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The Real McCoy
by Robert Cantwell

June 01, 1970

His true name was Norman Selby, and he yearned for the life of a farmer, but title fights, adulation, Broadway, posh saloons, private eyes, poets, princesses, nine marriages (three of them to the actress at left, Julia Woodruff), the movies, scandal, jewel thefts and finally murder were the lot of boxing's mighty Kid

Except for the Earl of Sandwich, Norman Selby is the only sportsman whose name has become a common noun in general use. Selby fought under the name of Kid McCoy and the word McCoy is now found in reputable lexicons, "usually preceded by the," according to The Random House Dictionary, "as, the real McCoy, the genuine thing as promised, stated or implied." The term "real McCoy" spread through American speech around the turn of the century, appeared in English novels in the 1930s and even popped up in Scotland, where it became the real McKaye. The real McCoy himself, that is the fighter whose true name was Norman Selby, never actually liked the phrase, and as he became a household word he tried repeatedly to recapture his identity as plain old Norman Selby. But he never succeeded.

Kid McCoy burst into sports history in 1896 when he was 23 years old. He won the world welterweight championship (145 pounds) and went on to fight middleweights (then 158 pounds), light heavyweights (175) and even heavyweights. The biggest man he defeated was one Herr Plaacke, who at 6'5¾" and 245 pounds was the size of Jess Willard. McCoy fought several heavyweights. He knocked out 220-pound Peter Maher, who nearly beat Fitzsimmons. He was barely beaten by Tom Sharkey, whose followers claimed he had really won a savage 25-round fight awarded to James Jeffries. McCoy was knocked out by James Corbett in the last fight in Madison Square Garden before boxing was outlawed by New York State in 1900.

In all McCoy had 105 recorded fights, winning 81 and losing six. The others were drawn or were no-decision affairs. McCoy is in the Boxing Hall of Fame, and by searching with diligence one can find occasional references to him in ring literature, but his real importance was as a word and a symbol. McCoy was the first sports celebrity to become a nationally known, publicity-created character, a fictional being. Later on the phenomenon became familiar, and people today recognize that the public image of, say, Joe Namath is not necessarily the same as the real Joe Namath in private life.

But in McCoy's time the popularization process was barely beginning. Because he was the real McCoy, people expected him to act like the real McCoy all the time. So he began to think of himself as the real McCoy and to act in a way that would have been impossible for the real Norman Selby. The result was a personality struggle and eventually Selby became trapped in his own living legend. There was nothing so clear-cut as a Jekyll-Hyde situation. It was just that the fictional creation of Kid McCoy and the living human being of Norman Selby became increasingly entangled with each other; the motives for their conflicting actions became confused and in the end, by way of romance, theft and murder, they destroyed each other.

Norman Selby was the more likable and definable of the two. He was a farm boy, tall and skinny, never robust, born in a close-knit family of three sisters and a younger brother in Moscow, Ind. He was soft-spoken, courteous and remarkably handsome, with gray eyes and black curly hair and a classic profile that made him look like a more rugged version of John Barrymore. His matinee-idol features even led him to a theatrical career, his greatest success coming in David Wark Griffith's silent-screen masterpiece, Broken Blossoms.

As a farm boy, Selby's life ran according to the pattern of the time and place: he fished, rode horseback, hunted rabbits, did chores, and left home. At 18, in Butte, Mont., he had his first and only professional fight as Norman Selby. He was paid $5 and believed he had come upon the ideal way to earn money.

His first fight under the name of Kid McCoy (there is no record as to why he selected that particular name) was in St. Paul in 1891 and for the next three years, while he was living at home, he fought a good deal around Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Eventually he began to attract attention because he went into the ring bent on getting the business over with as soon as possible. It was a time of long-drawn-out fights: Tommy Ryan, the welterweight champion, fought 76 rounds with Middleweight Danny Needham before knocking him out. These marathon struggles were masterly demonstrations of conditioning, but they were almost as tiring for the spectators as they were for the fighters.

McCoy, on the other hand, rushed into action from the first bell as though he had to catch a train. He had 12 fights in 1893 and won nine of them in from one to five rounds. He fought constantly, hurrying from bout to bout in Akron, Dubuque, Jersey City, Syracuse, Boston, Hot Springs, New Orleans, Joplin, Mo. He generally would knock out some promising local boy in a round or two and rush on to another fight. His opponents were an inglorious throng and they often dropped out of boxing after fighting McCoy. He was accused of a lack of sportsmanship in eliminating so many fighters who might have gone on, but he explained that he was doing them a service. "A quick knockout could be construed as merciful," he once said. "I always tried for one."

At this time McCoy was still subordinate to Norman Selby, for whom fighting was merely a means of earning money, one at which he happened to be proficient. The fight game as such, fight-club personalities, the vast importance attached to subtle gradations in the standing of opponents, meant little to him. A short time before his 21st birthday Selby fell in love with Lottie Piehler, a nice, quiet country girl who was working in a millinery shop in Middletown, Ohio. He had $300 left from McCoy's last fight, and he married her. They went to Cincinnati, and when the money was spent McCoy got a job in a theater in Louisville, where his part of the evening's entertainment consisted of fighting anybody in the audience who wanted to try him. For this he earned $250 a week and he and his bride saved their money and went to New York. There McCoy got a few fights with middleweights of some reputation, including Abe Ullman, Shadow Maber and Mysterious Billy Smith, all championship contenders. When he won easily he began to be taken seriously by the New York sporting crowd.

There was more than bold aggression, ambition and a hint of snobbishness in the makeup of Kid McCoy. Damon Runyon, at the beginning of his sportswriting career, called McCoy one of the greatest fighters in ring history and praised his intelligence. "One of the cleverest, craftiest men who ever put on boxing gloves" was the way Runyon put it. And most experts agreed that McCoy was a superb boxer. He differed from such fine boxers as Tommy Ryan in that he was not primarily defensive; his boxing skill included an attack that went on as long as he could keep it up or until his opponent could no longer face it. If his fights went more than 10 rounds they tended to be drawn.

McCoy made a quick trip to England in 1895, the first of 66 journeys abroad, and there lost a 10-round decision to Ted White, only the second loss in a 38-fight career. But early the next year he came back to win the welterweight title from Tommy Ryan in 15 rounds. The fight was Ryan's first defeat in 44 fights and it established Kid McCoy as a permanent name for Norman Selby.

The fictional creation of McCoy now began to take over from the real Norman Selby. Both liked to have money, but Selby liked to earn it and save it and McCoy liked to make it fast and either spend it or carry it around. One of McCoy's idiosyncrasies was to keep his money in cash-coins, bills and gold. He carried thousands of dollars in his pockets. He was fascinated with gems as another tangible form of wealth, and jumped at a chance to tight the middleweight champion of South Africa at Johannesburg during the mining boom. He won the fight, but he became legend there because of the money he carried around with him. He once added up a wad of it and found it totaled $40,000.

At this time James Corbett, the ex-champion, owned a flourishing saloon on Broadway that was a meeting place for sports figures, and McCoy decided to start a more elegant restaurant and bar in the building of the Casino Theatre a short distance away. The Casino was a fashionable playhouse-Florodora ran there for two years and brought considerable trade to McCoy's place. Corbett's bar was for men-horseplayers, bookmakers, gamblers and sporting types who preferred to avoid the limelight-while McCoy's had huge plate-glass windows through which passers-by could see the celebrities inside. Since these were theatrical figures accustomed to being stared at they were far from displeased. And they were a glamorous crew: Lillian Russell, Anna Held, Trixie Friganza and the wonderful comedienne Marie Dressler.

