discouraged, Clabby met Al McCoy, recognised title holder, for the championship, May 4, 1915. Had Jimmy been in the condition he knew at the time of his victories in the previous year he doubtless would have won the title, but as it turned out, the best he could earn was a draw. That fight was his noblest effort against the world’s middleweight crown.

Eight days after drawing with the champion, Jimmy took on his old rival, George Chip in New York, but the fight was not so hot. The referee threw the men out of the ring in the eighth round for stalling, and the commission suspended them for a month. Clabby headed west and met Frank Farmer at Oshkosh, Wis., but his reputation had been greatly lowered by the New York incident.

Jimmy then sailed for Australia and once there became the busy boy of old. His first battle was with Les Darcy, and James came out an indisputable second. That was a poor start, but the following year, 1916, Clabby beat Fritz Holland and Dave Smith each in twenty rounds, and later knocked out the former in six.

These victories increased his stock a few points and he was matched with Fred Kay, one of Aussie’s best. Kay won in twenty rounds. The year 1917 saw Darcy forsake his native shore and Australian title in favor of the States, leaving Tommy Uren as his logical successor. Tommy took a twenty round decision from Clabby early

that year, but in April they were rematched “for the Australian title.” The public seemed to like the idea all right, for they turned out nicely to see the American win the battle.

Clabby, fighting man that he was, went out in short order and knocked out Dave Smith in ten, beat Uren again in twenty, and - foolishly - gave the former title holder an immediate second return bout. This time Tommy took him for a ride over the twenty round decision route, and the defeat spelled curtains for the American.

Of course, Clabby later fought - and defeated - some other men, but his sun had set with Uren’s final victory, and such other showings as the Connecticut Yankee made were but faint reflections of the once considerable glory and brilliance with which he had shone.

Clabby, born in Norwich, Conn., July 14, 1890, had begun fighting at the age of sixteen, and at the time Stanley Ketchell passed from the picture in 1910, leaving the middleweight crown vacant. Jimmy was one of the leading contenders for it. But there were other claimants Klaus, Gibbons, McGoorty, Chip being the leading ones - and Clabby lacked just a little in the final analysis of being the best of the bunch. But he was a good man, a fighter and a credit to the sport.

Only one cloud remained in the sky after Clabby’s active career finally came to a close in Australia, and that was the charge of stalling with Chip in their New York bout. That one blemish is well nigh hidden from sight by the brilliance of his active, fighting record of some fourteen years

Extract From “Tommy Uren’s Life Story” (Bert Cox Collection, book 39)

· “Clabby never fought with “devil”. He was not the killer type. After a hectic rally he would pass some remark, generally paying his opponent a compliment for a good punch or cleverness.”

· “He could take an adverse decision as well as anyone I know.”

· “He was a likable fellow out of the ring. I consider he was responsible for the big boom in boxing more than any other. Not only was he the complete artist in the ring, he imparted his knowledge to many young fellows in the gymnasium.”

· “He assured every boy who sparred with him that he would not hurt. And he went to a lot of trouble to teach local sparring partners moves they had never dreamt off.”

· Clabby could grip the imagination of young fighters. He was the idol of hundreds. He did not worry about decisions or money. I have seen him giving away his money with a freedom that he showed he never thought that there was a tomorrow.

· Wherever he went, he radiated happiness and lifted the tone of boxing. He was never known to run anyone down in the game. He could say nice things about people when they were saying nasty things about him.

· Although Will Lawless, (“Solar Plexus”), trounced Clabby for some of his tricks in the ring, Clabby always declared that Mr. Lawless was a fine old gentleman who knew boxing.

· It was useless to argue with him on decisions. All Clabby would say would be, “Sonny, if you don’t think the referee an honest man, object to him before the fight.”

Extracts of Letter From Jimmy Clabby To Jim McDonald “The Referee” app. 1933

It’s freezing here and there’s a blizzard blowing…What would I give to be on Bondi Beach today with the sun shining and the warm sand and blue sky, and the boys shooting the waves…I’m coming back.

Article date 21 Jan, 1934, from the “New York Times” by Nathan Simms.

Fought Here, in London and in
Australia -
Earnings of $500,000
HAMMOND, Ind., Jan 19 (AP)-

The body of Jimmy Clabby, a quarter of a century ago recognised as the uncrowned welterweight champion of the world, and later one of the greatest middleweights, was found dead in a dilapidated hovel on the edge of Calumet City, near Hammond his home town. He died of starvation and exposure. He was 43 years old.

He had lived in this shack since his complete downfall two years ago, after the death of his father, a former saloonkeeper here.

Clabby had dissipated the fortune estimated at $500,000 earned in the ring. He fought from New York to Sydney, Australia, and in London. He made a trip around the world in 1910.

He achieved fame in Australia, returning there again in 1914 and winning several twenty round engagements. He won the Australian middleweight championship in 1917 by defeating Tommy Uren in twenty rounds and fought the same opponent three other twenty rounders that year.

In this country he fought middleweights and light heavyweights alike. Among his opponents were Mike Gibbons, Eddie McGoorty, George Chip, Dixie Kid, Paddy Lavin, Jimmy Gardner, Dave Barry, the Chicago referee who decided the Dempsey-Tunney fight at Chicago; Mike (Twin) Sullivan and all comers regardless of weight.

Clabby proudly boasted that he had never been knocked down or out. He violated all rules of training and his usual preparations for a fight was “A shave and a drink,”.

