Jack Sharkey

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Jack Sharkey
Jack Sharkey - El Gráfico 556.jpg
Real nameJoseph Paul Zukauskas
Nickname(s)Boston Gob, Sharkboy
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Reach72 in (183 cm)
Born(1902-10-26)October 26, 1902
Binghamton, New York
DiedAugust 17, 1994(1994-08-17) (aged 91)
Beverly, Massachusetts
Boxing record
Total fights55
Wins by KO13
Juozas Žukauskas ("Jack Sharkey") when he was 78 years old.

Jack Sharkey (born Joseph Paul Zukauskas, Lithuanian: Juozas Povilas Žukauskas, October 26, 1902 – August 17, 1994) was an American world heavyweight boxing champion.

Early life[edit]

Sharkey was born the son of Lithuanian immigrants, in Binghamton, New York (his birth surname is sometimes given as Cukoschay), but moved to Boston, Massachusetts as a young man. Sources report little of his early life until, at the outset of World War I, teenaged Joseph repeatedly tried to enlist in the Navy. Turned down because of his age, he was not able to enlist until after the end of the war.

It was during his tenure in the Navy that he first showed interest in boxing. Tall and husky for a man of his generation, Joseph was encouraged by his friends in the service to box. He quickly established notoriety as the best boxer aboard any vessel on which he served. During his brief returns home to Boston he took part in his first fights for pay, the first on January 24, 1924, against one Billy Muldoon, whom he knocked out in the first round. By the time of his honorable discharge just short of a month later, he had won a second fight and was already earning write-ups in the Boston papers.

Boxing career[edit]

He took his ring name from his two idols, heavyweight contender Tom Sharkey and heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. He won an important fight in 1926 over black heavyweight contender Harry Wills, but his first big year was 1927, when he defeated former light heavyweight champ Mike McTigue in twelve rounds and Boston rival Jim Maloney in five. That put him in the ring on July 21, 1927, with his idol, Dempsey, the winner to meet heavyweight champion Gene Tunney for the title. For six rounds Sharkey out-boxed Dempsey, who probed low with his punches. In the seventh round Sharkey turned his head to complain to the referee about Dempsey's low punches and Dempsey landed a classic left hook that knocked Sharkey out.

In 1928 Sharkey defeated heavyweight contender Tom Heeney and former light-heavyweight champion Jack Delaney. Early in 1929, signed in a Tex Rickard promotion to fight Young Stribling in Miami, Sharkey and all involved suffered a scare when Rickard died unexpectedly. All preparations ceased, as Rickard was laid to rest in New York. Unhappy with the uncertainty of it all, Jack complained to sportswriter Dan Parker, "That man isn't in his grave yet, and already they're trying to break my contract."[1] In fact Bill Carey, president of Madison Square Garden saved the day by appointing Jack Dempsey himself to the task. Dempsey, a close personal friend of Rickard, had never handled a promotion, before, but did so now with what might be called "large and largesse". Between leasing the Carl Fisher mansion on Miami Beach, as well as the George Washington Hotel, the latter of which was equipped for the press with a 24-hour bar, the Sharkey-Stribling fight at the old Flamingo Park, drew 40,000 fans, including 423 writers, and did $405,000 at the box office, an amount unsurpassed in the South, until television receipts for Clay vs. Liston in 1964, managed a richer gate.[2]

A fight held in Yankee Stadium later that year, gave Sharkey the United States heavyweight title, when he knocked out former light-heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran. This victory earned him the opportunity to fight for the vacant world title against the German contender, Max Schmeling on June 12, 1930. Sharkey was disqualified in the fourth round after delivering a punch that landed below Schmeling's belt. This was the first time in boxing history when the heavyweight championship was won on a foul since Joe Goss in 1876.

