Irish Boxer's Dignity Restored in Yonkers After Half a Century

'Yonkers Favorite' Lightweight Boxing Champ Shamus O'Brien

Donated Tombstone for Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien

Tombstone for Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien donated by Artists Memorial Monuments through the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation and Ring 8 Veteran Boxers Association of New York.. It was installed in 2011 in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Yonkers.
Tombstone for Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien donated by Artists Memorial Monuments through the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation and Ring 8 Veteran Boxers Association of New York.. It was installed in 2011 in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Yonkers. | Source

Lightweight Boxing Champion Shamus O'Brien -- 1913 Photo

Dozens of friends, relatives and Yonkers officials braved 103-degree temperatures on Friday, July 22, 2011 to pay tribute to Michael J. Hogan, a native of Dungarvan, Ireland, who gained fame in his adopted city of Yonkers nearly 100 years ago as lightweight boxing champion Shamus O'Brien.

The tombstone dedication was officiated by Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph's Church who offered prayers and blessed the stone.

Yonkers Mayor Issues Proclamation

Yonkers Mayor Philip A. Amicone and New York State Assemblyman Mike Spano were on hand to pay their respects to Shamus, who was well known during his fighting days -- which spanned 18 years from 1910 to 1928. Mayor Amicone further honored Michael J. Hogan in a formal Proclamation in which the city recognized Shamus for "a lifetime of achievements and accomplishments."

Many friends and relatives gathered together after the ceremony at Rory Dolan's Irish Pub in Yonkers.

Shamus, who died in 1959, was an Irish immigrant who adopted the city of Yonkers as his home when he arrived in the United States from Dungarvan, Ireland, in 1906. His passage on the RMS Umbria was paid by his uncle, Patrick, who worked at the Alexander Smith carpet factory and lived in company housing on Moquette Row in Yonkers. Shamus took up boxing shortly afterward and fought well over 100 matches against many great champions, including Benny Leonard and Mickey Walker, thereby winning acclaim as "Yonkers Favorite."

When a grandson of Shamus, William F. Torpey, learned that the famed boxer had been buried without a tombstone -- or even a marker showing his name -- he appealed to the boxing community for help to restore the dignity that Michael Hogan had lost for so many years.

Boxing Community to the Rescue

The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, along with Ring 8 of the Veteran Boxers Association of New York and the Artists Memorial Monuments, pulled no punches and immediately came to the rescue. The rugged Irishman's dignity was finally restored when the boxing community gave Shamus O'Brien one more victory: his own tombstone -- and not just any tombstone.

Shamus now rests under a beautiful granite stone featuring a shamrock recognizing his Irish heritage, a pair of boxing gloves recognizing his prowess in the ring, a classic Celtic Cross acknowledging his Catholic faith and inscribed with his name: Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien, restoring his dignity for eternity. The stone, donated by Artists Memorial Monuments of Staten Island, N.Y., was installed in the Saint Jude Section of St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Memorial Blessings

Shamus was remembered in 1959 for three solid days by hundreds who passed through the Flynn Memorial Home, then on Ludlow Street, to pay their respects. A Mass of Christian Burial had been held at St. Peter's Church on Riverdale Avenue.

According to his son, John Hogan, Shamus had requested that his funeral procession pass through Getty Square. A long line of cars wended their way through the hub of the city and denizens of Yonkers watched as the onetime Irish champion was taken to the cemetery on Truman Avenue for burial.

Michael Hogan was the estranged husband of Adelaide Hogan of Yonkers. The couple, who were married in 1910, had eight children: John, Michael "Mitch", Edward, William, Elena "Helen" Torpey, Mary "Mae" Dropauer, and two infant twins, Gilbert and Adelaide, who died in the tragic influenza outbreak of the early 1900s.

