Norman Selby, better known as “Kid McCoy” was controversial in and out of the ring. And frankly, I doubt he would’ve had it any other way.
From his invention of the “corkscrew punch” (a punch that added a twist to the moment of impact which made for an excellent way to slice and open up opponents’ faces) to his 10 marriages to eight different woman, conviction of manslaughter and eventual suicide—Kid McCoy believed if you weren’t living a life full of scams, swindles, crime and bamboozles—you weren’t really living.
His tricks and ploys inside the ring are notorious.
Amongst them was applying powder to his face in an effort to deceive his opponent to believing he had come down with an illness, throwing tacks on the floor against a barefooted fighter, taking part in a fixed fight or two (as he supposedly did against James Corbett in 1898) and even stopping in the middle of a fight to convince his opponent to check out the pretty lady in the front row. And when this worked, the distracted opposition was met with a McCoy right-hand.
But sifting through the mess, through the cheats and hoodwinks—McCoy was one hell of a fighter.
From welterweight to heavyweight, he defeated a slew of legendary opponents.
McCoy’s first shot at glory came in 1896 against one of the greatest fighters of all time, Tommy Ryan.
Ryan’s career and level of consistency is often grossly overlooked. This is a man that lost just twice in his first 105 fights. One of those losses came by disqualification against one George Green; a fight that Ryan would avenge three months later by way of seventh round knockout.
His only real loss during this amazing stretch was to McCoy, which was also the only knockout defeat of Ryan’s entire career.
McCoy also defeated Mysterious Billy Smith, Tommy West, Jack Bonner (two times), Jim Daly, Dick Moore, George LaBlanche, Dan Creedon (two times), Gus Ruhlin, Jack Twin Sullivan, Joe Choynski and Peter Maher twice.
He had his last fight in 1916, capping off a truly phenomenal career. But you’d be even crazier than he was if you didn’t expect McCoy to outdo it with his post-fighting life.
McCoy lived the high life for while.
He moved to California, appeared in some films and even became friends with Charlie Chaplin. But his success in the movie industry didn’t last long. He was poor and addicted to alcohol by the early 20’s.
Then he met Teresa Mors.
Mors was a wealthy woman (and a married one, as well), because a single modest lady just isn’t McCoy’s cup of tea.
The two became romantically involved and Mors even divorced her husband. But in 1924, Mors was shot dead in the apartment she and McCoy had come to share.
McCoy was charged with her murder but swore she committed suicide. The murder charges were eventually acquitted and McCoy was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 24 years in prison.
He served seven before being released on parole. And eight years later, McCoy would take his own life.
At the Hotel Tuller in Detroit, in a selection of hauntingly moving and tragically beautiful words—in the, we’re all living the same miserable life, kind of way—McCoy left the world his final words:
“To all my dear friends… best of luck… I’m sorry I could not endure this world’s madness.”
Signed, Norman Selby.