Mack Sennett got his introduction to theater life at McCoy's bar and became McCoy's friend, as did De Wolf Hopper and John and Lionel Barrymore.

Mrs. Norman Selby did not fit into this sort of life and divorced McCoy, who then married Julia Woodruff, a beautiful but hot-tempered young actress. After a stormy year of married life Julia divorced McCoy, but remarried him almost at once only to divorce him again. When they were married a third time McCoy tried to keep it a secret, but reporters learned that the couple exchanged vows in the office of a justice of the peace in Union Hills, N.J. and entertained their readers with accounts of catching McCoy trying to marry secretly a wife he had married twice before.

Ridicule got under McCoy's skin and this led to an action that Norman Selby would have avoided. Tom Sharkey was one of the toughest contenders in that Neanderthal age of heavyweight fighters, but McCoy impetuously agreed to fight him. The reason was that Sharkey had a saloon on 14th Street which was even more of a meeting place for the fight crowd than Corbett's and a pole apart from McCoy's own polite establishment. Sharkey's was dark, tough and always packed with surly partisans who loudly believed the owner to be the champion of everything. It also existed on the border of the underworld.

As a fighter Sharkey was a tireless head-down slugger, prone to windmill in like a barroom brawler, able to withstand terrific punishment and willing to slam away until something connected. In 1899 McCoy took on Sharkey and the match had somewhat the air of rival capitalists settling their differences with boxing gloves. Sharkey was a better businessman (and bigger at 183 pounds to 160) and he knocked out McCoy in the 10th round. Under the circumstances McCoy did not look bad, but it was a victory for the roughnecks, and trade increased at Sharkey's saloon.

McCoy was annoyed by imitators as well as competitors. He had fought in so many out-of-the-way places that fighters calling themselves Kid McCoy began turning up all over the country. One phony McCoy in California so irritated a San Francisco sportswriter. William Naughton, that Naughton went into fight promotion himself. His first offering was a fight between McCoy and Joe Choynski, a heavyweight. Choynski was considered indestructible. He was square, tough, experienced and willing to fight anybody. He fought Corbett (four times), Fitzsimmons and Jeffries, and remained in action long enough to knock out Jack Johnson in 1901.

This was the opponent that Naughton, in his hatred of sham and his concern for McCoy's good name, lined up for a fight three months after McCoy had been beaten by Sharkey. They met in San Francisco and McCoy was not favored. His detractors said he had only beaten beginners, that he had no staying power, that he could not take a punch, and that, if he ever had been any good, he was now only a Broadway playboy. At first it seemed they were right. McCoy forced the fight as he always did and Choynski knocked him down. When he got up Choynski knocked him down again. So it went, round after round. By the time round 20 arrived McCoy had been on the canvas 16 times. He also had an unnatural grimace on his features, the result of a bent bridge on his teeth, a broken nose and three broken ribs. But then, to the astonishment of all, he dramatically knocked Choynski out. Naughton ran the news in headlines: NOW YOU'VE SEEN THE REAL McCOY!

For no reason that is obvious-then or now-the phrase caught on and radiated far beyond the world of fight fans. The real McCoy came to mean a good suit of clothes, an ample meal, a tip on a horse race, a truly bad man, a full house, an expensive cigar, a no-hitter, a diamond ring, a winning lottery ticket, a reformed burglar, an earthquake, tornado, tidal wave, fire, train wreck or other catastrophe, or perhaps merely an unadulterated breakfast cereal. The turn of the century was a time of blatant imitation and outrageous pretense, of synthetic flavors, watered stock, salted gold mines, counterfeit bills, sawdust-stuffed sausages, artificial colorings, preservatives, patent medicines and cures, frauds and confidence games so numerous that some simple phrase was needed to get across the opposite. The real McCoy served to express the ordinary citizen's approval of whatever was genuine in a world of high-pressure unrealities.

McCoy was flattered at finding himself a nationwide slogan which, if some advertising man had invented it, would have been worth a fortune. It is uncommon for a living human being to become synonymous with authenticity and genuineness and the opposite of that which is artificial, imitation, bogus or pretended. McCoy reacted by reverting briefly to Norman Selby; he bought a farm. It was on the outskirts of Saratoga, N.Y. and only its location recommended it to Kid McCoy, for Saratoga was the gambling center of the country. For Norman Selby the farm, called Cedar Bluffs, was an ideal purchase. It was a link to an outdoor childhood and a simple life. But for the real McCoy at the height of his fame, a farmer's life was impossible.

There was, however, one meeting point in the identities of Norman Selby and the real McCoy. McCoy had a missionary zeal for physical fitness. He even persuaded Variety to publish a column, How to Take Care of Yourself, much to the bewilderment of readers who-while searching for items of gossip and theatrical news-instead encountedred McCoy's advocacy of fresh air and plenty of exercise. McCoy was now so famous and influential that he seriously believed he could restore hard-drinking, saturated sportsmen and playboys to a robust life they had never known or enjoyed in the first place. So Cedar Bluffs became a health farm. Unfriendly accounts later called it McCoy's roadhouse but it was, at least at first, a seriously operated rest home and reconditioning sanitarium.

Unfortunately McCoy did not have much time to spend at the farm. Everyone wanted to see the real McCoy fight, and in the fall of 1899, four months after he knocked out Choynski, he had four fights in only eight days. He won the first three easily. In the fourth Jack McCormick, who went on to a respectable middleweight career, knocked him out in the first round. The real McCoy could not let his admirers down in that manner, so he had eight fights in rapid succession and won them all (including a decision over McCormick) except for a draw with Choynski.

McCoy now had come to believe in his own legend. It was not that he dramatized himself or thought of himself as a hero-he was too shrewd for that and was always merciless in his self-honesty-but the mythical Kid McCoy exercised a kind of tidal influence that pulled human motives out of their natural orbit and made them subject to the fluctuations and changes in the legend. This helps account for why McCoy fought Corbett. The two men were on the same side in their attempt to raise the standards of the sport. Their wives had been close friends. But rumors spread the fight was fixed. Broadway Magazine speculated that domestic troubles lay behind the fight, and reported that Mrs. McCoy and Mrs. Corbett were no longer speaking. Money certainly was not a major motive.

At any rate, the fight was held on the night of Aug. 30, 1900, only hours before the anti-boxing law went into effect, and only a handful of spectators appeared. Both Corbett and McCoy were fast and expert but they shocked reporters by showing no scientific skill whatever and slugging like a pair of street brawlers. They kept it up until the fifth round when Corbett knocked McCoy senseless. The only thing the fight proved was that it certainly was not fixed.

McCoy went to his own health farm to recover. Two of his first clients were there at the time, Edward Ellis, the heir of the founder of the Ellis Locomotive Company, and Ralph Thompson, a famous coxswain of the Yale Crew and a wealthy playboy. Ellis came down with typhoid fever and nearly died, creating some ghoulish amusement among Broadway wits about McCoy's health treatments. Mrs. McCoy had a young actress, Estelle Earle, visiting her at the farm and Ellis, recovering, married Miss Earle. Simultaneously Mrs. McCoy ran off to Japan with Ralph Thompson, leaving McCoy alone with his punching bags, diets and health hints.

