Schedule News Current Champs WAIL! Encyclopedia Links Store Home
The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia -- Old Timer

"Professor" Mike Donovan
(Michael J. Donovan)
(Michael J. O'Donovan)

BORN   September 27 1847; Chicago, Illinois
DIED March 24 1918
HEIGHT 5-9
WEIGHT 148-164 lbs
MANAGER Denny Butler (brother-in-law)

 

Donovan was a two-handed fighter, very fast on his feet, who utilized quick head movements to avoid blows; His favorite technique was a left to the pit of the stomach followed by a right to the jaw; He often fought bigger men (175-210 lbs) and handled them quite easily; Donovan was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998
 
He defeated such men as William McClellan, George Rooke, Edward McGlinchey, Walter Watson, Mike Conroy and John Boyne; He also fought "Draws" with McClellan, McGlinchey, "Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey, "Chicago" Tommy Chandler, Jimmy Murray and Jack Davis

The old reports are very contradictory; If anyone discovers conclusive data that disagrees with these results, please advise

1866
Jun  3 Crowley Davis              St. Louis, Mo                    LF 59
          -Some sources report "LF 92" vs "Billy Crowley" on 5/18/66
   
 

From The Burlington (Ia) Hawk-Eye, June 8 1866

 
Jul    -Donovan was given boxing instruction by Pat Kenrick and improved greatly 
Sep    Patsy Curtin               St. Louis, Mo                    KO  5
Sep    Jim Conroy                 Memphis, Tn                      TK 30

1867
Jun    Pat McDermott              Chicago, Il                       W  4
Jun 22 Mike Conroy                St. Louis, Mo                    TK 62
          -Some sources report 1866
Sep    Dan Carr                   Chicago, Il                      TK  1

1868
Jun 12 John Boyne                 Indianapolis, In                 TK 23
          -Some sources report "Tipton, In";
          Some sources report 1/26/69
Jul    Pat Kelly                  Grand Haven, Mi                  TK  7

1869
Jul  4 John Shanssey              Cheyenne, Wy                      W 10
          -The referee was Wyatt Earp;
          Some sources report 7/04/68

1869-1872
          -Donovan worked as a ship-caulker

1872
Jan    Jack Curtin                New York, NY                     TK  2
Feb    Sam Jordan                 New York, NY                      W  3
Mar    Teddy Neary                New York, NY                      W  3
          -Some sources report "Teddy Leary"
Jun    Jack Lawrence              New York, NY                     TK  2
Sep    Byron McNeill              New York, NY                      W  3

1873
       Jimmy Murray               Philadelphia, Pa                  D 44
       Langham                    Philadelphia, Pa                  W  3
       Pete Hogan                 Philadelphia, Pa                  W  4
       Smith                      Philadelphia, Pa                  W  4

1874
Jun    Charley Burke              Philadelphia, Pa                 ND  4
          -Some sources report 1873; Reports vary - "W 4" - "D 4"
Jul 28 -Donovan seconded Jim Collins vs. Johnny Keenan near Pennsville, NJ

1875
Jun 11 an unnamed opponent        Lancaster, Pa                    EX
          -Some sources report 6/12/75

          -Donovan owned a saloon

1874-1877
          -Donovan worked as a ship-caulker and gave instruction in boxing

1877
Mar    Dick Liston                Troy, NY                          W  5

1878
Apr  6 William C. McClellan       New York, NY                     LF 14
          -Middleweight Championship of America;
          Some sources report "LF 13";
          Some sources report "San Francisco, Ca"
May 18 William C. McClellan       New York, NY                      W  7
          -McClellan claimed a foul that was not allowed;
          He refused to continue fighting; The referee
          declared Donovan the winner; Some sources 
          report "WF 7" - some report "WF 8" 
Aug    Billy Costello             Virginia City, Nv                TK  2
Aug    George Crockett            San Francisco, Ca                TK  2

1872-1879
          -Donovan rose to the top and was considered to be
            middleweight champion of America by most people 
            during George Rooke's inactivity

1879
Jan 23 -Donovan trained and seconded Billy Lynn vs Jack Hallinan
          in Virginia City, Nv
       Harry Maynard              in California                   SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled but not held;
          Maynard agreed to fight an "Unknown" but when
          he learned the "Unknown" was Mike Donovan,
          he refused to go through with the bout
Mar    George "Deacon" Smith      Sacramento, Ca                   TK  3
Apr 19 -Donovan was scheduled to spar in Brooklyn, NY
Aug 18 William C. McClellan       San Francisco, Ca                 D 94
          -Some sources report "D 96"
       Edward McGlinchey          New York, NY                     WF  6
Sep 29 William C. McClellan       Brooklyn, NY                     EX   

