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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Tom Heeney's Bid For World Crown

Tom Heeney's Bid For World Crown

The Gisborne Amateur Boxing Association was formed on 17 February, 1910. During the 1920's tourneys staged by the Tokomaru Bay Boxing Association and the Te Karaka Boxing Association vied with those held page 440 in Gisborne. Poverty Bay winners of New Zealand amateur titles: J. Heeney (m.w.), 1914; D. Lawless (welter), 1920; W. McKay (fly), 1933; W. Shaskey (feather), 1938; Darcy Heeney (welter), 1937–38–39. Darcy Heeney (the only son of Jack Heeney) was runner-up in the welter division at the Empire Games at Sydney in 1938. He lost his life when H.M.S. Neptune ran into a minefield and sank in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 December, 1941.

In the “pro.” ranks Bert Lowe won the New Zealand h.w. title on 6 October, 1912, by defeating Jim Mitchell, of Millerton, on points. He was permanently dethroned by Albert Pooley, of Auckland, in October, 1914. Lyn Robinson gained the New Zealand f.w. title from Harry Ireland in 1919, and finally lost it to Duke Maddock, of Hastings, in 1926. Jack Heeney captured the New Zealand m.w. title in 1919 by defeating Laurie Cadman, but, in 1924, it was taken from him by Eddie Parker, of Dunedin. In October, 1920, Tom Heeney, by defeating Albert Pooley, of Auckland, won the New Zealand h.w. title. Joe Franklin won the New Zealand l.w. title in March, 1934, and Tom Baty held the New Zealand f.w. crown from March to August, 1946.

Tom Heeney, who became Poverty Bay's most illustrious glove fighter, earned the right to fight Gene Tunney, U.S.A., for the world's h.w. title, but, on 28 July, 1928, lost on a t.k.o. decision in the 11th round. His record of fights is:


1915: Beat S. Nelson at Gisborne on a k.o.

1919: Drew with Brian McCleary at Hastings.


1920: Beat W. Bartlett on a t.k.o. in the 9th round; beat G. Modrich on points; and, by beating A. Pooley on points, secured the New Zealand h.w. title.

1921: Beat Pooley on points; beat J. Cole (N.S.W. m.w. champion) at Te Karaka in the presence of a record gathering of “fans” for Poverty Bay (about 1,500) on points; drew with Colin Bell (h.w. champion of Australia).

1922 (in Australia): v. M. Gornik, won on a k.o.; v. Colin Bell, lost on points; v. J. Flett, won on points; v. J. Leahy, won on points; v. C. Bell, lost on points; v. T. Batho, won on a t.k.o.; v. C. Taylor, a draw; v. E. Waddy, a draw; v. J. Complin, won on a k.o.

1923 (in New Zealand): Beat Cyril Whitaker on points at Auckland, his opponent receiving an injury which proved fatal; beat J. Flett (h.w. champion of Australia) at Gisborne on a k.o. in the 8th round; beat B. McCleary (who had secured the New Zealand h.w. title during his absence in Australia) at Christchurch on a k.o. in the 14th round, the loser requiring hospital treatment; lost to J. Sullivan at Auckland on points; beat J. Savage at Napier on a k.o. in the 1st round; won on a foul from J. Sullivan at Gisborne in the 5th round.

1924 (in New Zealand): Beat E. Young at Tokomaru Bay on a k.o. in the 4th round.

1924 (in England): v. Phil Scott (British h.w. champion), lost on points (20 rounds); v. F. Hendricks (champion of Belgium), fight declared a “no contest”; v. Trooper Young, won on a k.o. in 3rd round; and v. George Cook (Australian champion), lost on points.

1925 (in South Africa): v. J. Squires (champion of South Africa), won on points; v. Squires, won on a k.o. in the 18th round; v. Blackie Miller (a former champion of Australia), won on a foul; v. Miller, lost on a foul.

1925–6 (in England and Ireland): v. C. Smith, won on points; v. Phil Scott, lost on points; v. Tom Berry (British l.h.w. champion), won on points; v. B. Madden (Irish champion), won on points; v. J. Stanley, won on points.

1927 (in the United States): v. C. Anderson (a coloured boxer), won on a k.o. in the 9th round; v. P. Uzeudun (champion of Europe), lost on points; v. J. de Mave (10th in rank among the contenders for the world's h.w. crown), won on points; v. Bud Gorman, won on a foul; v. Uzeudun (whose ranking was 7th), a draw; v. J. Moloney (“The Boston Fat Boy”), won on a k.o. in the 1st round; v. J. Risko, won on points.

1928 (in the United States): v. J. Sharkey (another aspirant for the world h.w. title), a draw; v. J. Delaney (the former light h.w. world champion), won on points; v. Gene Tunney (holder of the world's h.w. crown), lost on a t.k.o. decision in the 11th round.

Heeney had 21 additional fights in the United States, with 5 wins, 13 losses, 2 draws and one “no decision” result. He was 35 years old when he hung up his gloves.

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1929: Lost on points to J. Maloney; lost on points to Otto von Porat; won on a foul from Elzear Rioux; lost on a k.o. to Vittoria Campolo in 9th round; and beat George Hoffman on points.

1930: Lost to Tuffy Griffiths; beat George Panks: lost to Frank Crawley; and lost to Emmett Rocco.

1931: k.o'd by Max Baer in 3rd round; lost to Charlie Retzlaff; lost to Johnny Risko; lost to Jimmy Stattery; beat Jose Santa; and drew with Gracomo Bergamos.

1932: Lost to Max Baer; beat Hans Birkie; drew with John Schwake; and lost to Patsy Pirione.

1933: v. Charlie Retzlaff, “no decision”; v. Stanley Poreda, lost on points.