Morrissey And The Black (MacEdward Leach)

See also: Morrissey And The Russian Soldier
(MacEdward Leach)

Come all you true brave Irish boys, come listen to me,
I will sing you the praises of John Morrissey,
That lately was challenged for ten thousand pounds,
To fight Sandy Black of Millberry town.

On the eighteenth of March a large fight to behold,
Where a thousand assembled with silver and gold;
And twenty-to-one was the bet on Black's head,
That Morrissey the Irishman would be killed dead.

At six in the morning the fight to begin,
Stripped off to the buff and jumped into the ring;
"Come lay down your belt," the Black he did say,
"Or your life I will take in the ring on this day."

Morrissey jumped in the ring like a bear,
Saying, "Here stands the bones of an Irishman here,
That was not yet conquered by black, white, or brown,
Well known to his country and Irish all 'round."

The first, second, and third round the Irish did cry,
"Success to the country that reared you, my boy;
'Twas neither for bravery your country is known,
This day what I'm worth I will bet on your bones."

The fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds, and up to the tenth,
When Morrissey received seven blows on the belt;
And up to the fourteenth similarly knocked down,
And the blood from his ears as he lay on the ground.

The twenty-third round the Black carries a grin,
When Morrissey he broke his left thumb on the ground;
The blood from his ears did run down his back,
The foreigners all thought he would be killed by the Black.

At the twenty-fourth round it was ended in style,
When Morrissey turned to the Irish and smiled;
Coming down on the Black with a mighty full stroke,
They left him for dead with five of his limbs broke.

Here's a health to John Morrissey, the hero has fame,
He has conquered the bruisers far over the main;
He's a true brave Irish boy that never was put down,
He belongs to Tipperary and Tempermore town.

####.... Variant of an American broadside ballad [Laws H19] Native American Balladry (G Malcolm Laws, 1964) ....####
Sung by Alexander March [1865-1953] of Port-au-Port, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Note¹: John Morrissey [1831-1878] was undoubtedly the most economically successful pugilist of the nineteenth century. Though his fame came from boxing, his income came from organized gambling. (Morrissey was a pioneer of pari-mutuel ticket selling, English-style bookmaking, and off-track betting.) He was also intimately involved in Tammany politics, and his testimony helped topple Boss Tweed in 1868.

Note²: European/World Bare-Knuckle Championships:
10/12/1853: John Morrissey vs Yankee Sullivan, Boston Corners, NY. Sullivan beat Morrissey badly, left the ring and ignored the referee's call of time. The title was awarded to Morrissey.
10/20/1858: Morrissey vs John Heenan, Long Point, Canada. Morrissey won in 21 minutes (11 rounds).
04/04/1859: Morrissey relinquished. American title declared vacant.


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