In October 1931, Sharkey defeated Italian heavyweight, Primo Carnera, and was then given another chance to fight for the title. On June 21, 1932, at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, New York, Sharkey defeated Schmeling in a controversial split decision to win the championship. Sharkey lost the title on June 29, 1933, in his second fight with Primo Carnera. This meant that Sharkey was the first heavyweight champion in history to both win and lose the championship against a European fighter. Floyd Patterson repeated this feat when regaining the title against Ingemar Johansson, having lost it to the Swede in their first fight. Oliver McCall then became the third such Heavyweight champion when beating Lennox Lewis for the WBC title in 1994, before losing it to Lewis' countryman, Frank Bruno the following year. In recent years, with the proliferation of European Heavyweight champions, fighters such as Chris Byrd and Hasim Rahman have also won and lost their championships against European opposition. Sharkey's distinction is noteworthy, however, as Schmeling and Carnera were, respectively, only the third and fourth Europeans to win the World Heavyweight championship.

Later in life, Sharkey would allege both of his second fights with Schmeling and Carnera were fixed.[citation needed] He took a year off, fought four mediocre fights, and then fought Joe Louis on August 18, 1936, losing by knockout in the third round. This made him the only man to fight both Dempsey and Louis.

Sharkey then retired with a record of 38-14-3 with 13 knockouts. As the Cyber Boxing Zone website describes him, "Sharkey had good skills, could hit with power, box well and take punishment when he set his mind to fight; But, he was an erratic, 'up-and-down' boxer who never seemed to put all his skills together consistently; when he was good, he was very good but when he was bad, he was awful." [3]

Life after boxing[edit]

Sharkey saved most of the money he earned in the ring and, in retirement, owned a bar, worked as a boxing and wrestling referee in the United States and Canada, often earned money from personal appearances, and entertained troops in North Africa during World War II. He also pursued his love of fly fishing, and teamed and toured with baseball great Ted Williams in fly fishing promotions. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994 and died a few months later, on August 17, age 91, due to respiratory arrest. After Max Schmeling, the man he beat to become Heavyweight champion, Sharkey is the second longest-lived Heavyweight champion in history.

While demonstrating fly fishing at the New York Sportsman Show in 1965, he was asked if he preferred fly fishing to boxing. "It doesn't pay as much", he replied, "but then the fish don't hit back."

Notable bouts refereed[edit]

Ex-world heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey refereed the world light heavyweight title defense by Archie Moore against Yvon Durelle on December 10, 1958, at The Forum, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one of boxing's first championship televised bouts. Moore came off the canvas three times in the first round, and again in the fifth round, to knock out Durelle in the eleventh round. Sharkey also refereed the rematch at The Forum, in which Moore knocked down Durelle four times in the third round before knocking him out on August 12, 1959.[4][5] Both bouts were world televised in black and white from Canada, with commentary and post-fight interviews.

Professional boxing record[edit]

