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Billy and the Giant: 1912

Billy and the Giant: 1912

June 27, 1912. Rye, New York. "Wells & Coffey." English heavyweight champion "Bombardier" Billy Wells, left, sparring with Jim Coffey, the Roscommon Giant, to prepare for his fight with Al Palzer. Palzer won by a knockout in the third round. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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Wardrobe Malfunction

Check out the head kerchief. Had the elastic worn out on Mr Wells trunks or is that a "Favor" from Lady Guinevere? Whatever it was I do hope it stopped any wardrobe malfunction.


These men cannot really be boxers. Their shorts do not extend to mid-shin, nor are they baggy in the seat. And no ink!

Giants were a lot smaller back then

Everyone is bigger today.

My nephew is 17 years old. 6'9" 289 lbs. Was always big. That's bigger than the average offensive tackle in the NFL 20 years ago.

Junior in High School. He's got a list of 20 NCAA Div 1 football programs and a couple have sent someone to see him play. Hopefully he can stay healthy and get a 4 year scholarship.

Funny thing is, there is a kid on his team taller and heavier than him. That kid looks to be 7 foot and at least 30 pounds heavier.

He went to a Nike High School Combine last spring that ESPN filmed and I saw lot of kids that made him look undersized.

On top of his game

It's not too surprising that Billy Wells looked unmarked going into his fight with Al Palzer. He had fought only ten previous fights and won nine of them, in several cases by quick knockout.

Despite losing to Palzer, Wells went on to have a successful career, holding the British heavyweight championship for several years and retiring in 1925 with a record of 41-11. Two of the losses were to Georges Carpentier, one of the top European heavyweights of all time. Al Palzer fared much worse; after defeating Wells he went 1-6 in his next fights, and then his own father shot him to death.

Jim Coffey had a long and successful career despite never winning a title. He remained active until 1921 and ended up with a career record of 40-6-1.

Trivia: if you've seen one of the dozens of movies produced by the Rank Organisation in the 1930's through 1950's you've seen a man strike a gong during the opening title sequence. That was Billy Wells.

Bill's Skills

He must have been a decent fighter, given his straight unbroken nose and normally shaped ears; other fighters of the era looked an absolute mess in those departments-

You Call Those Gloves??!!

I've had snow mittens with more padding in them!

Bombardiers of 1912

When I saw this, it made me curious. I've always thought of a "Bombardier" as the man in a WWII era flying fortress whose job was to get the bombs on the target. Obviously, in 1912, the title could not have referred to anything much like that.

I figured it must have been a title associated with the artillery, but found that it was also a rank, equivalent to Lance Corporal.

Boxers, they are bigger today

Jim Coffey may have been nicknamed the Roscommon Giant, but at 6'1" and a normal fighting weight of just over 200 pounds he'd be more like a midget compared to today's heavyweights. Billy Wells was a couple inches taller but as far as can be determined fought in the range of 185 to 190 pounds. Today that would make his a cruiserweight, not even a heavyweight.

"Moth holes in my britches"

Title of the autobiography of Jim Coffey, the Roscommon Giant. Alternate title: "Three rounds and you're out."

Anyone else reminded of the oeuvre

of Sir Mix-a-Lot when seeing this picture?

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