The Contenders – The Gorgeous Gael, The Tonypandy Terror and The Whitechapel Windmill

The new decade of the BT27 Passenger Lists on contains a great number of notable figures from the world of art, politics and literature.

An increasing presence in the Passenger Lists from the 1920s and ’30s on are figures drawn from the world of sport, as travelling to compete further afield became a more regular and feasible occurrence.

Many British and Irish boxers were drawn to America, by both the prize money and the prestige, to varying degrees of success.

Jack Doyle, born in Cork, Ireland, was nicknamed ‘The Gorgeous Gael’ and aside from showing great early promise in the sport was also a tenor, trained by the same man as the famous Count John McCormack.

His early fight career was impressive but he was unable to fulfil his potential, drinking heavily before fights and suffering defeats as a consequence.

He can be seen travelling to the States in 1937:

Jack Doyle

The trappings of his new-found fame were manifold –  Doyle married a Hollywood starlet, Movita Castaneda, who would later marry Marlon Brando. Together they toured music halls and in the late 1930s Doyle even appeared in a couple of Hollywood films, before sliding into poverty through serious gambling and alcoholism.

He descended into bankruptcy, prison (for assaulting a Garda Detective in Dublin) and ultimately died penniless in 1978.

Tommy Farr, ‘The Tonypandy Terror’, was a Welshman who, in August 1937, fought Joe Louis for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, at Yankee Stadium, New York. Although defeated, Farr gained widespread acclaim in lasting 15 rounds against Louis.

He can be seen en route to the fight in the Passenger Lists:

Tommy Farr

Judah Bergman, ‘Jack Kid Berg’, was a lightweight from Cable Street, London. He appears five times on the Passenger Lists in the 1930s. In the first he is only 21 and appears to be travelling with his whole family, as well as his manager.

Kid Berg

Bergman moved to America in 1931, winning 64 of his 76 fights whilst there. A Blue Plaque has been erected at Bergman’s first home, Cable Street, East London, in honour of ‘The Whitechapel Windmill’.


Thanks to Alex Daley for additional research.

One Response to The Contenders – The Gorgeous Gael, The Tonypandy Terror and The Whitechapel Windmill

  1. Philip Ventura says:

    I am very interested in more information about the famed Irish tenor Count John McCormack. Can you help me?

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