a shamrock the size of a dahlia

Jack Doyle was an Irish singer, actor and boxer also known as the Gorgeous Gael.

image found here

“At the age of 19 he missed out on the British Heavyweight title to the holder, Welshman, Jack Petersen. Witnesses claim that he had done most of his warming up in a pub not far from the bout. Within the opening seconds he knew he was in trouble and decided to take the easy way out. He was disqualified for repeatedly punching low.

Shortly after, his singing voice was discovered and his soft tenor voice and handsome looks were selling out the London Palladium and the Royal in Dublin. But his love for the drink and generous nature soon started to take its toll on his health.

He returned to Ireland with his new girlfriend Movita Castaneda, a member of the Mexican aristocracy and Hollywood starlet who would later marry Marlon Brando. Following a celebrity wedding in Dublin’s Westland Row Church they toured both sides of the Irish Sea, selling out music halls and opera houses.

image of Movita with Clark Gable found here

Life changed again for Jack; Movita left him, he went down in the first round of a professional fight after turning up drunk, and then spent time in jail for punching out a Garda detective. Patrick Campbell tells here of his attempt at a comeback with a brand new fighting act.

“There was a skirl of bagpipes and six Irish laborers in saffron kilts marched in, blowing the martial air O’Donnell Abu. Behind them, gleaming in a white silk robe and a heavy coating of bottled suntan, tramped the Gorgeous Gael, with a shamrock the size of a dahlia embroidered over his heart. The procession made one circuit outside the ring and was about to embark upon another when a female fan in the front row put out her foot and tripped up the leading piper, who fell on his bag and burst it. Most of the other pipers fell on top of him. Unruffled as ever by adversity, the Gael stepped over them and climbed into the ring……

image found here

He had a number of successful scuffles against elderly and mainly bald Hungarians, Greeks and Turks, causing many of them to retire by falling on them from his full height while he, and they, thought he was merely maneuvering for a wristlock.

Mr Campbell relates the thrilling tale of a fight with Two-Ton Tony Galento which ends badly for our hero. Or did it?

image of Galento found here

Galento, dressed in black fur and purple wool trunks, certainly did look extremely frightening. It might have been this that decided Jack to stake all on one desperate throw. He sprang forward and with a display of strength that brought gasps from the girls raised Two-Ton Tony about shoulder high.

We shall never know what he meant to do with him, because at this moment he ran out of steam. His legs buckled. He dropped his adversary from a height of about five feet. With a thud that shook the whole arena Galento fell like a stone onto his bald skull and lay at Jack’s feet, apparently dead. Jack disentangled himself fastidiously and was walking back to his corner when he heard a hoarse cry of warning from his seconds. He swung around to see Galento coming at him like a rhino. Our man acted with his usual resource. “Stop!” he cried, throwing up his left hand. “Rib’s gone,” he panted, grasping the injured part with the other hand. The fight was over.

Afterwards Galento was in his dressing room with the accessories of a top hat and a cigar added to his purple trunks and a showgirl sitting on his knee. But there were so many girls in the Doyle shrine down the corridor, all trying to massage the injured rib, that you couldn’t even open the door. Once again it was easy to see who was the real winner.

image found here

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 8:19 am  Comments (37)  
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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That tripping of the bagpiper was just mean.

  2. The donkey is not really a boxing fan…

    • Neither is the nurse. But this story is interesting.

  3. I must try the “rib’s gone” ploy ……..

  4. Ah the days when training for a fight meant a case of beer.

  5. “Galento, dressed in black fur and purple wool trunks, certainly did look extremely frightening.”
    Parallel lives! Wedding night! Page torn from my wife’s diary.

    I love the name Movita Castaneda- it conjurs sensuous dance.

    Gene Splicey

    • hahaha….. your poor wife…..

      • It’s amazing how often people say that.

        Al Waysproffered

  6. Have never understood boxing – trust men to find a way to make $$ channeling aggression in the ring. But those blows to the head? No amount of $$ is worth the consequences of that. (As women well know…)

    • Yet men still keep climbing into the ring…..

  7. “…fell on his bag and burst it

    oh, how painful… boxing is such a dangerous sport.

    • when you put it that way… 😉

  8. It sounds like the very beginning of the concept of professional wrestling, complete with body blocks, head shots and lots of girls.

  9. His wife was a KNOCKOUT! I am also reminded of pro wrestling in regards to his act.

    • Me too. And that wonderful film ‘The Wrestler’ with Mickey Rourke.

      • I loved that film too!

  10. Ah I had not heard of this Goregoeus Gael before

  11. Not much of a fan of boxing, then again, any job that requires you get hit in the face is not something I’d be interested in.

  12. I’m an admirer of boxing and the fighting arts. Boxing physiques of the early 20th century were not to my taste, something about the high-waisted look puts me off my Guinness. A lively tale to be sure, and just in time for St Patrick’s Day!

  13. I’m with Mitzi except that I ain’t ever been an admirer of the fighting arts (if you’ll ignore a couple of years of karate classes searching for the essential inner force at the wrong place, with a hoard of road works guys…).More a lover than a fighter 😉
    Brief stint in Wales from June 4-14 but otherwise generally hanging around France! Coffee and Flea Markets always a good mix!!

    • I think I’m in France from 10-18 June, then Greece after that. Didn’t I leave a comment on your blog about this…. I can’t find it now?

  14. Back when men were men!

  15. ‘O’Donnell Abu’ has its origins here in Glasgow, and is still used in certain circles (anyone familiar with my posts will understand) and usually has a good air after the whisky is poured at the wake. Close to my very own heart is this post hen..

  16. He sounds like my kind of guy. Every single Irishman I’ve ever met was a singer, actor, boxer, and drunk in one way or another. And I should know, I’m half Irish!

    • Hey, my dad was Irish…… he could sing and box but I never saw him drunk….. (maybe he was a good actor)

  17. I always wondered what it would be like to have scuffles with elderly and balding Hungarians, Greeks and Turks, but have never had the gumption to find out.

    • Of the three, the elderly and balding Turks are by far the most menacing.

      • I’ll try scuffling with one of the Greeks when I’m there this June – maybe then I’ll be able to work up to a Turk

  18. all trying to massage his ‘rib’ were they?

    • hahaha… cheeky!

  19. I need that special beer. Fantastic story . . . I had an impromptu boxing match with another Irish guy named Ted McKnamara once, for ten minutes in a little field, with Joe Murphy keeping count. We ended up falling on each other in exhaustion, before drinking more beer. It’s a Mick thing.

  20. Stories about the Irish are the best. Someday I will make it there. The Gorgeous Gael is a fabulous name. If I could do it all over, I’d name my blog that…or maybe my kid.

  21. Thank you, nursemyra. I’d never heard Jack Doyle’s story and it was worth the read. I’m used to seeing boxers with cauliflower noses – he truly was a gorgeous Gael! (and in that photo I didn’t recognize Gable without his moustache – lol)

    • He looks even better clean shaven I think

  22. Repeatedly punching low is the only way to fight.

  23. Do you have Duncan’s permission to use that photo of him playing the bagpipes?

    • Uh… no… do you think he’ll sue?

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