38 Wins (13 knockouts, 25 decisions), 14 Losses (4 knockouts, 10 decisions), 3 Draws [6]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 38-14-3 United States Joe Louis KO 3 (10) 18/08/1936 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United States Sharkey down twice in the 2nd round, and twice in the 3rd round.
Win 38-13-3 United States Phil Brubaker UD 10 25/06/1936 United States Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts Sharkey down in the 1st round.
Draw 37-13-3 United States Tony Shucco PTS 10 14/04/1936 United States Boston Garden, Boston
Loss 37-13-2 United States Tony Shucco PTS 10 07/02/1936 United States Boston Garden, Boston
Win 37-12-2 United States Unknown Winston KO 2 (10) 22/11/1935 United States Boston Garden, Boston
Loss 36-12-2 United States Tommy Loughran SD 15 27/09/1933 United States Phillies Ballpark, Philadelphia, United States Sharkey down in 10th. After a "drab fight" one judge had it 7-4-4 for Loughran, the other 7-6-2 for Sharkey while the referee had it a draw (6-6-3) but, as the rules then allowed, gave his decision for Loughran. (New York Times)
Loss 36-11-2 United States King Levinsky UD 15 18/09/1933 United States Comiskey Park, Chicago Sharkey down in the 1st round. The referee scored it 55-45 for Levinsky, and the referees had it 53-47 and 56-44. Sharkey appeared to win rounds 4, 6, and 7, and Levinsky took all the others.
Loss 36-10-2 Italy Primo Carnera KO 6 (15) 29/06/1933 United States Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Queens, New York Lost NYSAC, NBA and lineal heavyweight titles
Win 36-9-2 Germany Max Schmeling SD 15 21/06/1932 United States Madison Square Garden Bowl, Long Island City, Brooklyn, New York Won NYSAC, NBA and lineal heavyweight titles;
As a result of the controversial decision of this bout, the NYSAC barred any but "boxing experts" (sports writers, referees, judges) from broadcasting descriptions of future matches.
Win 35-9-2 Italy Primo Carnera PTS 15 12/10/1931 United States Ebbet's Field, Brooklyn, New York Carnera was knocked down in the 4th round.
Draw 34-9-2 United States Mickey Walker PTS 15 22/07/1931 United States Ebbet's Field, Queens, New York There were no knockdowns recorded during this contest, despite a mythical 12th round knockdown supposedly scored by Sharkey.
Loss 34-9-1 Germany Max Schmeling DQ 4 (15) 12/06/1930 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York For vacant NYSAC, NBA and lineal heavyweight titles;
Sharkey disqualified because of a low blow late in the 4th round. This was the first heavyweight title in history to change hands via a foul. Attendance: 79,222
Win 34-8-1 United Kingdom Phil Scott TKO 3 (15) 27/02/1930 United States Madison Square Garden Stadium, Miami Scott went down for a count of six in the 2nd, and three times from body blows in the 3rd before he finally gave up.
Win 33-8-1 United States Tommy Loughran TKO 3 (15) 26/09/1929 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Attendance: 45,000. Won American Heavyweight title.
Win 32-8-1 United States Young Stribling PTS 10 27/02/1929 United States Flamingo Park, Miami Beach, Florida Attendance: 40,000.
Win 31-8-1 United States K O Christner PTS 10 25/01/1929 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 30-8-1 United States Arthur De Kuh PTS 10 10/12/1928 United States Arena, Boston
Win 29-8-1 United States Leo Gates KO 3 (10) 21/06/1928 United States Battery A Arena, St. Louis, Missouri
Win 28-8-1 Canada Jack Delaney KO 1 (15) 30/04/1928 United States Madison Square Garden, New York Attendance: 15,000.
Loss 27-8-1 United States Johnny Risko SD 15 12/03/1928 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Draw 27-7-1 New Zealand Tom Heeney PTS 12 13/01/1928 United States Madison Square Garden, New York Attendance: 17,000. Judge George Kelley voted for Sharkey, Judge George Patrick called it a draw, and Referee Denning gave Heeney the verdict.
Loss 27–7 United States Jack Dempsey KO 7 (10) 21/07/1927 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Sharkey took the count of ten after going down from a vicious left hook to the jaw. This was a heavyweight tournament elimination bout, with the winner to meet current World Champion Gene Tunney for a shot at his title.
Win 27–6 United States Jim Maloney TKO 5 (15) 20/05/1927 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win 26–6 Republic of Ireland Mike McTigue TKO 12 (15) 03/03/1927 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York McTigue would have probably gone the distance but the referee stopped it because he had suffered a dangerous gash.
Win 25–6 United States Homer Smith TKO 7 (10) 15/12/1926 United States State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York
