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Terry McGovern

Titles: bantamweight champion 1899-1900, featherweight champion 1900-1901

Record: 60-4-4 with 10 no decisions 

Born: March 9, 1880 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (USA)

Years active: 1897-1908

Nickname:  Terrible Terry or The Brooklyn Terror 

Two of the early boxing historian ranked McGovern as the best...... in two 
separate divisions. The Ring founder Nat Fleischer had Terry as the best 
featherweight of all time while Charley Rose ranked Terry number 1 all time at 
bantamweight. This is a testament to the skills and more importantly the power 
of McGovern, who should also be ranked among the hardest hitters to ever 
campaign in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. Even now 80 years 
after he last fought McGovern was ranked the second best featherweight of all 
time by "The Ring" magazine in 1996. He also had a legendary temper which 
contributed to at least two of his 4 lifetime losses (Corbett and Callahan) in 
the ring. Like his ringstyle, McGovern's championship reigns were short but 
sensational. Terry loved to box and was fearless, fighting anyone, anytime and 
anywhere just so he could fight. His style, if it can be called a style was to 
bowl forward throwing punches at his opponents from all angles. What he lacked 
in grace he made up for with his power and swarming style.McGovern was also one 
of the first fighters to be known for his body punching, often throwing 
combination punches to the stomach after ducking low to avoid blows. He was 
best described by early writers who called him a two fisted terror. McGovern 
grew up in South Brooklyn, New York and never saw the inside of a classroom, 
instead taking odd jobs and as a newspaper boy. At age 15 he took a job in a 
lumber yard and there got into a occasional fight in which he fared well. The 
owner of the lumber yard saw potential and told Terry to think about boxing. 
McGovern did so and at the age of 17 turned professional. In two years time he 
made people in the media capital of New York take notice of his offensive 
style, it did not take long for him to become a fan favorite and highly ranked 
contender at bantamweight. In his first 62 bouts, 38 men could not last the 
distance against him. Bantamweight contenders like George Munroe, Harry Forbes, 
Austin Rice and Casper Leon all fell to the pressure of McGovern. In a time 
where it took boxers decades to get title shots, McGovern managed to do it in 
two years! In 35 fights before challenging Palmer, Terry had only lost once, by 
disqualification, when he knocked out Tim Callahan on the break after his 
opponent called him a "Irish son of a bitch." In 1899 McGovern would knock out 
11 consecutive opponents inside of three rounds, a incredible feat for the 
time. also in 1899, two years after his debut McGovern faced world bantamweight 
champion Tom "Pedlar" Palmer. Pedlar was a experienced veteran who had yet to 
loose a fight  but could not even get out of the first round against McGovern. 
Terry charged from his corner at the opening bell and swarmed Pedlar who seemed 
amazed at the aggression of McGovern. The first punch nearly ended the fight 
and it was over in less than 2 minutes with a right hand ending the matter. 
McGovern had won his first world title in spectacular fashion. McGovern only 
made one defense of the title, knocking out Harry Forbes. The next year, 1900, 
saw McGovern move up in weight and take on a fading but still crafty technician 
in George Dixon who had held the featherweight title for 10 years. The bout was 
held in the Broadway Athletic Club and it brought out the best in McGovern. The 
onslaught of McGovern was simply too much for Dixon to stay away from. Dixon 
gave in  to the pressure in the 8th round after doing good work in the early 
rounds. Dixon (who had never been knocked down in 14 years) tried gamely but 
absorbed a terrible beating and his manager threw in the sponge after his man 
had been down 6 times in the eighth round. McGovern had now won two titles in 
two years. A fighter named Eddie Santry was recognized by some as the 
featherweight at the time but McGovern soon cleared up that matter by knocking 
him out in 5 rounds. McGovern  would go on to defended the title 6 times within 
16 months, all by knockout. This included a win over Joe Gans in just two 
rounds which was widely believed to have been fixed. Later it was proven to be 
fixed when Gans admitted to taking a dive so his manager could collect on bets. 
Also McGovern was floored and in big trouble against Oscar Gardner but thanks 
to questionable refereeing survived the round and came back to knock Gardner 
out. McGovern might have become the first three division champion if his fight 
with lightweight champion Frank Erne had been for the title. In that fight Erne 
scored a flash knockdown of McGovern early, but Terry got up and blasted Erne 
out in the 3rd round. McGovern seemed invincible. In 1901 McGovern meet a young 
fighter from Denver who went by the name of Young Corbett II, he matched Terry 
in attitude. Before the featherweight title fight in Hartford, Corbett got 
McGovern so incensed he entered the ring with uncontrollable rage. Before the 
fight Corbett unnerved McGovern with his confidence and by insulting him at a 
restaurant the afternoon of the fight. As Corbett walked by the champions 
dressing room on his way to the ring he shouted out "Come on out you Irish Rat, 
and take the licking of your life." McGovern charged from the corner at the 
opening bell as was his custom but left himself much more open to counters 
because of the extra wide hooks he was throwing. Corbett countered and put 
McGovern on his pants in the first round. McGovern would have his moment 
however as he knocked Corbett down in the same round, but it did not shake the 
confidence of Corbett. In the next round McGovern again came out swinging 
wildly and was again knocked down, this time he could not recover and Corbett 
finished him off in the second round and took his title. After McGovern was 
revived with smelling salt Corbett added to his misery by stating "You can keep 
your title, Terry. I am satisfied just to be known as the guy who kayoed Terry 
McGovern." Like many fighters who suffered their first K.O loss McGovern never 
seemed to be the same fighter again, going into a steady decline. Many think  
that perhaps he was not the same man because in 1903 and 1904 his two daughters 
ages 1 and 3 died within months of each other. A rematch with Corbett in 1903 
ended in similar fashion, but this time it took 11 rounds. Corbett again 
insulted McGovern, his mother, his wife and anyone else he could think of 
during clinches. McGovern controlled himself better in this fight but still did 
not have the speed to overcome Corbett. Over the next 5 years McGovern fought 
sporadically but never again found the kind of accuracy his punches would need 
to fight at the highest levels. At only 28 years of age when most boxers enter 
their prime Terry was a shot fighter. After his ring career McGovern sadly 
entered several sanitariums for mental problems and erratic behavior. McGovern 
died where he left his greatest impression, in the ring, while refereeing a 
fight in a World War I army camp. McGovern was dead of pneumonia at the age of 
38. A sad end to a brilliant beginning.

Terry McGovern

Career Record: 60 W, 4 L, 4 D, 10 ND (42 K.O's)


Apr  3 Jack Shea                Brooklyn, NY                    KO  1
Apr 24 Frank Barnes             Brooklyn, NY                     W 10
May  3 Eddie Avery              New York, NY                     W  4
May 22 Kid Dougherty            Brooklyn, NY                     W 10
Jun  7 Tom McDermott            Brooklyn, NY                     W 10
Jun 12 Tommy Sullivan           Brooklyn, NY                     D 10
Aug 16 Eddie Goodbody           Brooklyn, NY                     W 10
Aug 23 Billy Barrett            Brooklyn, NY                     W 10
Sep 18 Jack Leon                Brooklyn, NY                    KO  7
Oct  2 Jack Reagan              Brooklyn, NY                     W  6
Oct  9 Jack Doyle               Brooklyn, NY                     W  6
Oct 22 Eddie Goodbody           Brooklyn, NY                     D  4
Nov 13 Harry Peterson           New York, NY                     W  6
Dec 18 Charles Roden            New York, NY                     W  6
Dec 31 Jack Kelly               Brooklyn, NY                    KO  2


Feb 25 Billy Maynard            Yonkers, NY                      W  8
Mar 12 Pinkey Evans             Yonkers, NY                      W  8
Apr 15 Fred Mayo                Waterbury, Ct                   TKO 6
May  5 George Munroe            Yonkers, NY                      D 20
Jun 11 George Munroe            Brooklyn, NY                    KO 24
Jul 23 Tim Callahan             Brooklyn, NY                    L D.Q 11
Aug  4 George Munroe            Brooklyn, NY                    W D.Q  7
Aug 20 Tim Callahan             Brooklyn, NY                     D 20
Sep 15 Eugene Garcia            Brooklyn, NY                    KO  5
Oct  1 Harry Forbes             Brooklyn, NY                    KO 15
Nov 19 Tim Callahan             Brooklyn, NY                    KO 10
Nov 26 Paddy Donovan            Philadelphia, Pa                KO  3
Dec 17 Jimmy Rose               Brooklyn, NY                    KO  2
Dec 31 Austin Rice              Brooklyn, NY                    KO 14