"This business of being a living trademark can be hell," Mack Sennett once said, and McCoy certainly agreed. He dropped out of sight, insofar as it was possible for the real McCoy to do so. His restaurant and bar went out of business. He quietly divorced the wife he had married three times and married an actress, Indianola Arnold, who was appearing in The Wizard of Oz. He tried to keep this marriage a secret, too, but the news got out. It turned out that that marriage did not count and was somehow annulled. Just at that time Augustus Thomas, a leading American dramatist, produced a prizefight play, The Other Girl, about a fortune-hunting prizefighter who tried to marry an heiress and was frustrated by the difference in their social positions. Lionel Barrymore, who played the fighter, carefully studied McCoy's appearance, walk, speech and mannerisms and duplicated them on the stage so expertly that McCoy himself seemed to be playing the role. The play opened at the Criterion Theatre at the end of 1903 and was a sensational success. It ran for more than six months and it altered McCoy's public image insofar as his former Broadway cronies were concerned.

In 1904 young Ellis died, leaving a fortune estimated at $7 million, and a year later, on Oct. 21, 1905, McCoy married his widow. The Morning Telegraph, an alert journal of horse racing and night life, headlined the news as the biggest story of the day and reported: "Along Broadway last night that same $7 million formed the chief topic of conversation."

McCoy lost no time in letting it be known what he was going to do. He was going to be Norman Selby again. With two established diamond merchants as partners he started a high-quality jewelry store on Maiden Lane and another on Broadway. Norman Selby was president of the company. Next he organized a nationwide detective agency, in partnership with a former New York City policeman. He had a luxurious suite of offices on Fifth Avenue and 25 operatives scattered around the country. Again Norman Selby was president. Still later he started an automobile agency.

But he never could get rid of Kid McCoy. Newspapers referred to him as "Mr. Norman Selby (Kid McCoy)." His wife named her yacht The Kid McCoy. Strangers tried to knock him down. In a New York bar some celebrating college boys who saw him wearing tails, a silk hat and a cape argued loudly that he could not possibly be the real McCoy. As a test one of them punched him on the jaw. The experiment was a success: this was unquestionably the real McCoy, for he knocked the intrepid undergraduate cold. In front of the Café Madrid a mining engineer named Asa Willard Hein slugged McCoy-or knocked his silk hat off, the accounts differ-and McCoy tried almost desperately to avoid a fight. After he blacked Hein's eye he pleaded with the patrolman who arrested them both for disorderly conduct, saying they had acted childishly. It did no good. The name of Norman Selby appeared on the police blotter, was spotted by reporters and reappeared in headlines the next day.

Hein may have had justification for his poke at McCoy since Hein had sued his wife for divorce and named McCoy as co-respondent. McCoy immediately went on a hunting trip to Canada, though it was not the hunting season, and then visited France while his third (or fourth or sixth, depending on how you count) wife divorced him. Sometime later reporters in the backwoods of North Carolina came upon the marriage record of one Norman Selby and the former Edna Valentine Hein. Since she was the daughter of a wealthy importer, the private life of Kid McCoy was again in the news.

The McCoys came to New York, where he opened a bar and restaurant in the Hotel Normandie, a short distance from the Casino Theatre, and welcomed back his theatrical patrons. David Wark Griffith, returning from California after his first success as a director, met McCoy in his bar nightly and often walked with him to his gymnasium two blocks away for boxing lessons.

McCoy's penchant for the limelight continued. He lived in a fashionable world but he did not share its prejudices, especially with respect to race. The bigotry at this time was focused on the ***** champion, Jack Johnson, and the search for a great white hope to restore white supremacy to the ring. All of which seemed irrational to McCoy. When Mrs. Jack Johnson, a white woman, committed suicide in 1912 McCoy wrote an eloquent letter to The Morning Telegraph pleading for an understanding between the races and concluding that it was each man's duty "to treat his fellow man as a brother and each woman as you would have your own mother and sister treated." The newspaper printed the statement with an apologetic disclaimer that said: "The Morning Telegraph can scarcely agree with Kid McCoy."

McCoy had trouble keeping up the standing of his bar and finally he lost his liquor license under conditions which suggested the role of the police was hardly simon-pure. So, at 39, McCoy returned to the ring, first for some inconsequential fights in Philadelphia and Toronto and then three bouts in France. His reputation was still such that his victory over a forgotten Englishman named P.O. Curran, in a 20-round bout in Nice in 1912, was international sports news from The Times of London to the Toledo Blade.

More important for McCoy, on this European trip he won the friendship of Maurice Maeterlinck, the Belgian poet who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1911. Maeterlinck held a princely position in Europe's prewar intellectual aristocracy. A short, powerful athletic figure who was in fact a good boxer and soccer player, he had made a fortune from his vaporous and lofty verse. He owned a villa at Nice, a chalet in Switzerland, an apartment in Paris and one of the most sumptuous estates in Normandy, Les Abeilles. It had formerly been a Benedictine monastery and had room for 400 guests.

Georgette Leblanc, an opera singer generally regarded as Maeterlinck's wife though they were not married, brought to Les Abeilles throngs of ballet dancers, avant-garde artists, modern composers, symbolist poets, sculptors, critics, essayists, scientists, opera stars and theatrical figures. On special occasions she put on magnificent outdoor productions of Maeterlinck's dramas and to these she invited political figures from all over Europe. Her plan was to make Les Abeilles a French version of Wagner's Bayreuth.

Maeterlinck himself, however, was a tireless hiker and trout fisherman, a follower of bicycle racing and one of the first people in France to ride a motorcycle. He had his own private boxing instructor, a fighter named Raymond Bon, but he took lessons from Georges Carpentier as well and in 1912 fought an exhibition bout for charity with Carpentier, who was then only beginning to be known. McCoy was a fine recruit for the Maeterlinck circle. He was not only an agreeable man of the world but a celebrated fighter as well. He too was invited to give Maeterlinck boxing lessons. One of Maeterlinck's many delusions was that everyone enjoyed boxing as much as he did, and he would greet his highbrow guests with a cordial invitation to put on the gloves and spar a few rounds. Carpentier later said Maeterlinck was a poor boxer, but McCoy remembered it differently. "He's a good boxer," he told reporters, "and a good sport."

McCoy fitted into Maeterlinck's world as if he had never known any other kind of life. He was no name-dropper and rarely mentioned his own eminent friends. Still, he knew it did him no harm to be pictured traveling with the Prince of Monaco (the grandfather of Prince Rainier), who was also a boxing enthusiast, or to be photographed sparring with Maeterlinck.

But McCoy's social success with European aristocracy was phenomenally brief. After being lionized at Maeterlinck's he went on to Ostend. He stayed at the Palace Hotel in that fashionable resort, where the Princess von Thurn und Taxis also happened to be. The princess was an American heiress from Pittsburgh; she had married the prince, a grandson of the Emperor of Austria, the year before. On the day McCoy left Ostend for London the princess noticed that $80,000 worth of her jewelry was missing. A New York gambler named Squealer Kemp, posing as a London industrialist, was charged with the theft, and since McCoy had been seen in his company the police believed McCoy had taken the stones with him.

