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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   
Jan 23 George Rooke               Chicago, Il                     SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Mar 20 Jack Turner                New York, NY                     EX  3
Apr 24 George Rooke               New York, NY                     EX   
Oct  3 Jimmy Elliott              New York, NY                    SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
Dec 28 Jack Smith                 New York, NY                     EX   

1883
Jan    Tommy Chandler             Chicago, Il                       D  8
          -This man was not the famous middleweight
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
Aug 25 Jack Davis                 New York, NY                      D  1
          -Some sources report "NC 1"; Police intervened
Dec 10 Arthur Mullen              New York, NY                    SCH   
          -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
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

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
 
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