Tommy Ryan

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Tommy Ryan
Class of 1991
Old Timer Category
Hall of Fame bio:click

Name: Tommy Ryan
Alias: Joseph Youngs
Born: 1870-03-31
Birthplace: Redwood, New York, USA
Died: 1948-08-03 (Age:78)
Hometown: Van Nuys, California, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 7½″   /   171cm
Reach: 73″   /   185cm
Boxing Record: click

Trainer: Jack Hamilton
Manager: Captain Jim Westcott
Tommy Ryan Gallery

In 1911 Tommy Ryan wrote a series of articles for the Syracuse Herald entitled ?Nineteen Years In The Ring,? the story of the life and battles of Tommy Ryan, retired middleweight champion of the world as written by himself.

It is I believe the custom to start a story of a person's life history with the facts of his birth. I shall doubtless surprise some of my readers by statements which I shall make in this as well as the other articles.

The general impression among ring followers all over the country is that I am of Jewish parentage. While I have nothing but the highest regard for that race, I am not a member of it. I was born in the little town of Redwood in Jefferson County, New York on March 31st 1870. My father was a Frenchman and my mother English. I was christened Joseph Younges (note the spelling) how I came to be known as Tommy Ryan will be made known in another article.

When I was a youngster my parents moved to Syracuse and I received my early education in the public schools in Salt City. While I have been away from Syracuse at various times for considerable periods I still look upon that city as my home and will always be viewed by me as such.

However, the boyhood joys and troubles of a youngster will hardly be of interest to the great majority of my readers so I will pass over fifteen years by simply stating that I had as many troubles and scrapes as the average youngster and managed to live through them. My fifteenth birthday found me as a waterboy with one of the construction gangs on the Toledo & Ann Arbor Railway in Michigan.

The line was being constructed at that time, and it was among the railway laborers that I got my first smack of fighting. Camps were erected along the line of the railway several miles apart. Part of the equipment of every camp seemed to be a few pairs of boxing gloves for men living a clean, healthy life. In the open are always followers of any clean, healthful sport, such as boxing is.

Prior to going to Michigan I had never seen any regular boxing bouts. While I was in Syracuse a man named Meyers used to keep a saloon on Railroad street and every Saturday night there would be a couple of short bouts in the bar room. As I was a small boy at that time I was frequently kicked out. In fact, I was never allowed in the room when any of the men knew I was there. They say that boys will be boys, and when a boy wants to see anything he will generally succeed. I was no exception, and I managed by devious ways to see a few of these bouts.

After I had been in the construction camp for a short time I was allowed to put on the gloves myself. Right here I want to tell my readers that the boxing glove of those days and the glove of to-day are entirely different things, though known, by the same name. The boxing glove of 1885 was a skin-tight leather glove that was devised more for the protection of the hand of the boxer wearing it than for the protection of the man upon whom it was to be used.

Boxing seemed to come quite natural to me. I was quick on my feet and could use my hands rather well. I have never had a boxing lesson in my life, but experience is the best lesson that anyone can have. I was simply put up against a man and he went after me. It was up to me to look out for myself, and it was in such bouts that I learned the first movements of side-stepping, feinting and parrying that afterwards gave me a reputation in the boxing world.

Before I had been boxing many weeks I was able to outbox any man in the camp. My fellow workers took considerable pride in my ability and being but a youngster, I came to look upon myself as rather clever. It gave me confidence, something that is greatly needed to make a good boxer. However, there is such a thing as being over-confident, but I am not going to take up that question here.

The various camps soon began to arrange bouts between their respective boxing champions ? the best man in the camp meeting the best of another. When such a bout was arranged the men from our camp would get out the hand cars and make the trip to the camp where the bout would be held.

I was taken the round of all the camps and was returned a winner in every bout. The bouts were all with the skin-tight gloves and such things as rounds were unknown. There would be a signal to start, and it was a case of keep fighting until one man was knocked out or until one gave up. Some of those camp fights of mine lasted only a few minutes while others required a full hour. The bouts usually took place in a big mess house or in the open air. There were no padded canvas floors to fall upon, no skilled seconds to take care of you every three minutes. The floors were uneven, rough and hard. Stimulants during the bouts were entirely out of the question.

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