Name: Gunner Moir
Birth Name: James Moir
Hometown: Lambeth, London, United Kingdom
Birthplace: Lambeth, London, United Kingdom
Died: 1939-06-12 (Age:60)
Pro Boxer: Record
There was a time when Gunner Moir was considered the great hope of the British people to win the coveted heavyweight championship of the world. In 1907 he became the first Englishman to contest for the title since Bob Fitzsimmons lost the belt to Jim Jeffries eight years earlier.
Born in Lambeth, London, Moir began his boxing career whilst serving in the British Army in India. Moir was covered in tattoos regarded as bizarre oddities in the press of the day. He fought his first known prizefight in 1903, a first round knockout of the otherwise forgotten Fred Barrett. This was followed by three consecutive losses, two of them by knockout, to equally forgettable competition. Despite the rocky start, Moir somehow secured himself a bout with Peter Felix, the former heavyweight champion of Australia. On February 14, 1905, in Sydney, Moir flattened Felix inside of two rounds and earned himself his first real notoriety in sporting circles.
Moir's newfound fame allowed him to enter a tournament to determine the heavyweight championship of England the next year. After knocking out Jim Casey in an elimination bout, he faced the reigning British titleholder, Jack Palmer, at the National Sporting Club on October 29, 1906, taking the title via a ninth round disqualification. Four months later, Gunner destroyed challenger Tiger Jack Smith in the very first round and became a sensation in the British sporting press.
When world heavyweight champion Tommy Burns travelled to England looking for credible challengers, Moir was first on his list. Because the challenger cut such an intimidating figure with his greater size and colorful tattoos, betting placed the Gunner as a favourite to take the championship. But when the two actually met in the ring, on December 2, 1907, the smaller but faster Burns was clearly Moir's master. Burns scored a knockdown in the first round and another in the second. In order to give the audience its money's worth, he carried his opponent for nine rounds before laying him low in the tenth.
The surprising loss apparently devastated Moir's career. In his very next fight he lost the national championship to Iron Hague and then lost three more bouts in the next two years. Although he knocked out undefeated Bombardier Billy Wells in 1911, he lost a rematch two years later and retired from boxing.
- Fleisher, Nat. The Heavyweight Championship.
- Johnston, Alexander. Ten and Out.
- Ward, Geoffrey C. Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.