Smilin Tommy Tracey

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From Portland Oregonian 05/05/1912


"Smiling" Tommy Tracey, Who Heads Fistic Colony of "Has Beens," Realized $75,000 From His Ring Career Prior to Becoming Instructor in "Manly Art" - Once Knocked out Joe Gans Gans and Held Championship


THOMAS JOSEPH TRACEY, known more than a decade ago as "Smiling Tommy" Tracey, champion welterweight pugilist of Australia, world's title holder, and one of the shiftiest welters that ever donned the padded glove, heads Portland's fistic colony of "has beens."

Despite his 40 years and the failure of his name to appear in the prize ring records of late years Tommy hoots at the idea that he is a "has been" and declares that he is still in the game. As a clincher of this argument of this argument Tommy will appear before Portland fans this week as the mentor of Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club youths aspiring to amateur title honors. Taking the old saying "By a man's work shall he be known." Tommy expects to disprove the "has been" theory by turning loose a few Northwest Associations's boxing [?] of Wednesday and Thursday nights.

While it has been eight years since he retired from the ring, laying aside the lightweight mitts after his defeat at the hands of Joe Gans in Portland. Tommy did not sever his connection with the sport, but donned heavier gloves of the training camp and turned his attention to developing ring wisdom that has caused his services to be sought by champions as well as embryonic stars, and now, at the age of 40 years, is imparting a little of the lore accumulated in many rings to members of Multnomah Club.

Opponents Number 200

Tracey has been in over 200 fights, the majority of them of the strenuous variety ranging over a period of 18 years. Born in Melbourne, Australia of Irish parents, Tommy became an exponent of the "manly art" at the tender age of 14 years, breaking into the bare-knuckle game of the Antipodes. But he was far from a tender youth physically, his debut going the marathon route of 46 rounds. He was to get $25 for winning, but as the affair was a draw the promoters refused to give the youngsters a "bob" for court plaster.

But the lad was not to be turned aside by financal arguments and he slowly but surely forced his way to the front, first winning 126-pound tourney's, and then jumping into the 145-pound class, until, atthe age of 21 years, seven years after his bareknuckle initiation, he was the undisputed welterweight champion of Australia. He won the title by decisively defeating Tom Meadows in five rounds.

Debut Into America Splendid

With the Australaian belt dangling at this waist and an accent he has never successfully suppressed. Tracey packed his belongings in the proverbial handkerchief and as proverbially shook the dust of Australia from his feet, landing in San Francisco in 1893. He made a splendid showing in his first American appearance, knocking out Billy Gallagher, welter pride of Frisco, in 18 rounds.

With his victory over Gallagher evidencing his caliber, Tracey had no difficulty securing bouts and during the next few years was busy meeting welters and middles from Boston to Portland with almost unvarying success. But soon his prowess elimiated him from consideration by the 145-pounders, and during the remainder of his career as a ringman he was forced to either concede several pounds to his opponents, or as in the case of Joe Gans, Kid Lavigne, and others of that caliber, was forced to reduce to 140 pounds, a performance which sent him into the ring in a sadly weakened condition.

White Title Once Claimed.

Tracey claimed the white welterweight title of the world by virtue of a victory over Rube Ferns in Portland 10 years ago. Joe Walcott was the world's champion at the time and while Tommy had three chances to win the crown he lost via knockout route, but put up such a surprising exhibition that Walcott could never be enticed to enter the ring again with the Australian except in "sprint" bouts. In the two six-round engagements which followed at Philadelphia and Chicago Tommy was given newspaper decisions.

According to tommy's account of the 16-round knockout at Boston, the affair was scheduled for 15 rounds and at the end of that time he had a fair lead over the negro. Tracey never could figure how they called for the extraround, but he went after the negro for a return bout. He was disappointed on the eve of a battle. Walcott backing out by explaining that he had a broken hand and could not fulfill his engagement.

Among the other notable fights of Tracey's career were: Eight-round draw and 10-round defeat with Tommy Ryan, to whom he conceded weight on both occasions; lost 10 round decision to George Green, San Francisco middleweight; 18 round knockout over Frank McConnell for Pacific Coast welterweight title; knocked out Tommy Cavanaugh in seven rounds; knocked out Harry Fisher in 14 rounds; knocked out by Joe Gans in eight rounds; lost 20 round decision to Kid Lavigne; lost six round decison to "Philadelphia Jack" O'Brien; draw with Douglas, a middleweight, and defeat of Young Griffo and Paddy Smith on the same night, forcing Griffo to quit in three rounds and knocking out Smith in the same round.

Tracey quit the game at the age of 32 years, and two years later opened his well-known boxing school in Portland. He joined the Multnomah Club corps of instructors four months ago and is one of the most popular boxing mentors the organization has ever had.

Winnings Nearly $75,000

Tracey estimates that he won nearly $75,000 during his many years of ring work, with $4,000 recieved at San Francisco for Boxing Kid Lavigne, his biggest purse. He fought in the days of small purses and hard bouts, and, as with the majority, failed to save much of his earnings.

The Portlander was considered one of the shiftiest men in the ring with good punches to either right or left hand. His favorite blow, and the one which scored nearly all knockouts, was a left hook to the jaw. Walcott rated him as his toughest opponent, while his services were in great demand at the training camps of many of the champions.

Tracey believes that the majority of present-day champions are not as clever as the old-timers, and uses Wolgast, Nelson, and the majority of the present-day middles of the wade-in-with-the-head-and-swing-away type as examplesof the decadence of ring craft. He says that such man as McFarland and Coulon, the cleverest of the top-notchers, are followers of the old school boxing.


Record according to boxrec & cbz





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Spider Kelly who seconded Tommy describes him:



Write up of 2 fights Tracey was involved in:

1894-04-19 Joe Walcott W-KO16 Tom Tracey - Music Hall, Boston, MA, USA:


1903-05-13 Joe Gans W-TKO9 Tom Tracey - Pastime Athletic Club, Exposition building, Portland, OR, USA:

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Awesome information! Really nice to see the photo too, looks great in greyscale.. 

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Very nice thanks for the thread.

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Why didnt I remmeber Scribbs I thought to myself; then I saw his post count and I instantly new why :coffee 

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