1880
Feb    John L. Sullivan           Boston, Ma                       EX  4
          -Reports vary - "EX 3" - "ND 3" - "ND 4"
Mar 20 William C. McClellan       New York, NY                     EX   
May  1 George Clark               Brooklyn, NY                     EX  3
May 11 George Rooke               Long Point, ---, Canada         SCH   
          -Middleweight Championship of America;
          This bout was scheduled but not held;
          Authorities prevented the bout
May 24 George Rooke               Coney Island, NY                SCH   
          -Middleweight Championship of America;
          This bout was scheduled but not held;
          Authorities prevented the bout
Oct    Edward McGlinchey          Boston, Ma                        D  5
Nov    Edward McGlinchey          Boston, Ma                        W  3
Nov 24 Edward McGlinchey          Bridgeport, Ct                    D  6
Dec    Edward McGlinchey          New York, NY                      W  3

1881
Jan 21 William C. McClellan       Brooklyn, NY                     EX  3
Feb 25 Edward McGlinchey          New York, NY                     EX  5
Mar 21 John L. Sullivan           Boston, Ma                       EX  3
          -Some sources report "EX 4"
Mar 25 Mike Cleary                New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 25 George Rooke               New York, NY                     TK  2
          -Reports vary - "W 2" - "TK 3" - "EX 3";
           Police intervened
Sep    George Rooke               New York, NY                      W  3
          -Some sources report "George Burke";
           Some sources report "W 4"
Oct    George Rooke               New York, NY                     EX   
Dec 26 George Rooke               New York, NY                     ND  4

1882
Jan 14 Edward McGlinchey          New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 24 George Rooke               New York, NY                     EX   
Dec 28 Jack Smith                 New York, NY                     EX   

1883
Jan    Tommy Chandler             Chicago, Il                       D  8
Feb 17 Jack Smith                 New York, NY                     EX   
Mar  1 Billy Edwards              New York, NY                     EX   
Mar 15 Pete McCoy                 New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 21 Pete McCoy                 New York, NY                      L  3
          -Some sources report "EX 3"
May  7 George Rooke               Newburgh, NY                     EX   
Aug    -Negotiations were under way for a bout between
          Donovan and William Sheriff of England
Dec 31 Jack Smith                 Williamsburg, NY                 EX   

1884
Feb  1 Sperry                     Williamsburg, NY                 EX   
Feb  8 "Dangerous" Jack Hughes    Philadelphia, Pa                 EX   
Apr 14 John L. Sullivan           New Orleans, La                  EX   
Apr 23 Pete McCoy                 Atlanta, Ga                      EX  4
Apr 28 John L. Sullivan           Memphis, Tn                      EX  3
Apr 30 John L. Sullivan           Little Rock, Ar                  EX  2
May  1 John L. Sullivan           Memphis, Tn                      EX  3
May  2 John L. Sullivan           Nashville, Tn                    EX   
May 10 Bernard                    Peoria, Il                       EX   
May 10 Mike Gillespie             Peoria, Il                       EX   
          -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date;
           Some sources report "Bloomington, Il"
Jun 30 Steve Taylor               New York, NY                     EX   
Oct  6 Jack Welsh                 Philadelphia, Pa                  W  4
Oct 17 Walter Watson              New York, NY                      W  7
          -This bout was for the position of Boxing Instructor
           at the New York Athletic Club; Some sources report
           "W 6"
Nov    James Gladden              New York, NY                     EX   
Dec  2 Denny Butler               New York, NY                     EX  3
Dec 31 John L. Sullivan           Brooklyn, NY                     EX      
          -This bout was part of the play, The Lottery of Life

1885
Jan  1 John L. Sullivan           New York, NY                     EX   
Jan  1 John L. Sullivan           New York, NY                     EX   
          -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
           as part of the play, The Lottery of Life
Apr 24 Denny Butler               New York, NY                     EX   
          -Some sources report 4/24/86
Sep  9 -Donovan owned a liquor store at 156 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY

1886
Jan 15 "Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey   New York, NY                     EX  4
Jul 17 Frank Herald               Greenville, NJ                  SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled but postponed;
          Herald was ill with a cold
Sep    -Donovan was fined for refusing to answer questions during a court trial
Oct    -Donovan got into a barroom fight with Pug McCarthy and shoved him down;
          McCarthy received a broken neck and died; A coroner's inquest followed;
          Donovan was set free

1887
Feb  5 H.K. Bloodgood             New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 11 Jack Fallon                New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 15 Jake Kilrain               New York, NY                     EX   
Apr 26 Jack Fallon                Brooklyn, NY                     EX   
Aug  8 Pete McCoy                 Boston, Ma                       EX   
          -The pevious 2 bouts were held the same date
Aug  8 John L. Sullivan           Boston, Ma                       EX  3
Aug 11 John L. Sullivan           Boston, Ma                       EX  3
Oct    -Donovan trained Johnny Reagan and seconded him on 10/13/87
          vs "Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey 

1888
Feb 18 Johnny Reagan              Brooklyn, NY                    SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known;
           Some sources report 2/25/88
Feb 25 Mike Gillespie             Brooklyn, NY                     EX   
Jun  4 John L. Sullivan           New York, NY                     EX   
Aug 26 Johnny Reagan              Brooklyn, NY                    SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known;
           Some sources report 8/26/89
Nov 15 "Nonpareil" Jack Dempsey   Brooklyn, NY                      D  6
          -Some sources report "EX 6"