The London police picked up McCoy on the Strand during the rush hour as he was on his way to the Hotel Cecil. He did not have any diamonds, but at the request of the Belgian authorities he was locked up. How long he remained in jail is unclear; some accounts say eight days, others a month. But a British magistrate eventually noted that there was no evidence against him. The charge of jewel theft was variously described as preposterous, absurd, ridiculous and bewildering, but whatever it was McCoy was no longer welcome in the homes of people who owned jewelry.

Suddenly a social outcast, McCoy returned quietly to New York, enlisted in the National Guard and served along the Rio Grande. He was an orderly on the staff of General John O'Ryan, a fight enthusiast who, when not engaged in military actions against Pancho Villa, was busy trying to get New York's anti-boxing law repealed. Soon McCoy was active in theatrical and sporting circles again, since many of his old friends saw service in Mexico. When the U.S. entered World War I, McCoy was made a recruiting sergeant and he apparently became a remarkably effective one. He dispensed with the fervent oratory and emotional patriotic appeals then in vogue and instead spoke in a forthright, down-to-earth fashion. The name of the real McCoy carried weight.

It was at the end of the war that he entered the most extraordinary phase of his extraordinary career. David Griffith wanted to make a movie that would not have the huge crowd scenes, huge settings and huge expenses of Intolerance and The Birth of a Nation and he signed McCoy for a key role in Broken Blossoms. The film was based on a chapter in Limehouse Nights by Thomas Burke. It revolved around a sadistic prizefighter, "A gorilla of the jungles of East London" (overplayed with horrible grimaces by Donald Crisp), and his brutal mistreatment of his daughter (played with haunting pathos and delicacy by Lillian Gish). A Chinese who rescued her and hid her away was played by an unknown youth, Richard Barthelmess, who wore a rubber band under his skullcap to make his eyes slant. The story was strange to begin with, the setting in London's Chinatown was remote from anything in the normal experience of an American audience, and the film was deliberately overdrawn-the father too monstrous to be credible, the daughter too winsome and lovely, even amid the beatings and the squalor, to be believed, the Chinese too sensitive and gentle, and the climax, in which the father killed his daughter and was killed by her Chinese lover, was too harrowing.

It was McCoy's task to be a link to the real world in all this madness and he performed it admirably. He played the part of a prizefighter opposed to the demonic father. He was merely an ordinary man, with natural, recognizable human impulses, in a world of grotesques. The audience could identify with him, and while he appeared before the camera only in the three rounds of the famous fight in the film, he performed his role admirably. Broken Blossoms opened on Broadway on May 13, 1919 with a stunning impact on its first-night crowd of international celebrities. It left its viewers silent as they filed from the theater, and the reviews the next morning were little more than collections of superlatives and references to the promise of a new form of art.

Thus McCoy, at the age of 47, began a new career. A survey of what the movies needed most, conducted by Photoplay magazine, had come up with an answer: genuine human beings. McCoy specialized in roles in which he represented reality, the real thing, the real McCoy, a human being without the affectations and hokum of the silent stars. In The House of Glass he was a detective, not a great Sherlock Holmes sleuth but a plain cop carrying out his orders. Clara Kimball Young was the girl falsely convicted of jewel theft who ran away while on parole after serving a long prison term. McCoy tracked her down, but in the process discovered she was innocent of the crime for which she had been imprisoned. Should he let her go or follow his orders? He took her back to jail.

McCoy's rise to cinema fame was followed by still another divorce: his wife said McCoy was a likable person "but he belongs to the public and not to any one woman." And he became even more of a public figure because of Prohibition, as the phrase "the real McCoy" began being widely used to mean a drink of real whiskey as opposed to bootleg hooch. In The American Language H. L. Mencken described the real McCoy as primarily a Prohibition term. Variety spoke of a McCoy as a speakeasy where genuine liquor could be bought. McCoy's name was a term of the highest approbation, as good as "bottled in bond."

McCoy enjoyed his celebrity. But celebrity and solvency were two different things and in 1922 McCoy was declared bankrupt by a Los Angeles court. The reason was another fatal friendship involving jewels. The personalities in this case were Albert Mors and his wife Theresa, operators of an art store in Los Angeles. Mors started his business on Seventh Street in Los Angeles, next door to that of a former New Yorker, Sam Schapps, whose wife had grown up with Mrs. Mors. In 1923 the Morses were divorced and McCoy appeared on the scene as a bodyguard for Mrs. Mors, a dark-haired woman in her early 40s. Disputes over the property in the art store created scenes, and McCoy was ordered not to reappear there. On the night of Aug. 12, 1924 Mrs. Mors, accompanied by McCoy, went to her former home to confront her husband. They found a party in progress. Mrs. Mors attacked her ex-husband. McCoy refused to come to her aid. Mors called the police and charged his ex-wife with assault, but the police refused to act in a domestic quarrel. Mrs. Mors and McCoy returned to her apartment, where McCoy told her he thought he ought to go to New York until everything blew over. She was depressed, saying the Government was going to take her jewelry-there was a smuggling problem-that Mors was removing her property from the store and that McCoy was now leaving her. His story was that she grabbed a knife and threatened to kill herself. He held her arm, he said, but she seized his revolver and shot herself.

McCoy placed a sheet over her body, wrote his will and got her car from the garage. At 2 in the morning he appeared at the home of his sister, who had married a Los Angeles banker. According to his sister, he said, "I killed her." His sister, in a remarkable statement that was never explained, said, "Did you kill him, too?" And nobody called the police.

When Mors' store opened the next morning, McCoy appeared with his revolver, locked the door and ordered the employees to call Mors and tell him he was needed at the store. When Mors did not appear McCoy decided to leave, but as a customer started toward him McCoy shot and wounded him and then shot two other people, neither fatally. He ran away but gave himself up moments later.

The evidence indicated that Mrs. Mors had been shot from some distance, and McCoy was charged with first-degree murder. The case was headlined across the country and would have been an even greater sensation had it not been that the Leopold-Loeb murder trial was going on in Chicago at the time.

Now the many legends of the real McCoy bore down on Norman Selby: the old scandals were revived, his fights, divorces, marriages and remarriages were related in a new light; the theft of the jewels of the Princess von Thurn und Taxis was recollected and the three decades of publicity that had gone into the making of the fabulous Kid McCoy dominated the trial. He was condemned as a moral leper, a man who had always preyed on women and abandoned them. Newspaper readers must have concluded that his physical appearance changed as the trial went on. At first he "basked in the glances and smiles of numerous women admirers, a lot that has been his since the day he first sprang into prominence as a crafty successful ring fighter," but at the end his head sagged, revealing a gleaming bald skull above his clipped black curly fringe of hair, and tears ran down his pasty cheeks. Only one female admirer remained in court when he was sentenced.

McCoy's defense was insanity and when he took the stand he admitted everything except killing Mrs. Mors. The jury deliberated for 78 hours, the longest time on record in California courts, and found McCoy guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to a maximum of 48 years.

Norman Selby was a model prisoner at San Quentin. He was released in 1932, age 61, at the low ebb of the Depression, but he had at last gotten rid of Kid McCoy. No one even wanted to admit that he had ever known Kid McCoy. Henry Ford now befriended him, giving him a job helping with the vegetable gardens that were established for Ford employees during the Depression. He was good at this. After all, Norman Selby had grown up on a farm. From time to time Selby spoke for church groups to juvenile delinquents, talking as an authority on the dangers of living a fast life. He believed that many youthful problems came from physical difficulties; young people did not know the proper carriage of the body or the right way to eat. And he found some satisfaction, now that he no longer hoped to better his own fortune, in feeling he was bettering that of others.

Alas, the start of World War II shocked him out of any hope that the world was improving. On April 17, 1940 he registered at the Hotel Tuller in Detroit and took an overdose of sleeping tablets. He left a note.

"To whom it may concern:

...I have wanted to help humanity, especially the youngsters, who do not know nature's laws.... Sorry, I could not endure this world's madness-the best to you all."

He signed it Norman Selby.

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Another excellent article The Curious Case of Norman Selby is by Kelly Nicholson @ IBRO

· Anon.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Charles Kid McCoy KO15 Tommy Ryan
Empire Athletic Club, Maspeth, NY, USA

1896-03-03 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - page 10

Ryan Was Unmercifully Pounded Toward the Close, but Was Game to the Last--A Knockout in the Fifteenth Round at Maspeth.
Tommy Ryan was defeated at Maspeth in 15 rounds last night by Kid McCoy and the battle will go down in fistic history as one of the most remarkable ever witnessed. To begin with, McCoy, although half a head taller than Ryan, and big in proportion, was uneasy and uncertain of himself from the moment that he clambered through the ropes, while Ryan threw off his wraps with an air of jaunty confidence that provoked an enthusiastic devotee of the sport in the gallery to shout: "What a beautiful cinch he's got."

Ryan's magnificent record made him easily the favorite. Lots of his friends' money went begging at rates varying from 10 to 7 to 2 to 1. And it looked at the start as if the knowing ones had fathomed the whole thing. He simply played with McCoy and when the round ended many of the spectators began to pick up their snow shoes and their overcoats in order to escape the rush of the battle to get out of the building. Then came the sensational point of the encounter.

McCoy began to find his man and he assumed some confidence. A few minutes later he opened Ryan's nose. Then he persisted in jabbing Tommy on the jaw with his long left and every tap that he gave brought the blood, until Ryan was bleeding like a stuck pig and had more trouble in getting rid of the blood that choked him and blinded him that he had in warding McCoy's blows. Ryan was knocked down three times in the fatal fifteenth round and he showed once and for all that he was game to the backbone. It took him fifteen minutes to recover and when he tottered from the ring he would have dropped if the arms of his seconds had not been around him.

All the sports for miles around were at the ringside, including Tom O'Rourke, Sam Fitzpatrick, Arthur Lumley, M. Giubal, Macon McCormick, Maxey More, P. T. Powers, Fred Peffer, Billy Crowley, Martin Dowling and hundreds of others.

Jack Downey of Brooklyn and Larry Burns of Cohoes warmed up the 3,000 spectators in an eight round bout at 125 pounds. Everybody knew Downey and picked him out as a winner, while Burns was an unknown quantity. He had a big, hearty contingent of friends with him though and they rooted while he fought till the building rang again. They began to fight at 9 o'clock sharp. Downey was handled by Tommy Butler, Pete Farrell and Joe Martin, while Burns was looked after by John McTiernan, Tommy Hunt and George Davis. Tim Hurst in his familiar navy blue sweater was the referee, as usual.

In the opening rounds Burns was slow and appeared to be somewhat afraid of Downey. Jack forced the fighting and when the third round opened there were repeated offers of 50 to 40 on his chances. It was in the fifth round that the stranger, smiling and confident, began to assert himself. At close quarters he had all the advantage. Toward the close of the sixth round he might have disposed of the popular Brooklynite, but he was slow and content to wait. Burns forced the fighting after that and the backers of Downey began to quake when he held the gloves over his face to protect himself and made no effort at attack. There were some hot exchanges in the last round. Here again Burns had a beautiful chance for a knockout but he was slow and cautious. When he did attempt to finish the job Downey's clever head averted a catastrophe. The bout ended with hot in fighting in which Downey figured to advantage. He cut open his opponent's left eye. The referee called the bout a draw and everybody applauded the verdict.

The clock pointed to 10 o'clock as Tom Ryan pushed his way into the ring, smiling and confident. He was pioneered by Charley White, Tom Cawley, Kid Lavigne and Sam Fitzpatrick. The cheers that greeted the young fellow, who had claimed the middleweight championship of the world, had scarcely died away when Kid McCoy was seen struggling through the enthusiastic crowd, surrounded by Steve O'Donnell, Maurice Hagstrom and Brooklyn Jimmy Carroll.

Presently the memorable battle began. McCoy appeared to be feverishly anxious to find out what there was in Ryan that had given him his reputation and he tried to hit him on the face. Several of his leads went harmlessly over his head. Once, in ducking, though, the big kid caught Ryan a clip on the jaw and his friends cheered enthusiastically. Then Ryan let himself loose. He smashed McCoy on the face and body with right and left, cleverly kept his head out of the kid's attempted returns and there were frequent clinches, and when the round ended the betting was 100 to 50 on Ryan. There was a slightly different color given to the affair in the next round. McCoy was a trifle more confident and Ryan began to sprint. The kid smashed Tommy viciously over the heart. Then they clinched and McCoy emerged smilingly with the honors of the encounter. Ryan began to fight in the third round. He landed cleverly a couple of times on McCoy's jaw and then he ran round the ring. The kid followed him, and as Tommy tried to duck he gave him a left hand punch on the jaw. Ryan turned upon his man after that. He was nettled at having been caught so easily and in some fierce infighting he had all the better of it. Ryan planted two heavy body blows in the fourth round but had to take two vicious right hand hooks on the jaw in return. Ryan swung his right heavily on the big kid's jaw and McCoy tottered. If the round had lasted half a minute longer Tommy Ryan would to-day be the middle weight champion of the world. McCoy was very weak about the legs. He pushed his gloves weakly in Ryan's face, and, obeying the instructions of his seconds, clung round Ryan's neck as long as he dared. Ryan forced the fighting in the fifth round again and his vicious pokes on the body and his swings on the jaw soon had McCoy staggering and dazed. The kid, however, continued to slip in a pretty left hand upper cut. Ryan sprinted again, but was caught with another clip behind the ear from the force of which he went down. No damage was done, however, and it was still Ryan's fight. The battle was fast and furious in the seventh, with the honors fairly even. McCoy poked his left four times savagely into Ryan's ribs. Ryan looked a bit worried. He feinted and then he flung out his right. It caught the Kid squarely over the heart and twisted him round as if he had been working on a pivot. It seemed again as if another punch would dismiss McCoy, but he was in rare fettle and kept himself as cool as a cucumber. He jabbed Ryan repeatedly on the face with his left, brought the blood freely and finally gave Tommy a punch that knocked him down. The fight was now a guessing match. McCoy surprised every man in the building by his coolness, his cleverness, his swiftness and his terrific hitting powers. It was in the ninth round that Ryan's star began to wane. He sprinted. McCoy ran after him and, catching up on his man, smashed him from behind with his right and left. Ryan then mixed it up hotly and got in several heavy body blows. McCoy flung out his long left repeatedly, jabbed Ryan on the nose, cut it open and closed up an eye. McCoy continued to jab in the next round, the tenth. Ryan was bleeding, profusely cut, lips swollen, eyes swelled, and was a beaten man but he was as game still as a fighting cock. He was a perfect glutton for punishment and he got it. McCoy, just as the round ended, got his man against the ropes. He held Tommy out with his long left arm and brought his right viciously over his helpless opponent's jaw.

