James Delaney, born on August 1, 1924 fought under the name of Jimmy Doyle. He made his professional debut in May 6, 1941 at age 17 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. He also fought many times at the Hollywood Legion Stadium where local boxers of the day used to fight. The stadium was closed in 1959. Doyle used to train at Main Street Gym also in Los Angeles and also gone like the Legion.
Like myself Jimmy Doyle was of french ancestry. He was a classy fighter and was attracted by fight fans of his old-fashioned stand up stance which made him look like a throwback of the bare-knuckle era. He stood with a stiff-backed and stiff-necked, feet firmly planted, and left arm extended in an upward arc. A willing mixer who could take it and dish it out, a graceful fellow, an action fighter. Gloves constantly clipped his young face, gradually giving it the fighter’s look. For Jimmy didn’t seem to have the knack of rolling with those punches or riding the steam out of them. He took them squarely and unflinchingly, his head often whirling from the impact until you feared it’d twist off his neck. But the body remained firm or kept going forward. (That's a warrior in my book!)
1945 proved to be a great year for Jimmy Doyle who seemed to be up and comer fighter with victories over Tommy Bell in July 19, 1945 and Lew Jenkins in December 3, 1945. He was even on the cover of The Ring magazine in May 1945.
Winning eight fights in a row when he met Artie Levine on March 11, 1946 at the Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Between May, 1946 and April 1949 Levine was ranked by The Ring magazine as #6 Middleweight in the world. Doyle went to the St. Vincent's Charity Hospital after the bout, suffering from a severe head injury that threatened to halt his boxing career. Doyle outslugged his heavier opponent throughout the first eight rounds, and had a decisive edge on points. (Referee) Jackie Davis stopped the bout after Doyle went down for the third time in the ninth round. Levine earned a TKO and Jimmy got a concussion and a brain hemorrhage. He was unconscious for 15 minutes and spent three days in the hospital. He was 21 years old
Doyle had never been quite the same after that. Punch-drunk Jimmy wandered back home to Los Angeles. His family noticed that Jimmy did not go dancing as he once did, and no longer bounced around the house sparring and roughhousing. Instead he sat for hours reading books, and talked as though he would never again enter a ring. But after nearly nine months of retirement, he began to stir again. He told a friend: "I have to prove I wasn't hurt . . . That I'm a man." Manager Tony Palazzola lined up a few bouts, and Jimmy breezed through the first five including a win over Danny Kapilow in March 24, 1947. The win over Kapilow earned Jimmy a title shot with the Welterweight Champion Sugar Ray Robinson.
A friend of Doyle, Joey Barnum, (also a fighter) advised Jimmy not to take the fight.
One More Fight.
Before he stepped into the ring against Sugar Ray, Jimmy promised his father that it would be his last fight—unless he won. He wanted enough money to go into business in California, managing and training other fighters.
Robinson got into the ring with Jimmy on June 24, 1947 in the same place where he fought Artie Levine. (Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.) The 3-1 favorite, 146 pounds, 27 years old, with a guarantee of $25,000 ($236,604.65 USD 2005) and 40% of the gate.
But what was haunting him was the terrible dream he had the night before.
“I had just gone to sleep and woke up in a cold sweat,” he said. “In my dreams I knocked out Doyle and I saw him dying. I was terrified. The next morning I told everyone I had a premonition something terrible was going to happen. I told the press, the public and the boxing officials.
“And it happened just like that.”
Under a paralyzing blow to the jaw, Jimmy Doyle's body stiffened, and he fell backwards to the canvas. With what was left of instinct he fumbled blindly for the ropes, brushed them with clumsy gloves, and lay still. The bell rang and the round ended as the referee's count reached nine. Jimmy Doyle's handlers went to work with cold water and smelling salts. But Boxer Doyle fought no more.
Nat Fleischer, in The Ring, September 1947, page 4 said the following:
'It was "a good, clean fight", but Robinson had the advantage in every round except the sixth (when Sugar Ray was staggered twice and hurt). A single left hook ended the fight, Doyle not having been in any noticeable difficulty until then. That punch knocked Jimmy rigid. With heels resting against the canvas as if hinged, Doyle's body went down. It struck the floor with a thud, like a rigid mass falling. His head crashed against the padded canvas, and as the referee started the count. Doyle raised his head and rested on his elbows. The count of nine was reached and the bell sounded to end the round. Art Winch, one of his handlers, leaped into the ring to call a halt. Doyle was taken in an ambulance to St. Vincent's Charity Hospital immediately after the injury. (Which is the same hospital after the Levine fight 15 months earlier.) Despite all efforts of the medical attendants, he failed to regain consciousness and passed away a few hours after Dr. Spencer Braden, brain specialist had operated on him to relieve the pressure on his brain.'
The coroner absolved Robinson of any guilt in Jimmy’s death, which was ruled accidental. To the coroner’s insistent question, “Didn’t you see he was hurt?” Ray sullenly answered, “Mister, it’s my business to hurt people.”
Robinson staged several bouts to raise money for Jimmy’s family—his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Delaney, brothers Edward, Francisco and Paul; and sister Dolores—and set up a trust fund so Jimmy’s mother would get $50 a month for 10 years.
His remains were brought back to Los Angeles and a Requiem was said at Presentation Church, 6406 Parmalee Ave. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery located at 4201 Whittier blvd. Los Angeles, CA. 90023.
Fact: This is the first death in a championship fight in modern U.S. boxing history.
If you live in the Los Angeles area... Why don't you go and pay Jimmy a visit. I'm sure that he'll appreciate it. Let him know that he is not forgotten. I paid my respects. I think he was glad to see me. His resting place is grave 12, lot 469, section N.
He is sharing a grave with his mother, Marie, who passed away in 1973.
Please check out the Jimmy Doyle Tribute page that is set up in his honor. There are some great pictures there. www.myspace.com/jimmydoyletribute
Jimmy Doyle had an impressive record of 43 wins 7 losses 3 draws, (14KO). A total of 53 bouts in his short career. I'm sure that he would have been a champion somewhere down the road. He was only 22 years old.