Tommy Ryan

Last updated
Tommy Ryan
Tommy Ryan.jpg
Real nameJoseph Youngs
Weight(s) Middleweight
Nationality American
Born(1870-03-31)March 31, 1870
Redwood, New York
DiedAugust 3, 1948(1948-08-03) (aged 78)
Phoenix, Arizona
Boxing record
Total fights109
Wins by KO71
No contests2

Tommy Ryan (March 31, 1870 August 3, 1948) was a famed American World Welterweight, [1] and World Middleweight boxing champion who fought from 1887 to 1907. [2] His simultaneously holding records in both weight classes was a rare and impressive feat for a boxer.


Boxing career

Ryan was considered by many one of the greatest Middleweights in boxing history. He was the World Middleweight Champion from 1898 to 1906. Some of his opponents included Mysterious Billy Smith, Kid McCoy, Tommy West, and Jack Bonner. After his retirement as a fighter he became a boxing teacher and coach. He was credited with helping devise the crouching technique for defense. During his career of 97 fights he won 84 (70 by knockout), lost 2, with 11 draws. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999, Ryan was also considered an excellent boxer-puncher. His boxing record was 84 wins (70 KO's), 2 losses and 11 draws.

Ryan first won the welterweight title in a match with Mysterious Billy Smith on July 26, 1910. He was knocked out by Kid McCoy in the 15th round on March 2, 1913. This bout forms part of the lore of the McCoy legend. McCoy served as a sparring partner for Ryan, and absorbed many beatings at the hands of his employer. Ryan was notorious for showing little mercy to his sparring partners.

Mysterious Billy Smith Canadian boxer

Amos M. Smith, known during his career as Mysterious Billy Smith, was a Canadian boxer. He adopted the name “Billy” before turning professional in 1890. He acquired his nickname when a newspaper reporter questioned, “Who is this mysterious Billy Smith?”

Kid McCoy American boxer

Charles "Kid" McCoy, born Norman Selby, was an American world champion boxer and early Hollywood actor.

Tommy Ryan and Fireman Jim Flynn, between 1910-1915. Jim flynn tommy ryan.jpg
Tommy Ryan and Fireman Jim Flynn, between 1910-1915.

As a result, McCoy hated Ryan, and sought revenge. It is alleged that McCoy, who appeared thin, pale and frail, persuaded Ryan that he was seriously ill before their fight. McCoy, who was famed as a trickster, purportedly rubbed flour on his face so as to appear deathly ill. Ryan is said to have fallen for the ruse, failed to train properly and was not in top condition for the bout. Whether true or not, McCoy scored an upset win over Ryan in the non-title match.

In November 1941, Ryan accepted the position of boxing instructor at the Multnomah Athletic Club. A month later, he resigned the position and told The Oregonian , "I don't think I would have come west had I known that professional boxing was barred in the states of Washington and Oregon. There is too much money in other sections of the country for me to stick here at a $150 job". [3]

Multnomah Athletic Club

The Multnomah Athletic Club is a private social and athletic club in Portland, Oregon, United States.

<i>The Oregonian</i> Largest newspaper in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, published in Portland, Oregon since 1850.

The Oregonian is a daily newspaper based in Portland, Oregon, United States, owned by Advance Publications. It is the oldest continuously published newspaper on the U.S. west coast, founded as a weekly by Thomas J. Dryer on December 4, 1850, and published daily since 1861. It is the largest newspaper in Oregon and the second largest in the Pacific Northwest by circulation. It is one of the few newspapers with a statewide focus in the United States. The Sunday edition is published under the title The Sunday Oregonian. The regular edition was published under the title The Morning Oregonian from 1861 until 1937.

Professional boxing sport

Professional boxing, or prizefighting, is regulated, sanctioned boxing. Professional boxing bouts are fought for a purse that is divided between the boxers as determined by contract. Most professional bouts are supervised by a regulatory authority to guarantee the fighters' safety. Most high-profile bouts obtain the endorsement of a sanctioning body, which awards championship belts, establishes rules, and assigns its own judges and referee.

Ryan was also instrumental in the career of heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. In fact, Ryan is credited with changing Jeffries' stance and teaching him to fight out of a crouch. Ryan also seconded James J. Corbett in his second attempt to wrest the heavyweight crown from Jeffries. Corbett however, blamed Ryan's strategy for his defeat. In 2003, Ryan was listed in The Ring magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Heavyweight is a weight class in combat sports.

James J. Jeffries American boxer

James Jackson Jeffries was an American professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion.

James J. Corbett American boxer

James John Corbett was an American professional boxer and a World Heavyweight Champion, best known as the man who defeated the great John L. Sullivan. Despite a career spanning only 20 bouts, Corbett faced the best competition his era had to offer; squaring off with a total of 9 fighters who would later be enshrined alongside him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Ryan died on August 3, 1948, aged 78. [4]

See also

Lineal championship

In combat sports where champions are decided by a challenge, the lineal championship of a weight class is a world championship title held initially by an undisputed champion and subsequently by a fighter who defeats the reigning champion in a match at that weight class. In professional boxing, the lineal champion is informally called "the man who beat the man". Champions recognized by sanctioning bodies such as the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), or the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) may vacate their title voluntarily, or be stripped of the title for breaching the sanctioning body's regulations or contracts. There will thus be a breach of continuity in the list of sanctioned champions which the lineal championship is intended to prevent. However, there is no single canonical list of lineal champions at any weight class, because there is no agreed upon method of determining the starting point for each lineage and conflicting opinions on what to do when the current champion retires or moves to a different weight class, although there is agreement that any stripping of a title be discounted.

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  1. "The Lineal Welterweight Champs". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  2. "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  3. "Pugilist Ryan, in huff, resigns". The Sunday Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. December 3, 1911. p. 20. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  4. "Tommy Ryan", BoxRec

BoxRec or is a website dedicated to holding updated records of professional boxers, both male and female. It also maintains a MediaWiki-based encyclopaedia of boxing.

Find A Grave is a website that allows the public to search and add to an online database of cemetery records. It is owned by It receives and uploads digital photographs of headstones from burial sites, taken by unpaid volunteers at cemeteries. Find A Grave then posts the photo on its website.

Preceded by
Mysterious Billy Smith
World Welterweight Champion
July 26, 1894 1898
Title next held by
Mysterious Billy Smith
Title last held by
Bob Fitzsimmons
World Middleweight Champion
October 24, 1898 December, 1906
Title next held by
Stanley Ketchel