Born: March 22, 1891
Died: November 19, 1960
Newspaper Decision Wins: 39
Newspaper Decision Losses: 1
Newspaper Decision Draws: 3
Like his older brother Mike, Tommy Gibbons is regarded by historians as one of the greatest boxers of all-time. Ring Magazine founder and editor, Nat Fleischer ranked him as the #8 all-time Light-Heavyweight, and Charley Rose rated him higher at #5 all time in the Light-Heavyweight division. Benefitting from having the greatest access to sparring of anyone in the country, Tommy had the luxury of working out with Mike at all times, learning all the tricks of the trade and becoming a master boxer himself. Capable of slipping a punch with just a twitch of his head, Gibbons made you pay dearly when his opponents missed-and they missed often.
Tommy started his career off as a Middleweight, where he enjoyed tremendous success. His crisp punching and elusive defense made him among the more difficult fighters to face. He posted big wins over Joe Borrell, Frank Logan, and Willie “KO” Brennan, before facing fellow Saint Paul rival, Billy Miske across the river in Hudson, Wisconsin. This was due to the fact that prizefighting was still illegal in Minnesota, and though some fights still took place there, they were small scale ones. If one was to make any money for a big fight, that big fight needed to be advertised. That couldn’t happen in a state that demonized and jailed boxers for plying their trades. Hudson had taken over as the premier fight town for the upper Midwest. The fight with Miske would prove to be a great draw among fans, and a thrilling and bloody affair for both men. It was back and forth action throughout, but Tommy got the better of the milling, winning a wide newspaper decision by the major fight-writers of the day. It would prove to be just the first of 5 legendary battles between Miske and Gibbons.
The victory over the undefeated and highly-regarded Miske propelled Tommy to bigger headlines in the papers, and bigger matches as well. One thing that separated Tommy Gibbons from most other big-name prospects is the fact that his managers Eddie Reddy and Eddie Kane rarely accepted easy fights for Tommy, and virtually all of his wins came over formidable opposition. Even as a young Middleweight, he thoroughly whipped future world champion, Harry Greb, so badly, that the papers reported more on the gore of it all, over the simple victory for Gibbons. The Greb victory was followed by more wins over men such as: Gus Christie, Battling Levinsky, George Chip, Clay Turner, and Bartley Madden.
By 1920, Tommy was a Light-Heavyweight and still beating the best of the best on a regular basis, including another newspaper win over Harry Greb among others. Tommy was so exceptionally good, that he would go an unbelievable 11 years without an official defeat, spanning some 84 fights. He would not lose his first official defeat until dropping a 15 round points decision to rival Harry Greb in 1922. In fact, of the 4 men to ever defeat Tommy, all are Hall of Famers, those being: Billy Miske, Harry Greb, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney.
The fight with the legendary Jack Dempsey is one worth mentioning. Dempsey was the most feared man in the world, known for his fearsome KO power. And in a title defense that bankrupted the city of Shelby, Montana, Dempsey faced a past-his-prime Tommy Gibbons, and still could not lay a glove on him. At the conclusion of the 15 round fight, Dempsey was awarded the decision, but still standing was Gibbons, with hardly a scratch on him. After a few months off, Tommy went on a tear, scoring 4 knockouts in just 20 days time before facing the feared Georges Carpentier. Gibbons would win the newspaper decision in convincing fashion, followed by four more impressive KO wins, including one over the very talented, Kid Norfolk. By 1925, Tommy was ready to call it a career. He scored two more KO victories over Jack Burke and Tiny Jim Herman, before suffering the first and only KO defeat, that being in the last fight of his career to the great future Heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney.
Tommy is an inductee of both the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.