1879 – NYC Boxing Bout lasting 52 Rounds ends in stalemate (and court appearances)

I have been researching a very colourful distant cousin named Ned Mallahan born in Connecticut in 1849. Our Ned sparred as a boxer as a young man, whilst also establishing himself as a purveyor of fine liquors as he traveled around America demonstrating the noble art.

1886 Ned Mallahan portraitIn his mid-twenties, Ned settled in Manhattan and formed business partnerships with like-minded young sportsmen. Ned became a respected boxing referee, trainer and promoter. By the late 1870’s, Ned had assembled the most talented (or most ruthless) stable of raw Irish immigrant pugilists. With funding from supportive NYC sports fanatics, Ned organized fight night extravaganzas featuring infamous brawlers, boxers and wrestlers. His theatre houses were packed every weekend.

The Pantomime Villain image of the popular Edward F Mallahan on the left dates from 1886 when Ned could not have been a day over 37 years. He looks much older after a life grappling in carnival tents.

I found the newspaper report in the link below on the back page of the New York Herald. It reports on the much-anticipated international lightweight boxing bout between local hero Mike Coburn and “Spring” Dick Goodwin, an English challenger, on Friday night, 21st February 1879. As you will see, the display of fistic science went on and on, for 52 rounds, lasting 3 hours and 46 minutes. Even the NY Herald reporter was becoming exhausted by the contest. The eager hack had started off by writing up a round-by-round account of the encounter, but after 25 rounds he was out of words, and out of column space.

I sense that most observers were somewhat relieved when the NY Police raided the premises and brought a halt to the gruesome spectacle by arresting all involved, including the spectators, and the boxers, and Coburn’s corner-man and boxing impresario, Ned Mallahan. You see, professional boxing was illegal in NYC in 1879 – but still Back-Page headline news.

1879 NY Herald (Mick Coburn v Spring Dick)

I love the last “impartial” words of the loyal Herald newsman. When Coburn appeared before Justice Morgan the next morning [he] “did not seem to have a blemish on him” – after enduring 3 hours and 46 minutes in the ring with the fearsome English sporting gent, Spring Dick.




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