Sports journalist, Ed Fitkin, worked in print journalism at Toronto’s Daily Globe would find his niche and fame in ice-hockey. Fitkin became the public relations director for the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens after World War I, would write several books about hockey and eventually transitioned to Canadian Broadcasting Company radio with CJBC in Toronto for an eight-year run on Hockey Night in Canada. His greatest fame would occur during 1967-69 as the first television announcer for the Los Angeles Kings while holding simultaneous positions as public media director for the Kings, Jack Kent Cooke’s Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and Kent’s Los Angeles soccer team, the Wolves.
According to Fitkin, one could enter Bill Crawford’s establishment, circa 1938, on Toronto’s Richmond Street and meet a group of pugilists who fought before World War I called the Old Pals Club. Amongst the older pugilists was boxing emeritus, 80 years-old, Jack Moriarty, who was the last survivor from Toronto’s glory days when “reputations didn’t mean a thing as long as the money on the line was worth the effort.” Younger local pugilists and admirers of the sport were regaled by stories of men who fought without gloves while dodging law enforcement. Fitkin offered journalist tribute for the alleged 1880 Canadian lightweight champion.
“Jack Moriarty” was born John Moriarty in Deptford, South London, England on March 20, 1857. The father’s name was John Moriarty Sr. of Ireland who worked at a chemical factory. The mother’s maiden name was Catherine Lang of Ireland. Moriarty Jr. was 22 years-old while his bride, Eliza of Collingwood, was 17 years-old when they married in Toronto, Canada on January 6, 1881. Great-granddaughter, Cindy Brennan, has provided a birth, marriage and death certificate for her pugilist kin. John Moriarty Jr. was sometimes referred to as “Johnny Moriarty” but mostly fought under the professional name, Jack Moriarty.
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The 1880 Canadian lightweight champion, or at least viewed as best of the region was an Englishman named, George Fulljames. He was born in London, 1852, and arrived in Toronto with his brother, Billy, in 1869. Fulljames had fought three times as a teenager on his homeland compiling a 1-0-1 record. Fulljames had a win and draw and a bout stopped by law enforcement. Both brothers were gloved boxers in Canada. George Fulljames stood 5’4 ½ and 122 pounds. Other lightweights such as Billy Madden and Professor Wood claimed the ‘Champion’ title because spectators like fights while George Fulljames was mostly reputation mixed with inaction. Fulljames fought two high profile battles during the 1870’s in Toronto. The first was against another celebrity lightweight of the time, George Collins, won by Fulljames. The other June 29th, 1880 Toronto gloved battle was a classic 18-rounds Draw against Jack King of Troy. (The new Irish bare-knuckle Champion, Paddy Ryan, acted as referee.) With only five fights to his credit and a record of 2-0-2, along with a police intervention stoppage, George Fulljames, retained the reputation as Canada’s lightweight Champion of 1880 or at least their most popular and esteemed pugilist. Fulljames referred to himself, not as Champion but: “King of his castle.” It was at this time a lightweight boxer who would ultimately be viewed as the one of the greatest in history arrived from Ottawa named Harry Gilmore. It appeared the two might not battle as Gilmore had difficulty obtaining sponsorship or financial backing while Fulljames refused to fight for $300 and insisted $1,000 instead. Meanwhile, Fulljames had agreed to fight Frank White for $300 in New York City. They were both listed as featherweights with White weighing 114 pounds. The threat of law enforcement spooked Fulljames so he twice postponed the encounter.
As Harry Gilmore’s reputation in Toronto blossomed there was increased gossip that Fulljames was avoiding a showdown. The anticipation created George Fulljames versus Harry Gilmore as the first rivalry in Canadian boxing history. The changing of the guard occurred during the summer of 1882, when Fulljames was technically knocked out by failing to rise in time versus Gilmore.
In May of 1883, the Gilmore/Fulljames rematch was the first billed as a Canadian lightweight championship bout encounter. There was a certain irony because Fulljames had left Ontario to live in New York City where he opened a sports tavern. Fulljames returned to Toronto as they glove battled on September 17th for the Canadian title. Fulljames was the aggressor throughout the 1st round and drew the first blood. Gilmore easily dominated the 2nd round battering Fulljames around the ring. There would be no 3rd round as police intervention halted the proceedings with both boxers arrested.
