Al McCoy (boxer)

Last updated
Al McCoy
Al McCoy (boxer).jpg
Real nameAlexander Rudolph
Weight(s) Middleweight
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Born(1894-10-23)October 23, 1894
Rosenhayn, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedAugust 22, 1966(1966-08-22) (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Total fights157
Wins by KO27

Al McCoy, [1] (October 23, 1894 – August 22, 1966), born Alexander Rudolph, was a boxing World Middleweight Champion from 1914 to 1917. [2] He had a total of 157 bouts. Of those determined officially by boxing judges, he won 44 with 27 by knockout, and had 6 losses, and 6 draws. Around 107 of his fights were no decision bouts.[ citation needed ]


Referees and judges in this era could not render a decision for fights in New York and most other states except in the case of a disqualification or knockout. McCoy's BoxRec record on the right has newspaper coverage determining the winner for his large number of no decision bouts. Newspapers could also determine the outcome of a fight as a draw. [3]

Early life and boxing career

Al McCoy AlMcCoy boxer.jpg
Al McCoy
Front Row: McCoy's Boxing Manager, Jack Dougherty, McCoy, and O.K. Fitzsimmons in 1915 Jack Dougheaty and Al McCoy, the boxer and O.K. Fitzsimmons in 1915.jpg
Front Row: McCoy's Boxing Manager, Jack Dougherty, McCoy, and O.K. Fitzsimmons in 1915

McCoy was born Alexander Rudolph in Rosenhayn, Deerfield Township, New Jersey, on October 23, 1894. As a child, he moved with his family to Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York City, where his father found work as a kosher butcher. At age 14 he helped make ends meet by filling in as a boxer for preliminary fights at local boxing clubs, when the scheduled boxers failed to show.

Ken Blady speculates that his manager, Charley Goldman, had him change his surname to McCoy to hide his boxing from his religious parents who would have objected. Blady made the stunning observation that for his first nine years and 139 fights McCoy was undefeated. This made his winning streak second only to English boxer Hal Bagwell, although the fact that a no-decision bout did not officially count as a loss, probably aided McCoy's record. [4]

McCoy started boxing as a bantamweight, but fighting as a 138-pound lightweight in 1912, he began to attract attention. He defeated Young Erne, a competent Philadelphia lightweight, on November 9, 1912, in Philadelphia, winning in six rounds. The newspaper that gave him the edge noted that Erne was too out of condition to match well with the fit sixteen year old. [4]

Fighting as a welterweight, on March 2, 1912, in a ten-round newspaper decision, he defeated the more accomplished boxer Terry McGraw who he outweighed. Fighting on July 3, 1916, in Queens, he defeated Dave Kurtz in a ten-round newspaper decision. Not surprisingly, the seventeen year old's luck took a turn when he fought Young Otto, a more accomplished Jewish lightweight boxer from New York's Lower East Side, nine years his senior, who would hold a record for most consecutive first-round knockouts. McCoy lost to the lighter Otto, though fighting at 155 in the light middleweight range. [3] [4]

In 1913, he battled even more impressive boxers, though winning far more rarely by knockout. In no decision bouts well into the middleweight range, he met Jewish boxer Soldier Bartfield, who would engage in close fights or defeat most of the great boxers of the era. He also matched with Terry Mitchell, Billy Grup, KO Brennan, Bull Anderson and the Zulu Kid. The newspapers had him winning all these standard ten round New York fights, except for a draw with the accomplished welterweight Zulu Kid. He even defeated the exceptional Soldier Bartfield on August 11, 1913, knocking him to the canvas three times in the fight. McCoy would never again decisively beat Bartfield, though he would meet him at least four more times in his career. Though never winning a world title, Bartfield would meet and often defeat more champions and top contenders than nearly any other boxer of his era.

McCoy fought Wildcat Ferns to two draws by decision in Ohio where referees could determine the outcome of a bout without a foul or knockout occurring. [3] [4]

Winning the Middleweight World Championship

George Chip, Middleweight Champion George Chip.jpg
George Chip, Middleweight Champion

McCoy was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Chip in April 1914. When Joe Chip fell ill, his brother, Middleweight World Title holder George consented to the bout, probably considering it unlikely he would lose by knockout to nineteen year old McCoy. For Chip to lose his title in New York, a knockout would be required. In his last 100 bouts, McCoy had only a 23% knockout rate, impressive, but probably not perceived as a serious threat to the Middleweight World Champion Chip. [3] [4]

