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(Joseph Paul Zukauskas)

1932 Heavy Weight Champion of the World

Born: October 26, 1902 Died: August 17, 1994

Total Bouts: 55
Won: 38 Lost: 13
Drew: 3 KOs: 14
No Decisions: 1
Hall of FAME Induction : 1994<,/center>


Jack Sharkeyis the only man to have fought both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. But he may be best remembered for a pair of controversial title fights with Max Schmeling.

Sharkey, a heavy-handed boxer, defeated George Godfrey and Harry Wills in 1926 to earn a number three ranking in the heavyweight division. The following year he knocked out former light heavyweight champion Mike McTigue but was knocked out by Dempsey in July and remained inactive for six months.

When Sharkey returned with a busy schedule in 1928. He drew with Tom Heeney, lost to Johnny Risko, knocked out Jack Delaney and decisioned Arthur DeKuh. He carried that momentum into 1929 when he beat top 175-pounder Young Stribling and knocked out former 175-pound champ Tommy Loughran to win the American heavyweight title.

Sharkey fought for the vacant world title in 1930 against German contender Max Schmeling but was disqualified for hitting below the belt in the fourth round. He fought twice in 1931, battling to a draw with former middleweight champion Mickey Walker and decisioning future heavyweight champ Primo Carnera.

In a 1932, he Schmeling once again. The champion appeared to have a clear decision but the fight was awarded to Sharkey on a split decision.

In his first title defense, Sharkey was knocked out by the mob-connected Carnera in the sixth round. As he did in 1931, Sharkey began by easily outboxing Carnera for the first five rounds. But he was floored with a right uppercut in round six and counted out. Many felt the fight was fixed but Sharkey denied the accusation until his death.


Publication Date: August 19, 1994
Source: The Courier-Journal Louisville, KY
Page: 05D
Region: Kentucky
Obituary: BEVERLY, Mass. -- Jack Sharkey, who had been the oldest surviving heavyweight champion, died of respiratory arrest Wednesday at 91.
Sharkey fought in boxing's golden era, compiling a 38-13-3 professional record (with one no-decision) against such opponents as Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Tommy Loughran, Max Schmeling and Primo Carnera. He won the championship June 21, 1932, in a 15-round decision against Schmeling, then lost it to Carnera the following year.
But the fight Sharkey never tired of recounting was his July 21, 1927, loss to Dempsey in Yankee Stadium.
"I turned to the referee to complain I was getting hit low, and I got hit with a haymaker," he once recalled. "That was that. I was out on the canvas.
"You came out of a fight with Dempsey full of welts and bruises and every bone aching."
After being knocked out by Joe Louis in the third round Aug. 18, 1936, Sharkey retired from the ring to open a restaurant in Boston and pursue his love of fishing. He also refereed wrestling and boxing matches in the United States and Canada and entertained troops in North Africa during World War II.
Born Oct. 26, 1902, in Binghamton, N.Y., Sharkey began his boxing career in 1924 in Boston. Named Joseph Paul Zukauskas by his Lithuanian immigrant parents, he changed his name for the ring, borrowing Dempsey's first name and boxer Tom Sharkey's last.
"I wanted to get into the game in Boston back in the '20s, and I told them my name," he said in 1967. "So they told me to do better than that."
He is survived by three children, 14 grandchildren, 21 great- grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. A funeral mass is scheduled for tomorrow in Epping, N.H., where Sharkey lived since the 1950s.