He is survived by his mother and three brothers, also his widow and three children, whose whereabouts are not known.

The following article is taken from The Hammond Times Jan 19, 1934 and obtained from the Indiana State Library, Indianappolis, USA.


However, Death Found Him Today In Pennilless Circumstances

James “Jimmy” Clabby, welterweight boxing champion of the world about twenty years ago, died suddenly at 10.15 o’clock this morning in a squalid, ill-furnished buildingat 217 Plummer Avenue, Calumet City.

He passed away in the arms Dr. Alva A. Young, of Hammond, one of Jimmy’s early backers.

Broken in health, dependent for a livelihood on the charityfriends and suffering from the ravages of disease caused by under-nourishment and liquor, Jimmy was only a ghost of the young man who took the world by storm with his consummate mastery at boxing more than two decades ago.


It was a sad ending for a man who had won thousands of dollars in the prize ring - a man who had once owned a string of thoroughbread racing horses and who was the toast of a doting nation.

Jimmy was unconscious when Dr. Young arrived at the place in response to a call from other “down-and-outers” living in the building.

He died without recognizing Dr. Young or any of his old pals surrounding him.

Jimmy was born in Norwich Conn., 42 years ago. His father, well-known in Hammond as “Pop” Clabby, was an iron worker and came to Moline Ill. In 1898 on a job. The family followed him. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Minneapolis.

The family finally settled in Est Chicago in 1901 where “Pop” Clabby, went to work for the Republic Iron and Steel company. A few years later they took up their residence in Hammond.


About that time, Jimmy began to show considerable proficiency as a boxer. He was encouraged by Dr. Young and other sportsmen of the city.

Jimmy finally reached the zenith of his career in 1910 when he was crowned the welterweight champion after defeating Jimmy “Dixie Kid” Gardener.

There followed a triumphal tour through the United States. Clabby soon amassed a fortune. Then he went to Australia where he became the middleweight champion and won another fortune. He purchased a string of race horses at that time and also set up his dad in the famous Hammond saloon which became famous throughout the country as “Pop Clabby’s Place,” Some of the leading sports lights of the United States paid visits to the saloon.

Jimmy finally returned to the United States with a beautiful Australian bride and after a short tour of the principal cities in the west, he came to Hammond where he was acclaimed as Hammond’s own.


Age and the inevitable end of boxers - aging legs - soon forced Jimmy from the ring. He lost considerable money on his race horses. That was the beginning of his adversity. From then on, the once-famous idol of millions of boxing fans began to decline in health. His fortune diminished rapidly.

In recent years, Jimmy finally went broke. His wife left him and he suffered the humiliation of being forced to beg from his friends.

About two years ago “Pop Clabby” was killed in an automobile accident at East Chicago. Jimmy was so affected by the tragic loss of his beloved father that he never was the same.

His last two years were pitiful things for the former boxing king. He scarcely managed to exist, depending on food and liquor on the kindness of his friends. His death today brings to a close a career that covered far-flung wealth and abject poverty.

The following article is taken from The Hammond Times dated Jan 20, 1934, and obtained from the Indiana State Library, Indianappolis, USA.


Death did not rob James “Jimmy” Clabby of the host of friends he made while he was the welterweight and middleweight champion of the world over 20 years ago; for they filed past his bier in Burns’ chapel on South Hohman Avenue, Hammond throughout the day, drying tear-stained eyes.

The Body will lie in state at the chapel until 2 o’clock Monday afternoon when funeral services will be held. Burial will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery. The funeral will be public and is expected to be attended by many of the famous people whom Jimmy knew initmately in his prime.

Surviving are the widow, Phylis; three children, James Patsy, and Phylis; four brothers, John Richard, and Lawrence of Hammond, and William of Chicago, and two sisters, Mrs James Bambrough, of Hobart, and Mrs Herman Homan of Hammond.

Jimmy died yesterday morning in Calumet City at 42 years of age. He was born in Norwich Conn. During his colourful life, he ran the gamut of riches and want.

Many of the persons whom he befriended and aided in his days of prosperity, remembered him in death with touching floral tributes. Others , unable to buy flowers, paid their respects in person. They shed loving tears over his silent form.

Jimmy was one of the greatest welterweight and middleweight boxers of his day. He fought them all and defeated most of them with ease. He appeared in aboxing exhibition before a king, fought in virtually every principal nation in the world, and was primarily responsible for popularising the sport in Australia.
While in the latter country, he won the middleweight championship and amassed a

fortune. He ran astable o thoroughbred horses and entertained lavishly.

Adversity overtook him in later years, until at last he knew want and deprivation. He was found dead yesterday morning by Dr. Alva A. Young, one of his early backers.


Simple funeral services for Jimmy Clabby, Hammond’s bid for fame in the prize fightworld, drew a crowd of about 300 relatives and friends this afternoon at the Burns funeral home.

Organ music and vocal selections by Berger Wedberg, night club and radio entertainer, were followed by the funeral sermon which was delivered by Rev. Frank Watkin, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene.

Recognized in the crowd were: Tom Sheehan, fight promoter; Johnny Coulon, former bantamweight cahmpion and Ollie O’Niell, well known fight fan of South Chicago.

Pall bearers were old friends the dead ring champion, John F. Laws, Walter Green, Tom Croak, Harry Kennedy, Art Kiestler, Joe and Ed Cross. Internment was in Ridgelawn cemetery.

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