Manager Charlie Goldman wisely advised McCoy to charge for a knockout from the first bell, assuming that Chip would box cautiously early in the first round against Al's unorthodox, left handed style. Taking his manager's advice, on April 7, 1914, McCoy landed a powerful left to Chip's jaw early in the first round, lifting him off the canvas, and achieving a victory that probably shocked the bookmakers. The knockout occurred just one minute and fifty seconds into the first around. The Pittsburgh Press noted that the Broadway Sporting Club in Brooklyn was only "fairly filled" as spectators may have stayed home expecting a loss or poor showing by their hometown boy. Robert Edgren, summarizing the last few seconds of the fight, wrote "McCoy's left fist started somewhere near his knees. He brought it up with all his strength. His body swung upward with the blow as though he had been swinging at a bag. His fist landed fairly on the point of the crouching champion's unguarded chin." [5]

The Gazette Times noted that McCoy's winning punch was a counterpunch, and wrote, "Chip, eager to grasp his opportunity, started a right swing that had all the earmarks of a haymaker. McCoy crossed in with his left, shooting over a hybrid punch which was half swing and half uppercut, and the New Castle fighter (Chip) went down flat, his head striking the floor of the ring." [6] Aged 19, he became the youngest person as well as the first left handed-boxer ever to win a Middleweight World championship. It was also the shortest fight on record in which a boxer had taken a World Title from an opponent.[ citation needed ]

As the result of his youth, and unorthodox style, many boxing writers and fans considered McCoy's ascent to the world title a fluke. The Tacoma Times, were not alone in their sentiments when they wrote three a half full years after McCoy had taken the title, "Early in 1914, Chip (George) unfortunately ran into a punch in the first round of his bout with Al McCoy, and the latter assumed the title. McCoy was never a real champion and usually dodged anyone who was likely to knock him out."[ citation needed ]

The New York Evening World wrote ten months after he took the title from Chip, "McCoy has held the title technically, as no one has in turn knocked him out. But as a champion our old friend Al is a mirth-producing object." [3] [4] [7] [8]

Soldier Bartfield SoldierBartfield.jpg
Soldier Bartfield

His successful defense of the title for 42 consecutive bouts would prove he deserved the honor of Middleweight World Champion. In fact, at 42 bouts, according to Ken Blady, McCoy had the longest undefeated streak of any boxer to ever hold a title. [4] While holding the championship, he allowed most of the world's top contenders to challenge him for it. He fought Soldier Bartfield twice on November 10, and 22, 1914 in Brooklyn losing by the decision of newspapers in ten round bouts. Though not gaining a decided edge in the two well fought bouts, the exceptional Bartfield was unable to land a knockout, and so McCoy retained the title. He took on top contenders Willie Lewis, Willie KO Brennan, Jewish contender Emmit "Kid" Wagner, and Italian Joe Gans, losing only to Brennan by the decision of newspapers in their middleweight matchups. His bout with Lewis on October 13, 1914, at the Broadway Sporting Club in Brooklyn, resulted in a near knockout of Lewis, once a top welterweight contender, in the fourth round. New London's The Day noted, "the bell saved Lewis in the fourth round. He was tottering, incapable of defense, when the bell rang. He came up for the final round (fifth) groggy", and McCoy consequently knocked him out, using his left to deliver the telling blow in the prior round. [3] [9]

On January 25, 1915, he defeated the talented Joe Borrell by the decision of newspapers in a six-round bout in Philadelphia. Borrel had ended the career of ex-welterweight world champion Harry Lewis two years earlier when Lewis had resumed boxing too soon after being injured in a car accident. McCoy's March 23, 1915, bout with Silent Martin may have been a closer affair, as the Evening News wrote that McCoy "had the better of Silent Martin in seven of the ten rounds in Brooklyn," though several New York papers gave the close bout to Martin. [10]

On April 6, 1915, again in Brooklyn, McCoy fought a thrilling rematch with George Chip in Brooklyn, and though losing the ten round no-decision bout in the opinion of the New York Times, Chip could not knockout McCoy, and so he retained the world title. The following month on May 4, 1915, again in Brooklyn, he fought contender Jimmy Clabby, in another title match where he successfully defended against a knockout. The New London Day noted that McCoy's primary aim was to prevent a knockout, and that he did not fight with a decided edge. The paper wrote that with Clabby "McCoy entered the ring with the sole intention of employing every means to stay the limit, and he was successful." The Day further noted that the boxing seemed listless, and that when Clabby "showed an inclination to exchange blows at short range, McCoy usually declined the issue," but that "Clabby was the agressor (sic) at all times." [11] Again fighting in Brooklyn, he faced top contenders Young Ahearn and Silent Martin, completing both title bouts without receiving a decisive knockout. In November 1915, he held off another challenge from Silent Martin. [3] [4]

