Name: Tug Wilson
Birth Name: Joseph Collins
Birthplace: Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
Died: 1933-00-00 (Age:85)
Nationality: United Kingdom
Hometown: Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
Boxing Record: click
Tug Wilson was an early bare-knuckle heavyweight boxer.
Information from Great Grandson:
Born 1853 and died in Leicester 1939, buried in Gilroes Cemetery Leicester. Began his career fighting in fairgrounds.
Tug Wilson was the assumed name of Joe Collins, a popular British pugilist of the bare-knuckle era. Standing five feet, eight inches tall, he weighed within the modern featherweight limit in his prime. He began his prize fighting career in his native Liverpool in 1866, but fought not one bout between 1868 and 1879.
In 1882, Wilson was recruited by American newspaper publisher Richard Kyle Fox, who had been impressed with tales of Wilson's scientific skills from overseas, to take on world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan. Wilson accepted the invitation and arrived in Philadelphia on June 21, 1882. Fox was stunned to find that Wilson was by this time a middle-aged, overweight has-been. Still, Wilson was matched with Sullivan on July 17, 1882 at Madison Square Garden. Promised $1,000 if he could make it through all four scheduled "exhibition" rounds, Wilson resorted to running, wrestling, and intentionally falling in order to get away from the champion. Though he made it the full distance and received his reward, he was roundly booed by the crowd and won Sullivan's eternal hatred.
Despite the injury to his reputation, Wilson went on to face British champion Charley Mitchell in 1883, losing by a third round knockout. He somewhat redeemed himself by holding the respected Alf Greenfield to a twenty-eight round draw, but failed to capture a win in subsequent bouts. He finally retired from the ring for good in 1902, his career having spanned thirty-six years. In later life, Wilson owned and operated a successful inn in England.
Isenberg, Michael T. John L. Sullivan and His America