The fight still went on, although Ryan was a badly beaten man. McCoy was as quick and as strong as he had been at the beginning. He punched Ryan at will, jabbed him at will on the face and body and again opened up the damaged nose and the abnormally swollen lips. Ryan stood up to his punishment like a man till he was knocked squarely off his feet with a savage right hand uppercut. This was in the twelfth round. Ryan tried to get a few minutes' breathing space in the thirteenth round, but McCoy kept at him and floored him twice. In the next Ryan stepped up to the kid stronger and fresher than in the preceding half dozen rounds and his clever and effective work began to impress his friends with the idea that he still had a fighting chance. But McCoy's pitiless jabs were thrown without cessation into his face.

The end came in the fifteenth round. Ryan was very weak, but still able to run. He did try to sprint out of the way of McCoy's wicked jabs, but the kid followed him up closer and gave him a left hand punch on the jaw, flooring Tommy. The latter struggled to his feet before he had been counted out with the blood streaming from his face. McCoy was waiting for him, and gave him a thump with his right on the jaw that knocked Tommy down again. All this was against the ropes. Ryan staggered to his feet again as Tim Hurst stood over him and, willing as ever, held his hands out blindly as he stumbled to the middle of the ring. There again McCoy was waiting for him with his pitiless right ready. Everybody was glad when he shot it out and brought Ryan down for the third time with a clip in the ear. Ryan had been hopelessly beaten long before and the spectators simply waited to see a satisfactory finish. They got it. When Ryan fell on his back he was senseless and a quarter of an hour passed before he was able to leave the ring with the arms of his seconds around him.

· Anon.
1,562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Violent Life of Boxer Kid McCoy

L.A. Scene / The City Then and Now
April 14, 1997|Cecilia Rasmussen

His outrageous cheating in the boxing ring--like spraying ammonia in one opponent's eyes and strewing thumbtacks under the bare feet of another--ironically made him a glamorous sports figure. But in the world outside the ring, his temper was notorious, and between his eighth and ninth wives, he killed his girlfriend.

His moniker is still in the American vocabulary: The Real McCoy.

At the turn of the century, Norman Selby boxed as "Kid McCoy," a world middleweight and welterweight champion whose opponents included Gentleman Jim Corbett--though McCoy was definitely no gentleman.


Famed for his "corkscrew punch," it was his underhanded tactics that made him popular. Against a deaf boxer, he pointed to the man's corner, indicating that the bell had ended the round. It hadn't. When the man turned away, McCoy knocked him cold.

McCoy said his name "The Real McCoy" came about thusly: "I'm in a saloon with a charming young lady, as usual. A drunk is making passes at her. I try to brush him off without too much fuss. Beat it, I says, I'm Kid McCoy. He laughs and says, 'Yeah? Well, I'm George Washington.' I have to clip him a short one and down he goes. He wakes up 10 minutes later, rubs his jaw, and says, 'Jeez, it was the real McCoy!' "

His retirement in 1897 lasted three years. In 1900, he fought against Corbett, who knocked him out. It was one of six losses in his 166-fight career.

More often, he lost his temper. Saloon slugfests increased as his fame waned. And then, in 1924, he came to Los Angeles.

His fortune gone after eight divorces, McCoy, a flabby 51, played bit parts in movies as the bad guy. He started dating Theresa Mors, whose husband, Albert, was a wealthy art and antiques dealer. Theresa moved in with McCoy, recalled 92-year-old Frances Pearlstein Grunnet, the Morses' former secretary and the only surviving witness to what would occur. She gave this account:

Theresa's friends Sam and Ann Schapp, who owned a dress shop next to the antiques store, told her that McCoy was a bum.

On Aug. 12, 1924, McCoy came home drunk. When Theresa told him what her friends thought of him, he knocked her teeth out, stabbed her and shot her in the head. McCoy drank all night and, by the next morning, wanted to kill Albert Mors too.

Mors wasn't at his shop when McCoy got there, so he kept 11 people hostage while he waited. He ordered three men to take off their pants to discourage escape. (One left anyway, and McCoy shot him in the leg.)

One of the hostages was 19-year-old Frances.

McCoy gathered up the hostages' money, giving $300 to the soon-to-be-married Frances as a wedding gift. (She later returned it to its owners.)

Her boss, Albert, "never showed up," she said in a recent interview. "He was off getting a haircut and then his new Cadillac wouldn't start, which saved his life."

Frustrated by the wait, McCoy went in search of the Schnapps. He shot and wounded them before racing through what is now MacArthur Park, where police caught him.


Theresa Mors had died wearing two long ropes of pearls, a diamond watch, and an emerald and diamond ring. But when her body was found, the jewelry was gone. When Albert Mors' friend, the county coroner, invited Mors to a seance, Mors took Frances along.

"When it was Albert's turn to speak, he asked his dead wife's spirit what happened to her jewelry. A woman's voice sounding like Theresa said it was in a safe deposit box at Citizens Bank on Spring Street under McCoy's sister's name." It was.

McCoy's attorney, Jerry Giesler, persuaded the jury to convict the former boxer on manslaughter, not murder, charges.

McCoy served eight years of a 24-year sentence. Working on a chain gang near San Simeon, he saved an injured pilot from the wreckage of a plane that crashed nearby. That led to a better job as a tour guide at San Quentin.

In 1932, the 59-year-old parolee and his new, ninth wife moved to Detroit, where McCoy became "athletic director" for Ford Motor Co. Three years later, he rescued several people whose boat had overturned on Lake Michigan. (California's governor pardoned him at the behest of celebrities that included Gen. Douglas MacArthur, actor Lionel Barrymore and U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis, according to reports in The Times.)

But in 1940, at 66, he took a bottle of sleeping pills and died. His farewell note read, "I can't endure this world's madness any longer."

McCoy had once warned a young inmate, "Remember that the bright lights go out the quickest. Kid McCoy knows."

· Anon.
1,562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Did the phrase 'the real McCoy' derive from boxer Kid McCoy?

By Brian Cronin/LA Times

BOXING URBAN LEGEND: The term "the real McCoy" derived from a famous 19th-century boxer called Kid McCoy.

The world of sports is rife with colloquialisms, many of which eventually work their way into our everyday lives. When something is easily achieved, it is a "slam dunk." If you stick up for someone, you "go to bat" for them. When negotiating, you often tell the other side that "the ball is in their court now."

Adapting sports terminology to everyday usage is so common now that often phrases that have nothing to do with sports are given alleged origins related to sports, particularly when the real origin of the phrase is murky.

This brings us to the phrase "the real McCoy."

Kid McCoy was born as Norman Selby in Indiana in 1872. By the end of the 19th century, Kid McCoy was one of the most renowned boxers in the world. Just 5-11, 160, McCoy is still regarded as one of the greatest light heavyweights in the history of boxing. His punching style included his famed "corkscrew punch" that involved pivoting his hand nearly 180 degrees right before impact. Presumably this unusual style helped McCoy catch opponents unawares.