Harry Gilmore was referred to as “Canadian lightweight champion” in a December, 1883, Toronto newspaper story about a heavyweight sparring exhibition at Albert’s Hall between local, Jim McDonald and the entertainment pugilist headliner, Jack Stewart. Several hundred patrons viewed a boxing bout between Kennedy and an unnamed Black pugilist. Professor Joe Pop acted as master of ceremonies. The highlight of the evening was a sparring session between lightweight, Paul Patillo, and the larger McDonald. Spectators were delighted and amused as the popular lightweight demonstrated defensive sparring. Toronto Daily Mail: “(Our) Paul danced around McDonald with a ferocious air, right fist first, and more than held their own.” Spectators interviewed by the paper bemuse that Patillo might want to spar future smaller pugilists.
Jack Moriarty fought and lost an 8-rounds gloved contest to Mark Checkley at Albert Hall in March, 1884. Checkley was a well-known character from the Toronto region. Checkley prided himself on his courage best known as the lion-tamer at the Toronto zoo. He had also been boxing with an eye on the Toronto championship label since 1881 with a 9-minute gloved battle via bare-knuckle rules versus George Graham. For Moriarty, fighting someone of renown, even in defeat, raised his own public profile.
A horrific April, 1884, story was reported of Jack Moriarty being dismembered with both arms severed off the body. Toronto Daily Mail: “By slipping on the G.T.R. track at Cobourg, and being run over by an engine, turns out to be ‘Jack’ Moriarty, the West-end boxer. He was at the time on his way to Peterboro, where a boxing class had been got up for him. Moriarty was a plucky and manly fellow as well as a clever boxer, and news of the accident shocked those who knew him.” Fortunately for Moriarty, but not someone else’s family the newspaper had identified the wrong person.
BoxRec lists an April 3rd, 1884, exhibition bout between Paul Patillo versus Jack Moriarty at Albert Hall. The Globe was their source for this 6-rounds Draw. I attempted to confirm via the newspaper and library system. The Globe never responded while the library wrote it would cost $220 for them to ‘maybe’ confirm. Outrageous! I am an unpaid American kindly doing history work for Canada. If a Canadian asked America’s National Library of Congress a similar question it would promptly be answered for free. I asked the Moriarty family living in Ontario if they would make the 2-hour drive to research the newspaper; since it is their kin. They said maybe – and then declined because it was too much hassle. Canada’s library wanted $120 for a one-year library card since I am an American and another $100 an hour for research fees.
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Charlie Lange versus Jack Moriarty (5/29/1884)
When those would gather at Toronto’s Old Pals Club of the 1930’s, the 81 years-old, Jack Moriarty was an admired man who courted boxing fans who wanted to hear tales of the “Canadian Lightweight Champion” who “Never Lost A Bout” during the days pugilists were real men who fought without gloves while avoiding police intervention. The most popular story in Moriarty’s repertoire was his Toronto bout against Cleveland, Ohio, heavyweight, Charlie Lange. Like so many boxers in this 2014 article Lange was once a well-known pugilist whose fame eroded over time. Lange’s fights were reported in the New York Times. There had been hype and hope of a Lange matchup with middleweight champion, Jack Dempsey. Lange had defeated two of the greatest black pugilists, former Coloured Champion Professor Hadley and McHenry Johnson in Ohio. The White heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan, gobbled most of the headlines but also popularized boxing for others to make money. Lange, following in the footsteps of Champion Sullivan, toured and challenged spectators or aspiring pugilists to survive four rounds for money. Lange’s tour brought him to Albert Hall in Toronto where he held court for several Wednesdays during the spring of 1884. The Leader-Post (Toronto – 10/22/1938): “The best story in (Moriarty)’s stock, though; goes back to a raid on Albert Hall in the 80’s when Jack stayed six rounds with gloves on against Charlie Lange and was sentenced to six months in jail for doing it. He never did serve the sentence.”
Unfortunately, it says something about the mediocrity of Moriarty’s career that the boxing bout most fondly remembered was an ass-kicking when he received such a tumultuous beating that it nearly led to the abolishment of boxing in Toronto. It can be truthfully added that Moriarty fought bravely in defeat. According to the 1938 story the May 28th challenge by Lange was $100 for anyone that could last six rounds. It was actually $25 for four rounds. The 1938 story states that Moriarty lasted the distance and won the money. Actually, he was officially knocked out and unfairly lost the wager.
