Famous Ancestral Son Of Ireland: Boxing Category:
Willie 'Boy' Murphy, Born In India, Acclaimed International Olympian Boxer For Ireland With Parental Cork Connections
With a name such as “Willie ‘Boy’ Murphy” you would be tempted to align that person to the county of Cork as the persons birthplace. You would not be wholly incorrect as Willie Boy had a rich vein of Cork blood in his heritage. He was born in India to a couple from Rathcooney (just outside the boundary lines of city and county on Cork’s north east territory) and Cork people will claim Willie as one of their very own.
Willie Boy had an extraordinary life, a life that the sport of boxing enriched, but only because the Indian native was a really exceptional talent. His Cork parents came home to their native shore from India and settled in a council estate at Kerryhall Road, Fairhill, Cork, on Cork’s northside district.
A man of many travels during his boxing career, Willie did ring battles in many countries including Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Italy, France, England, Wales and Scotland.
As an accomplished boxer he managed to become Egypt’s Middleweight Champion at the age of seventeen, a remarkable achievement.
Representing Ireland at the 1924 Paris Olympics, he fought Poland’s Jerzy Nowak in the opening bout and beat him to qualify for the next round, which he lost to Canadian, Leslie Black.
This was Ireland’s inaugural introduction to the Olympic Games following the Treaty of 1922. Willie Boy was serving at that time in the Irish Army and in that role he was a renowned boxing coach.
He also qualified for the Amsterdam 1928 Olympics but success eluded him after much controversy in the manner of his elimination. He beat the reigning Spanish Light Heavyweight champion in the opening bout, but once again Olympic judges came in for great criticism.
In the follow up bout he was paired with the German champion. Willie landed his opponent on the canvas twice, with counts of eight and then seven necessary in the third round.
Whilst it is was claimed the German fought back gallantly, Willie Boy was touted by all at ringside as the clear victor. However the judges begged to differ and in a hugely controversial decision, they voted against him.
In 1932 the Dublin Tailteann Games, (rivaling the Olympic games) was a huge sporting event and this was a major success story for Willie Boy. He became a champion middleweight at the games when he flattened the New Zealand champion in the final.
From 1924 to 1932 the famed boxer claimed most titles available to him in Ireland and a stand out title, was his winning of the Senior Middleweight Irish Championship in 1924. He subsequently moved up to Light Heavyweight and won further national honours in 1925; 1926; 1931 and 1932.
In a star spangled career Willie Boy Murphy was never knocked out or even received a black eye, a remarkable record.
Outside of boxing he entered the ranks of An Garda Síochána and finished his career in Waterford city where he died on Sunday 25th November 1979. His removal to Waterford’s Church Of The Holy Family spelt out just how popular the Waterford based garda had become in the local community. As the cortege whined its way to the church, Willie Boy’s send off was one of the largest ever seen in Waterford.
On the following day the morners trekked to Cork’s Rathcooney Cemetry to bury an Indian/Corkman who is incorporated as a Famous Ancestral Sporting Son Of Ireland in our Irish Heritage Website at All Ireland Hall Of Fame.
Derry JF Doody