Ten-Count for Tom McNeeley

By Robert Ecksel on October 26, 2011
Ten-Count for Tom McNeeley
"Irish" Tom McNeeley won his first 23 bouts, with 18 of them coming by early stoppage

Former heavyweight contender “Irish” Tom McNeeley passed away yesterday at the age of 74. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Feb. 27, 1937…

“Courage isn’t enough.”—Tom McNeeley after losing to Floyd Patterson in 1961

Former heavyweight contender “Irish” Tom McNeeley passed away yesterday at the age of 74.

He was born in Cambridge, Mass. on Feb. 27, 1937, and played football at Michigan State University.

McNeeley had his pro boxing debut at the Norwood Stockcar Arena on July 17, 1958. He scored a second round knockout over Richie Norden.

The hard-punching McNeeley won his next 22 straight bouts, with 17 of them coming by early stoppage.

On December 4, 1961, McNeeley challenged heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada. He meant well, but was floored an incredible 11 times before being KO’d in the fourth.

McNeeley’s career was spotty after that. He continued to fight for another five years, before retiring in June 1966 with a record of 37-14 (28 KOs).

RIP champ.

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  1. SKEETER MCCLURE 08:28pm, 10/27/2011

    SOO SORRY TO HERE OF TOM’S PASSING.
    HE WAS A GOOD MAN!  AND A GOOD BOXER.  WHEN I CHAIRED THE MASS, BOXING COMMISSION, I WOULD CHAT WITH TOM OVER VARIOUS ISSUES.  HE WAS ALWAYS HELPFUL.
    GOD BLESS YOU, TOM.
                              SKEETER

  2. mikecasey 05:03am, 10/27/2011

    Very sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. I have several old issues of The Ring detailing his ring exploits. Hard to believe - as ever - that it’s all that time ago!

  3. The Thresher 04:24pm, 10/26/2011

    This one is a gut crincher. Tommy was one of our own. He was one of the lads.

  4. Ron Benoit 02:27pm, 10/26/2011

    Here I am 3000 miles away, and 50 years in time. I lived in Rochdale, Mass. at the time, and I still remember his fight with Patterson.  I could not believe the unbelievable courage Tom showed in that fight. My prayers go out to his loved ones.

  5. johnwriter60 12:09pm, 10/26/2011

    why, after all the years I knew Tom, did I NOT know we had the same Feb 27 birth day? When I weighed in for my first amateur fight, Tom asked my name, & replied after my answer, “Ah, Irish Johnny Coiley,” thus attaching the moniker that stuck throughout my boxing career. I have not attended all of the Ring 4 reunions, but when he and I did, it was always a pleasant experience. A young man he was. Too young to be gone from us so soon…

  6. Rich Torsney 08:48am, 10/26/2011

    Tom McNeeley was much more than one hell of a rough guy.  He was cerebral and kind hearted.  I’ll always remember him for his big laugh and the way he encouraged me as a young boxer.  RIP Tom, you leave a legacy to be proud of.

  7. Bob Mladinich 07:16am, 10/26/2011

    I met Tom at the press conference to announce his son’s fight with Mike Tyson. We talked a few times a year ever since. He was a real gentleman who helped a lot of people with personal issues. Although we did not speak often, he will be missed.  He was a courageous fighter and a fine man.

  8. The Thresher 07:08am, 10/26/2011

    My Lord, I just saw Tom last month. He was a great gentleman and a very fine person. He also was a regular at our montly Pug’s Luncheons in Dorchester. What terrible news. Just plain shocking and terrible.

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