Bill Naughton

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William Walter (W. W.) Naughton (31.07.1854-10.03.1914) was a famous sporting writer, who specialized in covering boxing.

The following is taken from an eulogy published in The Denver Post on 1914-03-11:

William Walter Naughton, dean of American sporting writers and an authority of world-wide distinction in all matters pertaining to the manly sports, was born in Auckland, N. Z., on July 31, 1854.

His father, a military man, became chief of police of Auckland and was a citizen of much distinction in the colony. There were fourteen children in the family, and the father died when the future sporting authority was 12 years old. The boy went through the Auckland high school and Auckland college, and then, like Bret Harte, William Dean Howells and Mark Twain, he began his literary career by "working at the case."

He secured his first employment in the composing room of the New Zealand Herald and was setting type on fighting news in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war. Soon he acquired considerable reputation as a paragrapher and became known as a writer of graceful verse.

He grew into a young giant and was notable as a boxer, runner and swimmer. Before breechloading rifles came into general use he achieved more than local fame as a marksman.

It was during these days of his strenuous youth that he developed his love for the more exacting sports in all their varieties. And his sense of honor was so high and his probity so much respected that his fellow athletes began to submit their differences to him for decision and adjudication.

In 1886 he set out for America to broaden his field, arriving at San Francisco on the steamer Maraoa in June of that year. Two days after his arrival he accepted a position on the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Before the days of the general use of the typewriter he became known as a man who could write faster copy than any writer on the coast. In 1887 his write-ups on the "Blood Horse" races at the Bay district track and of the John L. Sullivan-Paddy Ryan and Jack Burke-Jack Dempsey fights at Woodward's pavilion were so much superior to all others that he was advised to make a specialty of writing "sports," and from that soon drifted into the premier position among the sporting writers.

In the latter part of 1887 he made a flying visit to Australia and New Zealand. Returning to San Francisco in 1888, he joined the staff of the Examiner, and from that time on was identified with the Hearst newspapers, editing the Examiner's sporting pages and representing many of the sporting events of the country.

He introduced Peter Jackson into American and European fistiana and in 1889 went to England, where he was royally received by the most influential sportsmen.

When sports had a great boom in Chicago and the country thereabout in 1889, he went to the great city on Lake Michigan and became sporting editor of the Chicago American. He remained in this position until 1901, when a sudden attack of rheumatism drove him back to the milder climate of the Pacific coast.

In the old days of bare knuckle fighting and when rings had to be pitched by stealth in remote places, Naughton wrote of the battles of John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain in Mississippi and of Sullivan and Charlie Mitchell in Florida.

Since the coming in of the gloves and the Marquis of Queensberry rules there has hardly been a championship contest that Naughton was not at the ringside. He was at New Orleans when Jim Corbett took the championship from Sullivan, and at Carson City when Corbett lost the championship to Bob Fitzsimmons. And it was he who completely exposed the Jeffries-Fitzsimmons fake in San Francisco on July 25, 1902.

His book, "Kings of the Queensberry Realm," is in every sporting library and will remain as a work of pugilistic history when the fighting sport shall have passed away.

In private life he was one of the most genial of men, and one of the best loved. In 1895 he married Miss Annabelle Laurie, and a son and daughter made the union happy.

In 1911 he made his second visit to the Antipodes. He was given public banquets, was received in all the big cities and presented with a large gold press badge on which flags of the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand were interwined, and also a gold-bound album containing signatures and expressions of regard from premiers, crown officials and the leading men of the colonies. He was a prized member of the Family club and he was elected president of the Press club this year.