Did Jack Sharkey say that a black fighter could never beat him?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by InMemoryofJakeLamotta, Feb 3, 2020.


  1. InMemoryofJakeLamotta

    InMemoryofJakeLamotta Boxing Addict Full Member

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    I'm not sure but I think I read that he said that some time before the Louis fight.
     
  2. SolomonDeedes

    SolomonDeedes Active Member Full Member

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    Apparently he did convince himself of this. In an article before the Louis fight, he wrote:

    "They ask me if I'm scared of Louis. The night Baer took that runout powder settled the fight for me. I shall beat Louis. I have always had the Indian sign on Negro boxers. Remember what I did to George Godfrey and Harry Wills?"
     
  3. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Well none did.
     
  4. Boxed Ears

    Boxed Ears Ducking Regional Manager Full Member

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    Jack was so popular with the black community that, one night, Ethel Waters' half nephew was out with him and proclaimed "My man Shar-KAY-knows how to par-TAY!" Now, does that mean he never said anything that came across wrong to nobody? Naw, of course not. But what would Charlie Waters've even meant if we didn't fux with him? Sharkey was basically our RDJ back then. Honorary. You feel me.
     
  5. Fergy

    Fergy Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Jack was an emotional guy..
     
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  6. LoadedGlove

    LoadedGlove Active Member Full Member

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    Boxing News ran a fantastic interview with Sharkey when he was still alive back in the 80's . He was an abrasive character even in his 80's. He spoke freely about his hatred of Irish Fighters and name checked Jack Renault ! When challenged by the interviewer he would only concede that maybe Renault didn't wear green on St. Patrick's Day.
    Jack may well have said this and may well have meant it too.
     
  7. InMemoryofJakeLamotta

    InMemoryofJakeLamotta Boxing Addict Full Member

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    If he was around in the 80s and 90s, he might have said "That Holmes/Tyson/Lewis/Holyfield/Bowe character is a wuss. I'll pulverize him in 2!"
     
  8. KasimirKid

    KasimirKid Active Member Full Member

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    Sharkey's statement might be construed as condescending to black people, but in the context of what many white people were thinking and saying about blacks at the time and taking into consideration that he was pumping himself up to be psychologically ready for a big fight against Louis, I don't think it deserves much if any weight. Actually, as Mcvey points out, the statement was factually correct. Unlike other white heavyweight champions who were more highly regarded than he was but who will go unnamed here (you can guess who), Jack fought some pretty good black fighters during his prime years and never drew "the color line."
     
  9. Ken Ashcroft

    Ken Ashcroft Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Which is kind of ironic considering that Louis was partially of Indian descent on his mother’s side.
     
  10. he grant

    he grant Historian/Film Maker Full Member

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    My buddy was the last man to ever interview Sharkey, visiting him in his senior assisted living facility when he was in his nineties .. he said Sharkey was not all there , more from age than anything as he asked him about his career .. two interesting takeaways .. at north of ninety he said Sharkey had crystal clear blue eyes and out of no where, when the name of Carnera came up he snapped into focus and said "Carnera could never lay a hand on him."
     
  11. Sting like a bean

    Sting like a bean Well-Known Member Full Member

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    That quote's not nearly as bad as I feared. I could easily imagine "negro" replaced with "Irish" with little change to the apparent connotation -and note that Sharkey appears to refer to himself as an "Indian", whatever that means in this context. It was extremely common in Sharkey's time to casually talk of all kinds of ethnic groups as if there were some kind of self evident essential differences between them, using "the" as an indefinite article ("the negro", "the Scotsman"...) and this often didn't necessarily imply any particular value judgment -though of course it often did, as well.

    This kind of talk shows up a lot in older discussions of poets and composers, wherein the artist's nationality or ethnicity is supposed to leave some discernible imprint on his creative work ("the Russian soul", "the German temperament", "the hot Mediterranean blood", etc.) and it's often difficult to tell how literally this is meant to be taken.

    I'm not trying to write apologetics for Sharkey here; for all I know he was a hood-wearing member of the KKK. I'm just saying that this quote in isolation seems to me fairly innocuous - for the time - and ambiguous at worst.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  12. KasimirKid

    KasimirKid Active Member Full Member

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    "Indian sign" was once a commonly used figure of speech meaning something like "I've got that guy's number" as with a magic spell that puts one person under another's power. I don't think Sharkey was inferring that he was an Indian of either the Amercian or Mid-East variety.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  13. LoadedGlove

    LoadedGlove Active Member Full Member

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    Wow ! I would love to have had the opportunity to speak to him.
     
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  14. ETM

    ETM I thought I did enough to win. Full Member

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    Good fighter. Should have been the dominant champion in the heavyweight division pre Louis 30s. Based on his ability.
     
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  15. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    **** Me. I never knew that!
     
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