Saturday, 15 September 2012


I Fought Them All – authors' extras #1
A series of articles accompanying the e-version of the biography of Tom Sharkey

Our award-winning biography of Tom Sharkey, entitled ‘I Fought Them All: The Life and Ring Battle of a Prize-fighting Legend’, is sold out.
However, it is now available as an e-book.
These short articles are based on some of the extensive additional notes published in the hardback version only and are printed here for the benefit of those interested in the e-book.


Tom Sharkey enlisted in the United States Navy on November 28, 1892, and it was there he would hone the skills which would see him later challenge the best fighters of the day.
“I boxed more than ever,” Sharkey said later. “I put on the gloves every chance I had – tackled five or six men one after another.”
In fact, in that first year in the navy, Sharkey knocked out fellows named Jack Gardner (in four rounds on March 17, 1893), J Pickett (in two on April 7), Jack Langley (four on May 3), Jim Harvey (also two on May 27) and Jack Walsh (August 21) and J Barrington (September 10), both in the first.
There would, of course, never be any records of these first fights on board ship or in the dockyards.
It is generally claimed that Tom was undefeated or at least had by far the better of these fights. His subsequent record in the professional game would obviously support that.
However, an obituary for 53-year-old Father William Henry Ironsides Reany, ‘The fighting chaplain of the US Navy’, which was published in the New York Times on November 19, 1915, claimed: “He was said to be the father of boxing in the Navy and also introduced other athletics among the sailors. Fr Reany was always ready to put on the gloves with the sailors and was a very proficient boxer. It is related of him that he was the only man in the navy who ever defeated Tom Sharkey.
“The story is that Sharkey was obstreperous and interrupted divine services and the priest ‘called him down’. As soon as the services were over he reproached Sharkey for his disturbance and the upshot of the matter was that they put on the gloves.
“Fr Reany with his clean hitting and scientific knowledge of the sport, soon placed the pugilist hors de combat and from that time on never had any further trouble with Sharkey.”
The obituary provoked a strong response from a Helen Manzone, of Brooklyn, who was angry not at the claim that Tom might have been beaten but had been rude.
She wrote to the newspaper’s editor: “I have read your tribute to Fr Reany. I take pleasure in attempting to correct that statement relative to Tom Sharkey. You have put it before the public that Fr Reany had to upbraid Tom Sharkey for being turbulent. That is false. Such thing is against Tom Sharkey’s principle.”

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