Later career and losing the Middleweight World Title

Harry Greb, 1926 Middleweight Champion Harry Greb posing.jpg
Harry Greb, 1926 Middleweight Champion

In 1916, he took on Young Ahearn in another title bout, and rematched with George Chip in a non-title fight, forgoing knockouts in both bouts, but not gaining an advantage in the decisions of the New York Times. His strenuous schedule with top contenders had begun to wear on McCoy. Through 1916, he fared better achieving several knockouts against opponents who were of less caliber, before taking on a critical bout with 1926 World Middleweight Champion Harry Greb on April 30, 1917. The Pittsburgh Post had Greb winning every round in a match where McCoy seemed clearly outmatched, but was unable to gain a knockout, even in the tenth round where he attempted in vain to land the telling blow. [3]

McCoy finally lost his Middleweight Title on November 14, 1917, in his home city of Brooklyn against Mike O'Dowd, losing by a 6th-round knockout. The New London Day noted that McCoy was simply unable to fend off the blows of O'Dowd, writing "The men fought toe-to-toe from bell to bell, not because McCoy wished it thus, but because Mike kept boring in and swinging both hands to the head and body. Al tried to clinch after every lead, but O'Dowd forced the champion to break away by the fury of his attack." The Day further noted that McCoy took punishment in the first three rounds but that by the fourth took much heavier blows to the jaw and midsection. McCoy was down more than once in the fourth largely from blows to the face, but managed to knock O'Dowd down once with his signature left hook. In the sixth round, McCoy was down twice from head and body blows before finally having his cornermen throw in the towel at a count of six on his third knockdown. [3] [12]

He rematched with future middleweight champion Greb on May 13, 1918, demonstrating his willingness to take on top talent even after his loss of the title, but was again outmatched by his stronger, more aggressive opponent. Though Greb had already defeated some exceptional challengers, McCoy had suffered through forty-six defenses while champion from the toughest of title contenders. [3] [4]

Later life

Retiring from East Coast boxing, McCoy moved to Los Angeles with his wife Ruth. Trying his hand at movies, he appeared in a role credited as "pug" in 20th Century Picture's 1933 The Bowery . Also appearing in the movie were New York Jewish boxers Phil Bloom, Joe Glick, and Abe Hollandersky, "Fireman" Jim Flynn, and heavyweight Frank Moran. The film involved a rivalry between bar owner Chuck Connors and central character Steve Brody.

It was set in the New York Bowery, in the Lower East side of Manhattan, around the 1890s, and contained a lot of non-professional fighting. Actor George Walsh played real life character Steve Brodie, who indeed owned a Bowery bar and won fame jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. The other primary character Chuck Connors, played by Wallace Beery, managed a professional boxer. In a brief bit, Walsh is revealed to be Irish heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan.

On October 9, 1937 McCoy appeared in the "Night of Memories" benefit for Wad Wadhams, at Hollywood Legion Stadium. Wadhams was the victim of a stroke and had mounting medical bills. In his career, he had worked as a boxing promoter matching boxers for legendary boxing promoter "Colonel" Jack Doyle who had completed contracts for Jack Dempsey. Other featured boxers included Henry Armstrong, Jack Silver, Jimmy McLarnin, and Jackie Fields. [13]


When McCoy lost his home and most of his possessions in a fire in 1964, his health took a turn for the worse. Living on only a small state pension, chronic illness restricted him to living in a nursing home. He died on August 22, 1966, in Los Angeles, California. [3]

Legacy and titles held

McCoy's professional record according to one source: 157 bouts — won 99 (26 KOs), lost 40, no-decisions 18. Note that newspaper decisions vary.

McCoy, who was Jewish, was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Harry Greb American boxer

Edward Henry "Harry" Greb was an American professional boxer. Nicknamed "The Pittsburgh Windmill", he was the American light heavyweight champion from 1922 to 1923 and world middleweight champion from 1923 to 1926. He fought a recorded 298 times in his 13 year-career, which began at around 140 pounds. He fought against the best opposition the talent-rich 1910s and 20s could provide him, frequently squaring off against light heavyweights and even heavyweights.

