International Boxing Hall of Fame

James J. Corbett

"Gentleman Jim"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James J. Corbett

Real name James John Corbett
Nickname(s) Gentleman Jim
Rated at Heavyweight
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Birth date September 1, 1866
Birth place San Francisco, California
Death date February 18, 1933 (aged 66)
Death place Bayside, New York City
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 25
Wins 16
Wins by KO 4
Losses 4
Draws 3
No contests 2

James John "Gentleman Jim" Corbett (September 1, 1866 in San Francisco, California February 18, 1933 in Bayside, Queens) was a heavyweight boxing champion, best known as the man who defeated the great John L. Sullivan. He also coached boxing at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He stood at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), with a reach of 73 inches (190 cm).

 Boxing career

Dubbed by the media as "Gentleman Jim Corbett," and rumored to be college-educated although he had in fact never gone beyond grammar school, he also pursued a career in acting, performing at a variety of theaters. He has been called the "Father of Modern Boxing" because of his scientific approach and innovations in technique. Some think that he changed prizefighting from a brawl to an art form.

On May 21, 1891, Corbett fought Peter "Black Prince" Jackson, a much-heralded bout between cross-town rivals, since Corbett and Jackson were boxing instructors at San Francisco's two most prestigious athletic clubs. They fought to a draw after 61 rounds.

On September 7, 1892 at the Olympic Club in New Orleans, Louisiana, Corbett won the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship by knocking out John L. Sullivan in the 21st round. Corbett's new scientific boxing technique enabled him to dodge Sullivan's rushing attacks, and wear him down with jabs.

For his only title defense, January 25, 1894 Corbett knocked out Charley Mitchell of Great Britain in three rounds. On September 7 1894 he took part in the production of one of the first recorded boxing events, a fight with Peter Courtney. This was filmed at the Black Maria studio at West Orange, New Jersey, in the USA and was produced by William K.L. Dickson. It was only the second boxing match to be recorded.

Jim Corbett lost his championship to the English-born boxer Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City, Nevada. Corbett was dominant for most of the fight, and Fitzsimmons was badly cut, when Mrs Fitzsimmons called out, "Hit him in the slats, Bob!" where "slats" meant the abdominal area. Fitzsimmons then winded Corbett with a hard punch to the solar plexus, and Corbett could not continue within the count.

Following his retirement from boxing, Corbett returned to acting, appearing in low-budget films and in minstrel shows, wearing blackface in skits and giving talks about pugilism. He authored his autobiography under the title The Roar of the Crowd; the story was serialized by The Saturday Evening Post in six weekly installments during October/November of 1894. The following year, G.P. Putnam's Sons, published it in book form, marketing it as the "True Tale of the Rise and Fall of a Champion." In 1942, the story was made into a Hollywood motion picture titled, Gentleman Jim, starring Errol Flynn as Corbett.

From 1903 until his death, Corbett lived in a three-story home in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens in New York City.[1]

On his passing in 1933, Corbett was interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. On its creation, he was elected posthumously to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Corbett's brother, Joe Corbett, was a Major League Baseball pitcher. Corbett was married to Olive Lake Morris from 1886 to 1895.

Corbett's great, great, great nephew, Dan Corbett, was a professional heavyweight boxer from San Antonio, Texas who won the United States Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization's inter-continental heavyweight titles.

In pop culture

In episode 26 - 13 "Homer vs. Lisa and 8th Commandment" of the television show The Simpsons, Mr. Burns comments that he "once watched Gentleman Jim Corbett fight an Eskimo-fella, bare-knuckled, for 113 rounds."

In Bob Dylan's 1975 song "Hurricane," Dylan contrasts Rubin Carter and Gentleman Jim saying that "he ain't no Gentleman Jim."

Preceded by
John L. Sullivan
Heavyweight boxing champion
Succeeded by
Bob Fitzsimmons
NAME Corbett, James J.
DATE OF BIRTH September 1, 1866
PLACE OF BIRTH San Francisco, California
DATE OF DEATH 1933-2-18
PLACE OF DEATH Bayside, New York City