But Moriarty’s 81 years-old pride can be appreciated by anyone who has laced on gloves, or merely aspired, because for two rounds the fans were wildly cheering the underdog challenger. It was a night of Manly Arts at Albert Hall that began with sparring amongst local Toronto boxers. This was followed by a wrestling match that included Charlie Lange’s corner man, O’Donnell. Another minor boxing bout followed which led to the main event. An 1884 newspaper description offers a Goliath vs. Davey match-up: “Lange is a tall, muscular athlete, and formed quite a contrast to the light and nimble (Moriarty).”
ROUND 1: To the surprise and delight of spectators the smaller pugilist is the aggressor. He stands in front of Lange and lands some hard punches. Lange had likely not known Moriarty’s boxing reputation and tough guy persona. The Cleveland heavyweight had been expecting to chase anyone willing to collect the $25 and was “dazed” as the challenger out-boxed and out-punched him.
ROUND 2: For three minutes Moriarty would relive forever in his mind as he continued to surprise Lange and the crowd by his fearless slugging and boxing superiority. Not only had he survived two of the four maximum rounds but would easily be the victor if the bout were stopped. But he had also expended a tremendous amount of energy while awakening an angered, experienced heavyweight.
ROUND 3: A fatigued Moriarty began to avoid Lange to preserve fading energy. Lange caught the smaller pugilist who began holding and clinching. The crowd was thrilled and shouting with delirium. Lange’s frustration at being outsmarted while losing the wager led to outrageous behavior that should have received disqualification, but then Moriarty would not have a great boxing story for admirers 50+ years later. The Cleveland heavyweight “flung (Moriarty) heavily on the stage, regardless of the fact that the match was under Marquis of Queensbury rules.” The bout became out of control as Detective Brown and posse of police surround the stage. The referee was unable to separate the dirty action between the two pugilists. Whether the actual limit had elapsed ‘Time’ was wisely called in an attempt to regain control. Moriarty was truly at a disadvantage with the referee hired by the celebrity pugilist from America. The added physical brawl completely exhausted the smaller local pugilist who had won the heart of the crowd. Detective Brown warned both fighters that he would stop the bout if the illegal behavior continued. The referee explained to both fighters Marquis of Queensbury rules and that he expected them to abide.
ROUND 4: “(Moriarty), although most done up, toed the mark gamely for the last round.” The next couple of minutes would produce one of the most infamous savage beatings in Canadian boxing history. The large American knocked down the local pugilist over and over. The bloody-faced Moriarty refused to concede and continued to rise. Could anything be worth such pride for a $25 wager? Perhaps Moriarty felt with every knockdown blow received that he was closer to the money. The referee should have stopped the bout but for undetermined reasons allowed it to continue. The round mercifully concluded so Moriarty was truthful a half-century later that he had “stayed” the distance.
Unfairly displaying prejudice for a celebrity that employed him the referee ruled that Moriarty had been knocked out. Lange, despite blatant cheating (which encouraged Moriarty to cheat) was declared both the victor and winner of the wager. The commotion of the crowd aroused confusion for Detective Brown as his police entered the ring to arrest the pugilists and Lange’s corner man. Moriarty realized arrest was imminent and hurried from the ring and Albert Hall “half-dressed” as two younger police offers unsuccessfully chased after the local fighter. Charles Lange and his corner man, O’Donnell, were both arrested and placed in jail on $1,500 bond with a court appearance set for the following day. A special order arrived in the middle of the night by Toronto mayor, Arthur Radcliff Boswell, allowing their early release.
On June 6th, Lange, O’Donnell and Moriarty appeared in court. Detective Brown, a journalist and two policemen offered testimony. Lange was sentenced to $40 and court costs or 30 days in jail. Moriarty fondly remembered being sentenced to 6 months in jail (which he avoided). The judge imposed no punishment toward Moriarty because he had not begun the illegal brawl nor profited since the referee awarded knockout victory to the American heavyweight. “It was shown that although Moriarty had been a principal in what was intended to be a sparring exhibition, he had received all the punishment when the contest degenerated into a fight, and offered to stop when requested to do so by the detective.”
