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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JIMMY MCLARNIN

Inducted in 1955

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 19, 1907
Place of Birth: Magherageery, Ireland
Date of Passing: October 28, 2004
Sport: Boxing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1933, 1934

World welterweight boxing champion (professional) - defeating Young Corbett III

Honoured Member JIMMY MCLARNIN
Inspire

Story

He was born in Ireland, schooled as boxer in Canada, and honed his craft in California. Former world welterweight champion Jimmy McLarnin was one of Canada's greatest boxers, a crowd-pleasing world champion during the sport's golden years in the 1920s and '30s. One of 12 children, McLarnin and his family immigrated to Canada when he was three years old and settled in Vancouver when he was nine. As a young man, he met Charles "Pop" Foster, a part-time stevedore and occasional boxing coach and manager. McLarnin began boxing under Foster's tutelage at age 12. At the end of 1923, at age 16, McLarnin turned professional and he and Foster set off for San Francisco to try to earn a living. Nicknamed "Baby Face" for his youthful appearance, McLarnin racked up an impressive record that included victories over flyweight champions Fidel LaBarba and Pancho Villa in non-title bouts. After four more years in California, McLarnin and Foster headed for New York City, a centre of boxing at the time. In February 1928, McLarnin made his first appearance at Madison Square Garden, knocking out Sid Terris in the first round. In his next fight, he challenged Sammy Mandell for the world lightweight championship but lost a 15-round decision. In New York, with its sizeable Irish population, McLarnin was a crowd favourite. He fought regularly and, in October 1932, beat the veteran, former world champion Bunny Leonard to put himself in line for another shot at a world title. In May 1933, McLarnin stepped into the ring in Los Angeles to meet welterweight champion Young Corbett III. It was a short night's work, as McLarnin dethroned Corbett with a knockout at 2:37 of the first round. Amazingly, the world championship was only a prelude to McLarnin's most famous moments in the ring. He next fought one year later, defending his title against Barney Ross at the Madison Square Garden Bowl. McLarnin lost a tough 15-round decision, but regained the title less than four months later with his own 15-round win. The epic trilogy, which captured the imagination of fans and the sporting press in the mid-1930s, attracted 125,000 spectators and concluded in May 1935 when Ross beat McLarnin for the final time at New York's Polo Grounds in another tough 15-round decision. McLarnin fought three times in 1936, splitting two bouts with the great Tony Canzoneri and defeating lightweight champion Lou Ambers (in a non-title matchup) before surprisingly announcing his retirement from boxing at age 29. He was often praised in later years for how he had managed his boxing earnings during and after his career. McLarnin finished with a record of 62-11-3, with 20 knockouts and one no-decision. In those 77 bouts, he fought 15 current, former, or future world champions and won 13 of those fights. Five times he beat reigning world champions in non-title fights. In 1996, Ring Magazine rated McLarnin at the fifth best welterweight boxer of all time and in 1950 Canadian sports writers had named him Canada's boxer of the half-century. Not just a Canadian boxing legend, McLarnin is also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


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