Jimmy Elliot

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Name: Jimmy Elliot
Born: 1838-01-01
Died: 1883-03-01 (Age:45)
Hometown: Athlone, Ireland
Height: 6′ 1″   /   185cm
Boxing Record: click

Career Overview

Jimmy Elliot (also spelled Elliott) was a talented and notoriously hard-living bare knuckle boxer of the late nineteenth century who at one time claimed to be America's champion.

Early Years

Born in County Athlone, Ireland in 1838, Elliot began his bare knuckle boxing career in 1861 (some sources indicate 1860) weighing within the modern featherweight limit. His first bout was a thirty-four round loss to one Nobby Clark in New Jersey. A notoriously hot-headed character, Elliot went to prison in May of 1863 for armed robbery, serving nearly two years before his release. Immediately after regaining his freedom, he challenged Joe Coburn, the reigning heavyweight champion of America, to a championship bout. When Coburn refused, Elliot proclaimed himself the new champion, though not everyone agreed with his assertion. Still, he defended his claim three times in the coming years before his career was once more derailed by imprisonment.

Prison and John Dwyer

On December 12, 1870, Elliot was convicted of attempting to murder a popular minstrel named Hugh Dougherty during a highway robbery. He was sentenced to sixteen years and ten months at the Eastern Penetentiary (also known as Cherry Hill) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While doing time, Elliott underwent eye surgery for an unknown reason. Complications from that surgery resulted in damage that impaired his vision for the remainder of his life. In part because of this injury and also because of wranglings by powerful New York politican Big Bill Dwyer, Elliot was released from prison in 1879, after serving just over eight years of jail time.

Following his release, Elliot was matched with Big Bill's brother, John Dwyer, an ambitious novice. Because of Elliot's prior claims, many recognized this bout as being for the championship of America. The fight was held at Long Point, Canada on May 8, 1879 before five thousand spectators. The younger Dwyer dominated the action from the start. Elliot, his vision handicapping him, applied turpentine to his hands to blind Dwyer. However, after taking several rounds to recover, Dwyer dealt his opponent such a beating that Elliot stopped fighting in the twelfth, claiming a rib injury.

John Sullivan and Later Life

Following the Dwyer bout, Elliot did not fight for several years. His vision grew progressively worse until, it was said, he could no longer bare to be outside during the daytime because of the sunlight. Eventually, though, in desperate need of money, Elliot challenged reigning champion John L. Sullivan to a match. Sullivan initially refused, but Elliot continually hounded him in the press. In order to prove his legitimacy, Elliot fought and knocked out Thomas Egan, a boxer known as the "Troy Terror," inside of three rounds. Though Sullivan later claimed that Elliot had won by a fix, it was Elliott's first victory in fourteen years.

Eventually Elliot and Sullivan agreed to a four round exhibition, with Elliott to be paid five hundred dollars if he lasted the distance. Unfortunately for Elliot, he was knocked down three times in three rounds and could not make it out of the third round. Sullivan gave him fifty dollars for his trouble.

Taking advantage of the renewed public interest in himself, Elliot boxed twice more that year, in a sparring exhibition with Paddy Ryan and a knockout win over (Captain) James Dalton. On March 1, 1883, he was shot and killed in a Chicago saloon by a former policeman turned gambler named Jere Dunn.

Sources:
Isenbert, Michael T. John L. Sullivan and His America
Fleischer, Nat and Sam Andre. An Illustrated History of Boxing
Fleischer, Nat. A History of the Heavyweight Championship
Johnston, Alexander. Ten and Out
Boxing Zone profile