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Tom Allen

Tom Allen’s Life Story

AFTER licking Posh Price in 41 rounds, and George Iles in 17 rounds, Allen was matched with Joe Goss for £100 a “side”. They met on March 5, 1867. Altogether they fought 34 rounds, and owing to interference, the 34 rounds were contested in three different rings. At last, after they had battled fiercely for one hour and forty-two minutes, the bout was finally declared a draw.

This was Allen’s last battle in England, for shortly afterwards he sailed for the USA, where, on July 21 1867, he duly arrived in New York.

Joe Goss got the needle at Tom’s running out of a return battle, and being determined to get Allen’s scalp, he followed that worthy to the States. Directly he reached the land of the almighty dollar he challenged Allen to a return bout. Allen accepted immediately, and a match was made for 5,000 dollars a side and the championship of the world. Nobody knew what right they had to battle for such a pretentious title, but nobody cared, so they satisfied their vanity.

The battle took place in Cincinatti on September 7. After several rounds, during which neither had asserted superiority, Allen hit Goss when he was on the ground, and was promptly disqualified on an appeal.

In Cincinatti a little later, Tom got into a bit of trouble with the authorities. He had made all arrangements for a battle with a fellow whose name we didn’t catch. The authorities didn’t care for Tom’s way of making money, so they arrested him and kept him in gaol until he gave bonds for his good behaviour. In other words, he had to keep the peace in that State for twelve months.

Tom Has to Behave

After Allen’s run-in with the authorities, in which he had been made to give bonds for his good behaviour in that State, Tom, not caring for this turn in his affairs, migrated to another State, where they were not so particular about his keeping the peace. So one month after his giving bond in Cincinatti, he was meeting Mike McGoole, for £200 a side in St. Louis, which is quite another State. Right here Tom met some of those celebrated American sports, for which America has ever been famous. Nine rounds had been fought, occupying some thirteen minutes (unlucky number, as you will note), when some of these American sports started an argument around the ring, the ropes were cut, and the ring broken up by these gentlemen. Some of these drew pistols and bravely fired at Allen, putting one bullet through his right and another in his gongha, the latter necessitating his standing at meals for a few days.

The referee therefore decided that as Allen had not played fair, McGoole was the winner. Allen, however, thought that he was not getting the square deal which the USA has always been noted for giving strangers in those days, and instituted proceedings for the recovery of his dough, and got it.

Knives and Pistols Again

Soon after he met Charley Gallagher once more. This time however, Tom meant business, for he was knocking the stuffing out of Charlie when once more those sporting Americans broke the ring up, and Tom fled for his life to escape the knives and pistols of the said sports.

A couple of months later he made another match with his old pal, Mike McGoole, for £200 a side, but the match was finally abandoned, owing to their not agreeing upon a stakeholder. They had to be particular in them there days.

Jem Mace arrived in America shortly after this, and Allen was promptly on his trail. They finally signed articles for £500 a side and the world’s title. The battle took place in New Orleans on May 10, 1870.

In the battle with Mace, Tom had the misfortune to injure his right shoulder when he rushed Jem, and getting a grip, threw him awkwardly, and in the fall sustained the injury. Allen never had a chance with the clever Mace, and had he a dozen arms he could not have licked the incomparable Mace.

Shortly after, Tom’s arm was well, he was again on the warpath, and challenged the world. A party named James C. Gallagher accepted Tom’s challenge with the proviso that Allen should lay £200 to £100. Allen was willing, so a match was made on those conditions.

On November 5, 1870,  they met near St. Louis, when Allen punched the stuffing out of Gallagher in sixteen rounds, occupying 23 minutes. After this contest Tom publicly stated that he was finished with the ring and would retire.

The Mike McGoole whom Allen had fought was quite some baby. He stood 6ft 3in, and weighed 17 stone, so Tom was at a slight disadvantage, being five inches shorter and nearly five stone lighter. In spite of all the Irishman’s advantages, Allen simply cut him to ribbons until, at the finish, when Allen was set upon by the “boys,” Mike was a bleeding lump of battered humanity when carried away from the scene of battle. In spite of the terrific beating Mike had taken the referee had awarded him the decision, but, as stated above, Tom had sued for the return of his stakes and had got them.          