Jan 30 Casper Leon              Brooklyn, NY                    KO 12
Feb 18 Fred Snyder              Philadelphia, Pa                 W  6
Mar 14 Patsy Haley              New York, NY                    KO 18
Apr 28 Joe Bernstein            New York, NY                     W 25
May 26 Sammy Kelly              New York, NY                    KO  5
Jun  8 Billy Barrett            New York, NY                    KO 10
Jul  1 Johnny Ritchie           Tuckahoe, NY                    KO  3
Sep 12 Thomas "Pedlar" Palmer   Tuckahoe, NY                    KO  1
       -Bantamweight Championship of the World;
Sep 29 Fred Snyder              Philadelphia, Pa                KO  2
Oct  9 Billy Rotchford          Chicago, Il                     KO  1
Nov 18 Patsy Haley              Chicago, Il                     KO  1
Nov 18 Bill Smith               Chicago, Il                     KO  3
Nov 30 Eddie Sprague            Hartford, Ct                    KO  2
Dec 12 James J. Corbett Jr.     Chicago, Il                     KO  2
Dec 18 Charlie Mason            Cincinnati, Oh                  KO  2
Dec 18 Freckles O'Brien         Cincinnati, Oh                  KO  1
Dec 22 Harry Forbes             New York, NY                    KO  2


Jan  9 George Dixon             New York, NY                    TKO 8
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Jan 29 Jack Ward                Baltimore, Md                   KO  1
Feb  1 Eddie Santry             Chicago, Il                     KO  5
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Mar  9 Oscar Gardner            New York, NY                    KO  3
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Mar 15 Eddie Lenny              Philadelphia, Pa                KO  2
Apr 17 Tommy White              Chicago, Il                     ND  6
Apr 20 Tommy Warren             New York, NY                    KO  1
May 21 Elwood McCloskey         Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
Jun 12 Tommy White              Brooklyn, NY                    KO  3
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Jun 23 George Dixon             Chicago, Il                      W  6
Jul 16 Frank Erne               New York, NY                    TKO  3
Nov  2 Joe Bernstein            Louisville, Ky                  KO  7
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Nov 13 Kid Broad                Chicago, Il                      W  6
Dec 13 Joe Gans                 Chicago, Il                     KO  2


Apr 30 Oscar Gardner            San Francisco, Ca               KO  4
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
May 29 Aurelio Herrera          San Francisco, Ca               KO  5
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Nov 28 Young Corbett II         Hartford, Ct                    Ko by 2
       -Featherweight Championship of the World;

Feb 22 Dave Sullivan            Louisville, Ky                  TKO 15

Feb  6 Joe Bernstein            Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
Feb 25 Billy Maynard            Philadelphia, Pa                KO  4
Mar 31 Young Corbett II        San Francisco, Ca                KO by 11
       -Featherweight Championship of the World
Sep 26 Lew Ryall                Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
Oct  3 Billy Willis             Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
Oct 20 Jimmy Briggs             Boston, Ma                       W 15
Dec 19 Billy Willis             Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6


Jan  1 Leo Henninger            Allentown, Pa                   KO  2  
Apr 10 George Barton            St. Paul, Mn                     L  6
Oct 10 Eddie Hanlon             Philadelphia, Pa                TKO  4


Oct 18 "Harlem" Tommy Murphy    Philadelphia, Pa                TKO  1


Mar 14 Oscar "Battling" Nelson  Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
May 28 Jimmy Britt              New York, NY                    ND 10
Oct 17 Young Corbett II         Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6


May 16 Young Loughrey           Philadelphia, Pa                ND  6
May 27 Frank "Spike" Robson     New York, NY                    ND  6