Shamus' Son a Yonkers War Hero

All four sons served their country during World War II, including William Hogan, whose name appears on the Yonkers City Hall Veterans Memorial near Getty Square among those who gave their lives for their country. Young Bill Hogan was killed in action by gunfire when his ship, the USS Gregory, was outnumbered and sunk by Japanese destroyers in a surprise midnight attack.

Shamus O'Brien's great great grandson, John Hogan IV of Yonkers, is following in his famous relatives footsteps in the ring. Young Hogan is an amateur featherweight who trains under the auspices of the Yonkers Police Athletic League. John fought recently in the Golden Gloves.

Shamus, whose cauliflowered ears gave testimony to his many hard fought bouts, launched his boxing career by fighting in an exhibition at the infamous Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.

Shamus Fought All Comers

The scrappy lightweight boxer won the admiration and respect of his fellow Yonkers residents by fighting just about anybody and everybody from the great lightweight champion Benny Leonard and welterweight champion Mickey Walker (who he defeated in two out of three contests by "newspaper decisions) to such fighters as featherweight and lightweight boxer George "KO" Chaney, middleweight Rocky Kansas and featherweight champ Johnny Dundee.

The young Irishman won the Westchester County lightweight championship, 1911-12. In 1913 he fought Yorkville lightweight champion Eddie Smith in Yonkers. The fight poster advertising the match, which was won by Smith, can be seen below.

Later in his career Shamus became a worthy opponent for champions and a "trial horse" testing young fighters. He gained the reputations as "a good fighter, win or lose."

Before hanging up his gloves in 1928 Shamus returned to Ireland to win the Irish lightweight title.

Honored By Hometown in Ireland

More recently Shamus O'Brien's exploits have been chronicled by Eddie Cantwell, president of the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, and in the newsletter of the Yonkers Historical Society. The museum recently opened a new sports section which includes a display of a Shamus O'Brien's boxing poster from 1913.

Contributions may be made to the Shamus O'Brien Fund, Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, 543 Cary Avenue, Staten Island, N.Y. 10310.

'Yonkers Favorite' Shamus O'Brien is pictured at left, Yorkville Lightweight Champion Eddie Smith is shown at right -- Chris Sheridan photo for Catholic New York.
'Yonkers Favorite' Shamus O'Brien is pictured at left, Yorkville Lightweight Champion Eddie Smith is shown at right -- Chris Sheridan photo for Catholic New York.

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More About Shamus O'Brien:

Born Michael Joseph Hogan
Fought as Shamus O'Brien
Billed as 'Yonkers Favorite'

Born: August 5, 1890 in Ballinacourty, Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland.

Died: April 13, 1959 of pneumonia, St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Yonkers, N.Y. Family, friends and fans of Shamus O'Brien attending calling hours for three days at the Flynn Funeral Home, then on Ludlow Street, A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Peter's Church at thecorner of Ludlow Street and Riverdale Avenue in Yonkers, N.Y.

Great Great Grandson Carries On Tradition

Shamus' great great grandson, John Hogan IV of Yonkers, is carrying on his great tradition as an amateur boxer who trains under the Yonkers Police Athletic League program on North Broadway.As a boy in Dungarvan, he was a well-known footballer. He emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1906.

Shamus (Michael J. Hogan) was the son of Michael Hogan and Ellen (Meade) Hogan. He was one of five children.

His career as a lightweight boxer began in 1906 when he fought an Exhibition Bout for the prisoners at the infamous Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.

Boxing Record (According to boxrec.com):
Won 15 (KO 4) + Lost 22 (KO 4) + Drawn 3 = 43
rounds boxed 372
Newspaper Decisions won 16 : lost 34 : Drawn 9
rounds boxed 574
Total Bouts 102 KO% 3.92

Note: Shamus O'Brien fought more than 400 bouts in his career, according to his son, John, but many were not recorded in the books for a variety of reasons. More than 100 fights have been verified by the boxing community.

Shamus fought the great Benny Leonard at least three times, once to a "no decision." He also fought Hall of Famer Mickey Walker three times and defeated the Hall of Fame champion fighter in two of those three 12-round fights.

Shamus began fighting in the bare knuckle days. Many of his fights took place at the Raven Athletic Club in New York City where he did much of his training. He also trained occasionally in Newburgh, N.Y.

A Familiar Figure Around Getty Square

Shamus O'Brien was a familiar figure around Getty Square in Yonkers where his exploits were well known and where the handsome young man was said to be "always scapping."

Shamus was reported to be a “trial horse” for up and coming young fighters. In various periods of their careers, Shamus, at 135 pounds, fought any and all comers, including welterweight Mickey Walker (early In his career), middleweight Rocky Kansas, welterweight champ Pete Latzo, featherweight champ Johnny Dundee, Pinky Marshall, Jack Britton, George K. O’Chaney and negro champ Leo Johnson.

At various times Shamus worked as a bartender, an iron worker and in construction.. After fighting in various locations around the country, he hung up his gloves in 1928, but not before returning to Ireland to win the lightweight title in his native country.

Son, William Hogan, Gave His Life for His Country in World War II

Michael J.Hogan was estranged from his wife, Adelaide. The couple had eight children, John, Michael "Mitch", Edward, William, Elena "Helen" Torpey, Mary "Mae" Dropauer, and two infant twins, Gilbert and Adelaide, both of whom died in the tragic influenza outbreak of the early 1900s. Their son, William, died in a battle with Japanese destroyers on Oct. 5, 1942 when his ship, USS Gregory, was sunk in the waters near Guadalcanal. His sons, John and Michael both served in the U.S. Navy during WW II while Edward flew P-51 fighter planes in the Army Air Force.

Shamus O'Brien was only 6 years old when his father, Michael, succumbed to injuries resulting from his efforts to rescue survivors of the ill-fated Moresby, which sunk in Dungarvan Bay in Ireland. Only five of the 25 persons on board survived.

Shamus O'Brien's Grandson William F. Torpey, left, with Yonkers Mayor Philip A. Amicone at July 22, 2011 Memorial

Grandson of Shamus O'Brien, William F. Torpey, left, with Yonkers, N.Y., Mayor Philip A. Amicone, who attended the Tombstone Dedication for the onetime lightweight champion boxer and issued a proclamation honoring him.
Grandson of Shamus O'Brien, William F. Torpey, left, with Yonkers, N.Y., Mayor Philip A. Amicone, who attended the Tombstone Dedication for the onetime lightweight champion boxer and issued a proclamation honoring him.

Kin of Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien Gather at Rory Dolan's Irish Pub in Yonkers Following Memorial

Family members get together. From left, top row, are Brandon Revels, Martin Torpey, Kieran Hogan, Natashah Revels Quinlan, Catherine Torpey, Beth Torpey Revels, and, first row, John Hogan IV (holding daughter, Valerie), Michelle Hogan, Michael Hogan
Family members get together. From left, top row, are Brandon Revels, Martin Torpey, Kieran Hogan, Natashah Revels Quinlan, Catherine Torpey, Beth Torpey Revels, and, first row, John Hogan IV (holding daughter, Valerie), Michelle Hogan, Michael Hogan

City of Yonkers Honors Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien

Under the Tent at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Yonkers

Under the tent at the Dedication for Shamus O'Brien are Mayor Philip A. Amicone, New York State Assemblyman Mike Spano and the great great grandson of Shamus O'Brien, John Hogan IV, an amateur boxer who lives in Yonkers.
Under the tent at the Dedication for Shamus O'Brien are Mayor Philip A. Amicone, New York State Assemblyman Mike Spano and the great great grandson of Shamus O'Brien, John Hogan IV, an amateur boxer who lives in Yonkers.

Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph Church and William F. Torpey, grandson of Shamus O'Brien, at Blessing of tombstone

At the Blessing of the new Shamus O'Brien tombstone are Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph Church and Shamus' grandson William F. Torpey. The tombstone features a shamrock and Celtic Cross as well as a pair of boxing gloves.
At the Blessing of the new Shamus O'Brien tombstone are Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph Church and Shamus' grandson William F. Torpey. The tombstone features a shamrock and Celtic Cross as well as a pair of boxing gloves.

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Comments 36 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

Congratulations to your family on the achievement of the new tombstone, missing since so long ago. It is lovely that it was donated by a fine organization. Rated Up and Awesome.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

What a heart-warming story. I'm so glad Shamus got the recognition he deserved. Rated up!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, Patty Inglish, our family is thrilled. We know Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien can rest easy now.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your nice comment very much, suziecat7. It was a labor of love for me. Thanks.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I knew the name and now I know the man. Great Hub.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your comment, WillStarr. Thank you.


Denise Hogan-Sommers 5 years ago

Fantastic article...interesting review of a family history that I was not aware of...it will be a proud day indeed!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Our family can indeed be very proud of Shamus, Denise. I knew him and loved him as a young boy, but he was estranged from Nana and much of the family. I only saw him occasionally around Getty Square, never at home or at family affairs. He obviously had many issues to face, but he was loved by his many friends and fans in Yonkers and elsewhere. He truly was a "favorite son" of Yonkers.


rajaramravi profile image

rajaramravi 5 years ago

A unique different article Thums up


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for the nice comment and thumbs up, rajaramravi.


Hubertsvoice 4 years ago

Shamus would be proud of his family. It is not only a great story, but a testament what people can accomplish if they put their hearts and minds into it. You have brought happiness to people acrooss the ocean and revived the memory and honor of your grandfather. Indeed your grandfather would be proud, and so would Bing.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

You are very kind, Hubertsvoice. I am very proud of Shamus O'Brien, my grandfather, and of my family heritage, and I am thrilled that he -- Michael J. Hogan of Dungarvan, Ireland -- is remembered by his friends and his family. Bing Crosby comes as close to "family" for me as anyone could. Thank you.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Fascinating hub on Shamus O'Brien. I am glad to see he got that final victory and he now has a tombstone. His career records do not look impressive...but with 300 fights not in the books I am sure his real boxing record would be much more impressive. Thanks for writing this hub that was educational and interesting....voted up and awesome.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, Cogerson. Shamus was no pushover -- even for the very best fighters. He had a long and memorable career.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

William - I hope you are doing ok and am again so sorry for your loss. So pleased to have found this wonderful hub and your beautiful story on Shamus O'Brien. I have learned more about him through yout hub. Take care please.


druhepkins 4 years ago

Must be an honor I’m sure you’re proud of to have a Grand Dad who was champ during one of the most grueling and toughest eras of boxing. And a Grand Dad who even duked it out with one of the greatest boxing legends of all time Benny Leonard. And I also didn’t know he won a best of 3 against one of the greatest of all time Mickey Walker. Congrats on his well-deserved commemorative tombstone.

Great hub!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you very much, druhepkins. I am very proud of my grandfather's accomplishments and honored to have such a nice comment from someone with your knowledge of the boxing profession. I know where to go when I'm looking for hard-hitting information about the fighting game -- right to your hubs!


itakins profile image

itakins 4 years ago from Irl

Such a wonderful hub -so great after all those years for the man to get a headstone ,and good for his family.My dad was from Dungarvan too-btw.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you,itakins. I'm delighted that we have a Dungarvan connection. I'd love to visit there, but I'm too old and grumpy to make the trip (but my daughter got to visit Dungarvan and stop by the Waterford County Museum.) I am very proud of my grandfather and thrilled that he can now rest in peace for eternity.


Jack White profile image

Jack White 4 years ago from Ormeau Road, Belfast, Ireland

Maith thu a chara!

Excellent hub!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Jack White. I very much appreciate your comment.


Froggy213 profile image

Froggy213 4 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

I just read this hub my old friend. I am very happy that your Grandfather has a proper stone and can RIP now.