Headline: Sharkey, heavyweight champ of old
Publication Date: August 19, 1994
Source: San Francisco Examiner
Page: A-21
Region: Pacific Rim; San Francisco Metro, California
Obituary: BOSTON - When the subject was heavyweight boxing, Jack Sharkey was the man to see. After all, who else had been smacked by both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis?
Nobody, that's who.
Mr. Sharkey, who held the heavyweight title from June 21, 1932, to June 29, 1933, before losing it under questionable circumstances that would dog him the rest of his life, died Wednesday in Beverly, Mass., at age 91 after a long bout with illness.
For years, he had lived in Epping, N.H., earning renown as a fly fisherman and touring with Ted Williams. He also owned a Boston bar.
But his principal claim to fame was that at the time of his death he was the oldest living heavyweight champion and the only man to have faced both Dempsey and Louis for pay. Years later, Mr. Sharkey had a way of evaluating them that only a professional could appreciate.
"Who hit the hardest?" he said once. "Dempsey hit me the hardest because he hit me $211,000 worth, while Louis only hit me $36,000 worth."
Mr. Sharkey was talking about what he had been paid, the only real measure of a professional. Jack Sharkey always got paid and he always earned his money.
But there was more to Mr. Sharkey than a good sense of humor and the misfortune to be born at a time when he could find himself in a ring with Dempsey and Louis.
He was also a hardheaded man with enough skill to both win the heavyweight title and end up in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted June 12. His career record was 38-13-3.
Born Joseph Paul Zukauskas on Oct. 6, 1902, in Binghamton, N.Y., Mr. Sharkey became a professional fighter almost by accident.
He was still in the Navy stationed in Boston in 1923 when he heard a smoker would be held and the promoter was looking for fighters.
Mr. Sharkey volunteered, lying that he'd had 39 fights in the Navy, and he was offered $100 for four rounds. "For $100, I would have fought the entire Navy," he once recalled.
That wasn't necessary. What was, the promoter insisted, was a new name, and thus was born Jack Sharkey, a combination of Dempsey, then the heavyweight champ, and another fighter named Tom Sharkey.
It would be another year before he would make his real pro debut, but by 1927, Jack Sharkey was a name known throughout boxing.
Because of that, he was matched with Dempsey on July 21, 1927, in an elimination bout to find a challenger for Gene Tunney, who had taken the title from Dempsey.
Mr. Sharkey was in control going into the seventh round that night when Dempsey began to hit him low. Irritated, Mr. Sharkey turned to complain and Dempsey saw his opening. Lights out.
Mr. Sharkey would labor three more years before his first title fight against Max Schmeling, which ended in controversy when Schmeling went down claiming a low blow that few believed. It was the only time the title was won on a foul.
Mr. Sharkey got a measure of justice two years later when he was awarded a split decision over Schmeling (whose manager, Joe Jacobs, reacted with a phrase that entered the language: "We wuz robbed") and the most coveted championship in sports. Jack Sharkey was the heavyweight champion of the world.
Sadly, Mr. Sharkey would hold that title for barely a year, making his only defense against a mob-run giant named Primo Carnera, whom Mr. Sharkey had easily beaten two years earlier.
It was a night Mr. Sharkey would carry with him the rest of his life. After winning the first five rounds, he was hit with a right uppercut, went down and was counted out.
Even his manager, the legendary Johnny Buckley, wondered if Mr. Sharkey had taken a dive, but the fighter denied it until his death. He had not gone down for money, Jack Sharkey would say. A ghost had put him down.
"I had no trouble with him in the second bout, but all of a sudden - and I can't convince anybody of this, even my own wife has her doubts, I think - I see (Ernie) Schaaf (a protege of Mr. Sharkey who had died four months earlier after fighting Carnera) in front of me," Mr. Sharkey once explained. "The next thing I know, I'd lost the championship of the world."
It was a vision Jack Sharkey always wished he could forget, but people wouldn't let him. So he did what he knew best.He saved his money and he fought on, never getting another shot at the title before his career ended Aug. 18, 1936, when a young Joe Louis knocked him out in three rounds.
Jack Sharkey had fought the best of his era, the best in history in fact.
He left behind three children, 14 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild who can all say this: Once they knew the toughest man in the world.
Even if he only held the distinction for a year.


LINK: Information About LITHUANIA



ZUKAUSKAS Ancestry-Translated documents

Genealogy Relationship Chart