Win 24–6 United States Harry Wills DQ 13 (15) 12/10/1926 United States Ebbet's Field, Queens, New York Wills was disqualified for illegal use of a backhand blow. "Wills was battered about the ring from the start." (AP) Wills suspended 20 days for the foul.
Win 23–6 United States George Godfrey PTS 10 21/09/1926 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 22–6 Argentina Orlando Reverberi TKO 3 (10) 13/09/1926 United States Laurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey
Win 21–6 United States Bud Gorman DQ 1 (10) 25/06/1926 United States Braves Field, Boston
Win 20–6 United States Pat McCarthy PTS 10 19/04/1926 United States Arena, Boston This was an easy win for Sharkey.
Win 19–6 United States Emilio "King" Solomon PTS 10 01/04/1926 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 18–6 United States Eddie Huffman PTS 10 12/02/1926 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 17–6 Mexican Joe Lawson KO 2 (10) 18/01/1926 United States Armory, Hartford, Connecticut
Win 16–6 United States Jim Maloney PTS 10 11/12/1925 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 15–6 United States Johnny Risko PTS 10 17/09/1925 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Loss 14–6 United States Bud Gorman PTS 10 17/08/1925 United States Arena, Boston
Win 14–5 United States Emilio "King" Solomon PTS 10 31/07/1925 United States Braves Field, Boston
Win 13–5 United States Jim Maloney DQ 9 (12) 05/06/1925 United States Braves Field, Boston Sharkey led on points for 7 rounds, but was floored five times in round 8 and once in the 9th before being fouled.
Win 12–5 Australia George Cook SD 10 25/05/1925 United States Mechanics Building, Boston According to The Boston Globe, Cook won decisively and deserved the decision.
Win 11–5 Canada Jack Renault PTS 10 06/04/1925 United States Arena, Boston Some controversy, as one Massachusetts paper, the Lowell Sun, had Renault winning majority of rounds. This was a major blow to Renault's career.
Loss 10–5 Austria Charley Weinert PTS 10 10/02/1925 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 10–4 United States Sully Montgomery UD 10 20/01/1925 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 9–4 Netherlands Jack DeMave PTS 10 08/01/1925 United States Manhattan Casino, New York
Loss 8–4 Austria Charley Weinert NWS 12 15/12/1924 United States 113th Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey Weinert won the newspaper decision according to The Ring and various newspaper sources.
Loss 8–3 United States Jim Maloney PTS 10 05/11/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston Maloney was reported by The Boston Globe to have won clearly, as Sharkey fought too carefully.
Loss 8–2 Chile Quintin Romero Rojas KO 9 (10) 29/08/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston This was reported in The Boston Globe to have been a terrific battle.
Win 8–1 United States Young Jack Johnson NWS 6 20/08/1924 United States Fair Grounds Auditorium, Bangor, Maine Sharkey won the newspaper decision according to The Boston Globe.
Win 7–1 United States Al Roberts PTS 10 23/07/1924 United States Kinsley Park, Providence, Rhode Island
Win 6–1 United States Homer Smith PTS 10 15/07/1924 United States Braves Field, Boston
Win 5–1 United States Floyd Johnson PTS 10 23/06/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston Johnson was down in round 1 and took a bad licking.
Win 4–1 United States Eddie Record KO 7 (10) 25/04/1924 United States Arena, Boston
Loss 3–1 United States Eddie Record PTS 10 18/03/1924 United States Grand Opera House, Boston
Win 3–0 United States Dan Lucas KO 2 (10) 26/02/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston
Win 2–0 United States Pat Hance DQ 2 (10) 08/02/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston Hance was floored 4 times, then went down twice without being hit and was disqualified.
Win 1–0 United States Billy Muldoon TKO 1 (8) 29/01/1924 United States Mechanics Building, Boston

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Samuels, Charles (1957). The Magnificent Rube (pre-ISBN First ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. p. 4.
  2. ^ Jones, Jimmy (1969). King of the Canebrakes (pre-ISBN First ed.). Macon, GA: Southern Press, Inc. pp. 40–41.
  3. ^ "Cyber Boxing Zone -- Jack Sharkey". cyberboxingzone.com.
  4. ^ Archie Moore vs Yvon Durelle I (Full fight). YouTube. 6 May 2012.
  5. ^ Archie Moore vs Yvon Durelle 2nd fight. YouTube. 25 May 2010.
  6. ^ "BoxRec – Jack Sharkey". boxrec.com.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Max Schmeling
World heavyweight champion
June 21, 1932 – June 29, 1933
Succeeded by
Primo Carnera
Preceded by
Jack Dempsey
Oldest living heavyweight champion
May 31, 1983 – August 17, 1994
Succeeded by
Max Schmeling