On July 28, 1884, Harry Gilmore defeated Paul Patillo for the lightweight championship of Canada. By November, Canadian newspapers were listing both Harry Gilmore and George Fulljames as the lightweight champions of their nation. The newspaper stated Fulljames hoped for a gloved title bout with Paul Patillo. On December 23, 1884, Billy Hawkins dominated Patillo in a gloved bout. Patillo was humiliated and unable to do much in the ring. Following the bout Patillo refused to shake Hawkins’ hand in defeat which earned the anger and wrath of the crowd.
Winnipeg Free Press (2/18/1885): “Toronto – Paul Patillo and Jack (Moriarty) are both out with challenges to Billy Hawkins, which makes five altogether anxious to fight him for the lightweight championship.”
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Billy Hawkins versus Jack Moriarty (3/14/1885)
The location was a hand-ball court on Saint Antoine Street in Montreal, Quebec. There were police and journalists amongst the spectators for the illegal the fight-to-the-finish boxing bout. The prize money was for $20 a side and the receipts of the paying spectators. Moriarty weighed 146 pounds. Hawkins weighed 145 pounds. Moriarty possessed a rugged face and physical appearance that one thinks proper for a pugilist. Hawkins’ misleading physical appearance was that of a mischievous schoolboy on a lark.
ROUND 4: Jack Moriarty was a classic stand-in-your face and throw punches while absorbing punishment pugilist, with some head movement. Billy Hawkins was one of the greatest (and vastly underrated) lightweights in history. Hawkins could punch with anyone of similar build and weight class while out-boxing everyone. Moriarty was game, but Hawkins had been patiently setting up his foe. All four rounds began with Moriarty as the offensive aggressor with Hawkins on defense: “Hawkins playing a waiting game.” Moriarty stepped forward to punch while Hawkins countered with steady left jabs to the face/eyes. A trap had been set by Hawkins that he sprang with a left jab feint: “(Hawkins) hit out with his right catching Moriarty on the body, and following it up with a stinging blow.” Moriarty was stunned, with a bloodied face, but his offensive aggression had him stepping forward. The blood transferred from Moriarty’s face to Hawkins’ nose as the offensive man pressed. The pugilists closed together in a clinch until ‘Time’ was called.
ROUND 6: The bout was leaning in Hawkins’ favor, but the gritty determinedness of the offensive Moriarty possessed, “A puncher’s chance,” which kept spectators/gamblers (hopping up-and-down to remain warm) intrigued. This round was the most exciting of the bout with pugilists exchanging punches throughout.
ROUND 8: Moriarty continued his aggression until he landed perhaps his best face punch of the bout. It would be Moriarty’s last gasp. Hawkins responded with aggression to put his opponent away: “(The punch received) only served to arouse Hawkins to still further endeavor, and he beat his man all over the ring.” Moriarty was exhausted, wounded and ill until he engaged a clinch which the tired Hawkins could not break until ‘Time’ was called.
At this point it was obvious that Hawkins would win the bout. The pugilists must decide how long to continue in miserably cold weather conditions. Hawkins had injured his right punching hand so what remained was his left jab. Moriarty’s warm blood must have provided relief to both freezing fighters. If any pugilist in boxing history did not mind being bled on by an opponent it was Hawkins. The pugilist’s exhaling breath appeared a fog. Spit would turn to ice before gravity pulled it to the ground. New York Clipper: “The umpire then came forward and stated that Moriarty felt sick, and he declared the fight in favor of Hawkins.” Billy Hawkins – TKO 9.
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On March 28, 1885, Harry Gilmore fought Billy Hawkins in a 6-rounds gloved Draw. Spectators felt Gilmore was the better fighter, but the referee made his decision. Any American boxing historian is simply going to list the bout with no idea of the history of Canada or the build-up to opponents so they treat this confrontation matter-of-fact or inconsequential. For the 19th century fans of Canadian boxing and spectators of Ottawa that day it must have been a great, exciting confrontation between their best two lightweights. The outcome was disappointing.
The St. Paul Daily Globe (12/28/1885): “Harry Gilmore failed recently to knock out Mark Checkley out of time in 6 rounds at Toronto. The failure entailed upon Gilmore the loss of a purse and the gate receipts.” It cannot be determined who won or lost the bout, but only Gilmore lost the gambling wager. Gilmore still retained the reputation as Canadian lightweight champion.
