Roll with the punches


Sir, – Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary on Saturday March 9th was worth the cover price of the newspaper.

Boxers choosing an Irish name or link to boost their box office has a storied history.

One figure who did not need such a gimmick was John L Sullivan, “The Boston Strong Boy”, who had the distinction of being the last heavyweight champion of the bare-knuckle era of the sport. Sullivan was born in the US, but his parents were from Roscommon and Kerry. Anyone who might question his Irish heritage can look to one of the last great bare-knuckle battles, when Sullivan fought Jake Kilrain in 1889. Apparently it was a sweltering day in Richburg, Mississippi, and the two men fought for three hours with the sun beating upon their backs.

Accounts say Sullivan won “handily” in 75 rounds, although there was some concern midway through the bout when he began vomiting due to drinking a mixture of tea and whiskey between rounds. The legend goes that Sullivan’s stomach retained the whiskey, but rejected the tea. – Yours, etc,



Co Tyrone.