Undated (Prior to 1889)
       George Siler               Chicago, Il                      EX   

1889
Feb 19 -Jack Donovan, brother of Mike Donovan, arrived in San Francisco
          on the steamer "Mariposa" from the Antipodes
Apr 26 -Donovan seconded Johnny Murphy vs. Cal McCarthy at Boston, Ma
Jun  6 -A Benefit for Donovan was scheduled to be held at New Orleans, La; 
          Likely he sparred
Jun 13 Johnny Reagan              New York, NY                     EX   
Jun 13 William C. McClellan       New York, NY                     EX   
          -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Jul  6 Pat Kenrick                New Orleans, La                 SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jul  6 Charlie Mitchell           New Orleans, La                  EX  4
Jul  6 Denny Butler               New Orleans, La                  EX  4
          -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
Jul  8 -Donovan seconded Jake Kilrain vs. John L. Sullivan at Richburg, Ms

1890
Jan 31 an unnamed opponent        New Orleans, La                  EX   
Feb 21 -Donovan was scheduled to appear in Philadelphia, Pa
Mar 20 Jim Corbett                New York, NY                     EX  3
          -Donovan called Corbett the quickest big man he ever faced
Mar 21 Johnny McGee               Philadelphia, Pa                SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known

          -Corbett and Mike Donovan sparred several times in New York
          during March and April 1890; Likely, they sparred in Boston,
          Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington too

1891
May  4 William C. McClellan       New York, NY                     KO  1
Dec 26 Jim Corbett                New York, NY                     EX  1

1892
Jan 22 Jim Corbett                Philadelphia, Pa                 EX  3
Apr  9 Jim Corbett                New York, NY                     EX   
Apr  9 Bob Fitzsimmons            New York, NY                    SCH   
Apr  9 Jimmy Carroll              New York, NY                    SCH   
          The outcomes are not known for the previous 2 bouts
Apr  9 Walter Campbell            Philadelphia, Pa                 EX   
          -The previous 4 bouts were scheduled for the same date
May 28 John Murray                Philadelphia, Pa                SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Jul 23 Bill Slavin                New York, NY                     ND   
          -This was a "private" fight which occurred on a street;
          Donovan denied that he was involved
Aug    -Donovan trained Jim Corbett for his bout against John L. Sullivan
Sep  5 Jim Corbett                near Gainesville, Fl             EX   
          -This bout was held on a "training car" that was
          part of a southbound train
Dec 17 Dominick McCaffrey         New York, NY                     ND  3
          -Some sources report "EX 3"

1893
Mar 14 -Donovan conducted a boxing tournament in New York, NY
Apr 14 -Donovan conducted a boxing tournament in New York, NY

1894
Feb 17 -A Benefit for Mike Donovan was held in New York, NY;
          Likely, he sparred a bout or two
Apr 27 -Donovan conducted a boxing show in New York, NY
Nov  8 Bob Fitzsimmons            New York, NY                     EX   
Dec  1 -Sources reported that Jem Mace was coming to America
          and would box Mike Donovan soon after he arrived

1895
Jan 29 H. Kelly                   Manayunk, Pa                     ND   
Feb  9 -A Benefit for Mike Donovan was held at New York, NY; 
          Likely, he sparred
May  4 Denny Butler               Philadelphia, Pa                SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known

1896
Jan    Joe Choynski               New York, NY                     EX   
          -Donovan sparred regularly with Choynski in preparation for 
          Joe's bout with Jim Hall
Dec 14 Jem Mace                   New York, NY                      D  4
          -Some sources report "EX 3" in "Utica, NY"

1897
Aug    Jem Mace                   Birmingham, England             SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Sep  3 Jem Mace                   Birmingham, England               D  6

1900
Mar 20 Jim Corbett                New York, NY                     EX  3


*** The Following Bouts Are Reported But Not Confirmed ***

1870
       Jimmy Murray               Red Bank, NJ                      D  3
          -This was not the famous fighter "Jimmy Murray"

1873
Jun    Jimmy Murray               Philadelphia, Pa                  D 44
          -This was not the famous fighter "Jimmy Murray"

1880
Mar  1 John Clark                 Brooklyn, NY                     EX  3

1881
Mar 28 Billy Edwards              near New York, NY                LT 16
          -It is not clear whether Donovan, the famous middleweight fighter,
          fought Edwards or not

1883
Aug 25 Jack Davis                 New York, NY                     NC  1
          -Police intervened

1888
Feb 13 Jack Smith                 New York, NY                      D 12
          -Smith fought a man named "Mike Donovan" but from 
          the description, it may not have been this "Mike Donovan"

1892
Jan 18 Jim Corbett                Philadelphia, Pa                 EX  1

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
 
[Return to Top] [Boxing News] [Tracy Callis Archive]
[Return to Cyber] [CBZ Message Board] [Mike Casey Archive]