Kid McCoy

For other people with the same name, see Charles McCoy (disambiguation).
Charles "Kid" McCoy

McCoy in 1899
Real name Norman Selby
Rated at Middleweight
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Nationality American
Born (1872-10-13)October 13, 1872
Moscow, Indiana, U.S.
Died April 18, 1940(1940-04-18) (aged 67)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Boxing record
Wins 81
Wins by KO 55
Losses 6
Draws 9

Charles "Kid" McCoy (October 13, 1872 – April 18, 1940), born Norman Selby, was an American world champion boxer.


Born in Moscow, Rush County, Indiana, McCoy would eventually weigh 160 pounds, stand 5' 11", and go on to a record 81 wins (55 by KO, with 6 losses, 9 no decision, and 6 disqualifications). McCoy was noted for his "corkscrew punch"a blow delivered with a twisting of the wrist. According to McCoy, he learned the punch one evening while resting in someone's barn after a day of riding the rails. He noticed a cat strike at a ball of string and imitated its actions. Whether true or not, McCoy was known as a fast, "scientific" fighter who would cut his opponents with sharp blows. He reportedly would wrap his knuckles in mounds of friction tape, to better cut his opponents faces. He was listed # 1 Light Heavyweight of all time in Fifty Years At Ringside, published in 1958. He was also regarded as a formidable puncher, and was included in Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Boxing career

Another one of McCoy's tactics was demonstrated while McCoy was on a tour of Australia and some Pacific Isles. To supplement his income, he would take on all comers. In one unidentified port, McCoy, who scarcely weighed 160 pounds (73 kg), agreed to box a huge native reputed to weigh in excess of 250 pounds (110 kg). McCoy watched him train and noted the man fought in his bare feet. When the fight began, McCoy's corner threw handfuls of tacks into the ring, causing the bare-footed challenger to drop his guard and raise up one foot. As soon as he did so, McCoy lowered the boom on his distracted adversary.

It was thought that the expression "The Real McCoy" originally referred to him. With regard to this, once again, stories abound. One scenario involves a local tough who bumped into McCoy in a bar. McCoy, who was slight of build and a dapper dresser, did not look like a fighter. The bar room bully reputedly laughed when told the slender fellow he was annoying was Kid McCoy. He then challenged McCoy to fight, and upon reviving from being knocked out allegedly remarked "Oh my God, that was the real McCoy". However, it is believed that the first recording with this spelling occurred in Canada in 1881. In James S. Bond's The Rise and Fall of the "Union club": or, Boy life in Canada, a character utters, "By jingo! yes; so it will be It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there."[1] Kid McCoy was only nine years old when this was published.

Although slight of build, McCoy captured the world middleweight championship by defeating Dan Creedon. McCoy never defended the title, choosing to abandon the crown to enable him to pursue the world heavyweight championship. Despite his handicap in size, McCoy battled the best heavyweights of his era, and defeated Joe Choynski, Gus Ruhlin, and Peter Maher. He was defeated by Tom Sharkey and Jim Corbett. The Corbett fight was the subject of controversy, as the ending was suspect and Corbett's estranged wife claimed the bout was fixed.

Personal life and downfall

McCoy's career was no less colorful outside the ring. He was married ten times, performed in theater, and went west to California during the birth of the movie industry there. He appeared in films[2] and was friends with many movie stars of the day, including Charles Chaplin and director D.W. Griffith.

Unfortunately, by the early 1920s McCoy was poor, addicted to alcohol and out of the movie industry. At this time however, McCoy was involved in a romance with a wealthy married woman, Teresa Mors. Apparently he swept her off her feet, for she filed for divorce from her husband. The Mors divorce was acrimonious, and dragged on until she was killed, in the apartment she shared with McCoy at 2819 Leeward (Unit 212), by a single gunshot to the head on August 12, 1924.[3]

The next morning, a disheveled McCoy robbed and held captive some 12 people at Mrs. Mors' antique shop, and shot one man, who was trying to escape, in the leg. He also had forced at least six other men to remove their trousers, after divesting them of their money. McCoy was apprehended and charged with the murder of Mrs. Mors. His trial took place in downtown Los Angeles, and was the media event of its day. McCoy claimed Mrs. Mors committed suicide, while the prosecution claimed he murdered her for financial gain.

McCoy testified in his own defense, and apparently put on quite a show as he demonstrated Mrs. Mors final minutes. Contending he had tried to wrestle a knife away from her, McCoy and his attorney actually wrestled and rolled around on the courtroom floor, for the benefit of the jury, press and courtroom spectators. After Mrs. Mors allegedly took her own life, McCoy claimed he became faint and could not remember anything further, including participating in the wild crime spree the following morning.

Dagmar Dahlgren was the eighth wife of McCoy. Dahlgren and McCoy had lived together for three days. Dahlgren disputed one of McCoy's alibis during his trial. Specifically she denied to her attorney that she had seen him in the two years prior to Mors' death. Apparently, the jury was split between first degree murder and acquittal. In what is believed to have been a compromise verdict, McCoy was convicted of manslaughter.

McCoy was sent to San Quentin, but was paroled from prison in 1932. Afterwards he worked for Ford Motor Company.


McCoy took his own life in Detroit on April 18, 1940. Even his death was enigmatic.[4] He committed suicide at the Hotel Tuller in Detroit[5] by an overdose of sleeping pills, leaving a note behind. It read, among other things: "Everything in my possession, I want to go to my dear wife, Sue E. Selby... To all my dear friends... best of luck... sorry I could not endure this world's madness." In an apparent last attempt to drop his professional moniker, the note was pointedly signed as, "Norman Selby".[6]

His life was the loose model for the multiple award-winning novel The Real McCoy by Darin Strauss.

Selected filmography

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kid McCoy.
  1. Bond, James S. The rise and fall of the "Union club": or, Boy life in Canada. Yorkville, Ontario. p. 1
  2. For example, fighting Wallace Reid onscreen, see
  3. "Throng At Mors Funeral - The Curious Swarm at Services for Woman Murdered in Los Angeles". New York Times. August 28, 1924. p. 17. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  4. Kid McCoy … Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Cyber Boxing Zone)
  5. "Kid McCoy". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  6. Casselman, William Gordon (2006). "The Real McCoy". Bill Casselman’s Canadian Word of the Day. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
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