Three years after stating he had finished with the ring, Tom, like all of ’em, made another match with his old opponent Mike McGoole. Evidently Mike’s sporting pals were not on hand this time, for Mike recieved another terrific hiding.

After stopping everything that Tom sent him he was polished off in nine rounds, the nine rounds occupying 20 minutes.

Once more Tom retired, and once more he came back, this time to meet Ben Hogan of Pittsburg. They were to have met at St. Louis, but while they were selecting the ground for the battle they were arrested. The Illinois authorities also arrested several of the more prominent of those who had interest in the battle. These were all required to give bonds for their future good behaviour. This being done, all were liberated. Shortly afterwards Hogan and Tom fought at a place called Pacific City.

Foul Causes Trouble

Three fierce rounds were fought, when, during the third round, Allen is reported to have struck his opponent a foul blow. That being a good excuse for trouble, the boys started it, and they immediately got busy. Knives and pistols were drawn, the ropes cut, and once more Allen did his hundred in less than evens, and then some!

Tom’s next battle was with Joe Goss once again. They fought first in Kent county, where seven rounds were fiercely contested. The police came on the scene and the battlers and their followers had to take it on the run. The ring was then fixed in Boone County, where fourteen more rounds were fought. Tom took the lead here throughout the battle. He was punishing Goss severely when the cry of “Militia!” was raised, and again the contestants got on the move.

Unfortunately for Allen, Goss’s party had got busy, and report says that the referee was got at. A few seconds after they started again, Goss was given the decision on a foul. However, nobody seemed to know exactly the nature of the foul blow.

A few days later Goss was arrested, but Allen kept under cover, and shortly after was smuggled aboard a boat bound for England. It was then that the match with Charlie Davis was made. Allen evidently returned to the States later, for we read that he died in St. Louis.

King of the Toughs

Here in St. Louis, Tom Allen reigned as a king among the toughs of that city. Tom kept a big whiskey store, which was frequented by all the toughest citizens of the city of St. Louis. It was here that he was visited by an English sport who was on a visit to that city. An American friend took him there. Said he, “Tom Allen’s always glad to see a fellow countryman, so come along.”

There was a little difficulty at first in even getting inside until they had satisfied the custodian of the door that they were, the right sort. Then they were ushered into a large hall with white-washed walls. Pictures of all kinds of sports and sportsmen decorated the walls. Seated in a huge chair at the end of the hall was Tom Allen, with a prize bulldog squatting each side of him. The hall was crowded with miners and toughs of all sorts and liquor flowed freely. A sixteen-feet ring occupied the centre, and at the suggestion of one of the visitors a couple of boys were put into the ring. The purse was put up by the English visitor and the two boys put up a rattling scrap over nine rounds, when one put the other down for the full ten seconds.

After the scrap followed a sing-song. tale telling, etc., and it was six a.m. before the visitors sought their hotel after a lively night’s sport. Tom Allen’s word WAS law among those roughs, and woe betide any that upset him. He had a hundred trusties, all ready at any and every moment to do flub “King’s” bidding. Tom died at the age of 65, the cause of death being given as “general debility.”


Thus they lived and died in those ” Them there good old days.”

Herald and News

19 July 1875

Letters from different persons wanting information respecting the late Allen and Rooke fight, I here give you the particulars from the first. On January 10th 1875 George Rooke, of Newark, NJ, conceived a plan by which he hoped to enrich himself at the expense of Tom Allen. This Rooke never done anything only with third and fourth-class men, but he had the impudence to send a challenge to Allen to do battle with him for $2500 a side.

The task of defeating a man forty pounds heavier and with the following brilliant record, was what this Rooke contracted to perform. Rooke knew, at the time he challenged Allen, that Tom was very corpulent — in fact, a second Falstaff, and had made up his mind in December 1874 to retire from the ring. But this Newark duffer had mistaken his man, Tom Allen promptly authorized Arthur Chambers to accept the challenge, and on the 16th of February articles of agreement were drawn up and signed by all parties at Harry Hill’s, New York, who was the stakeholder for the time being.

