Boxing History – Jack Doyle The Gorgeous Gael, an Irish Legend
By Marc Gorman
THE GORGEOUS GAEL
Born in Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in 1913, Joseph Dempsey, known as Jack was to become one of the biggest characters Ireland has ever produced. He could be described as a soldier, boxer, womaniser, drinker, actor and tenor. Doyle was a man of many talents.
Standing 6ft 3”, Jack was a big man, he was always good with his fists and when he went to Wales to join the Irish Guards and in 1929 he immediately start boxing for the British Army. He became British Army champion with a record of 28 (27 KO)-0.
A REMARKABLE STORY
He turned pro under Dan Sullivan and amassed a record of 10 wins before he challenged Jack Petersen for the British Heavyweight Title. Doyle, already a heavy drinker apparently drank considerably before the bout and was quickly out of his depth against Petersen. Doyle was disqualified for repeated low blows.
Doyles rags to riches to rags story continued when he was signed as a tenor and was soon selling out venues such as the London Palladium. Coupled with his handsome looks, Doyle was soon attracting attention across the Atlantic.
He moved to the States in 1934 and soon starred in two movies, ”McGlusky and the Sea Rover” in 1934 and in 1937 he starred in ”Navy Spy”. His lifestyle in the States was that of wine, women and song. Doyle was a regular on the party circuit and was well renowned for being generous, almost to fault.
He continued his boxing while in America, he fought Buddy Baer in 1935 and was drunk and in no fit condition to fight when he was put down for the count in the 1st round. While his boxing career was all but finished, his celebrity status was improving. He was now involved with the movie actress Movita Castaneda.
TOWARDS THE END
Doyle returned to Ireland to wed Movita and they toured Ireland and England selling out music halls wherever they went. Doyle then fought his last ever fight against Chris Cole, becoming a habit, Doyle was drinking in The Clarence Hotel before arriving at Dalymount Park for his fight in front of 23,000 fans. Down in the first, Doyle’s career was finished.
His marriage to Movita finished after his last fight. She returned to America while Doyle remained in Ireland. He spent time soon after in Mountjoy Jail after hitting a Garda in a pub. Doyle soon found himself broke, friendless and an alcoholic. Doyle moved from pillar to post and what friends he had left helped him out in his later years. He found himself behind bars again in Co.Sligo for issuing a cheque which later bounced. Doyle served his time doing hard labour.
Jack Doyle died in Paddington, London on the 13th of December 1978. He was interviewed shortly before his death and was quoted as saying ”twas never a generous man went to hell” when asked if he had any financial regrets. Dues to be buried in a paupers grave, the ex-boxers association here in Cork brought his body home to his native Cobh where his was laid to rest.
Jack Doyle, a true character and fighter that will never be forgotten in Irish boxing history. A man who lived life to the full.
RIP Jack Doyle, gone but never forgotten. (31 August 1913 – 13 December 1978)
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