His surprising punching style and his deceptively slight build has led to a number of legends about McCoy that allegedly serve as the basis for the genesis of the phrase "the real McCoy."

One of the legends involves McCoy being at a bar when a much bigger man began picking on him. Others in the bar warned the man that he was messing with famed boxer Kid McCoy. He laughed them off, figuring that this small guy in front of him couldn't be McCoy. So he challenged the smaller man to a fight. McCoy promptly knocked him out, leading the man to exclaim, "Oh my God, that was the real McCoy".

Another version of the story is that McCoy, who was well known for feigning weakness during matches to trick his opponents into being overconfident, was doing just that during a match one day. He was acting like he was languishing until his opponent got close to finish him off, at which point McCoy surprised him with a barrage of punches. This led to the announcer of the match to exclaim, "Which is the real McCoy?!?"

Finally, yet another version of the story is also the most simple. Since McCoy's build was so reasonably sized, people who were not obviously athletes could attempt to pose as McCoy, especially during the late 19th century and early 20th century when there was not as many readily available photographs to show otherwise.

Therefore, when McCoy would visit a new city for a match he would have to let people know that he was, indeed, the real McCoy.

Are any of these stories the real origin of the term "the real McCoy?" I do not believe so, no.

The phrase "the real MacKay" appeared in Scotland in print as early as 1856 in the poem Deil's Hallowe'en. It is referred to as such in the poem as, ""A drappie o' [drop of] the real MacKay."

There was, indeed, a Scottish whisky company at the time named G Mackay & Co Ltd and by the 1870s they had definitely adopted the phrase as their advertisement slogan. Famed author Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned the phrase in a letter in 1883, noting "He's the real Mackay."

The inventor Elijah McCoy was born free in Canada in 1844, the son of two African-Americans who escaped from slavery in Kentucky and fled to Canada where they had their son. The family moved back to the United States later in the decade and McCoy would become a U.S. citizen and live in the country for most of the rest of his life. Before settling in the United States, though, McCoy studied mechanical engineering in Scotland in the late 1850s.

In 1872, McCoy registered a patent for a new lubrication system that he had developed for steam engines. As the story goes, McCoy's lubrication system was so well regarded that it spawned numerous copycats, leading to train operators wishing to make sure that the lubrication system that they had was "the real McCoy."

The first usage of the term "the real McCoy" in print occurred in The Rise and Fall of the "Union club" by James S. Bond in 1881. In the book, a character says "By jingo! yes; so it will be. It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says."

So you can debate whether there really is a difference between the term "the real MacKay" and "the real McCoy," or if the latter was merely a derivation of the former, but either way, it appears evident that the term predated Kid McCoy, who was not even ten years old when "the real McCoy" first saw print, and as you might guess from the usage in Bond's book that the term was already in use before Bond put it into print.

And if you think there is not a difference between "the real MacKay" and "the real McCoy," then the term really predated Kid McCoy, as he was not even born when it was in use in Scotland. Therefore, either way, the legend is...

STATUS: False.

Thanks to the great website, Phrase Finder, for the great information about the history of the term.

· Anon.
1,562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

CBZ Record

Jun 2 Peter Jenkins St. Paul, Mn W 4

Jun 6 Billy Barlow Indianapolis, In W 6
Sep 14 Bob Lewis Indianapolis, In KO 1
Sep 29 Herb Hall Columbus, Oh D 8

Jan 11 Jim Dickson Hot Springs, Ar KO 5
Jan 27 Jim Conners Hot Springs, Ar KO 3
Feb 12 an unknown opponent Milen, Tn KO 2
Feb 22 Frank Lamode New Orleans, La KO 3
May 4 Frank Murray Indianapolis, In KO 2
Jul 6 Charles "Kid" McCarthy Muncie, In KO 3
-Some sources report "06/14/93"
Jul 23 Ike Boone near Muncie, In D 19
-Some sources report "D 22" or "NC 22";
Jul 30 Dick Harris Marion, In KO 1
Aug 15 Frank Merritt Indianapolis, In KO 2
Sep 26 George Bennett Akron, Oh D 8
Oct 13 Jack Welsh Wheeling, WV KO 9
-Some sources report "KO 8";
Some sources report "NC 9
Oct 22 "Deaf Mute" Pittsburgh, Pa KO 4

Jan 8 Pay Hayden Providence, RI KO 2
Feb 12 Joe Burke Fall River, Ma KO 2
Mar 13 Jim Scully New Bedford, Ma W 6
-Some sources report "KO 6";
Some sources report "KO 7"
May 10 Billy Steffers Cleveland, Oh LK 1
May 18 Jim Barron Minneapolis, Mn D 10
Jun 1 Charles Maxwell Akron, Oh W 6
Jun 24 Jack Grace Cleveland, Oh KO 7
-Some sources report 8/12/94
Jul 2 Harry O'Connor Cleveland, Oh KO 3
Aug 29 Billy Steffers Cleveland, Oh W 10
Sep 25 Bob Fitzsimmons New Orleans, La EX
Oct 12 Al Roberts Cincinnati, Oh D 10
Oct 29 Al Roberts Cincinnati, Oh D 10

Jan Billy "Shadow" Maber Cincinnati, Oh SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jan 19 Al Roberts Cincinnati, Oh KO 5
Mar 13 Billy "Shadow" Maber Memphis, Tn W 10
Apr 1 Danny Needham Little Rock, Ar SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Apr 15 Leslie Pearce Boston, Ma EX
Apr 19 Tom Tracey Boston, Ma SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Apr 19 Jack Wilkes Boston, Ma TK 2
May 20 Dick O'Brien Boston, Ma D 25
Jun Tom Tracey Brooklyn, NY SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jun 8 Billy "Shadow" Maber New York, NY SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jun 14 -McCoy refereed the Stanton Abbott-Jack Burke bout
at Montreal, Que, Can
Jul 27 Billy "Shadow" Maber New York, NY SCH
-This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jul 27 Billy Vernon New York, NY EX 3
Aug Charles Siefert Louisville, Ky W 3
Aug Joe Sheers Louisville, Ky W 3
Aug Joe Sheers Louisville, Ky W 3
Aug Charles Siefert Louisville, Ky W 3
Sep 2 Dick Moore Louisville, Ky KO 6
Oct 7 Abe Ullman Baltimore, Md TK 13
Oct 13 Arthur Walker Jersey City, NJ EX 3
-Some sources report "ND 3"
Nov 25 Ted White London, Eng L 10

Jan 8 Charles Johnson Philadelphia, Pa ND 4
Jan 9 Steve O'Donnell Philadelphia, Pa ND 4
-Some sources report this bout held at
New York, NY with an "EX 4" verdict
Jan 31 Tommy West New York, NY KO 2
-Some sources report McCoy as "Kid Morrow"
Mar 2 Tommy Ryan Maspeth, NY KO 15
Mar 21 Joe Choynski New York, NY EX 4
-Police intervened and allowed only sparring
Apr 22 Frank Bosworth Memphis, Tn KO 2
May 7 Jim Daly New York, NY TK 3
May 18 "Mysterious" Billy Smith Boston, Ma WF 6
May 30 Dick Moore Brooklyn, NY TK 10
Oct 10 James Fox Philadelphia, Pa ND 4
Dec 26 Bill Doherty Johannesburg, Trans, SA KO 9
-Middleweight Championship of South Africa

