Friday, September 8, 2017

On This Day: Jem Carney Remembered

Jem Carney was an extremely tough and strong fighter for his weight. He was one of the toughest lightweights to come out of England, and although he did not have many recorded contests, he proved himself one of the best fighters in the world during his relatively short career. Carney fought both with gloves and bare-knuckled, but preferred bare-knuckles. Born in Birmingham, West Midlands, on November 5, 1856, Carney had his first recorded contest in 1879.

On October 11, 1881 Carney beat Jimmy Highland in 43 rounds, after a battle which lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. Highland was so badly injured that he died 4 days later of his injuries and on February 15, 1882, Carney was charged with manslaughter, and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for Highland’s death.

 After a period of inactivity following his imprisonment, Carney returned to competitive fighting in 1884, and on December 20, 1884, he won the British Lightweight championship when he knocked out Young Jacob Hyams in the 45th round of a grueling battle. Carney then went to America and boxed a series of exhibitions, as well as taking part in two competitive contests, both of which he won. 

Eventually, Carney’s reputation grew, and a fight was set up a with the American lightweight champion Jack McAuliffe, with the winner to be recognized as the Lightweight champion of the world. The fight took place in a stable behind the Atlantic Hotel on Revere Beach on November 16, 1887, with both men wearing gloves, and was one of the most grueling contests of its time, eventually being stopped after 74 rounds, and a reported 4 hours , and 58 minutes. The match was called off by the referee, due to both fighters being exhausted, and members of the crowd repeatedly breaking into the ring. Although the official verdict was a draw, both men claimed that they were the rightful winners, but eyewitnesses of the battle said that at the time of the stoppage Carney held the upper hand in the fight.

After this fight ,Carney had one more competitive contest, losing to Dick Burge on May 25, 1891, in a fight for Carney’s British lightweight title. Carney was declared the loser on a foul in the 11th round and never fought again competitively.

When Carney no longer boxed competitively, he became a bodyguard to millionaire George Alexander Baird.

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