(British Bare Knuckle Heavyweight
Peter Corcoran was born in 1740 at Athy Co. Kildare, Ireland. He was the
son a Farm Labourer, and from an early age he too worked on local farms.
In the early 1760ís he fled Athy to escape the law. It is alleged that
Corcoran killed a local man in a drunken brawl about a woman. Corcoran
left Athy, and he never returned.
Corcoran fled to England and he first settled in Birmingham where he
secured work as a Coal Heaver. He later moved to Portsmouth where he
became a sailor. It was at this time that Corcoran first became involved
in Prize fighting.
On becoming a Prize fighter, Corcoran moved to London, where he rented a
Public House (drinking bar). His first premises were "The Black Horse
Inn" at St. Giles in Londonís East End. As his fighting career
prospered, he moved to larger premises, "The Blakeny Arms" at St.
Martinís Lane. However the business was not a success, and he suffered
major financial losses. These financial difficulties are often offered
as a motive for throwing the Sellars fight.
Immediately after the Sellars fight his business fortunes improved. The
improvement however was short lived. Within a year he was evicted from
the Public House. There are no details of his death, other he died in
poverty and his funeral expenses had to be paid for by public
subscription. It is a sad postscript to the life of the first Irishman
to win the British Bare Knuckle Title.
Peter Corcoran first gained a reputation as a competent fighter, when he
was a sailor at Portsmouth. He was encouraged to move to London to
further his career. In London he attracted the attention of Colonel
Dennis Kelly, an Irishman, who was a noted racehorse owner and gambler.
Kelly became Corcoranís sponsor and arranged prizefights for him.
Corcoranís first major fight was on September 4th. 1769, at Hyde Park in
London, when he easily defeated Bill Turner. At the time Turner was
considered one of the leading fighters in England. Over the next year
Corcoran met and defeated three other leading contenders. They were Tom
Dalton, Joe Davis and Bob Smiler "The Bricklayer". Following these
victories, Corcoran challenged the then champion Bill Darts.
Darts faced Corcoran in the title fight, at Epsom Downís racecourse on
May 18th. 1771. The fight was held after the Epsom Derby horse race.
The fight was the shortest championship title fight on record. Corcoran
knocked Darts out in less than a minute. The fight is shrouded in
controversy, as Colonel Kelly won a very large wager on the outcome of
Corcoran held the title for 5 years. During this time he defended it on
mummeries occasions. The only leading contender he faced in these
defences was Sam Peters. This fight was staged at Waltham Abbey in 1774.
Corcoran emerged as an easy victor over his highly rated challenger.
Corcoran lost the title on October 16th. 1776, when he was defeated by
Harry Sellars. The fight was held in a ring erected beside "The Crown
Inn" in Staines, Middlesex. Corcoran was the betting favourite to retain
the title, however he was defeated in a contest, which last 32 rounds.
It is highly probable that Corcoran threw this fight. Before the fight
Corcoran was in severe financial difficulties, after the fight these
debts mysteriously disappeared. The Sellars fight was Corcoranís last
major fight. There are no further mentions of Corcoran engaging in any