JUNE 2005

Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario

Cinderella Man
Book Excerpt by Mike DeLisa

Entertaining Fighters and Prospects
By Adam Pollack

Fatty Langtry: Pudgy
Pugilist of the Past

By Robert Carson

John Klein: 19th-Century
Trainer Extraordinaire

By Pete Ehrmann

Ring Leader
By Ron Lipton

Incentives in Professional
Boxing Contracts

By Rafael Tenorio

Fight Town
Book Excerpt by Tim Dahlberg

The Regulation of Boxing
on Tribal Lands:
Towards a Pan-Indian
Boxing Commission

By James Alexander

Spotlight on Cut Man Lenny DeJesus
By Sam Gregory

Dick Wipperman
by Pete Ehrmann

Jack Johnson: The Dates,
the Events, the Sources

by Stuart Templeton

Touching Gloves with...
"Irish" Art Hafey

by Dan Hanley


by Robert Carson

With "Butterbean" getting so much attention in the boxing ring, many fans think that pudgy pugilists are a modern-day novelty. Not so. In fact, a roly-poly ex-sailor from San Francisco gave aspiring heavyweight Jack Dempsey trouble, defeating the future champion twice, losing once, and holding him to a draw twice. And who could forget "Two Ton" Tony Galento, who put the immortal Joe Louis on his rusty duster in their title fight.

There have been lesser lights in the Beef Brigade, such as Bruce Olsen, LeRoy Jones, and Big Bill Jackson. But none of these hefty hunks can hold a candle to the granddaddy of all fat fighters. Ever hear of Tommy "Fatty" Langtry? I would say not. Poor old "Fatty" is overlooked when discussing the old timers, even though he fought and sometimes beat some of the best and toughest of the day.

Fatty first came to the attention of the boxing sports while he was a waiter at Owney Geoheghan's joint in old New York. Geoheghan was an ex-bare knuckler and now was a political thug that ran a few one-arm joints that featured prizefights in the back room.

To get a better picture of Fatty, you have to take into account his dimensions. Standing about 5-foot-8, he measured well over five feet in girth. Fatty's neck was 24 inches in circumference, and he was perched on chunky little legs. The only known photo of him (pictured above) shows him in ring togs with the close-cropped hair of the professional pug with a pleasant face and a double chin.

Not much is known about Fatty, and his boxing record is spotty at best. His first fight was against a fighter named Charley Norton, who weighed 260 pounds. It was held on January 17, 1884, at Harry Hill's popular theatre. It was to be a three-round affair under Police Gazette Rules with Harry Hill acting as referee. At the opening bell, both pugilists fought like demons. Fatty got the better shots in, and at 2:25 of the first round, Norton was sent to dreamland. Harry Hill divided the purse.

George W. Dixon, champion heavyweight of Pennsylvania, was the next to fall in three rounds.

Enthusiastic with these victories, Fatty took on veteran Bill Gobig and won handily over a four-round distance with old bare-knuckle fighter, Dominic McCaffrey, as the third man.

By now Fatty was becoming somewhat of a celebrity and getting notice in the weekly Police Gazette.

Beefy Denny Kelliher challenged Fatty to a fight for the Fat Man's Championship. It was a great brawl, as these two mastiffs pounded away at each other. At the end of six rounds, Fatty came away with the decision. It was decided for a return bout, which ended in a draw.

In Philadelphia a few days later, on March 31, 1886, Fatty fought Henry Anders wearing skin-tight gloves under Police Gazette Rules. In the first round Fatty forced the fighting and swung repeatedly with both rights and lefts, never stopping to rest. Wilting under the barrage, Anders was knocked out at 2:30 of the first round and earned a purse of $500.

On March 22, 1886, Fatty met a real toughie in Mike Boden, "The Canuck," a fighter that had faced and beat Pete HcCoy, John L. Sullivan's chief sparring partner. Hike stood 5-foot-7 1/2 and weighed between a healthy 180 pounds and 200 pounds.

The fight took place in Philadelphia and went into the dark with Fatty sustaining a fractured arm and getting a no-decision verdict. Boden and Fatty met again on May 5 with "The Canuck" wining the six-round nod.

Heavyweight champ of Chester City, John Spencer, went only three rounds until he was dispensed with. Fatty's next opponent was the toughest of the lot: Mike Conley, "The Ithaca Giant," was a strapping six-footer that hit the beam between 180 pounds and 200 pounds. The fight was held at Clark's Theatre in Philadelphia on November 6, 1886. It was a good fight and, much to Conley's surprise, wound up a draw.

Harry Andrews lasted only one round at Tom Stark's sporting house in Philadelphia. Another draw with Bill Gabig was followed by beating Bob Coffee in four. Coffee not only lost, but he broke both his hands on Fatty's thick head.

Popular "Clipper" Donahue didn't fare any better in Philadelphia on January 7, 1887. As usual, Fatty came out swinging with both hands, whacking Donahue all over the ring. In the third round, Fatty uncorked a shot that not only put Clipper down, but out of the ring into a water trough that was standing adjacent to the ring.

This seemed to be the last fight of any importance that Fatty engaged in. Oh, no doubt, he fought on after that, but details of these bouts have been lost with time. It would seem nice if Fatty eventually got weary of the ring wars and wisely decided to hang 'em up and go back to waiting tables at Owney Geoheghan's, and retire to his abode at 281 Bowery in New York City.

Fatty never will have a place in the Boxing Hall of Fame, and only dedicated boxing historians even recognize the name. It has to be remembered that Tommy "Fatty" Langtry fought with small, horsehair gloves or the murderous skin-tight gloves -- and he usually won. Hauling his bulk through those ring ropes with little time to heal from the previous battle says a lot for the spirit of the man.

You just can't help but admire the guy.

Robert Carson is a boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO). This article originally appeared in IBRO Journal No. 77.

> contents <

Home News CBZ Encyclopedia Back Issues Contact Links