Born in Dundalk, Ireland on November 16th, 1873, Tom Sharkey used the skills learned during his tough childhood to become a fierce fighter. When he was 12, Sharkey ran away from home to find employment on seafaring ships. After being shipwrecked multiple times, Sharkey became a blacksmith in New York City, where his laborious tasks helped him amass significant muscle. Famous for his massive chest, which measured 44 and ¾ inches, “Sailor” Tom Sharkey became a professional boxer in 1893.
He defeated prominent fighters such as “Kid” McCoy and Joe Choynski. In 1896, Sharkey fought Bob Fitzsimmons in a controversial match ruled in the favor of Sharkey due to a foul committed by Fitzsimmons. 1899 marked the beginning of a rivalry and friendship between James Jefferies and Sharkey. Although Sharkey never bested Jefferies, the latter claimed the Irishman to have been his toughest opponent. Sharkey passed away in 1953.