Boxing in the 1920s was an exceptionally popular international sport. Many fights during this era, some 20 years away or so from the television era, were social events with many thousands in attendance, both men and women.

Billy Papke American boxer

Billy Papke was an American boxer who held the World Middleweight Championship from September 7 to November 26, 1908. In 1910-12, he also took the Australian and British versions of the World Middleweight Championship, though American boxing historians generally take less note of these titles. With a solid and efficient punch, 70 percent of his better publicized career wins by decision were from knockouts, and roughly 40% of his reported fights were as well.

Benny Leonard American boxer

Benny Leonard was a Jewish American professional boxer who held the world lightweight championship for eight years from 1917-25. Widely considered one of the all-time greats, he was ranked 8th on The Ring magazine's list of the "80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years" and placed 7th in ESPN's "50 Greatest Boxers of All-Time". In 2005, the International Boxing Research Organization ranked Leonard as the #1 lightweight, and #8 best pound-for-pound fighter of all-time. Statistical website BoxRec rates Leonard as the 2nd best lightweight ever, while The Ring magazine founder Nat Fleischer placed him at #2. Boxing historian Bert Sugar placed him 6th in his Top 100 Fighters catalogue.

Ruby Goldstein American boxer

Reuven "Ruby" Goldstein, the "Jewel of the Ghetto," was an American boxer and prize fight referee. He was a serious World Lightweight Championship contender in the 1920s, and became one of U.S. most trusted and respected boxing referees in the 1950s. During his boxing career, he was trained and managed by Hymie Cantor.

Charley White English boxer

Charley White who was born Charles Anchowitz on 25 March 1891 in Liverpool, England was considered one of the best boxers of his era. White fought from 1906 until 1923. He made one ill-fated comeback attempt in 1930, but was ignominiously TKOed by Henry Perlick, a nondescript fighter who would not have stood a chance against White in his prime. White boxed in the United States for his entire career making his home in Chicago at the age of seven. Under current rules, his championship bouts with Willie Ritchie and Freddie Welsh, where he dealt more blows would have had him winning the bouts on points and taking the world lightweight championship, but when he fought only a knockout would have allowed him to win the match and the title. In 1958, Nat Fleischer, publisher of The Ring magazine rated Charley White the tenth greatest lightweight of all time.

Bill Brennan (boxer) American boxer

Bill Brennan was an American boxer who fought and lost to World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey in a well attended title fight that ended in a twelfth-round knockout on December 14, 1920, in Madison Square Garden. He lost to Dempsey for the first time in a non-title fight on February 5, 1918, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a sixth-round technical knockout.

Frank Klaus American boxer

Frank Klaus was an American boxer from 1904 to 1918. Klaus claimed the vacant World Middleweight Championship in 1913 and was elected to the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1974. Gifted with a strong punch, he lost exceptionally few fights in his nine-year career, and was knocked out only once. Nat Fleischer ranked Klaus as the #6 All-Time Middleweight. His manager was George Engel.

George Chip American boxer

George Chip was an American boxer who was the World Middleweight Champion from 1913 to 1914 in an era of great middleweights. Chip came to be known as a heavy puncher with an impressive knockout ratio.

Battling Levinsky American boxer

Barney Lebrowitz, better known as Battling Levinsky, was the world light heavyweight champion from 1916 to 1920. Statistical boxing website BoxRec lists Levinsky as the #12 ranked light heavyweight of all-time, while The Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer placed him at #9. The International Boxing Research Organization rates Levinsky as the 20th best light heavyweight ever. He was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame in 1966, the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1982, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000.

Bob Olin American boxer

Robert Lous Olin was an American boxer who became the World Light Heavyweight champion on November 16, 1934, against Maxie Rosenbloom at Madison Square Garden. His trainer was the legendary Ray Arcel and his manager was Harold Scadron.

Harry Lewis (boxer) American boxer

Harry Lewis, was an American boxer, generally credited with holding the Welterweight Championship of the World from April 1908 to March 1911. He defeated "Young Joseph", the reigning Welterweight Champion of England in London on June 27, 1910, but was not credited with the British Welterweight championship as the fight was sanctioned as a World, and not English title. Boxing writer Nat Fleischer rated Lewis the sixth-greatest welterweight of all time. He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, and into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.

Sidney Terris was a top rated American lightweight boxing contender from the lower East Side of Manhattan. He excelled as an amateur, winning fifty straight bouts and taking Metropolitan, New York State, National AAU, and both National and International titles.

