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Tommy Ryan 1911-12 articles

In 1911 Tommy Ryan wrote a series of weekly articles for the Syracuse Herald entitled “Nineteen Years In The Ring”, the story of the life and battles Of Tommy Ryan, retired middleweight champion of the world as written by himself.

There are 38 weekly instalments and I have reproduced them with as much accuracy as possible given the poor quality of some of the documents. In addition to the text I have added various other items of interest. The remaining articles are in the next edition.

Part 1 - 3rd September 1911

 It is I believe the custom to start a story of a person’s life history with the facts of his birth. I shall doubtless surprise some of my readers by statements which I shall make in this as well as the other articles. The general impression among ring followers all over the country is that I am of Jewish parentage. While I have nothing but the highest regard for that race, I am not a member of it. I was born in the little town of Redwood in Jefferson County,

New York on March 31 1870. My father was a Frenchman and my mother English I was christened Joseph Younges  ( note the spelling, ) how I came to be known as Tommy Ryan will be made known in another article. When I was a youngster my parents moved to Syracuse and I received my early Education in the public schools in Salt City. While I have been away from Syracuse at various times for considerable periods I still look upon that city as my home and will always be viewed by me as such. 

 However, the boyhood joys and troubles of a youngster will hardly be of interest to the great majority of my readers so I will pass over fifteen years by simply, stating that I had as many troubles and scrapes as the average youngster and managed to live through them. My fifteenth birthday found me as a water boy with one of the construction gangs on the Toledo & Ann Arbor railway in Michigan. The line was being constructed at that time, and it was among the railway labourers that I got my first smack of fighting. Camps were erected along the line of the railway several miles apart. Part of the equipment of every camp seemed to be a few pairs of boxing gloves, for men living a clean, healthy life. in the open are always followers of any clean, healthful sport, such as boxing  prior to going to Michigan I had never seer, any regular boxing bouts.

While I was in Syracuse a man named Meyers who used to keep a saloon on Railroad street and every Saturday night there would be a couple of short bouts in the bar room. . As I was a small boy at that time I was frequently kicked out. In fact, I was never allowed In the room when any of the men knew I was there. They say that boys will be boys, and when a boy wants to see anything he will generally succeed. I was no exception, and I managed by devious ways to see a few of these bouts. After I had been in the construction camp for a short time I was allowed to put on the gloves myself. Right here I want to tell my readers that the boxing glove of those days and the glove of to-day are entirely different things, though known, by the same name. The boxing glove of I885 was a skin-tight leather glove that was devised more for the protection of the hand of the boxer wearing it than for the protection of the man upon whom it was to be used.

 Boxing seemed to come quite natural To me I was quick on my feet and could use my hands rather well I have never had a boxing lesson In my life, but experience Is the best lesson that any one can have. I was simply put up against a man and he went after me. It was up to me to look out for myself, and It was in such bouts that I learned the first movements of side-stepping, feinting and parrying that afterwards gave me a reputation in the boxing world. Before I had been boxing many weeks I was able to outbox any man in the camp . My fellow workers took considerable pride in my ability and being but a youngster, I came to look upon myself as rather clever. It gave me confidence, something that is greatly needed to