On This Day: April 18, 1940 – Kid McCoy is Found Dead

This clipping describing the life and tragic death of Norman "Kid McCoy" Selby is from the Milwaukee Sentinel, April 19, 1940

This clipping describing the life and tragic death of Norman “Kid McCoy” Selby is from the Milwaukee Sentinel, April 19, 1940

Fantastic Career of Kid McCoy Over

 
DETROIT, April 18 – (AP) – In the quiet of a hotel room a peaceful death came today to Norman Selby, the glamorous Kid McCoy of the boxing ring whose amazing life story would have been labeled fantastic fiction if its chapters had been woven into a novel.

McCoy, who did more and saw more in his 66 years than the average man dares to dream about, died from either an overdose of sleeping medicine or poison, according to Dr. Lyle C. Ling, deputy coroner.

Kid McCoy at Los Angeles City Jail in 1924 (image credit:  UCLA Library)

Kid McCoy at Los Angeles City Jail in 1924 (image credit: UCLA Library)

Hobo and millionaire sportsman; dishwasher and social lion; claimant of the world’s middleweight title and convict; owner of an exclusive New York jewelry store and bankrupt; movie actor and saloon porter; auto racer and confidante of Maurice Maeterlinck, the poet and mystic; hero of a short story classic by Richard Harding Davis and demonstrator of a new fangled health suspender – these descriptions all fitted the Kid, who was married nine times, three times to the same woman.

One note left by McCoy said:
“I can no longer endure this world’s madness.”

Another note – He probably would have called it the “real McCoy” – said:
“To all my friends I wish the best of luck.”

And still another message as announced by Dr. Ling gave an inkling that the Kid wanted to do good in his later years, but had found his intentions wasted on a world much changed from the days of 1891 to 1911 when he was boxing’s best known figure.

“For the past eight years I have wanted to help humanity,” the Kid wrote, “especially the youngsters, who do not know nature’s laws, to help teach them the proper carriage of the body, the right way to eat, etc.”

As a boxer McCoy boasted a devastating punch, but a good many of his victories were scored by his cunning. the stories of how he outwitted his foes are legion and a good many of them certainly do not picture the Kid in the most favorable light. In later life McCoy claimed that many of these tales were exaggerated, although he admitted that he had distracted opponents by telling them their shoe laces were untied and by other ruses.

Kid McCoy as a young middleweight champion of the world.

Kid McCoy as a young middleweight champion of the world.

McCoy spent his last years in Detroit as a Ford Motor co. guard, obtaining the job when he was paroled from San Quentin prison where he served a term for homicide in connection with the death of Mrs. Theresa Mors of Los Angeles.

He always denied his guilt, saying the woman killed herself in his presence.

He claimed the world middleweight title in 1896 after defeating Tommy Ryan, the champion. During his career he won 75 bouts, lost six, including knockouts by Jim Corbett and Tom Sharkey, drew nine times and engaged in 13 no-decision fights. During the World War and in 1922 he boxed in several exhibitions.

He was generally credited with inventing the corkscrew punch.

“The real McCoy,” an expression indicating genuineness, has been attributed to the Kid.

On Aug 30, 1900, McCoy fought Jim Corbett in a heavyweight bout.  It has been reported that the fight was fixed, and McCoy faked the knockout that was credited to Corbett.

On Aug 30, 1900, McCoy fought Jim Corbett in a heavyweight bout. It has been reported that the fight was fixed, and McCoy faked the knockout that was credited to Corbett.

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