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Harry Gilmore versus Paul Patillo (1/6/1886)
The Canadian lightweight championship bout is held at Toronto’s Albert Hall for 400-500 spectators. The Champion, Gilmore, weighed 133 pounds. His corner men are Maurice Casey and Professor Joe Pop. The challenger, Paul Patillo, weighed 140 pounds. His corner men are George Fulljames and “Reidy”. It is agreed the bout is a fight-to-the finish with small gloves.
ROUNDS 3-4: The title bout turns decisively in the champion’s favor. Patillo’s nose bleeds profusely while Gilmore remains patient landing body blows. Patillo turns to aggressive offensive boxing by chasing the backing foe. Patillo exhausts himself with little accomplishment versus the energetic, defensive champion.
ROUND 5: “On coming to the scratch Patillo appeared already a beaten man. He was evidently weak and his blows lacked force. Gilmore now assumed the offensive, and put in several smashing blows upon Patillo’s front piece. He was strong as ever, and he reached the same spot on the opponent’s jaw 3 or 4 times in not many more seconds.”…. Patillo gains respect from spectators with his refusal to be knocked down.
ROUND 6: Patillo begins cheating due to desperation hoping perhaps for a disqualification. Patillo clinches the champion and ignores the referee’s order to separate. Patillo continues the hold while illegally landing two body punches. “Foul” is shouted aloud by spectators and the champion’s corner. Referee Bull separates the pugilists and allows the bout to continue.
ROUND 8: The champion dominates the round as the bout appears near conclusion. Gilmore dazes Patillo with a punch that lands to left eye. Gilmore follows with a punch which lands to left ear that staggers Patillo and knocks him backward. Patillo refuses to fall to ground, but appears helpless at conclusion of the round.
ROUND 9: Patillo is defenseless to protect himself or throw punches. The champion appears tired, or perhaps being patient and saving energy to knock out his stubborn opponent…. “(Patillo) staggered in walking to his seat after the round. When Patillo reached his chair Fulljames whispered in his ear and he nodded absent. Fulljames then came forward and said that Patillo was evidently beat…. The (Champion) was then lustily cheered, and the crowd dispersed.” Gilmore retained his title with a TKO-10 victory.
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National Police Gazette (1/9/1886): “Jack Moriarty, the Toronto boxer, writes that he will fight Billy Hawkins with or without gloves any number of rounds in Toronto for either a stake or the receipts of the house.” Billy Hawkins did not accept this challenge as his goal was fixed on Harry Gilmore and the Canadian lightweight championship.
On January 11, 1886, Sam Bittle and Maurice Casey fought in Toronto for the middleweight championship of Canada. It was a 6-round scheduled bout. The gloves were medium-sized with stuffing removed from the knuckles. Harry Gilmore was one of Casey’s seconds. Bittle dominated the brief bout scoring several knockdowns including the conclusion of the 3rd round. Casey was unable to continue so the referee declared Bittle the victor – TKO-4.
Mark Checkley fought on the undercard of Bittle/Casey against an opponent named Lemon. Nine days following the bout Checkley hanged himself. “The Lion Tamer” held a notorious personal reputation. As a pugilist, his brief life and career should be ranked ahead of Jack Moriarty. He defeated Moriarty in a bout and held his own with the champion, Harry Gilmore. Though both were Toronto pugilists Moriarty never faced Harry Gilmore or was viewed by contemporaries as a challenger for the best fighter of the region. A Toronto coroner inquest ruled the Checkley suicide: “Death by strangulation.”