I hadn't heard from you in some time and had to pop in and check--another Great hub and it was nice to see a pic of you.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Nice to hear from you, Froggy213. I couldn't be more pleased that my grandfather now rests in peace. Thanks.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 3 years ago from London UK

I don't know how i missed this hub but I am very happy for you and the family that you have finally been able to provide a headstone for such a talented boxer.

Better late than never I always say.

You ought to be very proud for all the hard work I know you have done for Shamus.

May he never be forgotten.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 3 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, compu-smart. I am very proud indeed. I have the City of Yonkers proclamation honoring my grandfather, Shamus O'Brien/Michael J.Hogan, adorning my wall. I wish he could have been here to see it.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 3 years ago from St. Louis

A great honor you have bestowed on your Grandfather, William. Well done!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 3 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It was my honor, Christoph. I am so happy that Shamus finally has received the recognition he deserves. Thank you for commenting.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

William,

I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

2, I loved every word.

3. Graphics, superb.

4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

5. Voted Up and all of the choices.

6. I loved your topic of this hub.

How did you get away with running the pixalated photo? HP always flags my hubs BEFORE I publish them.

You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you for the kind word, Kenneth. This particular hub was a labor of love. My grandfather, Michael J. Hogan, was estranged from my grandmother, with whom I lived for eight years, so I did not see him often. But he was always very kind to me when we met casually -- usually around Getty Square in Yonkers where I often "hung out." When I wrote this hub initially I had no photos of Shamus O'Brien. My daughter discovered the boxing poster later at a restaurant in New Haven, Conn., so I added it to the hub. Later still I discovered the newspaper photo in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and added that to the hub as well. I have links to my blog about Shamus on an earlier hub, but I am now adding those links to this hub for anyone interested in additional information about Shamus and/or the Hogan family.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

William,

You are very welcome. I loved this work. My family has been trace back to Ireland by more than one genealogist, but there is where my family tree stops.

I wish I knew if Ireland was the original place of birth for my family or they came from elsewhere.

Anyway. Keep up this fine work.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Once I began to research my grandfather's life, Kenneth, I had lots of help. An aunt had a copy of his obituary (which led me to his grave site and led to 2011 Memorial.) My daughter, Catherine, happened upon the boxing poster with his photo in a restaurant in New Haven (which gave me the first image of Shamus.) A cousin, Tabitha, had done lots of research on Shamus (which I was beneficiary of -- including information on my Uncle Bill Hogan's ultimate sacrifice during WW II from the Freedom of Information Commission. Eddie Cantwell of the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, was a treasure of help and information regarding my research into the life of Michael J. Hogan. You never know where the next piece of information will come from!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

William,

That has to be the key, or missing key to me not having a complete genealogy. Thanks for your patience and sharing your information.

I still love your work, and urge you to continue sharing on hubs.

Your friend,

Kenneth


billybuc profile image

billybuc 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

What a great human interest story. As an old boxing fan, I've actually heard of this gentleman, but you have done a fine job of telling us about the man behind the name.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 19 months ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, billybuc. I remember listening to the fights in the 1940s -- especially the Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn battle, but I never really followed boxing. I lived with my grandmother (Shamus' estranged wife) but I was too young then to ask all the questions I would like to know the answers to now.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 18 months ago from London UK

Hi William, you and all the family must be so proud of you for your achievement. What a great fighter and beautiful gesture you made to keep his legacy alive.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 18 months ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

My family and I are indeed proud of the accomplishments of my grandfather, Michael J. Hogan/Shamus O'Brien, compu-smart. I am particularly proud that he will be remembered in his native land by visitors to the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, where he appears in a display in the museum's Sports Section.

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    William F. Torpey profile image

    William F Torpey (William F. Torpey)713 Followers
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    Graduated NYU in 1964. Worked in NYC for 2 years in public relations then as reporter and editor before retiring from The Hour newspaper.



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