Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario
Book Excerpt by Mike DeLisa
Entertaining Fighters and Prospects
Fatty Langtry: Pudgy
Pugilist of the Past
By Robert Carson
John Klein: 19th-Century
By Pete Ehrmann
By Ron Lipton
Incentives in Professional
By Rafael Tenorio
Book Excerpt by Tim Dahlberg
The Regulation of Boxing
Towards a Pan-Indian
Spotlight on Cut Man Lenny DeJesus
by Pete Ehrmann
Jack Johnson: The Dates,
the Events, the Sources
by Stuart Templeton
Touching Gloves with...
"Irish" Art Hafey
OF THE PAST
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
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
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
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 <