Heavyweight Champion. He was born Joseph Paul Zukauskas in Binghamton, New York to Lithuanian immigrant parents, became a professional fighter almost by accident. While in the Navy stationed in Boston, he heard a boxing smoker would be held. With no experience, he told the promoter he had 39 fights in the Navy and was offered a hundred dollars for four rounds. He did well, the promoter took him on but insisted a name change was needed so he quickly borrowed the names from Heavyweights; Jack Dempsey's first name and Tom Sharkey's last and he became Jack Sharkey. He fought a total of 55 bouts, winning 38, losing 13 with one draw and one no decisions. Sharkey fought in boxing's golden era against such opponents as Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Tommy Loughran, Max Schmeling and Primo Carnera. He won the championship in 1932, in a 15 round decision against Schmeling, then lost it to Carnera the following year. After being knocked out by Joe Louis in the third round of their title fight, Sharkey retired from the ring to open a bar and restaurant in Boston. He had fought the best fighters of his era, the best in history in fact. He was inducted into the boxing hall of fame in 1994 the year of his death. He pursued his love of fishing, teamed and toured with Ted Williams in various promotions both fly fishing experts. Jack also refereed wrestling and boxing matches in the United States and Canada and entertained troops in North Africa during World War II. In his first title defense, Sharkey was knocked out by Carnera in the sixth round after easily outboxing his opponent for the first five rounds. A fix was indicated. He spent the remainder of his life denying the accusation. He died in a Beverly, Massachusetts hospital of respiratory arrest at the age of 91 after enjoying almost 60 years of post boxing retirement. A funeral mass was celebrated at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Epping, New Hampshire his home since 1950 and was interred locally at Prospect Cemetery.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield