Tom Sharkey

Last updated
Tom Sharkey
Tom Sharkey c1910.jpg
BornJanuary 1 1871
DiedApril 17, 1953(1953-04-17) (aged 81)
Other namesSailor Tom
Statistics
Weight(s) Heavyweight
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Reach70 in (178 cm)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights54
Wins37
Wins by KO34
Losses9
Draws6
No contests2
Sharkey's headstone Thomas Sharkey headstone.JPG
Sharkey's headstone

Thomas "Sailor Tom" Sharkey (January 1, 1871 – April 17, 1953) was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey's recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights (with 37 KOs), 7 losses, and 5 draws. Sharkey was named to the Ring Magazine 's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. [1]

Contents

Early life

Sharkey was born in Dundalk, Ireland on January 1, 1871. His story began when he ran away from home and went to sea as a cabin boy. In 1892, Sharkey landed in New York City and joined the United States Navy. He was eventually deployed to Hawaii where he began his pro fighting career.

Career

Standing 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) tall, Sharkey had unusually broad shoulders for a man of his height, and sported a tattoo of a star and battleship on his chest. In 1900, he also acquired a large cauliflower ear, courtesy of a brawl with Gus Ruhlin, that added to his persona.

Sharkey's first bout against a front-line fighter occurred in 1896 when he fought Joe Choynski, who later knocked out legendary heavyweight Jack Johnson in an eight-round match. Sharkey followed that fight up by challenging "Gentleman Jim" Corbett. The two met and the fight was ruled a draw after four rounds due to police interference.

Sharkey vs. Fitzsimmons

Interior of the Mechanics Pavilion, San Francisco, in 1897. Christian Endeavor Convention Hall, Mechanics' Pavilion, July, 1897, San Francisco, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.jpg
Interior of the Mechanics Pavilion, San Francisco, in 1897.

On December 2, 1896, the San Francisco Athletic Club sponsored a fight at the Mechanics' Pavilion in San Francisco between Bob Fitzsimmons and Sharkey. Unable to find a referee, at the last minute they called on former lawman Wyatt Earp. He had officiated 30 or so matches in earlier days, though not under the Marquess of Queensbury rules. [2] The fight may have been the most anticipated fight on American soil that year. It had been billed for the heavyweight championship of the world, as it was thought that the champion, James J. Corbett had relinquished the crown.

Fitzsimmons was favored to win, and bets flowed heavily his way. Earp entered the ring still armed with his customary Colt .45 and drew a lot of attention when he had to be disarmed. He later said he forgot he was wearing it. Fitzsimmons was taller and quicker than Sharkey and dominated the fight from the opening bell. In the eighth round, Fitzsimmons hit Sharkey with his famed "solar plexus punch," an uppercut under the heart that could render a man temporarily helpless. The punch caught Sharkey, Earp, and most of the crowd by surprise, and Sharkey dropped, clutched his groin, and rolled on the canvas, screamed foul. [3]

Earp stopped the bout, ruling that Fitzsimmons had hit Sharkey when he was down. His ruling was greeted with loud boos and catcalls. [4] Earp based his decision on the Marquess of Queensbury rules, which state in part, "A man on one knee is considered down and if struck is entitled to the stakes." Very few witnessed the foul Earp ruled on. He awarded the decision to Sharkey, whom attendants carried out as "...limp as a rag.". [5]

Sharkey vs. Jeffries

Sharkey (left) during his fight with Jeffries Jeffries vs sharky.jpg
Sharkey (left) during his fight with Jeffries

Sharkey claimed the heavyweight title until Corbett resumed his fighting career, who was recognized as the champion until he was knocked out by Fitzsimmons in a title bout. Sharkey was involved in another controversial fight when he faced Corbett on November 22, 1898. In this bout Sharkey manhandled the shifty and elusive Corbett. He threw him to the ground, hit him with hard punches to the body and head and seemed on the verge of victory when one of Corbett's seconds jumped into the ring in the ninth round. The referee disqualified Corbett and awarded the bout to Sharkey.

On January 10, 1899, Sharkey faced another ring legend, the tricky Kid McCoy. Sharkey knocked out McCoy in the tenth round thereby securing a shot at the heavyweight title then held by James J. Jeffries. The two had met previously, fighting a hotly contested 20-round slugfest on May 6, 1898. The decision went to Jeffries in a close fight. Nevertheless, Sharkey vowed to beat the 6'2½ burly Jeffries in the rematch.

The two fought a memorable twenty-five round bout on November 3, 1899, in Coney Island, New York. The match was the first championship fight filmed for motion pictures, and was first indoor fight successfully filmed. The lights required for the filming were so hot that they burned the hair from the top of both fighters' heads.

Sharkey took the early lead when he battered the larger Jeffries, but Jeffries gained control of the fight in the later rounds and the bout was awarded to him. During this fight, Sharkey suffered a broken nose and two broken ribs, and his left ear swelled to the size of a grapefruit.

Later life

After retiring from boxing, Sharkey operated a saloon and worked as a night watchman and security guard. In 1938 he entered Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, according to newspaper accounts, desperately ill. He died there in 1953 and is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.[ citation needed ]

Professional boxing record

All information in this section is derived from BoxRec, [6] unless otherwise stated.

Official record

54 fights37 wins7 losses
By knockout344
By decision12
By disqualification21
Draws6
No contests2
Newspaper decisions/draws 2

All newspaper decisions are officially regarded as “no decision” bouts and are not counted in the win/loss/draw column.

No.ResultRecordOpponentTypeRound, timeDateLocationNotes
54Loss37–7–6 (4)Jack MunroeNWS6Feb 27, 19042nd Regiment Armory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
53Loss37–7–6 (3)Gus RuhlinTKO11 (15)Jun 25, 1902National Sporting Club, London, England, UKFor English heavyweight title
52NC37–6–6 (3) Peter Maher NC3 (6)Jan 17, 1902Industrial Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USStopped for lack of action
51Loss37–6–6 (2)Mexican Pete EverettDQ2 (20)May 7, 1901Opera House, Cripple Creek, Colorado, US
50Win37–5–6 (2)Fred RussellKO4 (10)May 3, 1901Colorado A.C., Denver, Colorado, US
49Loss36–5–6 (2) Bob Fitzsimmons KO2 (25), 2:06Aug 24, 1900Coney Island A.C., New York City, New York, US
48Loss36–4–6 (2)Gus RuhlinTKO15 (25)Jun 26, 1900Seaside A.C., Coney Island, New York City, New York, US
47Win36–3–6 (2)Yank KennyKO1 (25), 2:16Jun 8, 1900Broadway A.C., New York City, New York, US
46Win35–3–6 (2) Joe Choynski TKO3 (6)May 8, 1900Tattersall's, Chicago, Illinois, US
45Win34–3–6 (2)Tom 'Stockings' ConroyKO3 (10), 2:12Mar 29, 1900Music Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, US
44Win33–3–6 (2)Jack McCormickKO1 (20), 0:38Mar 15, 1900Coliseum, Hartford, Connecticut, US
43Win32–3–6 (2)Jim JeffordsKO2 (10), 2:06Feb 19, 1900Light Guard Armory, Detroit, Michigan, US
42Win31–3–6 (2) Joe Goddard TKO4 (6), 1:10Feb 13, 1900Industrial Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
41Loss30–3–6 (2) James J. Jeffries PTS25Nov 3, 1899Coney Island A.C., New York City, New York, USFor world heavyweight title
40Win30–2–6 (2)Jack McCormickKO2 (6)Jan 30, 1899Arena A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
39Win29–2–6 (2) Charles 'Kid' McCoy KO10 (20), 1:13Jan 10, 1899Lenox A.C., New York City, New York, US
38Win28–2–6 (2) James J. Corbett DQ9 (20)Nov 22, 1898Lenox A.C., New York City, New York, US
37Win27–2–6 (2)Gus RuhlinKO1 (25), 2:17Jun 29, 1898Greater New York A.C., New York City, New York, US
36Loss26–2–6 (2) James J. Jeffries PTS20May 6, 1898Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USLost world heavyweight title claim
35Draw26–1–6 (2) Joe Choynski PTS8 (20)Mar 11, 1898Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USChoynski fell out of the ring and the fight was declared a draw
34Win26–1–5 (2) Joe Goddard KO6 (20)Nov 18, 1897Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USRetained world heavyweight title claim
33Win25–1–5 (2)Punch VaughnKO3 (?)Aug 16, 1897Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
32Win24–1–5 (2)Tom ParksKO1 (?)Aug 7, 1897Town Hall, Dundalk, Ireland
31Win23–1–5 (2)Pat McCourtKO2 (?)Jul 30, 1897Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, UK
30Win22–1–5 (2)Joe CraigKO1 (?)Jul 23, 1897Ginnett's Circus, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
29Draw21–1–5 (2) Peter Maher PTS7Jun 9, 1897Palace A.C., New York City, New York, US
28Draw21–1–4 (2)Jim WilliamsPTS8Apr 5, 1897Salt Lake City, Utah, US
27Win21–1–3 (2) Bob Fitzsimmons DQ8 (10) Dec 2, 1896 Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USWon world heavyweight title claim
26Loss20–1–3 (2)Reddy GallagherNWS4Oct 1, 1896Lyceum Theater, Denver, Colorado, US
25Draw20–1–3 (1) James J. Corbett PTS4Jun 24, 1896Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, US
24Win20–1–2 (1)Jim WilliamsTKO7 (10)Jun 3, 1896Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, US
23Win19–1–2 (1) Joe Choynski PTS8Apr 16, 1896People's Palace Theater, San Francisco, California, US
22Win18–1–2 (1)'Sailor' Charles BrownKO1 (?)Apr 7, 1896Vallejo, California, US
21Draw17–1–2 (1)Alec GreggainsPTS8Mar 12, 1896Bush Street Theater, San Francisco, California, US
20Win17–1–1 (1)John MillerTKO9 (?)Nov 7, 1895Colma A.C., Colma, California, US
19Win16–1–1 (1)William DunnKO1 (?), 0:58Aug 17, 1895Vallejo, California, US
18Win15–1–1 (1)Australian Billy SmithTKO7 (20)Jul 25, 1895Colma A.C., Colma, California, US
17Win14–1–1 (1)Martin MulverhillKO20 (?)Oct 20, 1894Armory Hall, Vallejo, California, US
16Win13–1–1 (1)Sailor Charles BrownKO1 (?)Aug 21, 1894Vallejo, California, US
15Win12–1–1 (1)Jack MarksKO1 (?)Aug 11, 1894Vallejo, California, US
14Win11–1–1 (1)Rough ThompsonKO4 (?)Aug 4, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
13Win10–1–1 (1)Jack McAuleyKO1 (?)Jul 18, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
12Win9–1–1 (1)Billy TateKO2 (?)Jul 18, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
11ND8–1–1 (1) Nick Burley ND3Jun 21, 1894Opera House, Honolulu, Hawaii
10Win8–1–1Jack LangleyKO8 (?)Jun 20, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
9Draw7–1–1 Nick Burley PTS9 (8)May 24, 1894Honolulu, HawaiiFor vacant Hawaii heavyweight title
8Win7–1Rough ThompsonKO2 (?)May 14, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
7Loss6–1George WashingtonKO? (?)Feb 7, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
6Win6–0Jim BarringtonKO1 (?)Sep 10, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
5Win5–0John WalshKO2 (?)Aug 21, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
4Win4–0Jim HarveyKO2 (?)May 27, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
3Win3–0Jack LangleyKO4 (?)May 3, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
2Win2–0J. PickettKO2 (?)Apr 7, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
1Win1–0Jack GardnerKO4 (?)Mar 17, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii

Unofficial record

54 fights37 wins9 losses
By knockout344
By decision14
By disqualification21
Draws6
No contests2

Record with the inclusion of newspaper decisions in the win/loss/draw column.

No.ResultRecordOpponentTypeRound, timeDateLocationNotes
54Loss37–9–6 (2)Jack MunroeNWS6Feb 27, 19042nd Regiment Armory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
53Loss37–8–6 (2)Gus RuhlinTKO11 (15)Jun 25, 1902National Sporting Club, London, England, UKFor English heavyweight title
52NC37–7–6 (2) Peter Maher NC3 (6)Jan 17, 1902Industrial Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USStopped for lack of action
51Loss37–7–6 (1)Mexican Pete EverettDQ2 (20)May 7, 1901Opera House, Cripple Creek, Colorado, US
50Win37–6–6 (1)Fred RussellKO4 (10)May 3, 1901Colorado A.C., Denver, Colorado, US
49Loss36–6–6 (1) Bob Fitzsimmons KO2 (25), 2:06Aug 24, 1900Coney Island A.C., New York City, New York, US
48Loss36–5–6 (1)Gus RuhlinTKO15 (25)Jun 26, 1900Seaside A.C., Coney Island, New York City, New York, US
47Win36–4–6 (1)Yank KennyKO1 (25), 2:16Jun 8, 1900Broadway A.C., New York City, New York, US
46Win35–4–6 (1) Joe Choynski TKO3 (6)May 8, 1900Tattersall's, Chicago, Illinois, US
45Win34–4–6 (1)Tom 'Stockings' ConroyKO3 (10), 2:12Mar 29, 1900Music Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, US
44Win33–4–6 (1)Jack McCormickKO1 (20), 0:38Mar 15, 1900Coliseum, Hartford, Connecticut, US
43Win32–4–6 (1)Jim JeffordsKO2 (10), 2:06Feb 19, 1900Light Guard Armory, Detroit, Michigan, US
42Win31–4–6 (1) Joe Goddard TKO4 (6), 1:10Feb 13, 1900Industrial Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
41Loss30–4–6 (1) James J. Jeffries PTS25Nov 3, 1899Coney Island A.C., New York City, New York, USFor world heavyweight title
40Win30–3–6 (1)Jack McCormickKO2 (6)Jan 30, 1899Arena A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
39Win29–3–6 (1) Charles 'Kid' McCoy KO10 (20), 1:13Jan 10, 1899Lenox A.C., New York City, New York, US
38Win28–3–6 (1) James J. Corbett DQ9 (20)Nov 22, 1898Lenox A.C., New York City, New York, US
37Win27–3–6 (1)Gus RuhlinKO1 (25), 2:17Jun 29, 1898Greater New York A.C., New York City, New York, US
36Loss26–3–6 (1) James J. Jeffries PTS20May 6, 1898Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USLost world heavyweight title claim
35Draw26–2–6 (1) Joe Choynski PTS8 (20)Mar 11, 1898Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USChoynski fell out of the ring and the fight was declared a draw
34Win26–2–5 (1) Joe Goddard KO6 (20)Nov 18, 1897Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USRetained world heavyweight title claim
33Win25–2–5 (1)Punch VaughnKO3 (?)Aug 16, 1897Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
32Win24–2–5 (1)Tom ParksKO1 (?)Aug 7, 1897Town Hall, Dundalk, Ireland
31Win23–2–5 (1)Pat McCourtKO2 (?)Jul 30, 1897Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, UK
30Win22–2–5 (1)Joe CraigKO1 (?)Jul 23, 1897Ginnett's Circus, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
29Draw21–2–5 (1) Peter Maher PTS7Jun 9, 1897Palace A.C., New York City, New York, US
28Draw21–2–4 (1)Jim WilliamsPTS8Apr 5, 1897Salt Lake City, Utah, US
27Win21–2–3 (1) Bob Fitzsimmons DQ8 (10) Dec 2, 1896 Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USWon world heavyweight title claim
26Loss20–2–3 (1)Reddy GallagherNWS4Oct 1, 1896Lyceum Theater, Denver, Colorado, US
25Draw20–1–3 (1) James J. Corbett PTS4Jun 24, 1896Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, US
24Win20–1–2 (1)Jim WilliamsTKO7 (10)Jun 3, 1896Mechanic's Pavilion, San Francisco, California, US
23Win19–1–2 (1) Joe Choynski PTS8Apr 16, 1896People's Palace Theater, San Francisco, California, US
22Win18–1–2 (1)'Sailor' Charles BrownKO1 (?)Apr 7, 1896Vallejo, California, US
21Draw17–1–2 (1)Alec GreggainsPTS8Mar 12, 1896Bush Street Theater, San Francisco, California, US
20Win17–1–1 (1)John MillerTKO9 (?)Nov 7, 1895Colma A.C., Colma, California, US
19Win16–1–1 (1)William DunnKO1 (?), 0:58Aug 17, 1895Vallejo, California, US
18Win15–1–1 (1)Australian Billy SmithTKO7 (20)Jul 25, 1895Colma A.C., Colma, California, US
17Win14–1–1 (1)Martin MulverhillKO20 (?)Oct 20, 1894Armory Hall, Vallejo, California, US
16Win13–1–1 (1)Sailor Charles BrownKO1 (?)Aug 21, 1894Vallejo, California, US
15Win12–1–1 (1)Jack MarksKO1 (?)Aug 11, 1894Vallejo, California, US
14Win11–1–1 (1)Rough ThompsonKO4 (?)Aug 4, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
13Win10–1–1 (1)Jack McAuleyKO1 (?)Jul 18, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
12Win9–1–1 (1)Billy TateKO2 (?)Jul 18, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
11ND8–1–1 (1) Nick Burley ND3Jun 21, 1894Opera House, Honolulu, Hawaii
10Win8–1–1Jack LangleyKO8 (?)Jun 20, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
9Draw7–1–1 Nick Burley PTS9 (8)May 24, 1894Honolulu, HawaiiFor vacant Hawaii heavyweight title
8Win7–1Rough ThompsonKO2 (?)May 14, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
7Loss6–1George WashingtonKO? (?)Feb 7, 1894Honolulu, Hawaii
6Win6–0Jim BarringtonKO1 (?)Sep 10, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
5Win5–0John WalshKO2 (?)Aug 21, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
4Win4–0Jim HarveyKO2 (?)May 27, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
3Win3–0Jack LangleyKO4 (?)May 3, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
2Win2–0J. PickettKO2 (?)Apr 7, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii
1Win1–0Jack GardnerKO4 (?)Mar 17, 1893Honolulu, Hawaii



Titles in pretence
Preceded by World Heavyweight Champion
December 2, 1896 November 22, 1898
Lost bid for undisputed title
Vacant
Title next held by
Sam Langford

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References

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  3. Barra, Alan (November 26, 1995). "BACKTALK;When Referee Wyatt Earp Laid Down the Law". New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  4. Rasmussen, Cecilia (June 4, 2000). "LA Then and Now: Mrs. Wyatt Earp Packed Her Own Punch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  5. Shillingberg, William B. (Summer 1976). "Wyatt Earp and the Buntline Special Myth". Kansas Historical Quarterly. 42 (2): 113–154.
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