In the 1880s, this former Bangorian became world boxing champion


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Irish immigrants who flocked to the United States in the 19th century in search of a better life certainly had an impact on the nation and on towns such as Bangor, which saw thousands of Irish settling in the city. between the 1840s and 1870s.

While names like Geaghan and McLaughlin are well known today in Bangor, and people like Bangor native John McKernan have made their mark in politics, there is a lesser known Irish name from Bangor that has made an impact. huge on the world of sport at the end of the 19th century. : Jack McAuliffe, who in 1886 became the very first lightweight boxing world champion.

He held the title for 10 years before retiring from the ring without a single loss, a feat only 14 other male boxers, including Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Rocky Marciano, have achieved, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

McAuliffe was born in Cork, Ireland in 1866. In 1871 his family immigrated to the United States, landing in Bangor, where he would spend his childhood and adolescence before moving to New York as a teenager.

According to a McAuliffe profile published in the Bangor Daily News in 1944, McAuliffe and his family lived in a “rough and difficult area along the waterfront”, possibly the Hancock Street area where many Irish immigrants from Bangor settled. . The article noted that McAuliffe, who lived in Bangor between the ages of 5 and 14, may have picked up some of his first fight chops from the brawling and seething streets of Bangor, where sailors and loggers got drunk and fought.

Around 1880, McAuliffe and his family moved from Bangor to Brooklyn, New York, settling in Williamsburg. This is where McAuliffe fell under the tutelage of Jack “peerless” Dempsey, another Irish immigrant who was also the very first world middleweight champion. In fact, McAuliffe, Dempsey, and fellow Irishman John L. Sullivan were known in the 1880s and 90s as the “three jacks” of boxing because all three were Irish and were close friends.

McAuliffe fought his first professional fight in 1884, fighting Jem Carney in 78 rounds to a draw in Revere Beach, Massachusetts. According to an obituary published by The New York Times, two years after making his professional debut, McAuliffe eliminated Jack Hopper in 1886 and won the lightweight world champion title. Over the next 10 years, he played a total of 38 professional fights without a single loss – 19 knockouts, seven decisions, 11 draws and one disqualification.

In 1894, to get away from the boxing world in New York City, he and his then wife, actress Catherine Rowe, returned to Bangor for a year to train for a big fight against Young Griffon, one of the most acclaimed boxers of the late 19th century.

McAuliffe’s last professional fight was in 1896, against Kid Lavigne, after which he retired. Upon retirement, McAuliffe devoted his time to two things: gambling and a second career delivering humorous monologues about his athletic life.

According to a 1908 BDN article, he was devoted to his mother, Jane, who lived in Bath and whom he adored. He was also apparently known nationwide as a flashy dresser, and was referred to in the BDN as a “Beau Brummell” – a dandy. He returned to Maine regularly, to visit his family and to present his show on stage, including an appearance in 1923 at the Bijou Theater on Exchange Street in Bangor. The BDN called him “a famous boxer, wit, philosopher, turfman and charming storyteller”.

McAuliffe lived the rest of his years in Queens, New York, where he once unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the New York State Assembly. During World War I, he joined the Knights of Columbus as secretary, working with American expeditionary troops on the front lines. He died on November 5, 1937 at his home in Queens.

McAuliffe wasn’t Bangor’s only notable fighter, although he was certainly the most decorated. Michael Daley was also from Bangor and competed for the lightweight championship with McAuliffe in 1893, although he clearly lost. Daley’s career ended in 1903 when he and another boxer robbed a man from a Bangor hotel, and he went to jail for two years.

In the 1990s and 2000s, a native of Bangor, Marcus Davis – another Irishman, nicknamed the ‘Irish hand grenade’ by the press – began his career as a boxer before entering the cage in 2003 as a boxer. professional mixed martial artist. He had 17 boxing victories and 22 MMA victories during his 20-plus-year career, before retiring in 2014.

And, of course, Dana White, a 1987 Hermon High School graduate, is now president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization.

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