Hammond’s Champion Boxer
1911 World Middleweight Champion
1914 - Austrailian Middleweight Champion
1914 - Austrailian Lightweight Champion
1914 - Austrailian Heavyweight Champion
Jimmy Clabby was one of Hammond, Indiana’s first sports legends. Boxing was his game and his claim to fame came in 1911 when he won the welterweight championship of the world.
Clabby was born on July 14, 1890 in Norwich, Connecticut and moved to Hammond at an early age with his family. At age 12 Jimmy learned to play baseball on the sandlots and baseball diamonds of Hammond. At one time Jimmy was even offered a professional baseball contract but he declined.
Doctor Alva Young a Hammond physician and surgeon was also a boxing promoter and enthusiast, took young Jimmy under his wings and helped him start his boxing career in 1906 at the age of 16. Doc Young would later turn over the reigns of young Clabby to Frank Mulkern a wealthy Milwaukee boxing promoter. Mulkern would soon become Jimmy’s manager.
Jimmy Clabby prepares to face off against Dave Smith
January 17, 1911
Newspaper coverage of the era was quite extensive. Covering Jimmy Clabby’s travels and feats were often front page news. Stories of the boxing hero were usually a weekly event in the sports section as well. In January 1911 it was reported that Jimmy was in the midst of a world wind tour of Australia. He was well liked by many Australian fans even though he made minced meat of most of the local boxers.
Jimmy returned back to Hammond on Sunday, April 16, 1911 after having circled the globe for the past seven months. Clabby had stated that he was glad to be back home with his friends. Clabby made a return engagement to Australia later that year, which was his second trip to the island nation.
It was in 1911 at the age of 21 when he won the title World Middleweight Champion. Jimmy Clabby left for the west coast in the fall of 1913 where he set to make California his new home. At the time most of Clabby’s matches were on the west coast so it made sense for him to stay there. As if boxing wasn’t enough, cashing in on his popularity the young Hammond fighter made his acting debut staring in a film shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood California. The movie was titled "The Kidnapped Pugilist" or "The Life of Jimmy Clabby, the Middleweight Champion."
Jimmy Clabby vs Billy Murray
San Francisco, California
April 3, 1914
Perhaps one of the brightest moments of Jimmy Clabby’s boxing career was on Monday, August 3, 1914. Clabby back in Australia once again was just 60 seconds into the first round of a fight billed for 20 rounds. Jimmy through a heavy punch to the jaw and knocked out Dave Smith of Australia. On that day in Sydney he won the Middleweight Championship of Australia. It would be a triple feat since he had already held claim to the Light Heavy and Heavyweight Championships there.
Clabby had put close to 100 fights under his belt. They included 34 ten round fights, 15 fifteen round fights and 28 twenty round fights. He was often considered a combination boxer and fighter and had managed to knock out 40 of his opponents in the process. Jimmy earned a great deal of money from his fights and the race horse stable that he owned in Australia, and was considered modestly wealthy in his day and age and spent money like there was no tomorrow.
Sadly this would lead to his down fall after his boxing career ended. He died at the young age of just 44, penniless in a Calumet City flophouse. It was Doc Young who received the call on the morning of January 19, 1934 from one of Jimmy’s roommates on his dire condition. However when Doc Young arrived at the scene it was too late, Clabby had died in the arms of the person who helped start him along in his boxing career.
Story sources: the microfilms of "THE TIMES" newspapers and the archives of the Hammond Historical Society.
July 14, 1890 - January 19, 1934
Upon his death, T.S. Andrews, a noted sports publisher of
issued a press release about Jimmy Clabby's passing:
"…When it ended, Jimmy was broke. He landed back home with exactly –
Clabby taught boxing for a time to keep his head above water. Enter the depression – everything went haywire. About a year ago, Jimmy broke his leg – later he returned to Hammond, "down and out." The happy disposition still remained and even when his pockets were voice, he remarked:
"Gee, it’s tough to be broke, but, boy, when I think of the days I hobnobbed with the millionaires and spent money like a drunken sailor, it just makes me feel as though I were in a dream. But, on the level, I’m not sore about it and if I had to do it all over again, I guess I’d do the same thing."