The Boxing Biographies Newsletter
Volume 7 – No 3 15th May , 2011
LIFE AND BATTLES OF DAN DONNELLY.
Dan Donnelly was a carpenter by trade, and was born in Townsend street, Dublin, in 1786, stood 6ft. ½ in. in height, and- his fighting weight was 1961bs. At an early age young Dan gave promise of future greatness as a pugilist, getting away with all who had the hardihood to confront his strong arm and combative disposition. To use Pierce Egan's expression: “he floored all the milling coves in Ireland." In the use of the blackthorn, Dan was par excellence, and legend hands down no story of his ever being worsted in a shillelah fight, where wrestling, of which art he was the greatest exponent of his day, plays such a conspicuous part ; in fact, Dan was all fight, and being very partial to a " drop o' potheen' his combativeness showed itself all the more when the " craythur “ got into his upper story.
DONNELLY'S FIGHT WITH HALL
His first appearance in the prize-ring was with Tom Hall, an English boxer from the Isle of Wight, who was then on a sparring tour in Ireland. They fought for a 100- guinea purse in a twenty-foot ring ; it took place on the Curragh of Kildare (famous for its race-meetings) Sept. 14, 1814, Donnelly then being in his 28th year. Not less than 40,000 spectators are said to have been present. Previous to the battle the combatants met on the ground and drank with each other. Donnelly first entered the ring, and was greeted with thunders of applause. Hall was also well received. Hall was overmatched in point of weight, and compelled to act upon the defense. It was far from a stand-up fight. Donnelly received no injuries except one trifling cut on the lip, which drew first blood. He slipped down once. His superiority of strength was evident, and he did not appear the least' exhausted. Donnelly generally hit first. Hall did not acknowledge defeat, and retired from the ring by order of the umpires after the fifteenth round, exclaiming "Foul!'” in consequence of being hit three times when he was down. No betting occurred during the fight, but previous to which it was 60 to 40 on Hall, and on the ground 25 to 20.
Bonfires were made in several of the streets in Dublin by the warm-hearted countrymen of Donnelly, to celebrate his victory. The latter was under the training of Captain Kelly. He was also seconded by this gentleman and Captain Barclay, brother to the celebrated pedestrian. Hall was attended by Ned Painter and Jack Carter. During the fight Donnelly kept his temper, closed every round, and attempted to put in some heavy blows, which, had they reached their destination, must have proved effective in the extreme. Hall was well known as a game man, and as a scientific fighter he appeared far more conspicuous than Donnelly. It was, however, urged by the partisans of the Irish champion that Hall fell down without a blow, which was not noticed ; and Donnelly, in his eagerness to catch him before he again attempted this conduct, hit Hall once in particular so desperately on the ear while he was sitting on the ground that the claret flowed in torrents from it. The most independent and candid opinion upon the subject, from the best judges of pugilism who witnessed the battle, appears to be that both of the combatants lost it.
GAME BATTLE BETWEEN DONNELLY AND COOPER,
DECEMBER 13, 1815.
DONNELLY THE VICTOR IN 11 ROUNDS, 22 MINUTES.
George Cooper, who was also teaching the art of self-defense in Ireland, whose fame as a boxer was well known, was selected as an equal competitor for Donnelly, and they fought for a purse of £60, On Dec. 13, 1815, they met in the ring on the Curragh of Kildare. Donnelly, then in his 29th year, was seconded by Cody, and Cooper by Ned Painter. Both men were in good condition-
Round 1. The fight boys of the sod were all upon the alert in favor of their countryman, and Donnelly must win and nothing else was the general cry. Every eye was on the scratch when the men set-to. Some little time occurred in sparring, when Donnelly planted a sharp blow on the neck of Cooper, and the latter returned in a neat manner on the body. Desperate milling then took place, when the round was finished by Donnelly, who in first rate style floored his antagonist. It would be impossible to describe the shout that accompanied this feat; it was not unlike a fire of artillery; and the faces of the Paddies smiled again with innate approbation.
2. Considerable science was displayed before a hit was made, when Donnelly put in a sharp facer. He also drew blood from one of Cooper's ears, and his strength prevailed to that extent as to drive Cooper to the ropes, where he went down.
3. Had it not been on the Curragh of Kildare, it was presumed that the fine fighting of Cooper would have told with better effect. He evidently labored under great fear from the prejudice of the numerous spectators being so much attached to his opponent ; but Donnelly exhibited great improvement, and he completely took the lead this round. After some tremendous hitting, Cooper went down. Another uproarious burst of applause.
4. This was altogether a good round. Cooper convinced Donnelly that he was a troublesome customer, and, in spite of his overwhelming strength, he could not protect himself from punishment. In closing both down, but Cooper undermost. Donnelly was now decidedly the favorite, and 6 to 4 was the general betting.
5. The gaiety of Donnelly was hastily stopped. After an exchange of a few blows, Cooper, with much adroitness, floored Donnelly in a scientific style ; but the latter instantly got upon his legs without any help. The odds changed, and even betting was the truth,
6. Cooper's mode of fighting extorted the admiration of the Irish amateurs from the ease and natural manner he contended with his big opponent. Donnelly was kept to his work, and he had some difficulty in getting Cooper off his legs.
7. In this round Donnelly was seen to much advantage, and he resolutely went in as if to beat his opponent off-hand. He drove Cooper to all parts of the ring till they closed, when the strength of
Donnelly almost proved fatal to his opponent. Cooper received one of the most dreadful cross-buttocks ever witnessed ; and by way of rendering it even more terrific, Donnelly fell on Cooper with all his weight, driving the wind nearly out of his body.
8. From the severity of the last fall Cooper seemed much distressed in setting to. Donnelly, with some judgment, turned the weakness of his opponent to good account, and, after having the best of his adversary, Donnelly put in so tremendous a hit that Cooper was hit off his legs. The loud cheering from all parts of the ring beggared description, and in the pride of the moment a guinea to a tenpenny bit was offered on Donnelly.
9. Cooper commenced this round in the most gallant style, and the milling was truly desperate on both sides. In making a hit, Donnelly over-reached himself and slipped down.
10. The strength of Donnelly was too powerful for Cooper ; but, notwithstanding this vast disparagement, the latter fought him upon equal terms of confidence, Cooper was, however, again floored by Donnelly, High odds, but no takers,
11 and last. It was evident Cooper could not win; but, nevertheless, this round was fought with as much resolution and science to obtain the superiority as if the battle had just commenced; Donnelly, at length, put in two tremendous blows that put an end to the contest, particularly one on the mouth that knocked Cooper off his feet. On victory being declared in favor of Donnelly, the applause lasted for a minute. The battle continued for about twenty-two minutes. Donnelly appeared quite elated with victory, and shook hands with Cooper and also his friends.