Mark Checkley’s suicide was media reported throughout Canada, New York City and even the deep-American south. It could be viewed in retrospect as a metaphor for a growing, struggling city. Hopeful men were pouring into Toronto for work that didn’t exist. Toronto had money, but also high unemployment along with rampant government corruption. A 41-years old zealous Christian had become mayor, William Holmes Howland, with promises of jobs when the weather improved and an emphasis to eradicate homelessness and starvation. A bitterly cold winter battled his high-ended goals. Holmes announced that city resources would prioritize women, who recently gained the legal right to vote, and children. At the time of Checkley’s suicide another one-hundred Italian men arrived with no money or resources hoping for work and better life. Mayor Howland ordered temporary shelter for thousands of unemployed guys huddled together with strict rations of soup, bread and cord-wood for heat. The city was ripe for plague and disease so a resourceful man like Checkley managed to obtain a job collecting rats off city streets. Checkley’s boxing performance versus champion, Harry Gilmore, would ultimately be his greatest fight, but more important to him than an impressive Draw was money by winning the gambling bet. Yet, only a couple days after the bout, Checkley was arrested and jailed for stealing a woman’s diamond ring. Depression and loss of his reputation – mixed with a freezing jail cell and hunger – made him decide to take the muffler from around his neck for warmth and tie it to an iron bar. Guards discovered his deceased, hanged body the following morning.
National Police Gazette of New York questioned the upcoming world lightweight title bout with alleged champion, Jack McAuliffe, and the challenger, Canadian lightweight champion, Harry Gilmore (1/08/1887): “(Jack) McAuliffe has never fought for the championship of lightweights according to the standard rule governing the title and he has no more rights to the claim of title than Billy Hawkins, of Winnipeg; Jimmy Mitchell of Philadelphia, or Harry Gilmore…. Again, we would like to know when McAuliffe won the lightweight championship, when the battle was fought and where his opponent won the title from?”
The best boxing historians were thousands of years ago because they did not become emotionally attached to the pugilists or outcome of bouts. The attempt by modern historians to “clean up” the truth has fictionalized it instead. Boxing is unlike other sports because it is not always clear or linear as to who is the champion at any moment. Such was the changing of the guard in Massachusetts on January 14, 1887, when Jack McAuliffe’s lightweight championship era began. McAuliffe was a popular American boxer from Ireland who first gained fame as an amateur champion in New York. He needed to defeat a ‘celebrity’ pugilist and Harry Gilmore was famous. The 26th round knockout victory by McAuliffe was not disputed by Gilmore (except claiming it was 28 rounds) and propelled him as the most revered lightweight of the 19th century. Gilmore retained his fame and Canadian lightweight champion title, but by his own future admission was never the same pugilist again.
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Harry Gilmore versus Billy Hawkins (5/20/1887)
There had been pugilist rivalry between the cities of Toronto and Montreal with the former possessing the greater reputation. Billy Hawkins insisted on freezing illegal bouts in Montreal with pugilists forced to wear coats and cut off sleeves. The Canadian lightweight championship bout was held at a rented downtown ballroom for 30 fans paying $10 apiece. The champion, Harry Gilmore, weighed 129 ½ pounds with George Fulljames as his corner man. The challenger, Billy Hawkins, weighed 140 pounds with John P. Clow as his corner man.
ROUND 1: Pugilists cautious with frequent misses of jabs. The Champion lands first blood with a counterpunch following a Hawkins miss which breaks the challenger’s nose.
ROUNDS 2-4: The Champion has the advantage over the aggressive challenger. Hawkins scores the first knockdown of bout.
ROUND 5: The Champion appears to be the better boxer as he lands many head punches. Hawkins lands a hard right to face as the round concludes which staggers Gilmore. The Champion is confused and needs assistance to his corner chair.
ROUNDS 6-8: The Champion continues to be the better boxer as he methodically lands jabs to Hawkins’ eye. The bout is close to stoppage due to Hawkins’ impaired vision. A pocket knife is produced following the 8th round to cut open the eyelid. When it proves painful, but unsuccessful, a razor is produced. Blood spurts like a fountain when the razor slits open the eyelid so that the challenger has vision.
ROUNDS 9-13: The advantage has turned toward the challenger. Hawkins has the Champion wobbled at the conclusion of the 11th round. Hawkins scores his 2nd knockdown of Gilmore in the 13th round with a punch which lands to chin. The Champion is knocked out of the ring and through a window. An explosion of glass leaves Gilmore’s upper body bleeding grotesque. Shards of glass must be removed from the Champion’s back, arms and shoulders. Hawkins bleeds from the nose with his eyes swelling shut.
ROUND 14: The Champion lands a hard punch to the challenger’s broken nose. Blood spurts upward and outward.
ROUNDS 15-21: It appears to be a fairly even bout: “A sickening appearance as they face each other, but Hawkins’ physiognomy is decidedly the worst of the two.” The Champion is the better boxer while the challenger lands harder punches.