Eric Seelig German boxer

Eric Seelig was middleweight boxing champion in Germany in 1931 and their light-heavyweight champion in 1933. Because he was Jewish, he was stripped of his titles, and, in July 1933, the Nazis threatened that if he dared fight another match to defend his titles he would be killed. Seelig fled to France, though his stripped titles were never restored. He had a successful boxing career in America from 1935-40.

Georgie Abrams American boxer

Georgie Abrams was an American boxer who came very close to winning the World Middleweight Championship in November 1941 against Tony Zale and was a top contender for the title in the early 1940s. In his unique boxing career, he fought eight former or future world champions. He was managed by Bo Bregman, and Chris Dundee. Abrams was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.

Dixie Kid American boxer

Aaron Lister BrownakaDixie Kid was an American boxer. He was a controversial contender for the World Welterweight Boxing Championship in April 1904.

Panama Joe Gans Barbados boxer

Panama Joe Gans was a black boxer who held the World Colored Middleweight Championship for four years, shortly before it was discontinued. Born Cyril Quinton Jr. on November 14, 1896 in Barbados, British West Indies and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, the 5'7" Quinton originally fought out of Panama and then New York City. He took his ringname from boxing great Joe Gans, the first black American fighter to win a world boxing title. He found his greatest fame fighting as a middleweight at between 147 and 160 lbs, but in his early career he took the Panamanian Lightweight Title and contended for the Panamanian Welterweight Title at weights roughly between 130 and 147 pounds.

Joe Glick American boxer (1903-1978)

Joe Glick was a prolific Jewish boxer from Brooklyn who established himself early as a top contender among Junior Lightweights. He had two Junior Lightweight Title shots against Tod Morgan in 1926–27, but was unable to take the championship. Moving up in weight class, he also excelled as a Lightweight. His long career spanned twenty-three years and included over two hundred verified bouts.

Mike "Twin" Sullivan American boxer (1878-1937)

Mike "Twin" Sullivan was an American boxer frequently credited with taking the Welterweight Championship of the World on April 23, 1907 when he soundly defeated William "Honey" Mellody in Los Angeles in a twenty-round bout. He vacated the title in the late fall of 1908, when he could not make weight. Many, though not all sanctioning bodies active today recognize his claim to the title during this period.

Eddie Santry American boxer

Edward M. "Eddie" Santry, was an American featherweight boxer who took the World Featherweight Championship on October 10, 1899 against English Featherweight Champion Ben Jordan in a tenth-round knockout at the Lenox Athletic Club in New York, New York.


  1. 1 2 Siegman, Joseph. "Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Hall of Fame", via Google Books, p. 59; accessed December 29, 2007.
  2. "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Al McCoy". BoxRec. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Blady, Ken (1988). The Jewish Boxer's Hall of Fame, Shapolsky Publishers, New York, New York, pp. 105–08. ISBN   0-933503-87-3
  5. Edgren, Robert (January 24, 1937) "Al McCoy Took Middleweight Title from George Chip with One Punch". The Pittsburgh Press, p. 21, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  6. "Uppercut from Al McCoy Under Chin Sends Chip into Dreamland", The Gazette Times , p. 10, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 8 April 1914
  7. "Mike O'Dowd, Fighting Harp, Takes Crown From Al McCoy", The Tacoma Times, p.6, Tacoma, Washington, 26 November 1917
  8. Edgren, R. (February 16, 1915) "Dancing Will Have a New Boom as a Popular Sport if Ritchie Polishes Off Welsh", Evening World , p. 11, New York City.
  9. "Al McCoy Hands Lewis His Insomnia Cure", New London Day , p. 11, New London, Connecticut, 14 October 1914.
  10. "Results of Last Night's Best Bouts", The Evening News, p. 4, Providence, Rhode Island, March 24, 1915.
  11. "McCoy is Hammered by Jimmy Clabby", New London Day, p. 12, New London, Connecticut, May 5, 1915.
  12. "St. Paul Fighter is New Champion," New London Day , p. 10, New London, Connecticut, November 15, 1917.
  13. Additional boxers included Mushy Callahan, Fidel La Barba, Maxie Rosenbloom, Jim Jeffries and others, "Wadham's Benefit Tonight", Los Angeles Times , p. A-10, Los Angeles, October 9, 1937.
Preceded by
George Chip
World Middleweight Champion
April 7, 1914 – November 14, 1917
Succeeded by
Mike O'Dowd