Victor McLaglen

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Victor McLaglen.jpeg

Name: Victor McLaglen
Alias: Sharkey McLaglen
Birth Name: Victor Andrew McLaglen
Hometown: Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Birthplace: Stepney, London, United Kingdom
Died: 1959-11-07 (Age:75)
Height: 191cm
Pro Boxer: Record

Division: Heavyweight
Managers: George Williams; ? Bettison
Photo of McLaglen as "Sharkey" McLaglen; Photo 2

According to accounts by the Tacoma Daily News (Tacoma, WA, USA) when Victor McLaglen was living in the city, he had enlisted in the English Army when he was 14 years-old. He became a member of King Edward's Life Guard. He purchased his discharge after serving three years. McLaglen arrived in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in late 1907. He came with his elder brother, Leopold, and apparently their younger brother, Arthur. (Arthur became a boxer himself.) They had come from South Africa, where they had been professional wrestlers. There was also an older brother, Fred. According to the Feb. 11, 1911 Tacoma Daily News, Fred was sentenced to 30 days jail in Winnipeg for robbing someone of $80.00. He formerly had been on the Winnipeg police force. Fred became a boxer, too, taking on the ring name of Fred McKay.

Victor and Leopold stayed in Canada for only a few days or so before moving to Tacoma, Washington, October 12, 1907, where they continued to wrestle professionally. It appears that Victor engaged in only one wrestling match in Tacoma--as "Sharkey" McLaglen--with Seattle physician, Dr. B. F. (Benjamin Franklin) Roller, before deciding to concentrate on boxing only. Brother Arthur soon joined them in Seattle, for he is mentioned as wrestling Prof. George Reed Feb. 18, 1908 at the Germania Hall, Tacoma, in a benefit for the Iron Molders Union.

Victor informed the Tacoma press soon after his arrival that he had engaged in 15 boxing bouts in England, losing only one, before moving to South Africa. These likely were amateur contests, as the Tacoma Daily News reported on May 18, 1908, that he had had only two professional bouts to that date.

After his five bouts in Washington state McLaglen moved back to Vancouver, British Columbia, in March 1909 with the intention of becoming a police officer. (The Jan. 9, 1913 Tacoma Daily News reported that he had been a longshoreman under Bill Burke when he had lived in Tacoma.)

Johnson Exhibition

at the Vancouver AC

Little known fact: The first person newly-crowned World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson ever fought after winning the title from Tommy Burns was McLaglen. When Johnson returned to North America from Australia, he came to Vancouver, B.C., in March 1909, on the way to Chicago. The two boxed a six-round exhibition March 10 as the feature at the Vancouver Athletic Club. According to some accounts of that bout:

"Johnson had little trouble with McLaglen, tagging him in the solar plexus within the first minute of their exhibition. Like a giant cedar having received an axeman's final blow, McLaglen paused for a moment before slowing collapsing to his knees. He was winded but able to continue fighting, although the champion mostly toyed with him for the rest of the bout, showing agility, superior footwork, and a full repertoire of punches. The coverage by Vancouver newspapers was patronizing in tone, although less explicitly racist than much of what appeared in American dailies. A headline in the News-Advertiser read: JACK JOHNSON IS TICKLED TO DEATH WITH VANCOUVER. And Hospitable Terminal City Says 'We Too' to World's Greatest Pugilist. The champ was magnanimous in his triumph, praising Tommy Burns though only a few weeks had passed since their historic fight. 'Let me say of Mr. Burns,' Johnson said, 'a Canadian and one of yourselves, that he has done what no one else ever done, he gave a black man a chance for the championship. He was beaten, but he was game.'".

On Sept. 26, 1911, McLaglen boxed a four-round exhibition with future World Heavyweight Champion Jess Willard at Springfield, MO, USA, using the name "Paul Romano." IBRO Journal #84, p. 44; Springfield Daily Ledger, Sept. 22 & 26.

Per the Jan. 10, 1912 Tacoma Daily News, McLaglen was involved in a fencing duel with Carl Brosius at Milwaukee, WI.

Victor McLaglen perhaps is better known as a movie actor. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The Informer (1935): [1]. (His son, Andrew V. McLaglen, became a well-known director of movies and TV shows -- primarily westerns, such as the TV shows Have Gun - Will Travel and Gunsmoke. [2])

He passed away November 7, 1959.