ROUNDS 22-25: The challenger dominates and controls the bout with a succession of punches that land to body which sends the Champion repeatedly to ground. Gilmore is reduced to illegally falling without being touched. By the end of the 25th round, Hawkins has been credited with approximately 10 knockdowns.
ROUND 26: The challenger knocks the champion out with a punch to chin. Gilmore is unable to rise so Hawkins is declared the victor. KO-26. The new Canadian lightweight Champion shakes Gilmore’s hand: “Harry, you are the best little man I ever fought, but I am still your father in the ring.”
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American lightweight or world lightweight champion, Jack McAuliffe, unofficially lost a 74-rounds contest versus England’s lightweight champion, Jem Carney, in Massachusetts, November 16, 1887. McAuliffe: “I was taking an awful pasting. A group of gambling gentlemen who backed me heavily sent their gangsters into the ring. A riot ensued and I made for the nearest exit. The referee, who was more discreet than daring, called it a Draw.” I like McAuliffe’s honesty more than historical lies by his enthusiasts, “Last of the bare-knuckle champions who retired undefeated.” Carney and McAuliffe fought with gloves by bare-knuckle rules, until the gambling gangsters provided intervention. Much of English bare-knuckle championships in particular were decided by gambling criminals. Sometimes there is historical fawning over the “days when pugilists fought in barns to avoid cops” but the reality is that wrong person often won. The cheats and their backers have been historically rewarded by boxing historians not differentiating between honest and dishonest bouts. The International Boxing Hall of Fame would be like the American Baseball Hall of Fame if it only inducted those who used steroids or cheated. The reality is that McAuliffe retained his world lightweight championship title while Billy Hawkins languished and Jem Carney was robbed. McAuliffe was an interesting guy who partied hard and dated pretty actresses while raising Hell as champion and retired quietly with grace when he felt his skills had deteriorated.
In 1887, Jack Moriarty was included in a series of pugilist photographs by an American who specialized in pornography: “FILL your albums with beautiful photographs of lovely women. This is just what you want. For Seventy-Five Cents in stamps we will mail you, postpaid, six Genuine Photographs, cabinet size, assorted, of Beautiful Young Ladies for your album. Bear in mind these are not ‘copies’ of actresses in tights, but Genuine Photographs from original negatives, of rare female beauties taken from life. I simply make this offer as an inducement for you to order samples, and to convince you that I can furnish a better quality and assortment of photos, and at cheaper prices, than can be obtained elsewhere. Samples free…. W.H. Reed…. 86 West Congress St., Detroit, Michigan.” Reed also sold French ‘art’ books for ‘bachelors’ in classified newspapers that advertised impotence cures and French anything as legal erotica. Novels sold included French tales of male doctors with female patients or French nature nudes of men and women along with ‘spicy’ photos: “Rich little sins. Pretty sinners.” Pugilist photos with some colorized was mixed with pornography and erection savers as male ‘bachelor’ priorities of the 1880’s. The W.H. Reed photograph of Moriarty proves a notoriety or celebrity because the photographer was a businessman foremost.
The Toronto Daily Mail (11/26/1887): “’Jack Moriarty writes that as Paul Patillo announces at his weekly entertainments that he is ready to spar any 140-lb. man, (Moriarty) will be on hand to-night ready to do battle.”
From March of 1887 to February of 1888 Canadian newspapers list Billy Hawkins as the lightweight champion of Canada. Hawkins snatched defeat from victory on June 10, 1888, in Beaverhead County, U.S.A. Hawkins was listed as 5’8, 144 pounds to Jimmie Bates 5’7 and 146 pounds. Hawkins easily dominated a dull bout through 5-rounds. Hawkins landed a right punch to head in the 6th round which knocked out Bates. KO-6…. Or maybe not when Hawkins smiled and said, “Get up, Jimmie. I will not hurt you.” Hawkins would later state that the 150 spectators for the Montana Championship title had paid $12.50 apiece and felt they deserved more sparring. The referee allowed the bout to continue despite having counted Bates out. Hawkins eased on Bates during the 7th round as he announced to booing spectators, “I want to give Jimmie a chance to recover.” Through the 11th round, Hawkins continued to easily dominate against an exhausted opponent. But the Montana sponsor of the illegal bout, Evan Morgan, entered the ring three times insistent that Hawkins should be disqualified for an accidental punch below the waist, an intentional knee to groin and an accidental foot trip. Referee Flowers finally relented and announced Bates as the victor. DSQ-11…. When Hawkins realized he had lost and would receive the loser’s portion of the prize he became crazed and attacked Jimmie Bates pummeling him with punches. Bates’ corner men had to pull Hawkins off their pugilist and restrain him until he calmed.
