The Maitland Wonder!
by Andrew Hall - It is truly one of the saddest stories in boxing history. A fighter who was heroic in ever sense of the word being branded a coward. Then, as if that weren't enough, dying tragically before he had a chance to prove his true fistic capabilities. This is a story of great woo. Though Darcy may no longer be with us his greatness is remembered by millions of tremendous Aussie fans.
Article posted on 02.12.2009
James Leslie Darcy was born on October 31st, 1895. He left school at a young age to become a carter, until he was apprenticed to become a blacksmith. He did this to support his family. His father wasn't able to get work and his older brother was partially handicapped..
Darcy got his first payday in boxing not too long after that. He had several fights in Newcastle and Maitland and did quite well. Then he had a bout against Australian welterweight champ Whitelaw, which he lost. The fight, however, was good for Darcy because his valiant efforts won over the hearts of the fans as well as the promoters.
On July 18th he got his first chance to fight in the Sydney Stadium against Fritz Holland. It was a good fight with Holland winning on points. After the decision was announced the crowd erupted and a riot ensued. Two months later there was a rematch, and Holland won again, this time on a foul. This, however, got the attention of promoter R.L "Snowy" Baker.
This lead to a bout with American Pugilist Jeff Smith who defeated Darcy because Darcy's corner wouldn't let him come out after being hurt by a foul punch. The referee didn't see the punch and Darcy lost. This was to be the young upstarts final loss as a professional. He was able to win his next 22 bouts in breathtaking fashion.
Darcy was offered some fights in the United States but he declined them, probably due to the influence of his manager Baker. Six months later, Darcy wanted to go but was unable to do so due to the climate change in his country after the start of World War 1. Basically, what happened was "conscription" was enforced. This meant that you were not allowed to leave the country if you were of age to go to war. Darcy was not 21 years of age and so he had to have his mothers permission to enter the war. She would not consent. Thus, Darcy could not go to the war and could not enter the United States legally (as his country saw it). Darcy elected to go to the United States anyway.
When he arrived he should have been given a heroes welcome. Instead, he was called a "coward" for not fighting in the war. The poor guy couldn't get a fight. He tried to set one up in New York with named fighters here in America but could not. He tried all over and the fights got cancelled. He even tried Memphis Tennessee but it was promptly outlawed as well. In an effort to gain citizenship in the USA, Darcy joined the military. Sadly, Darcy got septicaemia and endocarditis and had his tonsils removed. Then he developed pneumonia and died. What a tragic loss for his family and friends and the world of boxing.
Darcy was a respected fighter. Those who fought him and saw him fight admired his grit and determination. He was never knocked out nor knocked down. He was a sportsman all the way. He had grit, determination and a heroic heart. He will be remembered by fans forever.
Now, what would have happened had he fought other great American fighters at this time? Who was around? You had guys like Ted "Kid" Lewis and Jack Britton. Nobody knows for sure what would have happened had Darcy faced these men but he certainly deserved to have a shot. Its a shame he never did. Rest in peace champ!
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