Never Knocked Out

Mementoes of Darcy v McGoorty

On the evening of 31 July 1915 the tiered seats of the Sydney’s premier boxing stadium were crammed with 17,000 spectators, and thousands more stood outside. All were impatient for the anticipated Darcy v. McGoorty match to begin. Les Darcy (1895-1917), a 19-year-old blacksmith-turned-professional-boxer from Maitland, was the local drawcard.

How did Eddie McGoorty, the American middleweight champion, feel as the mighty Les Darcy entered the ring, his smile beaming, and the crowd roaring? ‘… that smile of his was there all the time. It was pretty unnerving in the ring… [it was] as if he was enjoying every moment of trying to knock your head off.’

The bell sounded, and the ensuing match proved the two men were suited opponents. When the American connected his famous left-hook with Darcy’s jaw, Darcy did not drop. Instead, he smiled briefly then fought back with added strength for a few further rounds, knocking McGoorty down three times, and sending him unconscious on the third.

This match was the biggest fight Les Darcy faced during his swift rise through the Australian boxing ranks. Darcy trained mercilessly to meet McGoorty, featured on these promotional boxing cards by the Sydney Stadium. Among the fans of the fearless Darcy were editors of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, who compiled this newspaper clipping album between 1914-15, following Darcy’s rise, including an advertisement for the McGoorty match.

His victory that night launched Darcy as Australia’s most famous sportsman of this era and the world middleweight champion. In his brief career, Darcy lost only four matches out of fifty. He was never knocked out.