Jan 23 Bill Doherty Cape Town, Cape, SA ND 6
May 7 Mike Creedon Pittsburgh, Pa KO 2
May 7 Mike O'Hara Pittsburgh, Pa KO 1
-The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
May 19 Con Riley New York, NY EX
May 26 Dick O'Brien New York, NY TK 10
May 31 Jack Bonner Philadelphia, Pa ND 6
Jul 5 Nick Burley Troy, NY KO 3
Jul 21 Dick Moore Buffalo, NY KO 2
Aug 9 Jim Franey Cincinnati, Oh EX 4
Aug 14 Dan Bayliff Dayton, Oh KO 3
-Some sources report 8/13/97
Sep 8 Tommy Ryan Syracuse, NY NC 5
-Police intervened; Some sources report "D 5"
Oct 18 Jim Hall Philadelphia, Pa ND 4
-This bout was an "obvious" fake;
The referee stopped it;
Some sources report "NC 4"
Oct 23 Con Riley Chicago, Il EX 4
Nov 12 George LaBlanche Dayton, Oh KO 1
Nov 12 Beach Ruble Dayton, Oh KO 1
-The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Nov 15 "Texas" Billy Smith Chicago, Il TK 2
-Some sources call this man "Australian" Billy Smith;
Police intervened
Dec 17 Dan Creedon Long Island City, NY TK 16
-Middleweight Championship of the World;
Some sources report "TK 15"

Jan 10 James "Doc" Payne Louisville, Ky KO 4
Feb 15 H. Long Dayton, Oh KO 2
Mar 4 Nick Burley Hot Springs, Ar KO 2
Mar 7 James Blackwell Indianapolis, In KO 2
Mar 7 John Tierney Indianapolis, In KO 3
-The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Mar 11 Jim Bates Fort Wayne, In KO 1
Mar 11 Vern Hardenbrook Fort Wayne, In W 4
-Some sources report "L 4";
The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Mar 17 -McCoy refereed the "Wilmington" Jack Daly-Kid Lavigne bout
at Cleveland, Oh
Mar 18 Bert Bolby Springfield, Oh KO 1
-Some sources call this man "Dick Boldy"
and report this bout held at "Defiance, Oh"
Apr 4 Dan Molson Indianapolis, In KO 1
Apr 5 Tom Shea Dayton, Oh KO 2
May 20 Gus Ruhlin New York, NY W 20
-Some sources report "Syracuse, NY"
Jul 28 James "Doc" Payne Saratoga Lake, NY EX
Aug 7 James "Doc" Payne Saratoga Lake, NY EX
Aug 7 Jim Daly Saratoga Lake, NY EX 4
Aug 7 Len Wagner Saratoga Lake, NY EX
Aug 7 an unnamed opponent Saratoga Lake, NY EX
-The previous 4 bouts were held the same date
Aug 9 James "Doc" Payne Saratoga Lake, NY EX 2
Aug 10 James "Doc" Payne Saratoga Lake, NY EX 3
Aug 10 Jim Daly Saratoga Lake, NY EX 4
-The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Aug 11 Jim Daly Saratoga Lake, NY EX 4
Sep 10 Jim Corbett Buffalo, NY SCH
-This bout was scheduled but cancelled due to
the deaths of Jim Corbett's parents
Sep 28 -McCoy and Jim Corbett got into an altercation at
the "Gilsey House" on Broadway Avenue in New York;
Corbett injured a leg
Dec 16 Joe Goddard Philadelphia, Pa WF 5

Jan 10 Tom Sharkey New York, NY LK 10
Mar 24 Joe Choynski San Francisco, Ca W 20
Aug 10 Tom Duggan Dubuque, Ia TK 2
Aug 10 Jack Graham Dubuque, Ia KO 4
-The previous 2 bouts were held the same date;
Some sources report "Davenport, Ia"
Aug 14 Jim Carter Joplin, Mo KO 5
Aug 18 Jim "Jack" McCormick Chicago, Il LK 1
Sep 5 Geoff Thorne Brooklyn, NY KO 3
Sep 19 Steve O'Donnell Brooklyn, NY KO 6
-Some sources report "KO 5"
Sep 26 Jim "Jack" McCormick New York, NY TK 8
-Some sources report 9/27/99
Oct 6 Joe Choynski Chicago, Il D 8
-This bout was a "Pre-Arranged Draw";
Some sources report that McCoy was better;
Others report a "W 6" verdict
Oct 27 Billy Stift St. Louis, Mo KO 13
Nov 9 Jack McDonough Buffalo, NY KO 4

Jan 1 Peter Maher Brooklyn, NY KO 5
Jan 12 Joe Choynski Brooklyn, NY TK 4
-Some sources report "TK 3"
May 18 Dan Creedon New York, NY TK 6
May 29 Tommy Ryan Chicago, Il W 6
-This was the referee's decision;
The verdict was later changed to "D 6"
Jun 1 Jack Bonner New York, NY TK 13
Aug 30 Jim Corbett New York, NY LK 5
-It appeared that McCoy was faking to win bets;
Some sources report "LK 6"

Dec 2 Dave Barry London, Eng KO 2
Dec 2 Jack Scales London, Eng KO 2
-Some sources report 12/03/01 for this bout
Dec 2 Jack Madden London, Eng KO 2
-The previous 3 bouts were held the same date

May 2 Fred Russell Philadelphia, Pa ND 6
May 19 Kid Carter Philadelphia, Pa ND 6

Feb 23 Jim "Jack" McCormick Philadelphia, Pa ND 6
Apr 22 Jack Root Detroit, Mi L 10
-Light Heavyweight Championship of the World

Apr 5 Henry Placke Philadelphia, Pa TK 2
May 14 "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien Philadelphia, Pa ND 6
Sep 27 Jack "Twin" Sullivan Los Angeles, Ca W 20

Mar 3 Jack Crawford Hot Springs, Ar KO 1

Jul 24 Peter Maher New York, NY KO 2
-Some sources report 7/25/08
Oct 16 Jim Stewart New York, NY ND 6

Mar 20 Jack Fitzgerald Philadelphia, Pa ND 6
Sep 4 Bob Day Toronto, Ont, Can KO 1
Sep 22 Kid Ely New York, NY KO 1
Oct 6 Jim Savage Far Rockaway, NY KO 4
Nov 23 Hubert Roc Paris, Fr W 10
-Some sources report 11/22/11
Dec 20 Harry Croxon Paris, Fr KO 3

Jan 10 George Gunther Paris, Fr W 10
Feb 21 Matthew "P.O." Curran Nice, Fr W 10
-Some sources report "W 20"

Aug 2 Matthew "P.O." Curran London, Eng W 20

Aug 4 Artie Sheridan Mission, Tx W 4

*** The Following Bouts Are Reported But Not Confirmed ***

Jan 19 Matthew "P.O." Curran Paris, Fr W 12

Nov 12 Fred Fulton San Francisco, Ca EX 4

Emile Griffith L 15

*** Assistance Was Provided By Sergei Yurchenko ***
Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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