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George Fulljames would be declared dead by a doctor on September 24, 1888, Grand Forks, South Dakota under mysterious and conspiratorial circumstances. The ‘witnesses’ likely included pillars of society and people of influence who scattered like cockroaches when a boxing bout turned tragic. The illegal bout paired Fulljames in the middle of night against an unknown pugilist suspected to be from the East Coast. Fulljames’ battered face and body was found the following morning. Law enforcement had several hours to locate and talk to possible witnesses. They arrested a man they believed was the other pugilist. The sketchy details from an anonymous witness or witnesses was the pugilist under an alias name, “Barrett” began pummeling Fulljames to the face from the moment they shook hands to begin the bout. Under this circumstance it is not a boxing related death. The Fulljames murder case would never be solved. Someone in South Dakota law enforcement or position of power allowed “Barrett” to escape the first night of his incarceration before an identity could be confirmed.
In April, 1889, it appeared Billy Hawkins’ perseverance and smarter attempts at defining his credentials and locating sponsors could result in a world lightweight title bout against undefeated, Jack McAuliffe. Hawkins lied, perhaps understandable, as he pronounced himself undefeated and the Montana lightweight champion. The California Club was willing to sponsor Hawkins and offered a bid to McAuliffe. Hawkins’ fame remained greater in Canada than America and it might have been too risky a bout with more to lose than gain. The title dream against the famed McAuliffe would not occur as Hawkins’ celebrity would fade into obscurity.
Billy Hawkins’ most publicized American bout – with American historians controlling the legacy of both American and Canadian pugilists – did not occur on July 27, 1891. The fraud was perpetuated by a jewelry thief named, Ed Gorman. He concocted a story of his 54th round knockout of Hawkins in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago newspapers were not conned, but much of the nation reported the false bout. Gorman would be arrested in Buffalo. New York Times (12/5/1892): “(Gorman) had obtained a diamond ring by false pretenses connected with a ‘fake fight’. He has figured in several fakes here.” Hawkins cleared his name with Canadian newspapers at the time and did not damage his reputation too much. But American boxing historians located the false story years later without a proper background check so BoxRec and others continue to attach the non-existent knockout loss to Hawkins’ overall record.
New York Times (6/26/1892): “(Detroit) – Paul Patillo, well known in Canada and Michigan as a prizefighter and boxer, was killed yesterday by falling from the seventh story of Pingree & Smith’s new building. He leaves a wife and two children.” BoxRec lists Paul Patillo without a death date whose official 2014 statistics are embarrassingly awful: 0 wins, 7 losses and 2 Draws. Patillo was a celebrity pugilist throughout Canada, Michigan and New York State. For several years, Toronto viewed their local fighter as the city’s best. He mentored and taught boxing for paying students. He was the lead-act for weekly Toronto boxing entertainment exhibitions with paying spectators. He had no single, defining victory to claim a championship, but no boxer with a ‘winless’ record has their death published by the New York Times. Paul Patillo was famous; not infamous.
By 1892, Hawkins slipped from contention to battle the (officially) undefeated lightweight champion, Jack McAuliffe. His weight had been border-line before, but was now clearly a welterweight. Billy Myers, Andy Bowen, Jimmy Carroll, Austin Gibbons and Mike Daly had passed the former Canadian lightweight champion with reputations as more deserving of a title bout. The end of Hawkins’ pugilist reputation occurred on June 30, 1893, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., versus Charley Johnson. Hawkins would be branded by American newspapers as a coward and quitter. Through 5-rounds, Hawkins dominated while scoring two knockdowns. In the 6th round, Johnson resorted to alleged illegal behavior until Hawkins became enraged at the referee’s lack of disqualification. Hawkins pulled off his gloves and angrily left the ring with Johnson declared the victor. TKO-7!