Join Date: Feb 2006
Forgotten great fighters, Part IX
Tom Sharkey was born on November, the 26th, in 1873 in Dundalk/ Ireland. He was only 5´8 tall, but pretty muscular and well built. He weighed in his career between 172 lbs and 205 lbs. His managers were Dan Lynch and Tom O´Rourke. His colorful career began, when he ran away from home and went to sea as a cavin boy. In 1892, Tom Sharkey landed in New York City and joined the Unites States Navy. He was eventually deployed to Hawaii where he began his professional career. He was a standup brawler, who came right after his opponents. He prefered to fight in the inside, where he was easy to hit, but he was tough, tumble, rough, durable and he was a very hard puncher. He had big and unusually broad shoulders for a man of his size. He had a tattoo of a star and a battleship on his barrel chest, another characteristic thing was his in 1900 suffered injured ear (in his fight with Gus Ruhlin), who was named "his large cauliflower ear". His first fight was against a fighter named Jack Gardner, who Sharkey beat with a 1st round KO. After this fight, he scored 18 straight KO´s in 19 fights. His first good win was against Joe Choynski, who he beat on points. On December 2, 1896 Sharkey fought a controversial battle with future heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons. In the eight round Fitzsimmons dropped Sharkey, and appeared to have won the bout. The referee, famed lawman Wyatt Earp, inexplicably disqualified Fitzsimmons and awarded the bout to Sharkey on an alleged foul. The bout had been billed for the heavyweight championship of the world, as it was thought that the champion, James J. Corbett, aka Gentleman Jim, had relinquished the crown. Accordingly, Sharkey then claimed the title. The claim evaporated when Corbett resumed his fighting career, and continued to be recognized as 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 imminent victory when one of Corbett's seconds jumped into the ring in the ninth round. The referee promptly 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 6'21/2 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 the lights required for the filming were so hot that they burned the hair from the top of both fighter's heads. The last round of the fight was not recorded, however, because the camera operator ran out of film. The fight was a ring classic. Sharkey took the early lead when he battered the larger Jeffries during the early stages of the bout. Jeffries, however, was very powerful and gained control of the fight in the later rounds. Both fighters, despite suffering severe injuries during the bout went all out in the fianl round, which most believed was won by Jeffries. In any event the bout was awarded to Jeffries, although many felt Sharkey had won. During this fight the indomitable Sharkey suffered a broken nose, two broken ribs, and his left ear swelled to the size of a grapefruit. After this fight Jeffries and Sharkey became friends. Jeffries always claimed that Sharkey gave him his hardest fights stating that Sharkey was the roughest, toughest and bravest man he ever fought. He retired at the age of 30, after a loss to Jack Munroe on points. All in all, he had 53 reported fights, where he could win 40 fights (37 KO´s), he lost 7 times (3 by the way of KO) and 5 draws. At the age of 64 in 1938 he entered Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, according to newspaper accounts, desperately ill. He died on April, the 17th, in 1953 in San Francisco.