After this was done Rooke wanted the stakes reduced to $1000 a side. Tom would not agree, but accommodated him at $1,500, the other to be made good at the battle ground. On June 1st the final deposit was made good at Harry Hill’s, New York and John Chamberlain was chosen final stakeholder. The day for the fighting, June 17, was fast approaching and as Tom had won the choice of ground, Rooke began to think it was time to put some plan of operation in order, he never having intended to meet Allen.

His plan was to get Allen arrested, and they would have notified the different authorities but when he found he had lost the choice of fighting ground they went directly and sued Harry Hill for Rooke’s share of the stakes which caused Chamberlain to decline having anything to do with the affair.

On the 17th Harry Hill wrote that he would not give the stakes up unless he was compelled by law, Tom should have every dollar. This Newark “duffer” never trained a day, but went traveling around the country with Joe Coburn, giving sparring exhibitions on the strength of Allen’s name. Rooke knew that Tom had retired from the ring, but Tom being so abused, he broke his resolution never to fight again, and made this match. Tom trained more earnestly for this match than ever he did before, on purpose to show up in his best form, and he did, he never looked better.

While Tom was spending his money in training, this Rooke and Coburn were taking in the greenbacks by sparring exhibitions. I have now given a true and faithful report, and after detailing Tom’s grievances, he now finally withdraws from the ring, and will, under no circumstances whatever again enter it.

No inducement, however strong, will cause him to make a match. He leaves his reputation, for good faith in all his battles, and a determination to win in every one of his matches, in the hands of his numerous friends, and his record contained in the ring annals of England and America.


Beat White April 20, I860, £10 a side, in 40 minutes

10 rounds. Draw with Nobby Hall, September 17, 1860, £5 a side, in 40 minutes-15 rounds.

Beat Morris Connor March 20,1861, £10 a side, in 1:10—16 rounds.

Beat Jack Gould June 8, 1861, £15 a side, in 50 minutes—11 rounds.

Was beaten by Posh Price July 28, 1862, £10 a side, in 50′ minutes—35 rounds.

Beat Posh Price November 2Sj 1865, £25 a side, in 2:05—41 rounds.

Beat Bingy Rose January 20, 1864, £25 a side, in 23 minutes—11 rounds.

Beaten by Bob Smith June 2, 1864, £50 a side, in 2:59—50 rounds.

Beat Jack Parkinson June 13, 1865, a side, in 23 minutes—11 rounds.

Beat George Iles June 13, 1866, £25 a side, 1:02—17 rounds.

Fought Joe Goss March 5,1867.£10O a side and championship middle-weight in 1 53; a draw; 34 rounds.


Beat Bill Davis January 12, 1869, for $1000 a side; 46 minutes—43 rounds.

Beaten by Charley Gallagher Feb. 25, 1869, $1000 a side; 3 minutes—2 rounds; was stunned in second round.

Beat Charley Gallagher August 17, 1869, $1000 a side; 21 minutes—11 rounds.

Draw with Mike McCoole, June 15,1869, $1000 a side and the championship of America; 12 mins.—9 rounds, when McCoole party broke in the ring.

Beat McCoole Sept. 23, 1873, $2000 a side and championship; 19 minutes —7 rounds. McCoole forfeited $1000 on June 2, 1870. to Tom Allen.

Beaten by Jem Mace May 10, I870, $5000 and the ~ championship of the world: 50 minutes—10 rounds.

Beat Jem Gallagher Nov. 5, 1870, $1000 to $500: 22 minutes—14 rounds.

Beat Ben Hogan  Nov. 18,1873, $2000 a side; 7 minutes—3 rounds. The ring was broken in by Hogan’s party, and pistols pointed at Allen’s head.

Rooke forfeited to Allen July 17, 1875, at Mill Creek. West Va., $3000.