Born: June 25, 1900
Died: March 4, 1927
Newspaper Decision Wins: 18
Newspaper Decision Losses: 4
Newspaper Decision Draws: 3
Standing 6′ 1″ tall, with a reach of 76″ and moves that inspired Fred Astaire, St. Paul’s Jimmy Delaney bedazzled opponents, while entrapping fans from coast to coast. Arguably the state’s all-time greatest Light-Heavyweight boxer, Delaney was poetry in motion, possessing a potent left jab and a deadly left hook. These tools, coupled with his granite chin, made for miserable nights for his opponents, and memorable ones for his legions of fans.
Born in St. Paul in 1900, Delaney began visiting the famous Rose Room Gym in the basement of the Hamm Building at age 16. It was there that he met the legendary Mike Gibbons and learned from the master, all of the style, moves, and punches that made Gibbons the best fighter in the world at that time. Gibbons was not the only one who mentored the young Irishman who desired to learn the fight game. No less than 6 of the world’s greatest boxers all trained out of the gym, those being: Mike & Tommy Gibbons, Jock Malone, Billy Miske, Johnny Ertle, and Mike O’Dowd. No other fighter in the world was gifted with as much talent around them as Delaney. Taking from each his best traits, Delaney embarked on a masterful career, which began in 1919, knocking out Al Moore in just 2 rounds. It was the start of the era of a new boxing master.
Delaney wasted little time breaking into the pro ranks, as he faced a plethora of different styles, southpaws, boxers and punchers, all within his first few years in the ring. His talents were noticed immediately by promoter Jerk Doran, and he began putting Jimmy in Main Event 10 rounder’s during his very first year in the ring; something rare today, but almost unheard of then. Jimmy rose to the occasion in each fight, facing men such as: Del Hanlon, Billy Perkins, Eddie Sudenberg, and Gunner Joe Quinn.
The early 1920′s saw more success from Delaney, as he faced men such as: Johnny Nichols, George Shade, Hugh Walker, and the highly rated Billy Shade, before locking gloved with future world champion, Gene Tunney in 1923 in Chicago. It was a fight that drew international attention, as the young Delaney was an undefeated up-and-coming stallion, facing a 48-1-1 growing legend in Tunney. By this time, the most famous promoter and manager in Minnesota history, Mike Collins, purchased Jimmy’s contract, stating to the public that this kid, could be the Heavyweight Champion of the World by the time he was 27 years-old. At the time, Jimmy was just 23. That is how highly Delaney was regarded at that point in his career. The fight with Tunney was held at the Chicago Coliseum and was close. So close, that newspaper men disagreed as to who was the victor, though most had Tunney by a shade. The fact that a young kid with just 31 fights to his name could fight the great Tunney on such even terms took Delaney from being a rising star, to a bona-fide player in the sport. He had arrived, and everyone knew it. Tunney knew it too, and told the Press as much.
1923 continued to be a big year for young Delaney as he took his show on the road quite often, from Chicago to Oklahoma City, to California. While in California, noted boxing writer, Sam Hall saw Jimmy fight, and called him, “a nifty piece of fighting machinery”. During that year, he beat the tough Chuck Wiggins, as well as Jimmy Darcy and Glenn Clickner. Most notable though, was his 12 round draw with future world champion, Tommy Loughran. He also whipped the dangerous Ray Pelkey, and Willie Meehan, with Meehan later predicting Jimmy to be the next Heavyweight Champion. If the name Meehan sounds familiar to you, it should, as he twice beat the great Jack Dempsey. Jimmy ended 1923 with an impressive Draw over Bert Colima, who held a 66-9-12 record, who was the Mexican champion. In 1924, Delaney made Minnesota proud by securing a #10 ranking in the world amongst Light-Heavyweights, in part to his impressive performances against Tunney in a rematch, this time in St. Paul, followed by two more wins over Ray Pelkey and another over Young Bob Fitzsimmons.
Delaney then twice plied his wares against the world champion, Harry Greb, though dropping newspaper decisions in both bouts, as well as twice facing the most feared puncher in the world at the time in Young Stribling (2nd all-time in record book for KO’s at 127), splitting the matches with Stribling at one apiece. He would face Stribling a 3rd time to end the year, dropping the decision. But Delaney opened the 1925 year with a #8 world ranking. In 1926, he again faced Harry Greb and Tommy Loughran, dropping newspaper decisions to them both. He also posted impressive wins over both Alex Rely and Johnny Risko. He finished the year rated #10 in the world.
In February of 1927, he whipped future world champion, Maxie Rosenbloom, but suffered blood poisoning in a cut elbow during the match. He quickly grew sick, but agreed to go forth with his signed fight to face journeyman, Benny Ross a week later. It was obvious Jimmy was not himself, as he sluggishly dropped a decision to the very average Ross. His elbow became very infected during the bout and he came back to Minnesota, and was admitted to the hospital immediately and began blood transfusions but nothing worked and Jimmy was told he would not make it. As he became delirious, he requested that a 10 count be tolled over his grave at his funeral, as he himself, had never heard one, for in his incredible, but short career, he was never knocked out. He died at 1:45 am on March 4, 1927 at the age of 26. Against top competition, the man they said would someday be the next Heavyweight Champion, had racked up an impressive 54 wins, 13 losses, 10 draws record, with 1 no-contest, and 1 no-decision. Some say he will always be remembered for what might have been…for us, what he did already, has been impressive enough. Rest in peace Jimmy Delaney.